Tag Archives: burbank hills

Castaway Reopens for Boys and Girls Club Fundraiser After $10 Million Renovation

On Friday, April 27, popular hillside restaurant Castaway held a fundraiser, which allowed guests to see the newly renovated restaurant for the first time since its $10 million remodel. The restaurant will open to the public this Tuesday, May 1.

Photo by Ross A Benson

From 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the valley was invited to make reservations and experience the completely revitalized Castaway before it officially opens to the public this week. All profit proceeds from the community fundraiser will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and the Greater East Valley.

“We at Castaway are very lucky to be able to call Burbank our home. Our neighbors and the community in this beautiful neighborhood have always been incredibly supportive of us,” said John Tallichet, owner of Castaway.

“We wanted to do something special and give back to our neighbors as we look ahead to introducing them to the new Castaway. We can’t wait to show Burbank what we’ve cooked up, and we couldn’t think of a better way to support the local community than through the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley and the important work they do to help our youth on their path towards a great future.”

Paul Coker Beverage Director stands inside the wine room. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Along with the renovation, the restaurant now has an entirely revamped menu, with new dishes and cocktails. Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” winner chef Perry Pollaci will be Castaway’s executive chef while Level III Advanced Sommelier and So Cal’s Restaurant Writers Association’s “Sommelier of the Year” winner Paul Coker will head the drink department.

Castaway was originally built in 1963, premiering as one of Burbank’s first casual fine dining restaurants. After the building was burned down in 1993, it was rebuilt and remained until last year. The renovation which started August 6, 2017, involved the complete teardown and reconstruction of the Polynesian themed restaurant.

Over the years Castaway has been a popular communal space for weddings and other private events. With the building’s several new additions, it is hoped to be an even more welcoming for the community than it has been in the past.

The new seating area includes a fantastic view of the valley. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

New additions include modernized banquet rooms, a catering kitchen space, a chef’s table which is positioned for guests to see into the kitchen, a wraparound bar, a meat dry-aging room, a floor-to-ceiling wine cellar, a multi-level patio, and more. All of the former decors has also been replaced with modernized tables and seating.

The remodel was led by Regional Director Ryan Smith, who has managed several restaurants in Miami Beach and Las Vegas.

“We built a whole new dining experience where everyone feels like a star, and every seat in the house is magic. From the moment you drop your car at the valet, your evening is bound to be sexy, fun and surprising, all while enjoying deliciousness, with incomparable service in a truly stunning environment,” said Ryan Smith, Regional Director for SRC.

The view is spectacular. (Photo by Ross A Benson


Known for its impressive view of the surrounding valley, guests will notice more seating without any obstructions.

Castaway is located at 1250 E. Harvard Rd. next to the DeBell Golf Course.



Burbank Town Center Remodel Nearly Complete

This year, the $60 million renovations of the Burbank Town Center which started in January 2017 will finally be complete, with new stores, a brighter atmosphere, and a revamped food court among other refurbishments.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Visitors to the eighth largest mall in Los Angeles County have already noticed several new additions, including the renovated food court which has relocated from the third floor to the first floor. The modernized atmosphere has an improved seating area with USB compatible outlets and decorative lights.

“The new food court has a lot more seating available. It’s very spacious and it’s a lot more open. I think that’s one of the best changes they’ve made, moving the food court downstairs,“ said Atticus Bacchus, an employee of All Amusement Fun Center.

Although some restaurants have left the revitalized food court, several restaurants that were on the third level remain, such as Panda Express, Sbarro, and Mongolian Grill, which is coming soon.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“Our goal is to introduce fresh new tenants to Burbank Town Center with an eye to making the dining terrace a go-to-place when visiting Burbank,” said Lance W. Taylor, director at CAPREF Burbank LLC, who has been overseeing the renovation of the mall.

Soon, there will be an outdoor dining terrace with a view toward Verdugo and west toward the Hollywood Hills. A new outdoor escalator will carry shoppers and diners to the space which faces the shops on San Fernando Blvd.

Two new entrances into the Burbank Town Center have been added to the east and west parking garages, allowing better circulation throughout the mall.

A grand staircase leading to an entrance into the mall has been made accessible on E. Magnolia Blvd.

