A Burbank Hills community faced a setback Monday in its decades-long quest to create a gated neighborhood, after the Planning Board recommended that elected officials deny the request.
The board's recommendation, approved in a 3-0 vote, will be forwarded to the Burbank City Council for a final decision. Two Planning Board members were absent.
The Burbank Hills Community Homeowners Assn. has requested entry and exit gates — for the fourth time since 1987 — at the two main entrances to the neighborhood, where Lamer Street crosses Castleman and Wedgewood lanes.
Residents of the private community, comprised of 130 homes, said adding gates would reduce vehicular traffic and, in turn, street maintenance costs, for which they currently pay because the streets are private.
"If you choose not to give us an approval, then, very simply, compensate us for the millions of dollars that we've spent over the 15 years, for the water, for the maintenance, for the guards, and then we'll forget this," said Burbank Hills resident Eddie Kandela.
Homeowner association president Namrata Cooper presented a petition with 100 signatures for the gates, though board chair Kimberly Jo said later that half of them appeared to be in the same handwriting.
But Burbank Hills residents who spoke at the meeting said an overwhelming majority of the community supports installation of the gates. Some contended that they were "promised" gates by their Realtors when buying their homes, which was appealing for buyers as extra protection against crime.
"This isn't about elitism. This is about a problem of loitering and crime," said Burbank Hills resident Laurel Pulvers.
Not all residents in the neighborhood, however, were for the gates.
"I'm very concerned about the noise of opening gates," said Tim Cherry, who has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years, adding that traffic could accumulate for visitors who don't have access cards during holidays and weekends.
The city has denied the gate proposal three times in the past, having cited safety concerns, such as restricting access from emergency personnel, as well as setting a precedent and excluding other members of the public from the area.
Emergency access issues have since been resolved through better technology, but board members still weren't convinced.
In their decision, board members said the proposal conflicts with the city's general plan, which doesn't support gated communities in Burbank. They also agreed with concerns raised by gate-opposing Burbank Hills residents about traffic and noise that would come with the gates.
"I understand that they have private streets, and that they have to pay for these streets and all of that, but I don't see this as setting a good precedent in our city," said board member Undine Petrulis.