Editor’s Note: myBurbank sent eight questions out to the eight different candidates running for Burbank City Council. myBurbank will run a different question each day for eight days (except for weekends). We have in no way edited any of the responses that we have received and have come directly from the candidates. We gave them no limits to the amount of space they wanted to use for their answers and have rotated the order of the candidates each day so no one has an advantage. After reading these questions and answers, myBurbank hopes that the voters of Burbank will have an informed opinion before casting their votes. Remember, you can vote for two candidates and every vote is valuable!
Question 1 of 8:
Burbank has close to 110,000 in population and 250,000 people who commute into the City on any given workday for business-related activity. What solutions, if any, for the mounting traffic in Burbank and what can be done for mass transit such as the Burbank Bus?
There is no public transportation system in Burbank. Officials will say that one exists, but the Burbank Bus system is designed only for commuters who use Metro Rail or Metrolink to travel in and out of Burbank each day. Residents have no way to travel quickly and conveniently around the city. For Burbank to be considered a “World Class City”, a modern, efficient, accessible and reasonably-priced transportation system is a priority. I live in West Burbank and there is no way for me to conveniently travel to Downtown Burbank except for driving. There are many areas of Burbank that are completely ignored in discussions about transportation.
We must begin a discussion about transportation in Burbank that includes the creation of an environmentally responsible and convenient public transportation system for the entire city. Federal money is available for such a transportation system but our Burbank officials have never been interested in exploring this solution.
As the current Chair of the Transportation Commission, I have worked for three years on traffic, transportation, and the commuting problems our city faces every day. Study after study have shown that the number-one way to reduce congestion is to lower the total vehicle miles traveled within our city. The two major solutions to that problem are housing and public transit.
If we simply build the affordable housing that the commuters in Burbank are looking for, they will relocate from outside the city to be closer to work. This would create a huge drop in average vehicle miles traveled and possibly even eliminate cars from the road – because invariably, a certain percentage of workers will relocate to within walking distance of their jobs.
To those workers who do not wish to relocate, we must offer reliable mass transit. This can easily be achieved by reducing wait times for bus and train service to 15 minutes or less. And, with the addition of the NoHo-to-Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the upcoming Magnolia Park Circulator – which will connect downtown Burbank to the NoHo red line station – and the recently extended Pink Route that now reaches Universal City station, we will soon have a robust east-west transit corridor running through Burbank. As council member, I will push to create reliable north-south connections by streamlining our Green Route to serve Hollywood Way and Buena Vista Street. I will also continue my advocacy with LA Metro for an underground extension of the Red Line to reach Burbank Airport.
Aside from these solutions, many Burbank residents are demanding more walkable and bikeable streets. I am proud to have contributed policy guidance to the citywide Complete Our Streets Plan, the implementation of which has recently begun. In fact, our city council recently fast-tracked my proposal to close a section of San Fernando Boulevard to traffic, which has been a boon to local businesses in downtown Burbank. Making our streets much safer for active commuters would reduce the need to drive. I personally am not happy with the current offerings of scooter rentals, but I would like to see the city invest in bike share options. Lastly, we must expand first-mile/last-mile solutions to include microtransit like the city’s contract with Via, a municipal alternative to Uber and Lyft. I would like the BurbankBus Senior and Disabled Transit to employ a similar on-demand model rather than its current outdated reservation system.
Growing traffic has been a concern in our community for some time, as it creates not only delays in moving around the city, but increased safety risks. During COVID, we can see the positive effects of having fewer cars on our streets, and that it’s clear that the best solutions to traffic is to reduce the number of cars on the road at any given time, and to provide alternative means of transportation.
– 20 min cities – An innovative way that some cities are addressing traffic, among other issues, is to move toward 20 min cities. This means re-imagining cities so that regularly used services and commerce are within a 20 minute walk, bike, or bus of most residential areas. This is a long term solution, but over time, it creates more tight knit neighborhoods, supports small businesses, and encourages local travel.
– A hybrid approach to public transportation – Our city has many types of travelers: for example, commuters who need to get to and from work, our local residents who generally travel within the city to services and commerce, our students who go back and forth from school and activities, and our seniors and disabled population who use assisted travel.
Therefore, a hybrid approach to transportation would address our needs better than a one-size-fits all approach. A combination of fixed-route busses, flexible route busses, publicly run ride share (Uber-like), micro transit (public bikes), and a senior/student pickup service can provide small-scale, targeted public transportation within our city to serve the various needs of our community. In order for this to work, we would need an integrated public transportation system, which takes time to build. A good place to start would be to extend our current VIA program, which already serves our city with free ride share to the MetroLink station and essential services (https://www.metro.net/
projects/mod/), and to advocate to make this a permanent service in our city after COVID.
– Leverage remote working and staggered shifts – It’s difficult to predict how our work habits will change after COVID, but if we can continue to encourage remote work and non-traditional hours, we can reduce commuter traffic as well as minimize rush hour traffic surges.
– Recognize the impact of commercial and delivery vehicles in the city – Not only do we have residents and commuters, we also have a growing number of commercial vehicles in the form of delivery and transportation services. These vehicles often do not have space to stop during delivery and block the road. Or as in the case near the airport, ride share cars can create bottlenecks and other issues while waiting for their next pick up. It’s important to continue to investigate not only ways that residential traffic is increasing, but commercial traffic as well, especially for non-parking curb usage, so that we can be adaptable to our city’s changing traffic patterns.
