Figures obtained last week that were given to myBurbank showed that the City of Burbank has already occurred expenses that at approaching $300,000 during the incidents at Tinhorn Flats this year.
After repeated citations by the County of Los Angeles Health Department, the City of Burbank revoked the Conditional Use Permit of the restaurant/bar on February 22 after a public hearing. The owners remained defiant and kept the restaurant open, resulting in the arrest of one of the owners three times and ultimately erecting a chain-link fence around the property to keep people from entering.
All of these actions resulting in protests from people, who mostly came from outside of Burbank, that resulted in increased tension in the area for neighbors which police were forced to monitor.
During this time, the City has continued its court case against the owners of the restaurant, Barfly Inc. The City Council met in a closed session this past Tuesday to discuss the case further.
From December 22, 2020, until September 2, 2021, the Burbank City Attorney’s Office has expenses of $21,663.13 with the case still not going to trial. A Case Management Conference is now scheduled for October 12.
Burbank’s Water and Powers show expenses of $3,693.90 and Public Works has expenses of $31,486.77.
Besides the expenses of the City Attorney, Burbank police have expenses of $227,539.60 from April 18 to August 24.
According to Sgt. Emil Brimway of the Burbank Police Department in an email reply said, “All of the costs reported incurred by the Police Department were related to overtime.
The overtime was to ensure appropriate levels of staff to provide safety and security for members of the community who live, work or patronize businesses in the area, for individuals protesting in the area, for City staff conducting work in the area, to ensure property was not vandalized, and to maintain order and ensure the court’s and county’s rulings were not violated.
Unanticipated overtime and staffing needs placed a financial strain on the department as well as a mental and physical strain on officers who were required to regularly work overtime on regular days off to staff THF.”
In the documents we received, it showed a breakdown of the day-to-day activity of police operations and the manpower involved, documenting each officer individually and the time they spent working the detail.
While officials can not discuss what happened in the Council’s closed session Tuesday night when they were given an update of the case by a representative of the City Attorney’s office, it is still the Council who will give direction to the City on how they want to proceed.
Simone McFarland, Public Information for the City of Burbank, said the following in an email reply when asked what recourse the City had to recoup costs from the enforcement, “It is premature to discuss the recovery of City’s potential cost. I do wish to emphasize the property owner has been very cooperative through the litigation”
Isabelle Lepejian, the property owner and former wife of business owner Baret Lepejian has also been named as a defendant in the City’s suit against Barfly, Inc. (Tinhorn Flats) but according to McFarland, “The property owner has been working to correct all violations at the building. The property owner has the right to determine the future use of the property within the confines of the City zoning laws.
The City fenced the property pursuant to the City’s Building Official’s authority, and as such, once building and safety violations have been corrected the fence will be removed at the appropriate time.”
Isabelle Lepejian’s son, Lucas Lepejian has had four misdemeanor charges filed against him and according to McFarland there have been court hearings and the defense has notified the court they plan to seek judicial diversion but have, yet, to file a motion requesting it. He is due back in court in early October.
Tinhorn Flats has already raised some substantial funds. According to the website Propublica, Barfly was given $64,118 in Federal PPP funds for the purpose of payroll. In addition, a gofundme page started by Lucas Lepejian has raised $93,911 dollars to date.
Baret Lepejian, has not been present during the entire event. He has spoken through his Tinhorn Flats Instagram Page, attacking City officials, and giving his opinions on everything from vaccine mandates to the forced eviction by his ex-wife. He has remained in Thailand where he says he runs his business, Anoogo in Bangkok.