On January 4th, Burbank City Council held a virtual meeting.
This meeting was the first meeting of the year for the council and, additionally, the first meeting led by newly-elected Mayor Jess Talamantes. This is Talamantes third term as Mayor, having previously served in the role in the years of 2011-2012 and 2016-2017.
After the routine flag salute and roll call, Mayor Talamantes began the meeting with a moment of silence for all who lost their lives in 2021.
Announcements for this meeting were brief, with the primary announcement of focus being the Homeless Count. The Homeless Count is essentially a census count for homeless individuals in the greater LA area. To learn more about the Homeless Count and how to volunteer, click here.
Following the announcements, the city council presented a certificate of recognition to the winners of the OurBurbank Holiday Decorating Contest. The first place winners were Arnulfo Padilla and Tina Schaefer. A full list of the contest winners and runner-ups can be found here.
Providing an update on the spread of COVID-19 in Burbank, Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Baumgardner stated that there have been a total of 14,109 cases of COVID-19 reported in Burbank since the beginning of the pandemic in early-2020. The average case load this month so far has been 174 cases per week. This is remarkably higher than the case load just two months ago, which was in the teens.
In terms of vaccination rate, Burbank is far ahead of LA County’s average. In Burbank, individuals ages 5 and up with at least one dose of the vaccine make up 81.6% of the city’s population while the number is 75% for the whole of LA County. Additionally, 31% of Burbank residents 5 and up have received two or more vaccines (qualifying them as fully-vaccinated) and a booster dose compared to 24% of individuals in the same age range in LA County at-large.
Despite Burbank’s vaccine successes, the rate at which residents are receiving vaccines has dropped tremendously since vaccines have become widely available. “The first week of December [had] our lowest number of vaccinations being administered since widespread availability… we’re now seeing numbers in the 20’s and 30’s for [the amount of] daily vaccinations,” said Baumgardner.
After the general COVID update, the council voted on the consent calendar. The consent calendar is a group of agenda items that are voted on together. This week’s calendar included an ordinance that would give Burbank City Council ultimate oversight over the approval of housing projects that have gone through the SB35 streamlining process.
California Senate Bill 35, or SB35, is a bill passed in 2017 that attempts to streamline the process of building housing in cities and counties that have failed to meet state standards in housing construction. The goal of this law is to increase the amount of affordable housing in the state.
The ordinance proposed to the council was crafted by Councilmember Sharon Springer in the effort to exert more council-control over the SB35 streamlining process, especially in the wake of the Pickwick zoning controversy.
However, Councilmember Nick Schultz did not agree with the ordinance in it’s current form. Although he supports increasing oversight, Schultz stated, “I don’t believe the process contemplated by this ordinance is provided for by [law]…it could lead to redundancies in staff time and, ultimately, in costs that will be borne by the taxpayers.”
In voting for the specific consent calendar item, Schultz and newly-elected Vice Mayor Konstantine Anthony dissented from the three other councilmembers. The item passed 3-2, along with the rest of the calendar, which was approved unanimously.
To view the meeting and a copy of the agenda, click here.