Burbank City Council Moves Forward With Talks on Potential Tiny Homes Project for Homeless

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On Tuesday, July 12th, Burbank City Council convened for a regularly scheduled meeting.

With Los Angeles County facing an ever-increasing homelessness crisis, the City Council was addressed with a report on the feasibility of a tiny homes project within Burbank.

Simone McFarland, Assistant Director of the Community Development Department, delivered a presentation to the Council detailing what a possible tiny homes project could look like at the corner of N Lincoln Street and N Victory Place, a location known as the “Lincoln Yard.” Across N Victory Pl. from both the Metrolink railroad tracks and the Interstate-5, the dirt lot is currently being occupied by Caltrans, who has plans to move out within the coming months.

“Three years ago, the city approved the Homeless Plan,” said McFarland. “In it, the need for a homeless shelter in Burbank was discussed.”

According to a rough count done in 2020, there were 291 homeless people in Burbank. However, the city currently does not have a homeless shelter.

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The tiny homes project proposed would seek to change that, albeit in a unique way. The project is meant to provide emergency shelter and non-congregate living arrangements for individuals in the city of Burbank experiencing homelessness, with each stay intended to last only three months.

City staff proposed that 27 cabins be built at the location of the project, housing 48 to 50 individuals. Portable trailers and/or cargo containers would be used as stations for hygiene, with showers, restrooms, and laundry services provided.

At the location, there would be a third-party service provider who would be hired to provide 24/7 on-site management, ensure safety and to provide general social services and counseling.

All occupants of the tiny homes would be homeless individuals who reside in the city of Burbank and would not be available to those who reside in the city of LA or other nearby cities.

If put into action, this particular plan at the corner of N Lincoln St and N Victory Pl would take roughly one and half to two years to complete and would cost $3 million to complete. However, the city already has $2.5 million in Measure H funds in order to pay for part of this project. Grants will be required to pay for the rest of the cost.

Although the Council was overwhelmingly warm to the idea of having a tiny homes project in Burbank, there were a few issues that some of the Councilmembers pointed out.

“This location to me is not the best location in the city [for this],” said Councilmember Bob Frutos. “There’s nothing but problems with this area… we’ve already bought the Hollywood Piano [location] – that could be a perfect location to take this money and…build tiny homes.”

The location Councilmember Frutos is referring to is 333 S Front Street, a building that the city recently acquired. This location is right next to the exit and entrance of the I-5 freeway on Front St and includes a large adjacent parking lot.

Councilmember Frutos went on to cite a poll conducted by city staff that found that 55% of Burbank respondents said that community safety should be the number one priority when considering the location of a project such as this.

“The Hollywood Piano is away from residents,” said Frutos. “There’s also public transportation there to help folks that need it.”

In contrast, Vice Mayor Konstatine Anthony was excited by the project and had no reservations about the location. “I think this is going to work well with all of our other partners in this,” said the Vice Mayor.

The rest of the Council was open to investigating other possible locations for the tiny homes project but were less hesitant about the Lincoln location.

Councilmember Nick Schultz crafted a motion that would move the tiny homes project into the pre-planning stages, but with the caveat that other locations be explored as possible alternatives to the Lincoln location. The motion passed 5-0.

A video recording of the meeting and a copy of the meeting’s agenda can be found here.

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