Tag Archives: Burbank City Council

Rogers Voted in as Mayor, Gabel-Luddy New Vice Mayor

Burbank City Council Members elected their colleague Will Rogers as the new Mayor of Burbank during City Council’s annual Reorganization meeting Monday morning, May 1, in a ceremony that also featured the swearing in of first time Council Member Sharon Springer.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Rogers, who is serving as Mayor for the first time, replaces Council Member Jess Talamantes who will continue his role as a City Council Member after serving as Mayor for the past twelve months. Council also elected Council Member Emily Gabel-Luddy to serve as Vice Mayor. Both votes were 5-0.

Talamantes presented different staff members with small gifts while City Manager Ron Davis presented the former Mayor with a scrap book filled with his year as the City’s Mayor.

Rogers, elected to the Council in 2015, spent decades as an award winning free-lance writer, with a specialty in investigative journalism, whose work has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

The Reorganization ceremony also included the swearing in of incumbent Council Members Jess Talamantes and Bob Frutos and new member Sharon Springer, the top three vote-getters in the recent Burbank Municipal Election. Council Member Springer replaces outgoing Council Member Dr. David Gordon who lost his bid for a fourth term after serving approximately eleven years as a City Council Member.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Members of the city staff arranged for a video retrospect of his years on both the Planning Board and the City Council.  He thanked staff and the public for all of the work they accomplished with him over the years and congratulated Springer with some advice to use her own judgement and not just believe everything that is told to her.

Burbank Mayor and Vice Mayor serve for one year and are chosen from among the five Burbank City Council Members.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Besides the council members, City Treasurer Debbie Kukta and City Clerk Zizette Mullins were also sworn in to new terms after having run unopposed.

Re-elected School Board member Char Tabet along with newly elected Steve Frintner were also sworn in for their new four years terms on the school board.   Outgoing member Larry Applebaum thanked the assembled crowd for their support over the years.

City Clerk’s Office Still Working for Final Vote Count

As of Wednesday afternoon, there is still a question as to the re-election of two Burbank City Council members.

Because it is an all-mail vote conducted by the City of Burbank, results can not be posted yet because ballots that have postmarks up until election day have still not been received or counted.

Jess Talamantes and Bob Frutos congratulate each other after early numbers show that both have been re-elected to their City Council seats (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

With only 9,903 total ballots counted that were submitted by Burbank’s electorate and processed as of Tuesday night at 10:35 pm, all of the open seats may have been decided except for one.

Burbank’s City Council had three seats up for grab with all three incumbents, Dr. David Gordon, Bob Frutos and Jess Talamantes, running to retain their places on the council for the next four years.

Talamantes is currently ahead with 5,042 votes (51.5%) while Frutos placed a close second with 4,911 votes (50.1%). Both may be elected without facing a runoff due to the formula of a candidate receiving 50% of the votes cast plus one vote to avoid a runoff.

On the other hand Gordon, who ran on an anti-development platform, only received 4,393 votes (44.9%) and could possibly face fourth place finisher Sharon Springer who captured 3,490 votes (35.6%) who worked the community through a grassroots effort.  If either Frutos or Talamantes do not capture over 50% with the final tally, they will also face the runoff.

Finishing fifth was Juan Guillen, who made the General Election two years ago with 2,870 votes (29.3%), followed by Greg  Sousa with 2,240 (22.9%), Konstantine Anthony with 1,821 (18.6%) and Richard Carr who secured 1,304 votes (13.3%).

On the School Board, both incumbents, Charlene Tabet and Larry Applebaum were up for re-election along with longtime PTA activist  Steve Frintner for the two open seats. Because there were two seats open with only three candidates, the top two vote getters were automatically elected with no runoff needed.

Members of the City Clerk’s office worked on results most of the night (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Frintner has the lead in the closely fought contest with 5,185 votes (59.2%) while Tabet is in second with 5,009 votes (57.2%) to claim the two seats.  Applebaum is a close third with 4,898 votes (55.9%).

Both City Clerk Zizette Mullins 7,205 votes and City Treasurer  Debbie Kukta, 7,230 votes both ran unopposed as incumbents.

If the current vote holds and results do not change, Gordon and Springer will now face off in the General Election which is scheduled for April 11. It will also be an all-mail election. 

The winning candidates will assume their new positions May 1.

