Tag Archives: City of Burbank

City of Burbank Honored As Family Service Agency Celebrates 65 Years

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

On Friday evening, October 5, at the outdoor terrace of Burbank’s newly renovated Town Center Mall, 325 guests enjoyed a spectacular sunset and dancing under the stars as they celebrated Family Service Agency’s 65th anniversary at the annual Imagine A City Gala.

Master of Ceremonies, Disney’s Joan McCarthy, ensured the evening was a successful tribute to the agency’s longstanding covenant with the Burbank community, while Marsha Ramos, former Burbank Mayor and FSA Board member, delivered the blessing.  “In a time when so many are divided we came together as one community to reflect and celebrate the immeasurable treasure that is FSA,” said Ramos.

BUSD’s Peggy Flynn and Chris Krohn encouraged donations to help FSA continue their important work in the schools, with veterans, the homeless and with victims of domestic abuse. Sunder Ramani, chair of the Burbank Healthcare Foundation, raised his paddle and committed $50,000 from his organization.

“BHF is pleased to continue our partnership with Family Service Agency in our mutual goal to better community wellness,” said Ramani, “FSA is a trusted source for mental health care and BHF is a trusted foundation to provide financial resources as we all try to help our community heal and grow.”

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

2017 honoree, Michael Cusumano presented this year’s Mary Alice O’Connor Visionary Award to Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, who was joined at the podium by City Council members Bob Frutos, Tim Murphy, Sharon Springer and Jess Talamantes. Cusumano highlighted the City’s support of the school-based counseling program that began in 2002 thanks to the groundwork laid by the Mayor’s Youth Task Force. The program, which started on three middle school campuses and at Community Day School, is now providing individual and group care to students on all 19 Burbank Unified School District campuses, impacting over 1000 students each year. FSA has three additional contracts with BUSD:  Counseling and Parent Advocacy for Foster and Homeless Youth, Mental Health Care for the Special Education program and the Student Care Centers at John Burroughs and Burbank High Schools.

“No person or organization has been so crucial to the success of the Family Services Agency as the City of Burbank, and so it is entirely fitting that the City is recognized with the 2018 Mary Alice O’Connor Visionary Award,” said Cusumano. “The city was the first to financially support FSA’s development of school-based counseling, and today school districts from all over the region are coming to Burbank to see how our program is changing students’ lives for the better.”

Back in 2005, when Marsha Ramos was Mayor, the City supported FSA in establishing their first long-term transitional shelter for battered women and their children. Mary Alvord was City Manager and Sue Georgino was heading up the Community Development Department at the time, and they helped ensure that the CARE Cottages became safe and secure homes that continue to change lives today. The success of the Cottages then leads to two additional long-term therapeutic homes – one for homeless families and one for homeless young adults and emancipated youth.

Fifteen years ago, FSA was in many ways “homeless” itself. The Agency did not have a purpose-designed facility for the first 50 years of its existence. But that changed in 2005 when FSA and the City entered into a long-term lease for the agency’s current home on Burbank Boulevard. “That was a game changer for FSA,” said Cusumano, “And it could not have happened without the support of the City of Burbank.”

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

As Cusumano shared, the City of Burbank not only provided much needed financial assistance, but it has provided critical leadership support. Not surprisingly, so many of the community leaders that have been the core leadership of FSA have also been senior management and elected officials of the City of Burbank including Ron Davis and our current council members, to past city stewards such as Marsha Ramos, Gary Bric, Dave Golonski, Mike Flad, Sue Georgino, Mary Alvord, Teri Stein, and Mike Albanese.

Bric generously hosted the bar and served as bartender for the evening while Alvord and Stein joined Chris Krohn, Christine Ramos, Renee Williamson, Sue Hoon, Robin Schwer, Sara Sherman, Pat Smola, and FSA Executive Director Laurie Bleick on the Gala committee. Platinum sponsors for the evening were The Walt Disney Company, The Cusumano Family and Cartoon Network Studios.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

BUSD’s support for student mental health care was evident with Superintendent Dr. Matt Hill, and Board of Education members Dr. Roberta Reynolds, Dr. Armond Aghakhanian, Stever Fritner, and Charlene Tabet on hand to celebrate FSA’s commitment to Burbank’s children. State Senator Anthony Portantino and State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman also shared in the celebration with pride in the important work being done in their districts.

