Burbank will continue to ban Roundup despite weeds growing in city parks

The Burbank City Council’s decision to discontinue the use of the herbicide Roundup in city parks is already starting to show its effects just four months into the one-year trial.

Council members unanimously agreed on Tuesday to continue the trial program, in which city staff refrains from using the glyphosate-containing product used to kill weeds in city parks and other areas where the public gathers.

The program also directed city staff to use Compass Tree Park to test various organic weed killers in order to determine which one would be best for the city to use.

If weeds had to be removed at any other park, city staff would have to do so by hand.

Judie Wilke, the city’s parks and recreation director, said there has been a notable difference at various parks since the ban went into effect.

She said weeds have been sprouting at a quick pace at Verdugo Park as well as the planter areas around the Buena Vista Branch Library and Lincoln Park. Wilke added a considerable amount of weeds are growing along the fence line and in the warning track on the ball field at Foy Park and all around Johnny Carson Park.

The city has a few options from which to choose to address the weeds in all the parks. If council members want to see the city’s parks tidy and weed-free, they could opt to hire a contractor to do the landscaping in the city. However, that option would cost the city about $598,814 annually.

Wilke added that the Parks and Recreation Department could hire a few more employees solely to landscape the parks, but that would still cost roughly $420,000 expense per year.

“Staff clearly understands the city’s upcoming structural budget issues but also needs to know what standard or level of weed control the City Council expects moving forward,” Wilke said.

Vice Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy suggested the possibility of getting more student volunteers or service groups to help remove weeds. She also suggested, should it come to it, using goats to snack on the weeds.

“We actually talked about that,” Wilke said. “We thought maybe we could fence a whole area in and let them onto the field and have at it, but they’re going to eat everything, so you’ll lose your turf, too.”

Twitter: @acocarpio