‘Measure B’ Terminal Vote Finalized for November 8

On Monday, August 1, the Burbank City Council adopted an ordinance approving a development agreement and other matters related to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority’s replacement terminal project. The City of Burbank has now taken all of the discretionary actions required for the project.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Additionally, the Council called a November 8, 2016, special municipal election to put ratification of the replacement terminal project deal before Burbank voters. The deal will allow the Airport Authority to build a 14-gate, 355,000-square-foot replacement passenger terminal in exchange for Burbank control over critical decisions about the future of the Hollywood Burbank Airport.

The Council also voted to mail a supplemental information booklet to every registered voter in Burbank, which would provide specific information regarding the replacement terminal ballot measure, including an impartial analysis by the City Attorney, arguments for and against the measure, and directions on where to find additional replacement terminal information.

The Council’s actions followed an August 1 action by the Airport Authority Commission approving a full cost reimbursement to Burbank for election costs charged by the County of Los Angeles and by the City’s election vendor, Martin and Chapman Co.

l cost for the County to conduct the November 8 election, and for Martin and Chapman to produce and mail the supplemental information booklet, is estimated at approximately $200,000.

The replacement terminal would take the place of the existing 14-gate passenger terminal, portions of which were built in 1930. The central part of the building is 86 years old, does not meet current seismic design standards, and does not provide adequate space for passengers or basic amenities. The terminal is also 250 feet from the runways. Current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards call for 750-foot separation.

Per the terms of Measure B, Burbank voters must approve any discretionary agreement between the City and the Airport Authority for a replacement terminal. If Burbank voters approve the ballot measure, the Airport Authority will then receive the right to build a replacement terminal and Burbank will receive permanent new protections. The replacement terminal will be paid for primarily by Airport users and the airlines, as well as by grants from the FAA. City of Burbank funds will not be used for its construction.

Additional information about the replacement terminal project is available on the Airport Authority’s Replacement Terminal website and the City of Burbank’s website.

Burbank City Council Approves 3 Days per Week Watering

Following a year where watering limits of two days per week were in place, the Burbank City Council voted on June 21 to provide some relief to residents.  Effective immediately, outdoor irrigation is allowed in Burbank three days per week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  All other wise water use requirements remain in effect, including:

  • Irrigate no more than 15 minutes per station on allowed days.
  • Do not water outdoor landscapes between the hours of 9am and 6pm to avoid unnecessary evaporation losses.
  • Eliminate overspray and run-off into streets and other paved surfaces.
  • Repair all leaks promptly.
  • Use a broom, not a hose, to wash paved surfaces (unless required for safety or sanitary hazards)
  • When washing vehicles, use a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose that has a self-closing shut-off device.

Burbank continues to allow watering by hand during non-sanctioned irrigation days when the sun is down.

Since June 1, 2015, Burbank has allowed outdoor watering for two days per week.  This action was taken in response to the ongoing drought and Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-29-15 which set a statewide mandate for water use reductions totaling 25 percent.  Each city in the state was assigned a specific water reduction target; Burbank’s target was 24 percent.  That percentage equated to almost exactly one billion gallons and Burbank Water and Power (BWP), the City’s community-owned utility, created the Billion Gallon Challenge campaign.

Burbank residents and businesses took the requirements to heart and hit the full reduction target in January 2016, a month early.  The bulk of those savings came from three sources – residents limiting irrigation to two days per week, customers participating in BWP’s award-winning water conservation programs, and large businesses converting to recycled water for irrigation and cooling tower use.  “Burbank’s studios, school district, hospital, and several large office buildings no longer use drinking water to irrigate their landscapes and many of these customers now operate their air conditioning cooling towers with recycled water.  These recycled water conversion efforts from last year alone have saved about 100 million gallons of drinking water annually,” said Jorge Somoano, BWP’s Acting General Manager.

The move to three days per week watering does not mean that Burbank is letting up on prudent water management.  “Through programs and education, BWP will continue to assist our customers achieve resource efficiency as painlessly as possible,” said Joanne Fletcher, BWP’s Assistant General Manager, Customer Service and Marketing.  BWP offers a number of exceptional programs, including the flagship Home Improvement Program.  “This one-of-a-kind and award-winning program has already served 6,800 Burbank households.  We install energy as well as water saving measures, including attic insulation, showerheads, faucet aerators, and light bulbs.  We tune-up central air conditioning systems, replace very inefficient toilets for income-qualified customers, and always check for irrigation overspray.  It’s all provided to our residents free of charge.  It’s a truly outstanding program!” Fletcher added.  For information on BWP’s complement of efficiency programs, visit www.BurbankWaterAndPower.com.

