Letter to the Editor: Former Mayor wants Accounting of Pickwick Legal Actions

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Editor’s Note: The following was sent to my Burbank and members of the Burbank City Council.

Letter to the Editor:

Mayor Talamantes and City Council Members,
 
I was not surprised to read the Settlement Agreement that the City and Friends of The Rancho lawsuit/argument that the Pickwick Project was not qualified under SB35 and the project should not be built and be denied, that position failed. Well, as per the court decision, the project is approved and can move forward. The Court found that the project was properly submitted under SB35 and the City was wrong in its pleading. This loss will cost this City hundreds of thousands of dollars.
 
Please correct me if I am wrong, that our City Attorney, our highly regarded professional Planning Staff and a number of well versed citizens advised this Council that this project rejection was ill advised based upon the project facts and the clear reading of the SB35 State Legislation. However, you chose follow the advice of former Burbank elected official who lives on block away from this project, to fight this project and deny it.
 
As I have stated previously, I do not support State mandated legislation that rips our local control out of our hands, as in SB35. However, it is the law and it is supported by our Assemblywomen Laura Freeman and we are being dictated by these legislators to follow their guidelines and lose our local control.
 
I have a few questions that I respectfully request a full and complete response.
 
1. May we see a complete delineation of city expenses related to this case from prior to the filing to the settlement and a projection of costs in settling the other two pending lawsuits related to this project. 
2. How much of these legal expenses will be shared by the intervening parties in this case, The Friends of Rancho? As an aside, my family and I have lived in Rancho for over 60 years and have never elected or appointed any of these ‘Friends’ members and they do not represent us.
3. Please correct me if I am wrong, these Settlement Penalties and legal expenses are not covered by our insurance and will be coming out of the General Fund.
4. What is this Councils Economic plan to reimburse the hundreds of thousands of dollars to the General Fund for this ill advised lawsuit? I am very concerned based upon the closing of Sears and Bed Bath and Beyond and our loss of substantial sales tax that fed the General Fund. This is no longer a robust economy and our essential City services should not suffer because of this costly decision made by all five of you. I am hopeful that you do not resort to raising taxes or fees to reimburse the General fund for these legal fees and penalties. Please advise as to what is your plan?
 
The Settlement cites the word “compromise” throughout. When your pleading was to deny the entire project, which would mean no housing units (zero), one of the compromises was to lower the number of units from 96 to 94, …compromise? Another compromise was to add a horse trail…..that added trail was mentioned during the initial Council meeting and the developer was willing to include one. Your lawsuit position failed. Your unanimous decision cost all of the city’s taxpayers.
Thank you for your immediate attention to our requests.
 
Looking forward,
 
Michael Hastings
Former Burbank Mayor & City Council Member

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