The City of Burbank understands there is conflict in our community over the County/State Public Health Orders regarding COVID 19. It’s understandable that the emotions of this past year have been mixed, from people being angry that their lives have been restricted, to people being angry that not everyone is compliant with the Orders. Moreover, we have experienced tremendous anxiety and loss this past year. We have lost people, jobs and businesses, or people are on the verge of losing these things. People have been challenged to pay their rent or mortgage and are now behind on their payments and fearful of losing their home.
These are unprecedented times, and we are all exhausted by what COVID 19 has done to our community, particularly all the people we know and love. And with the cases surging and the hospitals impacted, now more than ever we need to come together as one community and care and look out for one another.
Please know that we understand this entire experience and the responses from the County and State have sometimes been confusing, and in some instances haven’t made sense. The City of Burbank has tried to work within the spirit and confines of the restrictions to keep our community members safe, but at the same time support our businesses. The City Council supported a Resolution requesting the County to reconsider closing outdoor dining and took action to close San Fernando to help many of our restaurants expand into the outdoor space to survive. We also temporarily removed parking requirements so businesses could use their private parking lots to operate. And with money from Community Development Block Grant funding received in the first stimulus package, the City provided grants to small businesses as well as tenants to help with their rent.
This past year has placed everyone in an impossible position. We have had to sacrifice seeing family and friends, we have had to endure distance learning or working from home, we had to work because we were deemed essential workers, or we have been frontline medical providers fighting COVID firsthand. Through this all, the City has worked hard to maintain our quality services and we are proud of our employees and their commitment to charging through this scary time compassionately, professionally and competently.
So now our community finds itself in yet another impossible position as we near the end of 2020. We have businesses in town that are operating in defiance of the County/State Order and we are filled with mixed emotions. We have people who support the businesses’ decisions to operate against the Orders, and we have people who are angry they are operating and that nothing is being done to shut them down immediately. As a reminder, while there are businesses in town not in compliance with the Health Orders, any person patronizing those businesses and taking part in behavior that isn’t allowed by the County Health Order is also not in compliance. Again, this situation is full of confusion and things that don’t make sense, but we think it is important that our residents understand the facts, and the challenging position the City is in.
With respect to businesses that have been operating in defiance of the Orders, when the City receives complaints, we first seek compliance from the business. If that doesn’t work and we receive another complaint, our Police Department visits the business and reminds them of their obligation to comply with the Orders. If that visit does not help, we contact the County Public Health Department for follow up. The County Health Inspectors have visited many of the businesses that have been operating against the Orders and have sought to educate and seek compliance but for those that have not complied, they have issued citations. To our knowledge, the County has only gone to court to seek an injunction on a church and several gyms (none of which are in Burbank) with limited success. With respect to Tin Horn Flats, at this point, the County Public Health Office has pulled the businesses’ health permit provisionally. A revocation hearing was held early this week to permanently pull the health permit. Tin Horn Flats requested a stay on the County’s action to revoke the health permit, which was granted through the Administrative Hearing Officer. We do not know the basis for the request or the granting of it. The next hearing date is scheduled for January and at this point we do not know the exact date. Should the County be successful in obtaining the permanent revocation of the license in January, they may have to seek an injunction through the Courts to order Tin Horn Flats to shut down.
Also, at the request of the Burbank Police Department, Alcohol and Beverage Control is investigating the matter and are progressing toward issuing a suspension of their liquor license, which will also require a hearing and appeal.
While we understand the desire of some in our community to see swift immediate action on the part of the County, State or City, please know there are limited tools to immediately close down a businesses, and any tool we have provides for due process. Please rest assured this issue is on the radar of a few jurisdictions, and action is being pursued where appropriate.
Burbank has had so many positive things happen amidst this horrible pandemic, such as neighbors helping neighbors and residents supporting small businesses. Let’s please pull together to care for each other, do our part to keep ourselves and others safe, and know that the City is working hard to help all of its residents and businesses work through these very challenging times.