Council Members Receive Gift While Visiting Incheon, South Korea

A trip taken by two City Council officials has brought to full circle an art exchange between sister cities Burbank and Incheon, South Korea.

Mayor Bob Frutos and Councilman David Gordon visited Incheon from Nov. 17 to 21 to attend the unveiling of an art sculpture titled “Dancing Stones” that is a gift from the city of Burbank.

Burbank Councilman David Gordon, from left, Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok and Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos at the unveiling ceremony for the new art sculpture "Dancing Stones" in Incheon, South Korea. (Photo courtesy Burbank City Council)

Burbank Councilman David Gordon, from left, Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok and Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos at the unveiling ceremony for the new art sculpture “Dancing Stones” in Incheon, South Korea. (Photo courtesy Burbank City Council)

Incheon was adopted as the first sister city of Burbank’s Sister City program in 1961. To mark the 50th anniversary of the sisterhood, Incheon sent a sculpture to Burbank in 2011, said Sharon Cohen, former Library Services director. The Sister City program operates under the Library Services Department. A delegation came from Incheon for the unveiling including a Korean dancer troupe.

That art piece, titled “Mutualism” and created by artist Oh Soon Mi, is of two heads in silhouette, one in pink, one in blue, engaged in discussion. It was installed at the front entrance of the Northwest Library.

After that, the City Council decided to reciprocate the gesture and approved to have the Library Services Department begin the process of commissioning an artwork for Incheon, Cohen said. A request for proposal was sent to artists the city has worked with in the past. In addition, a committee was created of members of the Sister City Committee and Art in Public Places Committee that reviewed the submissions.

The committee narrowed down the submissions to two, and the City Council met with the artists and selected the piece made by Jose “Rude” Calderon of Long Beach and Roberto Delgado of Highland Park.

Now installed in Incheon, the artwork features twin seven-foot carved travertine sculptures surrounded by a walkway that has ceramic tiles inset between the pavers. Calderon sculpted the stones. He chose New Mexico Travertine, because he wanted a piece of our land — a piece of our continent — transported to Incheon, he said. The twin stones were cut into an S shape and sculpted into forms that resemble wings, flames or leaves — depending on the eye of the beholder.

           A worker installs tiles and pavers around the "Dancing Stones" sculpture in Incheon, South Korea. (Photo courtesy City of Burbank)

A worker installs tiles and pavers around the “Dancing Stones” sculpture in Incheon, South Korea. (Photo courtesy City of Burbank)

Calderon cut the stones from one boulder that was shaped like a wafer and angled the cut on the inside of the stones like yin and yang, [the symbol for Chinese philosophy], so they resemble wings or flames.

“They also look like continents coming together,” he said. “They also look like male and female figures in an abstract sense. The title is ‘Dancing Stones’ and the idea behind it was the collaboration between two cities, but in art, it goes deeper — two cultures collaborating, two continents in friendly terms coming together and in art, exchanging culture. I left it vague so there is not just one meaning but many.”

For the overall design, Calderon said, he wanted it to reverberate with a message of harmony therefore dancing in harmony and rhythm.

Calderon has exhibited his work internationally but this is his first international public art monumental piece.

“It makes me feel wonderful because art is universal. Art is for everyone. If I’m able to communicate a fraction of my inspiration for this piece to another culture, in a different language, on another continent, to me that’s just amazing to be able to do that,” he said. “I’m hoping it will do that for the people in Korea who see the sculpture.”

Artist Roberto Delgado created the tiles that are inset on the walkway. He used an airbrush and silkscreen technique to apply the collaged images of Lockheed, Warner Bros. and other pictures symbolizing Burbank on one side of the walkway and pictures depicting the sisterhood of the two cities on the other side. Delgado said he used photographs from Burbank historical books, the library and internet.

“It’s nice to have it in Samsung’s backyard,” Delgado said. “Incheon is a big port city and it is the corporate headquarters of a really big company — Samsung Electronics.”

The cost to commission the art piece and to ship it to Incheon was $50,000 and was paid for out of the Arts in Public Places Fund, Cohen said. The project and funding source were approved by the City Council in the spring of 2012.

The art sculpture is placed outside the newly built G-tower that features a park with a lake, Frutos said.