“The City of Burbank can take great pride in the success of the Family Services Agency and the important role that it has played in our community for the past 65 years,” said Cusumano. The evening proved that FSA has many supporters as the Agency remains committed to expanding to meet the mental health care needs of Burbank’s students, individuals, and families.

City Looking to Fill Sustainable Burbank Commission Vacancies

Press Release from City Clerk’s office:

The City Clerk’s Office is accepting applications for the Sustainable Burbank Commission beginning September 27, 2018, through October 29, 2018. Those interested in applying for the vacancies may complete an application online at the City’s Website: http://www.burbankca.gov/bccapplication or pick up the application form in the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 275 East Olive Avenue.

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The deadline for submitting an application to the City Clerk’s Office is 5:00 p.m., Monday, October 29, 2018. Applications may be dropped off, mailed, emailed or faxed to the City Clerk’s Office. The appointments are tentatively scheduled to be made at the November 13, 2018, City Council Meeting. All City Board, Commission, and Committee members serve without compensation from the City. No individual shall serve on more than one Board, Commission or Committee at the same time. All applicants must be electors of, and actually reside in the City of Burbank, with the exception of the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission and the Sustainable Burbank Commission. (Per BMC Section 2-1-405, 2-1-406, 2-1-407)

City of Burbank Release DUI/License Checkpoint Results

Release from City of Burbank:

The Burbank Police Department Traffic Bureau conducted a DUI and driver license checkpoint on August 25, 2018. The checkpoint was held in the vicinity of Olive Avenue and Lake Street between the hours of 7:00 P.M. and 2:00 A.M.

DUI checkpoints are placed in locations based on collision statistics and frequency of DUI arrests, affording the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence. Locations are chosen with safety considerations for both police officers and the public.  

In recent years, California has seen a disturbing increase in alcohol and drug-impaired driving crashes. The Burbank Police Department supports the new effort from the Office of Traffic Safety that aims to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” 

According to Sergeant Todd Fatta of the Burbank Police Traffic Bureau, about 822 vehicles passed through the checkpoint, all of which were screened. The average travel time for vehicles passing through the checkpoint was about 23 seconds. Of the 822 vehicles screened, the following are the results from the checkpoint:

  • Six citations were issued for driving without a valid driver license.
  • Three citations were issued for driving with a suspended driver license.
  • One citation was given for a vehicle equipment violation.

There were no arrests made for DUI, a very promising statistic. Burbank Police Officers noted the high volume of ride sharing services passing through the checkpoint (e.g., Uber and Lyft), which is another indication that the public is making good choices by arranging transportation to avoid placing people at risk by driving under the influence.

The goal of a DUI checkpoint is not to make arrests.  The deterrent effect of high-visibility enforcement, using both DUI checkpoints and DUI saturation patrols, has proven to lower the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol and drug impaired crashes. Research shows that collisions involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20% when well-publicized, proactive DUI operations are conducted. The Burbank Police Department is committed to lowering the number of deaths and injuries upon our roadways and will continue to conduct DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols on an ongoing basis.

This DUI checkpoint was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to “Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1.”

Burbank Welcomes New Postmaster

New Postmaster Pember is sworn in by Jolene Fischer Operations Manager. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

A large crowd of postal workers, officials and family gathered for the swearing in of Burbank’s new postmaster, Amber Pember, last month. 

Pember was sworn in by the Manager of Post Office Operations, Jolene Fischer, and Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy was on hand to present Pember with a city certificate.  The mayor was joined by City Councilmen Jess Talamantes and Bob Frutos.  Pember is a long time United States Postal Service worker and was previously the postmaster at Wasco city post office.

Postmaster Pember and Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy using an old mailbox to mail letters ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

Pember started her postal career in 2006 as a part time-letter carrier, and within three years she was promoted to supervisor of customer service at the south station post office in Bakersfield.  By 2012 Pember was postmaster of the City of Wasco post office.

Pember’s stellar career has garnered recognition and awards for her work and leadership, including the Area Vice President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership and Top Performance.  Pember aspires to have the post office work with and be committed to the city. 

“As the postmaster of this media city, my desire is to build a solid relationship of trust through community involvement and exceptional customer service,” Pember said.

