To the Editor:
Well here we are; three quarters of the way through 2020 and no end to the pandemic in sight.
Most businesses are struggling and schools are still adapting to this new normal.
And yet, some corporations are thriving under lockdown. One such company is Amazon, which recently announced an agreement to lease 700,000 square feet of distribution space just north of Burbank airport on the newly constructed Avion property. It’s certainly commendable that Amazon is still highly profitable during a time of national economic recession, yet it does seem a bit unfair that our local mom-and-pops are hurting. How do we as a community reconcile this disparity?
When big businesses decide to open shop in our small town, we must take stock of the ramifications those businesses create in our local economy. Years ago, our community rallied together to block Wal*Mart from moving to town, only to be undermined a short while later when this notoriously predatory company took residency in the Empire Landing Mall. It’s apparent these companies will worm their way into any community they set their sights on, so instead of trying to block their attempts, one after the other, another approach must be taken.
It’s time for Burbank to hold these large corporations accountable and force them to invest in the community they find so desirable. Two times, in as many years, our local school district received over 64% support for a parcel tax to fund our local schools, which is just below the 66.7% threshold needed to pass a school tax. Our city council must take these results as guidance to pass a similar tax to help fund our schools, which have just been hit with a $3.8 million budget cut. In addition, we need to expand rental assistance, increase small business investments, and shore up funding for city services during this pandemic. The most valuable resource in our city is the land we work and live on. The wealthy who own the biggest parcels of land in Burbank must start paying their fair share.
A $0.15/ft² parcel tax on all developed property would more than cover the school district’s deficit with enough left over to stimulate the local economy by giving the difference back to local small businesses as tax credits. And to guarantee equity, this tax must exempt the first 1,500 ft² to protect our small businesses and modest-sized homeowners. The biggest corporations and “McMansion” owners throughout the city should contribute to the community that has helped them become so successful, and this parcel tax will go a long way to making those contributions a reality. So let’s tax Amazon and the other power players in Burbank, like Wal-Mart, to create a fair and sustainable community for all residents.
Candidate for Burbank City Council