Michael Lee Gogin:
I think we need different strategies for example, I’ve been exploring the idea of dumping the bus system and adopting a monorail system that does not clutter the streets with traffic. Then the question is, does this way of transportation become cost effective? Maybe it can be with rotating commercials on side panels of the monorail. How do we pay for this change of service. We can look at every grant possibility, again advertising, discounts & promotions from the manufacturer. If this system becomes used often and is efficient then eventually, the system will pay for itself. The major streets to think about are Chandler, Hollywood Way & Buena Vista for starters.
Burbank currently has a job to housing ratio of 3:1. That is 3 jobs for every 1 housing unit in the City. Our daytime population pre-COVID (200,000 people) is nearly double our nighttime population (107,000 people), and that is the number one factor impacting our traffic. It may seem counter-intuitive to some, but one way of addressing this traffic congestion is to encourage people who work in Burbank to be able to live in Burbank (especially our police, fire, and city employees). The only way we will be able to accomplish this is by creating better neighborhoods and housing opportunities through smart, measured growth in areas like Downtown Burbank and the Golden State area near the airport. The City is already working to update the specific plans for these areas, and we need to ensure the resulting plans are comprehensive, innovative, and the right fit for Burbank.
Burbank currently has 3 Metrolink Stations and an airport, which is a good start, but our mass transit needs to be supplemented to create greater regional interconnectivity. I would encourage the following projects be fast tracked:
- Extension of the Metro Orange Rapid Bus Line.
- Extension of the Metro Red Subway Line to the Hollywood Burbank Airport.
- California High Speed Rail terminus station at the Hollywood Burbank Airport coupled with a regional interconnector to the Orange/Red/Metrolink stations.
One of Burbank’s most charming qualities is that it feels like a “little town in the big city.” Our city has over 100,000 residents. But we have many daily visitors who work at our studios and service industry businesses. We are a tourist hub with thousands of daily visitors passing through the Bob Hope Airport. All of this means increased traffic and congestion. The solution to this problem is an increased investment in our transportation infrastructure.
As Burbank continues to grow in terms of housing and job opportunities, we will need a significant investment to ensure that our transportation infrastructure is equipped to handle the growth. We need to further invest in mass transit options, protected bike lanes, and improved walkability to reduce traffic congestion and to create additional opportunities to get around Burbank. We also need to improve transit options that connect Burbank to the rest of the region. As your elected representative I would work to:
- Invest in transportation and mobility projects in accordance with the City of Burbank’s “Complete Our Streets” plan.
- Fund projects that will improve mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists, and non-motorists so that it is both safe and convenient to walk and bike throughout the City of Burbank.
- Adopt a Vision Zero plan to eliminate pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.
- Support further expansion of the Burbank Bus, such as the recent Pink Line addition, as well as other mass transit options.
- Advocate to bring the Los Angeles Metro Rail to Burbank so that we are better connected with the City of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
- Prioritize road repair projects and invest in timed traffic lights to prevent traffic accidents.
- Expanding the Chandler Bike Path so that it connects to the City of Los Angeles.
Making these investments will boost our local economy by making Burbank the preferred destination to travel through the Los Angeles area. This will, in turn, provide a huge benefit to our local businesses. Making this investment now, at a crucial time when our local economy is suffering, will allow us to build a future version of Burbank that is accessible through alternative modes of transportation: walking, bicycling, bus, and rail.
As our population inevitably expands, each day that we waste to make this investment will lead to greater strain on our existing infrastructure and have increased hardship on our residents, business owners, and visitors.
The greatest problems regarding transportation and traffic in Burbank are connectivity and a dependence on cars as the main form of transportation. For example, the Chandler Bike Path would better serve cyclists if it connected to other paths and bike lanes around the city. This in turn would encourage residents to bike as opposed to drive. The “Complete Our Streets” project attempts to address these issues, and I am a huge proponent of that plan. It promotes safer paths for pedestrians, extended and separate bike lanes, and improvement of intersections with high vehicle collision rates.
Regarding public transportation, we must improve accessibility and convenience in order to increase ridership. This involves increasing the frequency of stops, adding stops in areas where residents would use the bus system, and connecting bus routes through major hubs. Making public transportation more convenient than driving will encourage residents to use the busses which will help with traffic and pollution.
Burbank just completed its complete streets plan which is a roadmap to 2035 for our city. It covers walking, biking and our streets. We have to create express bus routes and put together cleaning and social distancing protocols for buses and trains, so that folks will trust and take them again. We have to make our city more walkable and bikeable and consider other modes of transportation like skates, skateboards, and scooters for 1st mile/last mile connectivity. Some businesses need lockers and showers for their workers, or we could do public/private partnerships to accommodate this need. In Berkeley they have bike shops with storage and restrooms in transportation stations. We have to figure out how scooters and other personal mobility devices fit into our masterplan. We could create transportation cooperatives like Universal Studios has done which incentivizes workers with a rewards program for using carpools and using mass transit. We are also offering rebates and incentives to get residents to buy electric vehicles. We are working on a plan to electrify our highways in the tri-city area as a joint project as another good option. Our blue bus needs to be revamped so it carries a more appropriate passenger load. Maybe try a trolly, and people movers in dense districts and push for a monorail as a joint regional project above the center divider on our freeways to create excitement as well. Make housing more affordable with incentives to developers to build more affordable units, and low-cost loans to first time homebuyers. This would allow us to have more of our essential workforce live here.
For mass transit we must build trust to start and demonstrate that it is safe such as new cleaning protocols, security, social distancing, mask requirements. Similar incentive programs and routes and stops with shelters that make sense so that commuters feel valued and want to use the system.