During Pember’s acceptance speech, she mentioned that the first piece of Burbank mail was a letter from studio head Jack Warner.

The previous postmaster was Angelina Ines-Batugo, who retired.

Pember will manage all post office operations including 115 city routes delivering to 69,933 addresses and PO Boxes, and she will lead 199 employees.  The post office distributes an average of 219,243 pieces of mail daily.

Postmaster Pember is joined by her family Husband Jason, daughters Sally and Brooke and her father Glenn. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

City Councilmembers Jess Talamantes and Bob Frutos along with Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy presents a City Certificate to Postmaster Pember. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

Pember lives with her family in Oxnard.     

Burbank Creates New Buffer Bike Lanes

The City of Burbank has painted a new bike lane to protect cyclists from parked car doors opening in front of them, potentially causing cyclists to collide with the doors. 

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

The buffer lanes, as they are called, are painted along the inside of the existing bicycle lane and are several inches apart which is the width of an open car door.  The lane is meant to provide more safety and separation between cyclists and parked cars.  They will help bicyclists to avoid contact with car doors opening and closing and will also direct cars to park as close to the curb as possible. 

Assistant Community Development Director for Transportation David Kriske said, “This is something traffic engineering and transportation planning have been working on for the last several years to make the standard bike lanes that have been out there for a long time safer.”

Riverside Drive is the first street to have the new buffer lane because Riverside Drive’s car travel lanes are wide, the street can accommodate the new buffer lane.  Other streets with wide travel lanes are being considered for the buffers. 

The city is looking to put new buffer lanes in downtown on 1st Street between Magnolia Street and Verdugo Avenue.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“We felt it was necessary to help folks traveling from downtown over to Verdugo Avenue and then around to the Metrolink station,” Kriske said. 

Not everyone feels it will solve bike safety problems. 

Mike Hollis, the chairperson of Walk, Bike Burbank an organization for cyclist said, “I think that it’s a small step forward.  I see more problems with drivers drifting into the bike lane or wanting to get to the right-hand turn lane and taking the bike lane to do that.”

Hollis prefers to see more bollards separating the bike lanes from cars in the travel lanes.  A bollard is a  short post attached to the ground, often plastic, that creates a barrier between cars and cyclists.

Hollis said, “That’s why a protected lane with bollards is going to be more effective.  People will drive right over through a white stripe on the road anytime they feel like it or while they are distracted while driving.”

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

So far cyclists seem happy with the new lanes. 

“Anecdotally it is safer, more space for them to ride.  It puts them farther away from the parked cars which are good.  So I think the initial feedback has been positive, and I think they are working well,” Kriske said. 

“All of us want to get to our destination safely whether driving, bicycling or walking,” Hollis said. “We all have a right to our city streets and infrastructure, and that means that we all have to work together to make this safe for everyone not just for one particular portion of those who use the road.”       

OPINION: Vote “YES” On Measure T

Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial that represents myBurbank and has been authored by Greg Simay for us. We will be glad to publish letters to the editor from opposing opinions.

The elevator speech (if you’re in a tall building, like in Dubai)

The City budget that supports police, fire, parks, libraries and streets has been facing a $30.5 million shortfall, with catastrophic reductions in service—a nightmare for the City Council and the public they serve. That’s the bad news. The good news? There are solutions:

  • Vote for Measure T by June 5, and you reduce the shortfall by 12.5 million, from $30.5 million to 18 million. It assures that a revenue source the public has supported since 1958 remains in place with up-to-date language.  It doesn’t increase your electricity rates or your taxes.
  • The City has created $9 million in savings, which includes having employees contribute more toward their retirement. Now we’re down to a 9 million shortfall.

The City has $14 million beyond its emergency reserves ($33 million) to buy a year’s time to find a permanent cure for the shortfall, which is:

  • To pass a ¾% increase in the sales tax, hopefully next November, which would raise $20 million annually, wiping out the $9 million shortfall and providing $11 million toward roadway and other capital improvements. It does mean that when we pay for that $10 item, the sales tax on it will be 102.5 cents instead of 95 cents.

We know that Burbank is a city that works and works very well.  Property values are sky high for a reason.  So vote “yes” on Measure T and support an increase in the sales tax, when that ballot measure comes up later on.

Now for the details

Only the General Fund part of the City’s budget is in trouble.

