Commercial development and budget concerns topped the questions
fielded by City Council candidates at a recent forum.
Candidates vying for two council seats are Michael Bergfeld, Gary
Bric, Todd Campbell, Esther Espinoza, Vahe Hovanessian, Kisa
Kirkpatrick, Brian Malone, Michael Porco and Jef Vander Borght. The
candidates appeared Wednesday at a forum hosted by the League of
Women Voters Glendale/ Burbank.
Bric, concerned the city might face a budget deficit from $3
million to $5 million, said the city needs to be more conservative
in its spending. However, he added he is against any cuts to police
or fire services and does not want to see any city employee layoffs.
Maintaining and enhancing residents’ quality of life, which Malone
said is envied by cities nationwide, will present a challenge to the
council because of the state’s huge budget deficit, he said.
Kirkpatrick said the city’s economic base is strong enough to
cover necessary services.
“I know the money is there, and I know we can provide the basics
while we seek the cuts,” she said.
Espinoza spoke in favor of affording housing to help low-income
families. She is also an advocate for rent control, calling for
controls similar to those enacted in Santa Monica.
Porco also sees a need for affordable housing, but stopped short
of endorsing rent-control measures. The average income of a resident
is $47,500, according to the 2000 Census, Porco said, but home prices
are more than seven times that amount, or about $360,000.
Vander Borght called for commercial development throughout the
city similar to the small-business development in the Magnolia Park
area. He would also like to attract an automobile dealership to add
tax dollars to the city’s coffers.
Hovanessian said he would be willing to invest revitalization
funds in the Media City Center, as long as it is not one super-sized
store, and Campbell called for mixed-use development and redeveloping
South San Fernando Boulevard to rid it of urban blight.
Bergfeld expressed concern about large commercial projects that
have been built in the city in recent years. As an example, he
mentioned two recently-built office buildings constructed near the
Empire Center that remain empty. He believes the city’s residents
want a place to live without the encroachment of giant commercial
The forum, along with the school board one, will be rebroadcast on
Charter Communications Channel 6 until the Feb. 25 primary election.
Check the city’s Web site, www.ci.burbank.ca.us, for broadcast times.