Thoughts from the Bullpen: Canvassing Burbank's youth

The future is watching.

When you think of what is going on in and around Burbank, many things may pop up. You probably think of the economy and how it is affecting city services; you may think of traffic problems; it could be the Police Department; or perhaps something as small as the parking on your street.

Maybe we forgot that at one time we were all younger, and that what we thought was important to us back then has changed.

As a youngster fresh out of high school, I ran for City Council. My platform at the time: to make Burbank a little more alive in terms of the younger crowd.

My main thing was to bring a walk-in movie theater to Burbank. At the time, the Californian had shut down, followed by the Magnolia and the Cornell, leaving the city with just one movie screen, the Pickwick Drive-In. The Pickwick was OK, but for some reason I was always the one who had to ride in the trunk with two others, and to this day I have wondered why they never made you open up the trunk lid at the entrance to check for stowaways.

Now we have 30 theaters, so at least my vision was somewhat vindicated, although at the time City Councilman Jim Richmond did not agree with me.

So I talked with some of today's Burbank youth and asked three basic questions: What do you like about Burbank? What do you not like about Burbank?" If you can change one thing about Burbank, what would it be?

Daniel Starkand is 16 and likes living here. He likes that everything you need is close by, but also sees things in a different way when asked what is wrong. He is troubled by how information and rumors spread around the city so quickly.

"Adults gossip just like their kids," he said. Think about that; they do listen.

Daniel would also change things so there is less traffic.

Andrew Hernandez, 16, said he likes that everywhere you go, you see someone you know. He also sees a problem that we as adults don't: "Every time we go to the mall after school wearing your backpack, people are always following you around thinking you are stealing something."

It's interesting that it is OK to profile all kids as thieves, but if we were ever going to profile people at airport security or on the streets, there would be a huge public outcry. We just seem to brush it off when it comes to our kids.

A 15-year-old sophomore, Nathan Zavala, said he likes that people in Burbank are nice and respectful and there is a lot of good food, although he added that housing prices are way too expensive.

What would he change? "I would like to see less apartments and have more parks and open fields," he said. Nice idea, but those housing prices would not make him happy with fewer to go around.

Finally, I talked with Ryan Favor, a high school senior who has turned 18. He likes the city and said that since he was raised here, he has not seen a lot of other places. What frustrates him, though, is that he feels that everything to do is too expensive, and there isn't much for the younger generation to do.

When you listen to them, today's youth sound like the youth of each generation. They like what Burbank is, but they want more. They are looking for respect and thinking how they can expand their worlds. Most of them will leave for college, but usually find their way back here to raise their families because they know that Burbank is clean and safe.

And I'm sure when their children get into their teens, they will tell their parents that there is nothing to do here in Burbank. Their parents will then nod their heads in agreement and be glad that nothing changes in Burbank, including the fact that their kids are being raised in a caring community — sometimes with a little too much gossip.

CRAIG SHERWOOD is the executive editor of BurbankNBeyond.com and a baseball coach at Burbank High School. He can be reached at csherwood@burbanknbeyond.com.

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