Burbank town hall covers group homes, pot holes and other resident concerns

The Burbank City Council heard a wide variety of concerns at Tuesday's town hall meeting, with residents griping about group homes potentially moving into residential areas, inadequate public noticing on city meetings and hearings, pot holes on city streets and vacant storefronts.

Perhaps the most contentious discussion centered around the city's recent move to allow supportive housing — including sober-living and drug rehabilitation facilities — into residential neighborhoods without permits, which city officials have said was to comply with state law. The city's housing element states such facilities with six or fewer residents are considered standard use, and do not need special permission.

It's a subject that's come up at nearly every City Council meeting since the state-required housing element was approved in January.

"This could have the potential to really change our neighborhoods," Burbank resident Roy Wiegand said Tuesday at the meeting, held at John Muir Middle School. "When we did anything to our house we had to get a permit. I had to get a permit to put sprinklers in my yard."

But mostly, the public was troubled that residents were not adequately notified about the hearing prior to the Jan. 7 meeting, when the document was approved.

While Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said the public noticing was "consistent with the requirement of state law," City Manager Mark Scott agreed with residents and said that the public was not adequately notified.

"I can't go back and undo it, but I can certainly go forward and try to do it right," Scott said.

Other residents brought up concerns centered around individual neighborhoods and the city's economy.

Longtime resident and business owner David Cantu complained of vacant storefronts, and worried that IKEA's relocation would affect foot traffic at the Burbank Town Center, potentially crippling businesses in the mall.

"I don't want to see the Burbank mall [be] on," Cantu said, adding that IKEA seemed to contribute to keeping smaller businesses nearby afloat.

Councilman Bob Frutos shared concerns about vacant properties.

"In order for me to fill your potholes, trim your trees…we have to work as a community to be pro-business," Frutos said, adding that at a recent event, he pitched Burbank to grocery retailer Bristol Farms.

A handful of residents who live adjacent to the proposed Burbank Western Flood Control Channel bikeway complained that the project would compromise their privacy and increase noise in the area. The proposal calls for the path to be built from downtown Burbank Metrolink station along the channel to Alameda Avenue

One resident asked for more residential construction regulations after construction on her neighbor's home left her with broken electrical and phone lines, while another asked the council to bring back the downtown Burbank summer concert series.