“It’s open space where the community can enjoy walking their dogs, bicycling and hiking,” Frutos said. “They paid Burbank the highest honor by placing the statue that we sent to them right outside their G-tower for all to see.”

During their stay, Frutos and Gordon toured Seoul one day and saw many historical sites and significant buildings, including Gyeongbokgung Palace. Another day, they toured Incheon and were introduced to city life.

Over the past 15 years, the port city of Incheon transformed thousands of acres of undeveloped tidal mud flats into an global business hub known as the Incheon Free Economic Zone, Gordon said. Numerous high-tech office buildings, hotels and residential skyscrapers have made Incheon into a highly desirable key economic gateway to Asia.

“At the same time, Incheon is in the midst of constructing a new port facility capable of handling the high-volume, super-sized containerized transport vessels that have become the gold standard of international trade and commerce, Gordon said. “Incheon is a very clean, modern city incorporating the latest technologies and environmentally compatible designs and practices.”

Frutos, being a police officer, noticed that Incheon is having serious traffic issues, in fact, while driving in traffic, it took two hours to go 30 miles. Frutos also asked a lot of questions about public safety and found out they use a lot of surveillance cameras.

“To the point that if a person is driving an unregistered vehicle, they immediately call the police to cite the person so the government can get their share of the registered taxes of the vehicle,” Frutos said.

Councilman Gordon asked several times where the single family homes were located, Frutos noted.

Space is so limited that apartments are built 20 stories high. But in their culture, it is preferred.

“Especially single women, they don’t want to live in single family homes,” Frutos said. “They actually like living in apartments because of the [sense of] community and because of the safety. It keeps peddlers out of the complex.”

The rental system for apartments is also different in Incheon, Frutos added. When a person rents an apartment, he has to pay the owner of the property two years of rent up front. So people go to the bank to get a loan to pay the apartment owner. So for two years you have rent control. After two years, the property owner has the right to raise the rent, and you can stay or move.

The airport, he said, is a “total modern convenience airport.”

Gordon noted that the close ties created between cities through the Sister City program has broadened the opportunities for better understanding and appreciation of the cities’ differences and similarities.

“We have close and friendly relations with our first Sister City that afford highly beneficial educational and cultural exchanges whether through visiting students living with host families, the dedication works of art or simply sharing our respective histories and hopes for the future,” he said.

Cohen is very proud to see the art exchange come to fruition, she said.

“It expresses the deep friendship that’s existed between our two cities for almost 55 years,” she said.

The relationship with Incheon began soon after the Korean War. A young man from Incheon sent a letter to Burbank seeking books in English and that set into motion a series of book drives that took place on the San Fernando Boulevard (then known as the Golden Mall), Cohen said. Several book shipments were sent to Incheon and out of that came the Sister City relationship.

“In the last three years we have received books in Korean language from Incheon when the students have come to visit and when the mayor of Incheon came earlier this year, he brought several books written in Korean, which were donated to the library and are available to the public,” she said. “It’s kind of a nice circle, that we sent them books in English originally and now they are reciprocating with books in Korean to us.”

Burbank City Manager Will Depart After First of the New Year

City Manager Mark Scott, the highest paid employee in the city of Burbank, plans to retire in the new year.

His decision follows the City Council’s rejection of an item at Monday’s meeting that came to them for the third time.

At issue was the creation of a new position that may have ultimately resulted in giving a current Public Works employee a raise to match the employee’s actual duties. According to city documents, the employee had taken on the job description of a higher position.

New City Manager Mark Scott. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

City Manager Mark Scott. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Scott, who makes close to $300,000 a year, joined the city in 2013 after positions as city manager in Beverly Hills and Fresno, among others, and has more than three decades of experience in city management.

In an email, Scott described the purpose of having the item on the agenda.

“The item on the agenda was simply to create the Public Works Administrator position comparable to similar positions in the Fire and BWP [Burbank Water and Power] Departments,” Scott said. “We were not asking the Council to approve a personnel appointment. That is a City Manager role as defined in the City Charter. This is the same as in any other Council-Manager governance system.”

Scott explained that “staff wanted the position created in order for the department head to implement a position upgrade, following a professional HR Department evaluation of the work done by a specific employee.”

He also gave a reason for deciding to part ways with the city.

“I was disappointed that after 3 attempts, a majority of Councilmembers voted no without explanation,” Scott said. “There was no cost implication from creating a job description. If we had subsequently promoted the employee, then the cost would have been about $14,000 which was budgeted.”

