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A city employee perk rankles resident; another urges all to shop in Magnolia Park

A city employee perk rankles resident; another urges all to shop in Magnolia Park
A Burbank resident writes this week to encourage others to support the merchants operating in the Magnolia Park shopping area. Above, customers relax in front of Romancing the Bean. (Raul Roa / Burbank Leader)

There is a hiring freeze in the library system and the possibility of reductions to library service. Cuts in other areas are a possibility. In spite of a financial deficit crisis, there was enough money to pay for an expensive fireworks display in a tinder dry area.

In the June 2 edition of the Leader, Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy stated that the City Council would “continue to look for cost savings that are reoccurring and sustainable.” In recent years, the City Council has squandered millions of dollars worth of potential revenue and cost savings on such things as an outrageous salary package for the previous city manager from South Carolina by way of Fresno, a huge giveaway to IKEA, and financially propping up the failed DeBell golf course.

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There are perks for city employees that are virtually unknown to the general public but are undoubtedly very costly. One of them is the employee use of city-owned vehicles for personal business such as shopping. We see these vehicles all around town — at Starbucks, Target, CVS, Trader Joe’s, etc. I learned from a city official the use of these vehicles is allowed as a convenience to employees who have been driving a city vehicle on official business immediately prior to the time of their breaks. The real issue is that the actual costs of vehicle wear, fuel and potential liability during those periods is apparently unknown and not monitored.

The City Council needs to reveal the true nature of this perk and its ramification in dollar amounts. Claiming to want to cut costs while wasting money on employee perks is real hypocrisy on the part of the City Council. Council members should remember that that they were elected by slightly more than 10% of the electorate. The population might be complacent but we are not stupid. Cutting services while spending scarce dollars on employee conveniences is a very bad practice.

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Thomas Saito

Burbank

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In recent years, I’ve watched a remarkable new source of pride rise in my neighborhood: the cool, clever, quirky corridor of Magnolia Park. Astonishingly, this citywide destination for what’s hip has been created, on a shoestring, almost entirely by the energetic, dedicated and resourceful merchants who populate its can’t-find-it-anywhere-else retail shops and eateries.

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Now this stunning success is under brutal pressure from skyrocketing rents, limited parking, a whole bunch of other stuff I’m sure I don’t understand, and most of all — a surprising lack of knowledge among too many local power brokers and absentee landlords about what makes Mag Park extraordinary.

News outlets wail about the apocalypse of online shopping and the death of the corner store. But the merchants of Magnolia solved it, asking: “What’s cool enough to get people away from their computers to shop?” It’s a powerful answer: You offer them a modern village. You offer unique products they can’t find online. You offer experiences and relationships beyond mere items on shelves. You give them a seat at the cool kids’ table. You create events — like Ladies & Gents Night Out and the completely donation-funded Holiday in the Park — that draw shoppers from all over Los Angeles and bring Burbank neighbors out to meet neighbors. In short, you build a fiercely loyal community of people who feel a part of our “Magnolia Miracle.”

No Realtor sells an increasingly valuable Burbank home to a highly paid jobholder and their family without emphasizing our city’s small-town feel. But it’s not the skyscrapers or the airport or the studios that create that — it’s Magnolia Park.

Folks, this crisis is real. Shops beloved by the Burbank and L.A. faithful have begun to close: Creature Features, Geeky Teas, the globally successful PinUp Girl Clothing. And more businesses are on the bubble. Don’t let the miracle die. Shop Magnolia Park, get to know Magnolia Park, VisitMagnoliaPark.com and SaveMagnoliaPark.com.

Robert Spina

Burbank

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