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Burbank to consider sponsoring grassroots event

Organizers of an upcoming event will have to wait a few more weeks to see if Burbank officials will waive permit costs.

The Burbank City Council voted 4-0 on Tuesday to table discussion about whether the city should sponsor an event called “We Are Women +” until Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, who was absent that evening, returns for the next council meeting on Jan. 29.

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“We Are Women +” is expected to be a new, free event created by resident Katie Ward, who was involved in the Women’s March in Burbank last year. It is scheduled to be held at Memorial Field at John Burroughs High School on March 9.

Ward said the event is designed to raise awareness about more than women’s issues, which will be the focus of marches scheduled across the country this weekend. The local event is expected to feature speakers from the LGBTQ community, those with disabilities, various religious groups and other marginalized people.

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While past women’s marches have been held along the Chandler Bike Path, Ward said she talked with city officials, and they recommended renting Memorial Field for her event, which is estimated to bring in 2,000 to 3,000 people that day.

Ward approached the City Council during its Jan. 8 meeting, asking that the $1,250 fee the Burbank Unified School District charges groups to use the field be waived and for the city to sponsor the event.

Although council members were in support of having an inclusive event like “We Are Women +,” city manager Ron Davis cautioned that the city would still need to pay for public-safety costs.

He said Police Chief Scott LaChasse estimated that an event of that scale would need one supervisor and four officers who would each need to be paid $137 an hour.

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Davis said costs would increase if Ward is able to have Sen. Kamala Harris of California be the keynote speaker at the event.

Although public safety costs could be expensive, Councilman Tim Murphy said he was in support of waiving the permit fee and having the city sponsor the event.

“This, to me, is an all-inclusive grassroots event to give people a chance to talk about a number of things,” he said. “I’m very concerned about the way the rhetoric is going in this country. I’m concerned about people being marginalized … I’d be very happy to see different voices talk about things.”

However, council members Jess Talamantes and Bob Frutos said they did not support the city fronting the total costs charged by Burbank Unified.

Talamantes argued that the city and school district should split the cost instead of having the city pay for everything.

To see if there can be some cooperation between the city and school district , the City Council voted to have Gabel-Luddy meet with Roberta Reynolds, school board president, to discuss a possible partnership.

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