Some City services (including water and electric services, and refuse) are supported by rates.  Rate revenues flow into various proprietary funds, and expenses flow out of them. 

Other city services are supported by taxes and certain fees.  These services include those provided by police officers, fire fighters, park and recreation staff, library staff and those maintaining City streets.  Tax revenues flow into the General Fund, and expenses flow out of it.  Besides ongoing expenses, the General Fund also supports capital improvements, either on a pay-as-you-go basis or by servicing the debt on borrowed monies, usually from bonds.  Currently, the City is debt free.

The proprietary funds are in good shape.  The budget shortfall concerns the General Fund only.

The In-Lieu Transfer Fee, which provides revenues that a private utility would otherwise provide, is at legal risk, which puts $12.5 million of revenue at risk.

One source of General Fund revenue has been an in-lieu transfer fee, in which the Electric Fund (a proprietary fund) transfers some 12.5 million to the General Fund.  The in-lieu transfer fee cannot exceed 7% of the revenues from electric rates paid by residents and businesses, which is what the fee currently equals.  

If Burbank Water and Power were a private utility, it would be paying a franchise fee for the privilege of having stations, power lines and other facilities in Burbank. For example, the current cable provider pays the City a franchise fee based on 5% of its retail revenues. 

But as just mentioned, Burbank’s in-lieu fee equals 7%, not 5%.  What is the extra 2% for?  It’s for street lighting, including its ongoing expenses and capital improvements. Even without their own electric utility, many cities are responsible for maintaining their own street lighting systems.  By having its own BWP take care of its street lighting system, the City is able to do so very economically without giving up policy oversight.

But if BWP didn’t have to transfer the other 5%, couldn’t electric rates be lowered correspondingly; or perhaps more realistically, couldn’t any future rate increases be delayed even further than they have been?  Yes they could, but BWP’s electric rates are already very competitive with those of other Southern California utilities, public and private.  BWP has been achieving economies both by creating additional revenue sources (from fiber optic services, spare transmission capacity, etc.)  and continually improving the efficiency of its operations and maintenance.  It doesn’t need to discontinue a decades-old revenue source to the General Fund in order to do right by the ratepayer.

Put another way, the marginal benefit the electric ratepayer may receive from the elimination of the in-lieu fee would be offset by a significant reduction in one or more City services that depend upon the General Fund.

Passing Measure T guarantees that the in-lieu transfer fee would meet current legal standards, thereby safeguarding the $12.5 million per year.

So why is the in-lieu fee at risk?  After all, according to the Supplemental Voter Information pamphlet, Burbank voters, way back in 1958, had amended their City Charter (specifically, Section 610) to approve “a fee in retail electric rates to fund the transfer of no more than 7% of BWP’s gross annual sales of electricity to the City’s General Fund in order to pay for essential City services.”  But as a result of a legal challenge to Section 610, the court in 2017 found “voter-approval requirements for a tax were not met because Section 610 did not explicitly [our emphasis] authorize funding the transfers from retail electric rate payers.”  (This was in spite of the voters having approved a Charter amendment to Section 610 back in 2007.) The court ruled that the in-lieu transfer fee is therefore a tax, subject to fresh voter approval. 

That part of the decision would have been manageable, but the court had also ordered the City to stop collecting the fee. To stave off an immediate funding crisis, the City quickly appealed the decision, which suspended the court order pending the outcome of the appeal.  BWP has been able to continue collecting the fee and make transfers to the General Fund, but as of September 2017, the monies are currently in limbo in a holding account.  As of now the amount held is $5.1 million.

If the court rules in the City’s favor on appeal, all well and good.  The $5.1 million returns to the City’s coffers and from 2018/19 onward, the in-lieu transfer continues to be a revenue souce.

But if the appeals court agrees with the lower court, disaster would loom.  The City needed another bite at the apple, one that could survive any future court challenge.  Hence the City Council’s decision to propose Measure T  in which a new, “Section 610A” amendment to the Charter “explicitly approves the existing practice of including a fee in retail electric rates to fund transfers to the General Fund.

So if the voters approve Measure T, the in-lieu transfer is safe, regardless of how the appeals court rules.

The City has taken steps to make its FY 2018/19 expenses by $8 million less than they would otherwise be, in part by having new and current employees pay a greater share of their retirement.