City Hall watchers in Burbank know that council meetings often run long, and it is not unusual for meetings to run past midnight.

Monday’s meeting ran past 12:30 a.m., and it was at a late hour that Scott voiced his disapproval with how the council handled the vote on this item, which was on the consent calendar.

City Hall Staffers prepared refreshments and fresh baked goods for the reception of new city Manager Mark Scott. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

City Hall Staffers prepared refreshments and fresh baked goods for the reception of new city Manager Mark Scott back in August of 2013. He announced he will be quitting in early 2016 (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Usually items on the consent calendar require little discussion.

The council, in a 3-2 vote, declined to approve the new position, which included a salary increase and title change for the employee, who was not named.

Documents that are part of the agenda indicate the item has come before the council twice in September.

The documents include a memo from Betsy Dolan, management services director, to Scott indicating that a Public Works employee is handling responsibilities beyond the employee’s pay grade and title of Administrative Officer. The equivalent of the work performed is that of an Administrator, the document states.

The change in salary and title for the Public Works employee would be to better reflect the duties the person is actually doing, the document states. A title change would mean an additional $13,989.16 a year, including the cost of benefits.

Next year’s Public Works budget is able to absorb the cost.

Dolan proposed the monthly salary range for the new position of Public Works Administrator be set at $8,114.88 to $10,671.07, which is equivalent to the classification of Administrative Officer – Burbank Water and Power, the document states. The salary range was based on the position in Water and Power as the duties include similar supervisory and human resources-related tasks.

According to the the documents, the actual monthly salary for the new Public Works classification would fall in the middle of the proposed range, at $9,392.98, or $154,201 a year.

But Mayor Bob Frutos, Councilman David Gordon and Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes voted against the change.

Frutos and Gordon are out of the country, visiting Burbank’s sister city Incheon, in South Korea.

Talamantes was not immediately available for comment.

When asked if it was unusual for the council to make a decision on a new job description, Scott responded: “Yes, unusual, but it is our code so we follow the law. My disappointment has been with the lack of explanation, especially on such a routine, low cost item.”

He added that he thought the public might “wonder if it was really such a narrow issue, then why was it even on the agenda.  I agree, but our old code requires it. It’s probably a remnant from decades ago.”

Scott also said he will remain in his position a little longer, and indicated he may do something different after working in Burbank.

“I am looking at retiring sometime after the first of the year,” he said. “I need to consult with the retirement system to pick a date. I have been in the city management profession since 1972. I might stay in the field or might do something different.  I enjoy my work and I very much enjoy living in Burbank. My wife also has a very active career, largely out of town, so we will let the opportunities and adventures in life guide our next steps. I would love to keep living in this great community.”

He added: “I’d like to say what a real privilege it has been to work here and with the Council and City employees. It’s time for me to move on, but I really have loved being part of this team.”

Council to Take Up Airport Terminal Agreement Tonight

The relocation of the 14-gate terminal at Burbank Bob Hope Airport will be addressed by the City Council at its meeting tonight and Mayor Bob Frutos hopes residents will educate themselves on the subject so they can make an informed decision should it be placed on a future ballot.

Burbank voters could be asked to decide on the issue as early as next November, Frutos said.

“Once and for all, either we have a majority on the council to endorse it and move forward so they can begin the environmental impact process so they can start doing the scoping meetings or it doesn’t go anywhere now.”

Back in July, Frutos gave his commitment to the public and the Airport Authority that within 30 to 45 days he would address the authority’s proposal.

A Bob Hope Airport terminal design

A Bob Hope Airport terminal design

The Council met in closed sessions, looking at the authority’s points and then the Council gave Frutos a parameter to revisit the latest proposal and he and Council member Jess Talamantes met with the authority so they could ask members questions. The Council met again in a closed session and the majority was willing to address the latest proposal.

“This is not a guarantee that we are still building a new terminal or 100 percent accepting the latest proposal,” Frutos said. “This is a proposal to give us a snapshot of what the footprint will be and what certain conditions that we have come to agreement mutually between the two government bodies in deciding should we move this forward to begin the environmental impact process to see exactly what locations they can build this terminal and also talk about the no-build option. This way everybody in Burbank can follow along, can get engaged, be involved and make that educated decision vote hopefully sometime in the very near future.”

Frutos just wants to present the facts to Burbank residents and allow them to make their own independent decision.