New skylights throughout the mall, along with LED lighting and new flooring, provide a more energetic and positive shopping atmosphere than before.

Following AMC 8’s recent theatre remodel with reclining seats, stores such as New York & Co. and Vans have also been redesigned.

Burbank Town Center is currently home to 150 retail stores and soon, Cost Plus World Market will add to that number. The 17,000 sq ft store will be located on the first floor of the mall and is said to open in June or July.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Additional changes include the relocation of See’s Candy from across the hall to provide more room for H&M, which will be located on the second and third levels. The fast fashion retailer is expected to open around summer or during the fall.

In 2017, H&M was the highest ranked fashion outlet according to Forbes America’s Best Employers and made the list of “Best Companies to Work for in Fashion” for Business of Fashion. New stores such as H&M and Cost Plus will likely benefit the local economy in providing job opportunities and better shopping experiences.

“With the $60 million mall renovation nearing completion and the addition of these new tenants, we are seeing increased activity from national and local retailers interested in calling Burbank Town Center home and we anticipate additional retailer announcements this year,” said Taylor.

Such new additions are enticing locals who are used to doing their shopping online or in other cities.

“The updates to the mall are exciting as it will bring about a much-needed change and update to the area. Many people drive to Glendale for stores like H&M and Cost Plus, so it will be great that their tax dollars will be staying here in Burbank,” said Wes Taylor, a resident of Downtown Burbank.

Although many new shops are coming to the mall, several stores that have become favorites in the community remain. LA County’s last mall arcade, the “All Amusement Fun Center” which has been in business for 24 years, has been relocated from the first floor to the third floor after it was nearly closed in 2017. In response to community outcry, owners Jim and Susan Rowton collaborated with Lance Taylor to find a suitable new location and were able to keep the arcade open while adding several new games.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

On March 3, the All Amusement Fun Center hosted a community event, allowing visitors to play games, get their faces painted, and have balloon animals made— all free of charge.

New resting stations with USB compatible outlets give shoppers downtime to sit and relax between stores. For young families, there are two new play areas which provide a chance for parents to monitor their kids as they take a break from shopping.

Recently added Tesla Superchargers are located on the top of the Burbank Town Center parking garage at 495 North Third St. The station, which allows drivers to charge their cars much quicker than at home, is among the largest in the country, with 20 public-access stalls at the rate of $0.20 per kilowatt hour.

On the third level near Sears, interactive murals were recently installed by students from Burbank High, Providencia Elementary, Brett Hart Elementary, and Jordan Middle School. The murals feature illustrations encouraging shoppers to pose and take part in the images to share on social media.

Burbank Town Center is located at 201 East Magnolia Blvd.

City to Move K-Rails into Burbank Hills to Prevent Mudslides

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

The La Tuna Fire has left a potential threat to our hillside community in Burbank. With much of the vegetation along the hills gone, and the rainy season fast approaching, Burbank city officials have negotiated a deal in which the city has received two miles of K-rails from the city of Glendora

Glendora purchased the large of amount of k-rails using grant money from the Federal Agency of Natural Conservation as a response to the Colby Fire four years ago. For the entirety of the four-year duration, the K-rails were used to line the curbs in neighborhoods to prevent damage from mudslides. However, while the k-rails were put in place, residents were not allowed to park on the street.

However, according to Emergency Management Coordinator, Eric Baumgardner, this won’t be the case for residents in the Burbank hills as there are currently no plans to place the K-rails directly in neighborhoods. Furthermore, the city of Burbank will not incur any costs for receiving the two miles of K-rails from the City of Glendora, other than its transportation to Burbank.

The deal works out for both cities as Glendora had no further use for the K-rails. Rather than storing them, which would cost them money, or recycling them, which would also cost them money, Glendora opted to share with their neighbors.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

As of right now, current models project no imminent danger to surrounding neighborhoods of the La Tuna Fire. The K-rails will be deployed to project water tanks and other city infrastructure. As for the remaining K-rails, they will be stored near the Starlight Bowl.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

When the rain storms do arrive, new projections will be made to assess whether or not the neighborhood homes are in danger. According to Baumgardner, the threat mudslides pose could last anywhere between 3-5 years. With that in mind, should K-rails need to be placed in neighborhoods, they will most likely remain in the neighborhood for that length of time. Furthermore, because the k-rails weigh around 8,000 pounds, the city must use expensive heavy machinery in order to place or remove K-rails. In this sense, if only a small number of K-rails are deployed to a neighborhood, then it is more likely that they will be removed after the rain season.


