Members of the Burbank Advisory Council on Disabilities have compiled
a list of obstacles they say challenge disabled people attempting to
shop or dine at the Burbank Empire Center.
According to Janet Diel, chairwoman of the advisory council’s
Barrier Committee, the panel has noted several different obstructions
they say need to be corrected by the developer of the nearly
1.3-million-square-foot shopping center.
“Beginning at the Great Indoors, the parking and walkway areas
onto the sidewalk leading to Best Buy present challenges for the
blind and for people in wheelchairs because trees and planters in
this area are impediments to safely crossing through the area,” Diel
said at the advisory council’s Sept. 25 meeting.
Another corrective action Diel said needs to be addressed includes
the widening of ramps and walkways to the parking areas from Lowe’s,
the home improvement store in the center.
Diel, who has been confined to a wheelchair for the past 25 years
because of a degenerative spinal disease, also believes that a
shuttle is needed at the shopping center.
“We’re asking for a transporter that would go at least on weekends
and holiday times to get people around,” she said.
Ben Reiling, president of Zelman Development Company, who
developed the shopping center, admits that there are accessibility
issues, but said that his company cannot offer shuttle service.
“We don’t have the ability to do that,” Reiling said. “We have no
way to get reimbursed for it.”
Some of the items noted by the advisory panel will be corrected,
Reiling said, adding that “some of them, frankly, we’re a little
Reiling said that he has never seen double or triple wheelchair
ramps, another of the requested changes.
“We’re really not quite sure exactly what they’re driving at,”
Deputy City Planner Roger Baker said that although the center is
complete, Reiling continues to fine-tune it.
“He will look at the suggestions,” Baker said. “I asked him to
just go over them and think about them.”
A meeting will be scheduled with the subcommittee toward the end
of the month to discuss the requests, Baker said.
“I think we’ve got a good situation here,” Baker said. “We’re
fortunate to have a developer committed to the project.”