The City Council is meeting on Monday so there will be a full Council to vote on the airport issue, Frutos added.

On Tuesday, Mayor Frutos and Council member David Gordon will leave for Incheon, Korea, Burbank’s Sister City, where they will participate in an unveiling ceremony of a sculpture that is a gift from the city of Burbank.

“Council member Gordon and I are looking forward to traveling to our Sister City Incheon, Korea in the spirit of cultural exchange, friendship and relationship building on behalf of the people of Burbank as we unveil the art sculpture for the good people of Inchon,” Frutos said.

The Council has temporarily moved some of its meetings to Monday nights over the past few weeks because of the Veterans Day holiday and because official business has taken Council members out of town. After Frutos was hospitalized for vertigo, and Gordon attended the National League of Cities Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

“We’ve been moving the City Council meetings so we facilitate the city’s business with a full contingency of council members and it’s unusual but we wanted to make sure to meet as frequently as possible,” Frutos said.

The Bob Hope Airport Replacement Terminal Conceptual Term Sheet:

Burbank Police Monitor Contract Extended Three Years by City Council

Consultant Michael Gennaco will continue working with the city and serving as an independent monitor of the Burbank Police Department, now that the City Council extended his contract another three years.

BPD Arrest & Swat

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Gennaco, principal of OIR Group, was formerly the chief attorney of the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review from 2001 to 2014, his LinkedIn profile shows. The Office of Independent Review, or OIR, provided civilian oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Gennaco also has experience working with several law enforcement agencies.

Since January 2012, Gennaco has been tasked with examining certain types of police incidents and how police handled them, including uses of deadly force and in-custody deaths, biased policing complaints and a random 1/4 selection of all use of force reviews. The findings are eventually made public.

On Thursday evening the council unanimously approved the contract extension. The topic had been discussed at a previous meeting.

Police Chief Scott LaChasse said in an email before the meeting that police are doing well in areas reviewed by Gennaco, but can always do better.

“We are not perfect,” LaChasse said. “We have made strides in several areas, but we want to maintain our status. Review by a third party helps us stay at the top of our game.”

LaChasse also said there is a small segment of the population who don’t trust the police department.

He added: “Having a third party independent review helps maintain a level of transparency, preserving the confidence most people do have in our organization, but also serves to increases the level of trust we have with those in the community who may be skeptical.”

In 2011, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation was still looking into allegations of officer misconduct and use of force at the department, the city was eyeing independent consultants in the hopes of bringing more transparency to how police operate.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

At the time, Gennaco said that the first report on certain police cases would provide a wealth of information about the challenges the department has faced over the auditing period. It presents an opportunity Burbank has never had, he said.

Most of the information about the controversy has come from the media, and the reports will provide a significant step in transparency, Gennaco added.

BPD K-9

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The controversy Gennaco referred to included lawsuits by former and current officers that were making their way through the court system, alleging retaliatory firing and discrimination, among other complaints. They painted a portrait of a department that was hostile to women and minorities.

The cost of Gennaco’s consulting services remains the same as his initial contract, at $60,000 per year, for a total of $180,000.

LETTER: Burbank Councilman Reports Out to Citizens

Letter to the Editor:

When I took my seat on the Burbank City Council in May I said I wouldn’t engage in the council’s recent practice of using the “Reporting Out” period to announce events attended since the previous council session.  Among other reasons, I said – and still believe – the often lengthy readings offer more benefit to the council members than to citizens waiting for the council to get down to business.

The public is entitled to know what elected officials are up to in the city’s service when not at the dais.  But I’m certain there are means to accomplish that without adding to the wait for those watching meetings to see city business being done, and to be heard on those issues.

It’s taken me too long to create an alternative, and I can only apologize and blame the crush of putting a council schedule atop work and home schedules.  But I can now offer access to all the information every council member announces when Reporting Out, and a bit more.

Every month or two I’ll try to post on-line my calendar of city-business activities for the period since the last calendar was published.  These listings also offer a bit more information than we’re accustomed to getting.  To see the first example, just point your browser to www.WillRogersBurbank.com.

Thanks for checking it out and, as always, please contact me with comments or questions about this or any other city business at 818.238-5750, or by email at WRogers@burbankCa.gov.