If Measure T passes, the $30.5 million General Fund shortfall becomes a 18 million shortfall.  The City could reduce the number of employees, but only at the cost of triggering a corresponding reduction in services.  (And avoiding cuts in police and fire services would make the cuts even direr for other services like parks and recreation, library and street maintenance.)  The Burbank voter, and various watchdogs, have made sure that more employees has translated to more and better services.

So how can the City reduce costs without reducing services? It turns out that one way was making the workplace significantly safer, thereby reducing workers compensation costs.  There have been, over the years, improvements in work efficiency, particularly as the workforce has become more computer literate.

But the budget elephant in many City Council chambers in California, and across the nation, are underfunded employee pension obligations.   To void, even partially, current obligations is a serious violation of contract.  But to make deep cuts in City services is a serious betrayal of the public. 

At the State level some pension reforms have taken hold (such as salary caps,) but ultimately, current employees will have to fund more of their pensions.  The City Council has adopted a policy that employees should pay 50% of the pension annual normal cost.  Once fully implemented, this policy will result in $3.7 million in annual savings.  (The City also plans to continue prepaying the annual unfunded CalPERS  unfunded liability payment, so as to avoid interest costs.) Policies  that require a higher percentage of employee contributions also allow CalPERS to depend more on current contributions rather than achieving  higher-than-market rates of return. 

CalPERS had, during the go-go 90s, achieved very healthy rates of return, and in 1994, the retirement system was 140% funded on a statewide basis.  But high rates of return can be volatile as well; during the Great Recession, CalPERS had a 25% loss in one year.

Today, the statewide retirement system is 80% funded. A wiser CalPERS now aims for lower-but-more-stable returns on investment, recently lowering their overall rate-of-return target from 7.5% to 7%.  These lower returns can meet pension obligations if employees are putting more in the CalPERS kitty in the meantime.

During the 90s, the City Councils could have decided to keep contributing to CalPERS for those rainy day years when surpluses shrink and turn into deficits.  They could have decided to resume payments in 2004, when the surplus had shrunk to zero and CalPERS was 100% funded.  But City projects—good, popular projects—beckoned.  And so the elephant grew.  Recent threats to the City’s revenue stream like the loss of the transfer fee has been a wake up call to tackle the elephant before it smothers everyone in the room.

A ¾% increase in the sales tax will be needed to wipe out the remaining, $9 million budget shortfall and to provide capital funding for city streets and other needs.

The net result of the City’s cost saving efforts so far has been to reduce costs by about $9.0 million beginning in FY2018/19.  Along with the passage of Measure T, this reduces the shortfall to $9 million, as against a FY 2018/19 operating and maintenance budget of $167 million.

The City does have fully funded reserves of $33 million, but this money would only be used in the severest of emergencies or more likely, as a bridging loan for a short period, with the assurance that permanent funding was at hand.  The City also has $14 million beyond these reserves; if this amount were used to cover an ongoing 9 million shortfall, it would be exhausted by 2020.

Which leads to the proposal of a ¾% sales tax this coming November.  The current sales tax in Burbank is 9.50% so the new sales tax rate would become 10.25%.   The extra ¾% would produce extra revenues of $20 million annually, covering the $9 million shortfall and providing $11 million for needed capital improvements.  The tax burden’s pretty evenly spread: About one-third of the $20 million would come from Burbank residents, about one-third from Burbank businesses and about another third from non-Burbank residents. 

The implicit assumption is that the ¾% would not reduce consumer buying and thereby the $20 million would be the revenue generated from the increase. For every $100 spent, the ¾% additional sales tax would mean that the sales tax amount increases by 75 cents, from $9.50 to $10.25.  For 10 dollars, it’s a 7.5 cent difference.  Whether the local economy heats up or goes down, it will probably be due to other factors.  

A lot of Burbank roadways are in need of repaving, a capital expense, rather than patching, an O&M (operations and maintenance) expense. (On a household level it’s the difference between replacing a roof and patching it.)  Most streets need repaving on shorter time frames than payment schedules for long-term bonds, so long-term financing is dicey. (It’d be like paying for a car long after it’s consigned to the junkyard.)  Pay-as-you-go is a safer route and one that the extra ¾% would provide.