Hit and Run & Street Races Lead to Greater Safety Awareness in Burbank Hills

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

On October 10th, a hit and run was reported at Amherst & Kenneth. A family dog was killed after a vehicle, described by witnesses as a black C300 Mercedes with no plates, sped through the otherwise quiet neighborhood.

The dog, a 10-month-old rescue, was killed by what witnesses describe as a speeding motorist who did not stop after the impact, ran through a stop sign, and has since not been back to offer condolences.

According to the dog owner, and Burbank resident, Ingrid Moss, she and her neighbors talk “consistently” about the speeding problem. “There has been so much speeding especially right before/after school and after 9:00 pm. It sounds like at times race cars are driving down our street. My teenager even mentioned that there is just too much speed on our street and she is concerned.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Residents have reached out to city leaders, often suggesting the installation of speed bumps within problem neighborhoods. According to these residents, the city refuses to install speed bumps because the roads don’t meet the proper grade, meaning, the road needs repair work before speed bumps are considered an option. That delves into a deeper problem as the city’s infrastructure is currently up in the air due to budgetary concerns.

In an effort to reach out to the driver of the speeding car, Ingrid Moss had this to say:

“To the woman who was driving the car, please confess that you hit our puppy. We completely

understand that it was an accident and don’t want to press charges if you confess, apologize and learn from this accident.  Losing our dog to someone who just doesn’t seem to care that she killed our puppy makes her death much worse. My kids are having a really hard time understanding why someone would hit our dog and leave the scene, not even say sorry.  It’s hard as an adult to understand why you did not do the responsible thing and stop. Please let us know from your point of view what happened and why you did not stop.

I would also say, slow down and pay attention! Please learn from this accident and do not ever do another hit and run. Hopefully, you won’t, but if you hit another animal or car, be responsible and stay at the scene.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The Burbank Police Department has issued a statement, saying that the department “makes traffic enforcement and the safety of motorists and pedestrians along our roadways a top priority.” Furthermore, the department states that they have “initiated a ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘letter of the law’ enforcement effort when it comes to reckless driving, exhibition of speed, street racing, or any other driving act which places the safety of the public in danger on or near our roadways.”


If you’d like to read the full statement provided by the Burbank Police Department, you can find it below:

“The Burbank Police Department makes traffic enforcement and the safety of motorists and pedestrians along our roadways a top priority.  As a Department, we field dozens of traffic complaints each month in all areas of the city.  Our dedicated Traffic Bureau, comprised of uniformed motorcycle officers, as well as our Patrol Division, are committed to increasing safety and awareness on our roadways while reducing the number of traffic collisions within the City of Burbank through ongoing education and enforcement.  Efforts have included targeted enforcement at or near high-accident intersections, grant-funded campaigns such as “Click it or Ticket” seat belt enforcement and DUI checkpoints and focused patrol saturation and enforcement in areas subject to complaints or prone to traffic issues.

Over the past year, the Burbank Police Department has listened to the community’s frustrations and concerns over reckless driving and speeding citywide.  The majority of these concerns have come from residents living along the Burbank hillside.  In response, the Burbank Police Department initiated a “zero tolerance” and “letter of the law” enforcement effort when it comes to reckless driving, exhibition of speed, street racing, or any other driving act which places the safety of the public in danger on or near our roadways.  Examples of this have included numerous vehicle impounds, arrests, and citations issued for these types of flagrantly reckless violations, in addition to other moving and equipment violations.  Impound fees, fines, and administrative expenses associated with these violations can cost a driver and/or registered owner of a vehicle hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.  The Burbank Police Department is also committed to seeking successful prosecution against any and all drivers who jeopardize the safety of the public by driving dangerously on our roadways, in violation of the law.  In cases against violators, especially those which involve collisions, police officers rely not only on their own observations but the observations of witnesses and footage from intersection cameras, which often capture overt acts of reckless driving and can be used against violators in court.

The Burbank Police are confident that our ongoing enforcement efforts and education will continue to mitigate the issues of speeding and reckless driving not just on the hillside, but citywide.”