Sincerely,

Will Rogers
Member of the Burbank City Council

Bikeway Project Approved by Burbank City Council

More than 30 people took the time to address the City Council Thursday evening, mostly on the topic of the extension of the Channel Bikeway. When the last speaker left the podium, at least two hours had ticked away. Their patience paid off when the council finally took their vote at 10 p.m., approving the extension and selecting one of five possible routes.

Proposed Burbank Channel Bikeway Project (Phase 2) Concept Route (Courtesy City of Burbank)

Proposed Burbank Channel Bikeway Project (Phase 2) Concept Route (Courtesy City of Burbank)

Phase one was completed in 2011, and extends from Alameda Avenue to Victory Boulevard. Phase two of the project would extend the bikeway from Alameda to the Downtown Burbank Metrolink Station,

The Channel Bikeway extension, or phase two, was considered by the council about a year ago, but residents on the proposed path asked the council to reconsider the route. They expressed concern with the proximity of the path to their property.

On Thursday, residents, including some who live near the bike path, mostly supported the project, and shared their varied reasons for doing so. Some said they faced health issues, and the existing bike paths in the city provided them an opportunity to work out in a safe place, and the Channel Bikeway would present one more opportunity to do that. Others said the bikeway was a convenient way to get to where they were going, whether on bike or by foot.

Still others talked about the big picture, and said that in a world that is becoming increasingly populated, where most people still get into a vehicle to get to their destination, a dedicated bike path provided a safe commuting alternative that would also reduce pollution.

Mike Hollis, a Burbank resident who walks and bikes around the city, said he has done so from young age, and now cycles to work. He noted he also bikes recreationally with his wife, running errands and dining at restaurants.

“You have an opportunity tonight to [have the bike path] be a resource for many cyclists, to give commuters access to trains and provide benefits for recreational riders,” Hollis said, adding that it would also create a safe route to schools.

The Chandler Bikeway was created 11 years ago, Hollis said.

“Imagine what the area would look like if you did not put that in,” he said.

Hollis also said he rides along and walks on phase 1 of the Channel Bikeway, and said it was great that the bikeway would become a connection to one of the busiest Metrolink stations in the area, referring to the Downtown Burbank Metrolink Station.

Indeed, Ross Young, real estate and project manager in the Community Development Department, said it is the second busiest Metrolink Station in the five county, Southern California region, behind Union Station in Los Angeles.

Helen Kelley, however, said she had hoped “the bike thing goes up in flames,” but realized she might be the minority in that regard. She said the speakers thus far did not live in the area, and that she did not want to see mature trees cut down, did not want to look at a cement wall or have one-inch bushes put in.

Justin Okin and his young daughter, Rose, spoke next, in support of the project. They live on Cedar Avenue, about 50 yards from the bike path. Okin said there are more than 10 families with children under 6 who live nearby, and said there was quite a lot of excitement about the proposed extension.

The full council chamber chuckled and applauded when Rose, who was in her father’s arms at the time, added: “I want the bike path.”

Brian Castillo, who said he lives in the area directly impacted by the path, also supported the project.

“I’ve seen what projects like this have done to a neighborhood,” the 30-year resident and father of three young children said, calling it an opportunity to rejuvenate the area with improved lighting and landscaping while promoting wellness.

Michael Fishman, of Pure Fix Cycles on Victory Boulevard, said he opened his business about four years ago and supported the extension of the bikeway. Fishman, also a member of Walk Bike Burbank, a local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), noted that more than 10 of his employees bike to work, using the Chandler Bikeway.

“When they have not been on the path, they were hit by a car,” Fishman said, encouraging the council to give more people a reason to bike to work, to get in shape and to have fun.

He also encouraged the council to do so to help him sell more bikes, and added: “Cyclists spend more money than people in cars.”

Fishman and other speakers at the meeting noted that improved bike infrastructure would help attract more people, especially young professionals who are not “married to their cars,” to the city.

A council majority, with Dr. David Gordon dissenting, approved the project.

Council members noted that much had been done to work with residents who expressed concerns, but wanted to do what was best for the majority of residents.

The roughly $4.4 million project will be covered mostly by grants.

A $2.7 million Metro grant will cover a portion of the cost, Young said. About $982,000 will be paid for by a grant administered by the California Natural Resources Agency. The Metro grant requires a 20% match, and the city will put $680,000 from development impact fees toward the project. The development fees are paid by those who develop in the city, and are to be used to offset any impacts on transportation, Young said.

The project will begin in summer 2016, and could be completed within approximately eight months.