Redevelopment had been a way of funding many capital improvements through tax-increment financing.  That is, the increases in property tax revenue from redeveloped properties would flow to the City rather than the County. These funds didn’t flow into the General Fund, but they were used for projects that would otherwise have been paid out of the General Fund. So the General Fund still benefitted.  But under its own budget pressures, Sacramento discontinued redevelopment several years ago.

The Grand Bargain

The Burbank Unified School District also needs additional funding.  Details are another discussion for another time. But consider this proposed bargain:

Burbank’s local government agencies will continue to make Burbank safe and offer a very high level of services for ourselves and our families  The streets will be kind to our cars,, the libraries will be useful and the parks will be fun.  If there’s a hillside fire, it won’t consume our houses because our fire fighters will continue to have the ability to be Johnny-on-the-spot.

Our schools will be safe and so good that many of us parents will decide we don’t have to bear the additional expense of private schools.  (And even if we nevertheless decide to pay for a private school, we will sleep easier knowing the public schools are a more-than-decent Plan B, should a Plan B become necessary.) 

The City Councils and School Board will continue to work together to the benefit of the Burbank community. 

And so in Burbank, there will be a significantly greater chance that our children will grow up safe, graduate with skills, have great local employment opportunities, and successfully launch into adulthood earlier and with considerably less debt than their peers elsewhere.  And, everything else being equal, the value of our houses will continue rising because a city that offers what Burbank offers will be a highly desirable location, location, location.

Is this what we want?  If it is, then let’s heed the Spanish proverb:

Take what you want. Take what you want, and pay for it.

Celebration of Life to be Held Monday for Will Rogers

Mayor Rogers’ Celebration of Life will be on Monday, April 23 at 2:30 pm at The Castaway.

From Dignity Memorial:

Will Rogers born June 21,1957 in Neenah, WI. Raised primarily in Bloomington, MN. After graduating from the Goodman School of Drama, he moved to the Los Angeles area in 1979 where he continued dual roles as actor and writer. In 1990, Will began writing for the local paper and was soon writing at least four feature columns a week. His work has appeared in virtually every newspaper in the “Times Community Newspapers” group, winning more than 20 1st place awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Assoc., The Greater Los Angeles Press Club and others, including “Columnist of the Year.”

Will was elected to the Burbank City Council in 2015 running on a platform of transparency and community involvement. He was named Mayor by his colleagues in 2017. Will took his duties with the City of Burbank very seriously, though he brought a sense of humor to the meetings, building a strong sense of comradery.

Will was recently honored with the 2018 Burbank Top Award for Citizenship by the BTAC. This award exemplifies the very essence of Will Rogers – who spent his life fighting for the needs of others, whether through writing investigative columns, volunteering or his many personal acts of kindness. Will purchased many items he didn’t need at silent auctions and was happy to attend any function where he could be of service to someone.

Will Rogers was known for his dedication to the service of others, philanthropy, and clever writing skills, but family was his first priority. His family will miss his sharp wit, biting sarcasm and deep devotion. Will Rogers was a much beloved husband, daddy, brother, uncle and great uncle.

Will was proceeded in death by his mother, JoAnne Rogers, Father Kenneth Wege, brother Stephen Wege, niece Susan Heberle and much-loved dogs Lucy and Guinness. He is survived by his wife of nearly 30 years Nancie, children Stephen (& Hailey) and Sarah.

In Lieu of flowers donations may be made to BTAC or Boys & Girls Club of East Valley and Burbank. A Celebration of Life will be Monday, April 23 beginning at 2:30 PM at The Castaway in Burbank, CA.

Burbank Mayor Will Rogers Loses Battle to Cancer

It was reported today by city officials that Burbank Mayor Will Rogers has lost his battle with cancer.  He was 60 years-old.

Mayor Will Rogers during his State of The City Presentation. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

He was appointed Mayor of Burbank on May 1, 2017, and was scheduled to step down in just 11 days when a new Mayor is appointed by Council vote.  After announcing his condition in September 2017, Rogers continued with his council responsibilities, including attending special events, ribbon cuttings and continued chairing council meetings, as recently as April 12.

Rogers was elected to the Council in 2015 and according to a city release, “Mayor Rogers will be remembered for his quick wit, unrelenting honesty, positive attitude, unpretentious demeanor and unyielding love for the City of Burbank. As Mayor, his highest priority was transparency and sharing information with the public. He was always willing to listen even if he disagreed.”

