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Mailbag: Leader readers offer thoughts on Burbank Measures QS, P, as well as Prop. 10

As a longtime Burbank resident and a former school board member, I wholeheartedly support Measure QS. Nobody likes taxes, but everyone knows that having quality schools ensures a quality community.

Our schools are some of the best schools in the state. Unfortunately, 95% of the school district’s budget comes from Sacramento and they are not allocating enough money to our schools.

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Measure QS funding will stay in Burbank so that it can only be used to support our local children. Measure QS even has a provision where property owners over 65 can opt out of the tax. However, I encourage everyone to not opt out, if they can afford the $.10 per square foot of improved property. For a Burbank resident with a home that is 1,700 square feet, that comes out to around $14 per month. I really hope everyone will join me in voting “Yes” on QS!

Peter McGrath

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Burbank

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I’m a grateful alumnus of Burbank schools, starting with Bret Harte Elementary through John Burroughs High, and support their needs for additional funding. However, starting another line of taxing homes with a proposed parcel tax is a questionable way to do that. It opens the door to an additional method of adding taxes to our already heavily taxed homes that will never go away, and like hot air, always can be expected to rise for homeowners subject to a parcel tax but not for renters.

If the needed additional school funds were to be on a bill every resident receives, whether owner or renter, as the Burbank electric bill or other utility bill, then all residents would share in it, both renters and owners. Renters need to directly pay their share, just as homeowners. After all, their children also attend Burbank schools!

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Harvey Barkan

Studio City

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Burbank has, for decades, provided first-rate services about which few other cities can boast. Police and Fire are second to none. Senior/youth, library, reading and recreation programs, pot holes/sidewalks, bulky item and graffiti removal afford daily components of the quality of life we value so highly. For generations, these essential services have set us apart from other cities.

However, we now face an ongoing funding shortfall of more than $27 million per year, including $9.5 million long-term deficit and $18 million for needed infrastructure maintenance annually. Without additional revenue to address the deficit, those important services will suffer.

Measure P, the city’s Infrastructure and Community Services Protection Measure, is the third step in a three-step effort to secure Burbank’s fiscal future. The first two steps have been completed: first, the city secured the agreement of city employees to save nearly $9 million annually by contributing half their pension costs, salaries adjusted to market rate, worker’s compensation expenses reduced, cost-recovery for city services, etc.; then in June, you confirmed (via vote) the continued 60-year-old practice to transfer funds from our utility to the general fund ($12.5 million).

The third and final step is voting on Measure P on the Nov. 6 ballot, a three-quarter-cent local sales tax that will provide approximately $20 million in annual funding to vital infrastructure projects and services. Nearly one-third of this revenue will come from purchases made by tourists and visitors to Burbank. All of the revenue raised can only be used for Burbank projects.

Measure P provides an annual independent audit for a full accounting of revenues/expenditures and will be overseen by a citizens oversight committee that will advise the City Council on infrastructure spending and ensure full transparency. The mission of this oversight board is, in part, to ensure the reliability, maintenance and safety of the city’s infrastructure.

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If approved by Burbank voters, the revenue from Measure P will allow the city to address its long-term funding shortfall and continue maintenance of our infrastructure while maintaining essential services for residents.

Emily Gabel-Luddy

Mayor

Burbank

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Back in the early ’90s, my immigrant family achieved the so-called “American Dream” — my parents purchased their first home in Burbank. Decades later, after recovering from the crash of 2008 in which my parents lost all three of their homes, I became a landlord of a multifamily home. Now, as California is preparing for the November election, the debate over Proposition 10 has left me torn. Like most problems in America, there are two opposing viewpoints: those in power (homeowners, landlords and real estate developers) versus the powerless majority (renters).

California housing has undergone drastic changes since the crash of 2008. The median rent in Los Angeles County has doubled in just two years, and the housing shortage has left thousands of residents displaced and on the streets. Therefore landlords should be in support of regulations and policies that advocate for affordable housing if they don’t want to be burdened with the responsibility of housing low-income tenants.

However, Americans seem to oppose anything with the word “control” in it without considering the bigger picture. Real estate developers assert that Proposition 10 would slow down the building of more housing units. While this may be true for developers seeking to build luxury condominiums, this is not the case for affordable housing developers whose buildings are already rent-controlled without government interference.

Voting against Proposition 10 is not going to eliminate rent control. Homes that are protected under rent control will stay protected. However, the same can’t be said for newer buildings. We need a bipartisan revision of outdated rent control policies for a more equal distribution of power and equity for the 99% — renters and homeowners included.

Sharon Kwon

Los Angeles

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