Pickwick Development Settles Lawsuit with City of Burbank

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(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Pickwick Investment, LLC and the City of Burbank have reached a compromise in their lawsuit, Pickwick Investment, LLC v. City of Burbank and Friends of the Rancho for Equestrian Safety.

Burbank Chamber

MW Investment Group, the corporation behind Pickwick Investment, initially submitted the project to the city on July 1, 2021, and outlined plans for constructing 98 townhomes on the site. 10 of the 98 units would be for cost-effective low-income residents in compliance with California State guidelines, with each unit having a two-car garage and guest parking. The project was submitted under SB 35 guidelines which circumvented some city zoning and took away some of the city’s discretion, and required them to approve it as long it complied with the state statute.

Although Pickwick Bowl and Gardens has the land use designation of Commercial Recreation zoning, which does not permit residential housing developments, the City’s General Plan anticipates the low-density residential potential for this site. Under the plan, 20 housing units per acre are allowed to be proposed on the land.

At the time, City of Burbank Community Development Director Patrick Prescott said, “SB 35 takes away our discretion.” He also added, “[SB 35] shortens the review process because the state has determined the need that we have for housing,” Prescott said. “It’s unfortunate that the state has taken away our control because…the council already set a goal of 12,000 units, and we prefer to do that on our terms, [and] the state has taken away that discretion.”

During a special meeting held on Monday, April 18, the Burbank City Council voted to deny the housing project. At that meeting, Scott Birkey, an attorney of Cox, Castle & Nicholson who represents the Pickwick project, also addressed the council at the beginning of the meeting. Birkey stated that Commercial Recreation zoning, the classification of the Pickwick location, allows the project to proceed without discretionary approval under SB 35.

After the council voted 5 to 0 to deny the project under SB 35 guidelines, a lawsuit was filed against the City, and a complaint was filed with the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Burbank city attorney Joe McDougall announced the settlement at the council meeting on October 4, and the release put out by the city said, “The agreement calls for an amended project consisting of 92 units and which incorporates an equestrian trail and other pedestrian and equestrian safety measures, preserves the existing width of Main Street, and provides other measures to mitigate construction impacts on nearby residents, such as installation of sound blankets.”

Both the California Department of Housing and Community Development Notice of Violation and the Yimby Law v. City Council of the City of Burbank complaints have yet to be settled and are still being negotiated by the City Council and City Attorney.

An amended application by the developer is scheduled for consideration by the City Council during a public hearing on Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

Editor’s Note: Devin Herenda contributed to this story