Mountain Lion Takes Pet Poodle From Burbank Backyard

A mountain lion took a pet poodle from the backyard of a residence on the 500 block of N. Sunset Canyon Drive in the Burbank hillside community just after midnight on Saturday, August 22, according to Sergeant Claudio Losacco of the Burbank Police Department.

BPD police Car Logo-2The resident saw the mountain lion come into his backyard, take the poodle and disappear into the Verdugo Mountains hillside behind the home, added Losacco.

In recent weeks, coyotes have been spotted throughout the City of Burbank, including near Magnolia Park and Hollywood Way.

On August 21, a bobcat was seen roaming the area near Burbank High School on Third Street.

Periodically throughout the year, mountain lions are seen in the hillside residential area adjacent to the Verdugo Mountains.

For questions concerning this issue, please contact Burbank Animal Control at (818) 238-3340. After hours, please contact the Burbank Police Department at (818) 238-3000.

Mountain_lionBurbank Police issued a community bulletin on August 26 to alert the community of the incident and to provide precautions to help keep residents and their pets safe.

The following safety tips have been provided by the California Department of Fish and Game:

  • Do not feed deer; it is illegal in California and it will attract mountain lions.
  • Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions.
  • Don’t allow pets outside when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk and at night.
  • Bring pet food inside to avoid attracting raccoons, opossums and other potential mountain lion prey.
  • Do not leave small children or pets outside unattended.
  • Install motion sensitive lighting around your home.
  • Do not hike, bike or jog alone.
  • Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk, and at night.
  • Never approach a mountain lion.
  • If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children. If attacked, fight back.
  • If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.

Reported Mountain Lion Was Probably A Bobcat Say Police

On Thursday afternoon, at approximately 12:15 p.m., Burbank police officers in vehicles and the airship responded to a site along a trail about two miles up in the Burbank Hills above the Stough Canyon Nature Center after a woman called police for help.

Mountain_lion“She stated she was being stalked by a mountain lion,” said Officer Joshua Kendrick, when reached for comment on Thursday.

The airship landed at the spot near the woman at the top of the Burbank Verdugo Mountains and one of the pilots escorted the woman down the mountain to safety. Officers searched the area but saw no sign of a mountain lion.

“After talking with her further, it sounded like the animal was a bobcat,” commented Kendrick on Friday, April 18.

The animal the woman described was much smaller than a mountain lion, about the size of a large house cat. Bobcats also have a short, bobbed tail, unlike the cougar’s long tail. On average, male cougars weigh about 140 pounds, while females are about 95 pounds.

The woman also then told police she only saw the small cat, that it was not stalking or tracking her, added Kendrick. There is no further information about the incident at this time.

Police Arrest Man On Restraining Order And Burglary Charges After Extensive Search

Burbank police arrested 50-year-old Jeffrey Haggerty on a restraining order violation and a burglary charge after an extensive search of a residence and property on the 3000 block of Trudi Lane on Wednesday, April 2.

BPD New Police Car -2Police were initially called to the residence at 2:10 p.m. Wednesday regarding a restraining order violation, with information that Haggerty was inside the house, said Officer Joshua Kendrick of the Burbank Police Department.

A restraining order violation report had been taken by police on Haggerty when he was inside the residence one day previously on Tuesday, April 1. Officers confirmed the restraining order was valid and Haggerty was listed as the restrained party.

As officers were responding, the BPD airship arrived and observed a male attempting to climb over a back fence, added Kendrick. The man returned to the residence and officers in the airship did not see him exit the residence again.

Officers searched the living area of the residence, but were unable to locate Haggerty, Kendrick said. “As the officers were searching, they observed a closet off the patio, with a ladder against the wall, leading to a small opening, to the attic.”

“Officers were unable to access the small opening, but located another attic crawl space inside the residence and were able to gain access to the attic through that area,” he continued. “As officers looked inside the attic they observed [Haggerty] laying down in the corner of the attic. Officers ordered [Haggerty] out, to which he complied.”

Police located a bag of valuable coins during a search of Haggerty while he was being detained.

“Officers determined the coins had been removed from an adjacent closet and he intended to sell them,” explained Kendrick.