The release goes on to say, “Although born in Wisconsin, Will was raised primarily in and around Bloomington, Minnesota, a place he refers to as the “Burbank of Minnesota.” Will’s family moved extensively when he was young, leading to sojourns in many spots including Burlington, Vermont, Pismo Beach, California, Chicago, Illinois, and Merritt Island, Florida.

Will performed in his first commercial at the age of 15, and shortly thereafter began his “backup career” as a freelance writer, specializing in investigative journalism. As a young adult, Will attended the Goodman School, a renowned college for actors in Chicago, and later Normandale College in Bloomington where he won national awards with the speech and forensics team.

Will arrived in the Los Angeles area in 1979, where he continued dual roles as an actor and writer landing roles in TV and film while his by-line appeared in a variety of publications from LA Weekly to Germany’s “Der Spiegel” magazine.

In 1990, Will began writing for the local paper and was soon writing at least four feature columns per week. Will’s work has appeared in virtually every newspaper in the “Times Community Newspapers” group, from Pasadena to the South Bay, to Burbank, winning more than 20 first-place awards from the California Newspaper Publisher’s Association, the Greater Los Angeles Press Club and others, including “Columnist of the Year.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Much of Will’s press work has been investigative in nature, but he’s also written “observational humor” pieces about his wife and children, often touching on his DIY home remodeling projects.”

Vice-Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy will assume the role as mayor for the next 11 days until the Council Reorganization meeting on May 1.


UPDATED: City of Burbank Gives Storm Update, Evacuations

Release from the City of Burbank regarding the current storm:

The following is a storm update as of Wednesday at 7:30PM.  

Evacuations: A Voluntary Evacuation Warning is being revised for Wednesday, March 21. Voluntary evacuations will begin at 6AM on Thursday, March 22 and last through 6PM the same day. This may change or be extended as necessary for the following areas:

>> Country Club Drive east of Via Montana
>> All of Hamline Place
>> Groton Drive east of Kenneth 

An Evacuation Site is available at Verdugo Recreation Center (3201 W Verdugo Ave). The Center can’t accommodate animals.  Please make arrangements beforehand to accommodate your pets.

No Parking: The following streets will currently have no parking zones in place and are currently predicted to last through 8AM Friday, March 23:

>> Country Club Drive east of Via Montana
>> All of Hamline Place
>> Groton Drive east of Kenneth

Public Works and Sandbags: LA County and City of Burbank public works crews are continuing to work throughout the storm. Sandbags are available at Fire Station 16 (1600 N Bel Aire Drive) to help protect properties and doorways.  Sand to fill the bags is located at Brace Canyon Park (2901 Haven Way).  Please bring your own shovel.  

City Public Works will be available to take calls from 7AM Wednesday, March 21 through 6PM Thursday, March 22 at (818) 238-3800.

Other: Residents are advised that if they do not evacuate, public safety services may not be able to reach them in an emergency due to impassable roads.  If you see significant mud, debris or fast-flowing water, do not try to cross or drive a vehicle through it, shelter in place, or avoid for your safety.  Please use caution even after the rain has stopped as mud and debris can lead to a dangerous situation.   

McFarland Named Burbank Communications Manager

Simone McFarland, the current interim Public Information Officer (PIO) for the City of Burbank has been named as the permanent Communications Manager, additionally McFarland is to remain as the Assistant Community Development Director for Business and Economic Development. 

McFarland has been acting PIO since July when Drew Sugars left for another position.  “Simone’s background includes prior experience in both public information and economic development, which made it a logical decision to have her as the interim PIO,” said Burbank City Manager Ron Davis. “During these last few months, we have found synergies between the two roles and have leveraged both departments’ strengths by having them work together.  By making this arrangement permanent, we can continue that work and include all of the departments throughout the City.”

The name change from PIO to Communications Manager reflects the changing duties of the Public Information Office to include communications and marketing as well as interacting with media outlets.

McFarland’s appointment will save the City money, as it works toward alleviating its future budget deficit.  “This appointment will help with our budget concerns and at the same time will not reduce our ability to serve our residents and businesses.  It’s a win-win,” stated Davis. 

McFarland has served the City as an Assistant Community Development Director since January 2017.