Burbank residents bring neighborhood-specific concerns to first in series of town halls

Roughly 30 Burbank residents on Tuesday attended the first of three town hall meetings hosted by the City Council in an effort to hear from constituents in a more casual setting outside City Hall.

Due to state open meeting laws that prevent elected bodies from discussing anything at length that isn’t listed beforehand on a publicly posted agenda, Mayor Dave Golonski told the audience that the council was limited to “fairly brief” responses, but, he added, “we want to hear what you have to say.”

Residents who attended the meeting at David Starr Jordan Middle School largely stuck to specific concerns about their own neighborhoods and homes. One questioned the removal of red curbs on some residential streets, and sought clarification on an ordinance regulating walls and fences in front yards.

Golonski deferred a bulk of the questions to the dozens of city officials who were also at the meeting.

One resident concerned about hill erosion asked the council to consider an ordinance penalizing residents who don’t maintain their landscapes.

“I would not have bought my home if I knew this was going to happen,” the Skyline Drive resident said, adding that neighbors have told her they stopped watering the hills because of water price hikes.

“We’ll look into that further,” Golonski said.

Another resident, Bob Olson, asked if the city could install countdown crossing signs at more traffic intersections — particularly those around schools.

“I thought that might pull some risk for students,” Olson said.

Officials are working on securing grant funding for traffic signal improvements, which also requires state approval, said Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford.

“That’s what’s holding us up,” Teaford said, noting that grant funds are worth the wait. “It helps us out.”

David Dobson, who said he’s running for a seat on the Burbank school board, asked about the potential for solar energy projects at schools.

Officials also pointed to the waiting game involved in securing state grants to help deflect what can be steep price tags.

“Solar, frankly, is very expensive. Without large grants, it’s hard to do large projects like schools,” said Ron Davis, general manager of Burbank Water and Power.

The council encouraged citizens to participate in the city’s budget process by completing a survey on the city’s website through which they can rank budget priorities.

In response to complaints about the difficulty of navigating the city’s website, city spokesman Drew Sugars said a major upgrade is in the works — “hopefully within the next eight weeks.”

Councilman David Gordon also emphasized the importance of public participation in the city’s outreach efforts.

“Even if you’re the lone voice...I can guarantee every one of us up here is going to listen,” he said.

The remaining two town hall meetings — which each start at 7 p.m. — will be held:

- Wednesday at Luther Burbank Middle School, 3700 W. Jeffries St.

- Thursday at John Muir Middle School, 1111 N. Kenneth Rd.

-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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