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Homeless shelters approved in zoning update

Relief for the roughly 250 transients in Burbank could become more accessible after the City Council this week approved changes to city zoning laws that would allow homeless shelters to be built certain areas.

State law requires all cities to designate at least one area where emergency shelters are allowed to operate year-round. The City Council on Tuesday approved zoning changes that would allow homeless shelters in industrial areas, also called M-2 zones.

Assistant Community Development Director Michael Forbes said the zones were selected because they are farthest away from residential neighborhoods.

The City Council also approved changes that would allow a homeless shelter to be built near downtown.


“There are some places where an M-2 zone is very close to residential neighborhoods, or it is in a less-than-ideal place for a shelter, but we still need to allow it by law,” Forbes said. “In addition to M-2, there is a commercial/industrial zone near the downtown area, away from residential areas and near transit, that would be well-suited for a homeless shelter.”

The process for establishing a shelter calls for notifying residents and businesses within 1,000 feet of a proposed project and a public hearing with the Planning Board. The board’s decision could be appealed within 15 days. Should an appeal be filed, the City Council would review the project.

Burbank allows “rescue missions” in certain parts of the city and hosted the Los Angeles County regional winter homeless shelter in 2007 and 2008. But complaints about people who were urinating in the streets prompted concerns about shelters being located too close to residential neighborhoods.

In 2007, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority estimated there were 220 homeless in Burbank, but Forbes put the revised figure at about 250.