Residents meet to discuss ongoing concerns, including ‘deaf ears’ at City Council meetings
More than 60 Burbank residents met Thursday night to discuss issues they believe are plaguing the city.
Inside the crowded community room at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Burbank, speakers talked about the alleged illegal use of public funds made by the Burbank Hospitality Assn. in a recent political campaign, the increasing number of so-called “McMansions” throughout the city and the number of unpopular proposed mixed-use developments.
Several residents are alleging that the Burbank Hospitality Assn. wrongfully donated $50,000 to the Committee for Yes on Measure B to help the group purchase and distribute campaign mailers about the ballot measure.
The initiative, which allows the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority to move forward with its plans to build a 14-gate replacement terminal at Hollywood Burbank Airport, was approved by a considerable margin of voters in the November election, though some residents still have concerns about the project.
The summit was organized by the community group Save Burbank Neighborhoods with the intent to collaborate with other grassroots groups and concerned residents to help one another with the issues affecting them.
Resident Roy Wiegand, a member of Save Burbank Neighborhoods, said he is concerned about whether the City Council is listening to the residents’ concerns and wondered why they are not being proactive about them.
Wiegand was troubled by the council’s actions recently when residents had to wait more than four hours to speak during public comments and heard no responses from most of the council members.
“A lot of people here come to City Council meetings and are very eloquent speakers that have done their research and fact-checking and speak after waiting for hours,” he said. “The response that they get [from the City Council] is usually ‘Thank you for coming.’ It is falling on deaf ears. That is really tiring.”
Resident Jim Casey, who is a member of the community group Preserve Burbank, talked about the rise in large homes being built around the city and rules council members are expected to approve in the coming weeks to address that issue.
Casey, who along with others have been pushing the city to pass new rules to curb the number of large homes for several years, asked the people in attendance to show up at the upcoming City Council meeting, where council members are expected to vote on the second reading of proposed rules and guidelines that address mansionization.
“We need to pack the council chambers to show them that we want them to pass these new design guidelines and restrict the massive overbuilding in Burbank,” he said. “We’re so close, we’re on the one-yard line, but we need everybody there to make sure that it gets done.”
Resident Tony Noakes, who hails from the Media District, warned his neighbors about what he thinks are an excessive number of mixed-use developments in and around the Burbank Town Center, specifically where the outgoing IKEA store is located.
He mentioned the proposed 765-unit mixed-use development at the soon-to-be former IKEA site, which would be a seven-story building; a proposed six-story, 200-room hotel across the street, and the First Street Village project, which is proposed to have three six-story buildings on First Street between Magnolia Boulevard and Palm Avenue.
All of these projects, Noakes said, were not examples of responsible development within Burbank.
“I thought we were a bedroom community with businesses, not a city that happens to have bedrooms,” he said. “But evidently, others think otherwise. So myself and others are trying to organize to stand up and fight for accountability, transparency [and] justification for the future projects to be considered by our City Council.”
Regardless of what issues were affecting the various residents around Burbank, there was one message that resounded within many of the residents there, which was to go to City Council in numbers and to be persistent.
“Things like this have been going on for a long time in the city, but I am absolutely appalled as I sit here today and listen to this on what is happening,” resident LaVerne Thomas said. “We need young blood. We need people in this city to be involved with their neighborhoods and know what’s going on. It takes time … You’ve got to speak out for yourselves and have to go down there [to City Hall].”
Anthony Clark Carpio, email@example.com