“Based on the fact that [Haggerty] is restrained from entering the residence and has no standing of any property inside the residence, officers determined [Haggerty] entered the residence to steal the coins and sell them,” Kendrick clarified.

Haggerty, who is listed as a Sunland resident on the BPD’s arrest report, was booked at the Burbank Jail and his bail was set at $50,000.

Two More Residential Burglaries Reported In Burbank Hills

Two more residential burglaries were reported at locations in the Burbank Hills recently. In both cases, the unknown suspects made entry through open or unlocked windows during the daytime.

On Tuesday, March 11, between 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., thieves entered a residence on the 500 block of Orange Grove Avenue through an open bedroom window facing a walkway.

The downstairs, two-bedroom apartment had some drawers left ajar and the only reported loss was under $1000 in U.S. currency in an envelope form the victim’s dresser, said Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department.

While there was no pry bar marks on the bedroom window, the window screen could not be located outside the apartment, he added. There are no suspects, video or descriptions of possible vehicles at this time.

Another daytime burglary was reported on the 800 block of S. Sunset Canyon between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 12. In this case, unknown suspects cut the screen and entered through an unlocked bedroom window.

When the victim arrived home from work and saw the residence was ransacked, he called police to investigate in case someone was still inside. The Burbank Police airship assisted with the ensuing search of the area and discovered a ladder propped against the house next to the bathroom window, according to Ryburn.

A rifle, several watches and jewelry were reported stolen from the residence. There are no suspects, video or further information about the case at this time.

Mountain Lion Injures Family Dog On Hamline Place

One of the Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs who had scared away an adult mountain lion several weeks ago from the backyard of a residence on the 1000 block of Hamline Place was most likely injured by the large cat around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, February 4. According to Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department, the owner of the residence heard his dog yelping and went outside to find his dog bleeding from a wound and the mountain lion on the mountainside behind his house.

The dog was taken to a local vet to have his wound sutured, added Ryburn, and there is no further word on the condition of the family pet. The dog is one of two Rhodesian Ridgebacks whose barking awoke their owner in early January and scared away the mountain lion, as reported in this myBurbank story.

Burbank Animal Control sent an officer to check the area this morning, according to Brenda Castaneda, Superintendent of the Burbank Animal Shelter, but he couldn’t find any evidence or tracks from the lion.

“It’s a bit difficult to find tracks with how steep the mountain is angled up behind the house,” Castaneda commented.

“It’s the first time, as far as we know, that we’ve had the mountain lion attack a domestic animal like this,” added Castaneda, who’s been in touch with the area’s Game Warden from the California Department of Fish and Game. “We’ve let Fish and Game know about this, but they’re saying that as far as they’re concerned, the mountain lion is exhibiting normal behavior and that perhaps the mountain lion has figured out it’s easier to go after dogs than deer.”

“We’re concerned obviously,” Castaneda went on to say. “We’re trying to inform the public how to act in an encounter with mountain lions.”

Castaneda also mentioned the area Game Warden mentioned there has been a mountain lion attack on a dog in Sun Valley at Verdugo Mountain Park recently. Verdugo Mountain Park lies on the other side of the Burbank Verdugos behind the residence on Hamline Place and other nearby locations of mountain lion sightings in the Burbank hill community.

Burbank Animal Control will hold an informational meeting for the community at the Burbank Hills Estates tennis courts at 3200 Castleman Lane at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 8. Officers intend to address any concerns and questions residents of the area may have about mountain lions in the area.


Adult Mountain Lion Spotted After Midnight In Burbank Hills

Just after midnight, around 1:00 a.m. Friday morning, January 3, a resident on the 1000 block of Hamline Pl. spotted an adult mountain lion jump over a fence and run up into the Burbank Hills behind his house. The resident had been awakened by the furious barking of his two dogs, both outside in the backyard at the time, according to Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department.

When the man went outside with a flashlight to see at what his dogs, both Rhodesian Ridgebacks, were barking, he saw the fully-grown cat leap from his backyard over his fence and run up the rough terrain into the Burbank Hills of the Verdugo Mountain range. It is not known if the mountain lion was wearing a radio collar.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are large dogs, growing to 24 to 27 inches at the top of the shoulders and weighing about 70 to 85 pounds. In Africa, from where the hunting breed hails, they are known for keeping lions at bay.