Tag Archives: City of Burbank

City, Police Officers’ Association Agree on New Contract

Release supplied by the Burbank Police Officers’ Association:

On Tuesday evening, the Burbank Police Officers’ Association and the City of Burbank have agreed on a new contract, known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), through June 2021.

The BPOA membership has been working without a contract since July 2018. In the time since then, our negotiating team has been in talks with the City to obtain a new contract, forgoing benefits and wage increases in the interim. Our membership continued serving the community with the same dedication and enthusiasm as we always have.

The BPOA membership and the City of Burbank have agreed on a package where the BPOA members will split pension costs evenly with the City: 50/50. This cost sharing is unprecedented among Southern California municipalities; however, this concession by our officers, positions the City of Burbank to balance its budget for years to come. BPOA President, JJ Puglisi, commented, “In return, the BPOA hopes City officials will remain good stewards of the City’s assets, which include its first responders.”

Our newer officers, who were hired under The California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA), which took effect in January 2013, will see their wages increased by about 8%. The BPOA hopes this wage increase for newer officers will spur an increase in recruiting, which has been sluggish. We are currently understaffed by 21 sworn officers, which reduces the effectiveness in providing police services to the Community.

The men and women of the BPOA appreciate the support of our community and look forward to the continued partnership we have forged over a multitude of decades.

Opening on Landlord-Tenant Commission

The Burbank City Clerk’s Office is accepting applications for the Landlord-Tenant Commission beginning October 8, 2019 through November 7, 2019. Those interested may submit an application online at www.burbankca.gov/bccapplication or submit the application in person to the City Clerk’s Office located in City Hall at 275 East Olive Avenue, First Floor. For more information, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (818) 238-5851 or cityclerks@burbankca.gov.

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The deadline to submit an application to the City Clerk’s Office is Thursday, November 7, 2019, by 5:00 p.m. The appointment is tentatively scheduled to be made at the November 19, 2019 City Council Regular 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 live in the City of Burbank, with the exception of the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission and the Sustainable Burbank Commission. (Per BMC Section Nos. 2-1-405, 2-1-406, and 2-1-407)

Avion Burbank Breaks Ground at Hollywood Burbank Airport

Ariel view of development

Overton Moore Properties (“OMP”) commenced construction today on Avion Burbank with a ground-breaking ceremony for the largest infill development project developed during the past 20 years in San Fernando Valley.

When completed, the mixed-use business park will include 18 buildings representing 1.25 million square feet of creative industrial, creative office, and retail space along with a 150-room hotel. The project is a joint venture between OMP and Invesco Real Estate. OMP purchased the property in 2016 from the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority and received project approval from the Burbank City Council earlier this year.

Retail shops at Hollywood Way and Tulare

Located on 60 acres at the intersection of Hollywood Way and San Fernando Road, Avion Burbank is surrounded by multiple transit opportunities, including a Metrolink stop, Burbank Hollywood Airport, multiple bus lines, and excellent freeway access. The project will be LEED Certified SILVER Core and Shell, providing opportunities for users and their employees to be in an amenity-rich environment that includes multi-purpose walk paths, indoor/outdoor meeting areas, bike share stations, retail establishments, and a boutique hotel. The project will install 115 Level 2 EV chargers and prewire and has the room to add 62 parking stalls and truck loading docks for future EV chargers.

“Avion Burbank will offer users a unique environment that incorporates state-of-the-art buildings situated in an interactive work-life environment,” said Timur Tecimer, Chief Executive Officer of Overton Moore Properties. “This innovative campus will also boast multiple outdoor amenities that will assist companies in recruiting and retaining the best talent.”

Planned buildings

Brokers are expecting that Avion Burbank will be a popular destination as the mixed-use project will fill a unique niche in the Southern California marketplace.

“The market is really hungry for this type of smart, integrated facility solution,” said Matt Hargrove, Vice Chairman of CBRE. “There is an unprecedented demand for Class A industrial space driven by large entertainment and content firms and their supply chains. The creative office product which is for sale or lease will provide owner-users with a unique opportunity to create a design-to-suit office experience all within a multi-modal master planned setting. With its scale and variety, we see a huge opportunity for Avion Burbank to be a location of choice for users looking for a unique environment—all in a single location.”

Justin Hess Named City Manager by Burbank City Council

Justin Hess. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

Justin Hess, the current Acting City Manager, was unanimously selected by the City Council to serve in the permanent position during a closed session meeting on September 24 and reported during the City Council meeting that same night. His official start date will be October 1, 2019.

Hess has been serving as Acting City Manager since June 26, 2019, when Ron Davis announced an extended vacation period and his planned retirement scheduled for September 30, 2019.

“Justin has a remarkable track record of success here in Burbank.  He understands the needs of the City and has helped to set the course of where we are going in the future,” said Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy. “Mr. Hess’ proven leadership skills, extensive knowledge of the City and his time both as an Assistant and Acting City Manager has confirmed that he can successfully lead our city into the future.”

Hess has served as the Assistant City Manager since 2013.  During this time, he has been responsible for achieving many meaningful changes. One of the most significant accomplishments has been helping to balance the budget forecast and addressing the City’s pension liability.  In addition to receiving voter approval on four ballot measures last year, Mr. Hess has also been instrumental in helping to establish responsible capital spending through the formation of the Infrastructure Oversight Board.  He has also worked on governance changes with the City Council, Boards and Commissions, Committees and staff, and setting expectations that promote civility and respect. 

“I’m excited to continue working with the City Council, staff and members of our community,” says Hess. “It’s a privilege to serve such a dynamic city and I look forward to maintaining and enhancing the high quality of life we’ve come to expect in Burbank.” 

Justin Hess. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

Hess began working for the City of Burbank in 1997 and has served in many capacities including Assistant Planner and Administrative Analyst, along with interim positions as Financial Services Director and Management Services Director and most recently, Assistant City Manager.  He is currently the Vice President of the California City Management Foundation (CCMF), which is the premier advocacy and support organization for city managers in the State.  Hess is a long-time member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and recently received his ICMA Credentialed Manager designation.

He earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and is a graduate of the Executive Master of Leadership Program at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Policy, Planning and Development. 

The City Council will consider the new city manager’s employment contract including salary on October 1

City Manager Ron Davis Honored at Retirement Reception

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Along with a crowd of local dignitaries and well-wishers, the Burbank City Council saluted City Manager Ronald E. Davis at his retirement reception last Thursday, praising his 20-year Burbank career of “outstanding achievement, leadership and community service.”  Davis had started out as the General Manager of Burbank Water & Power in 1999, before moving to City Hall in 2016.  His last day as City Manager is September 30. 

When Davis took over from a succession of interim City Managers, the City faced severe deficits, with needed capital improvements and popular programs on the chopping block.  Davis quickly streamlined operations, reduced workers compensation outlays and persuaded City employees to pay more into their retirement programs.  But cost savings wasn’t enough, and so Davis and the City Council proposed an increase in the local sales tax (Measure P) together with citizen oversight to make sure the additional revenues were spent responsibly. 

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In November 2018, Burbank voters passed Measure P.   “We turned around this ship on the path to financial stability,” said Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, who appreciated Davis’ immediate tackling of the City’s “severe financial issues.”   Vice Mayor Sharon Springer also lauded Davis “for achieving financial stability.”

More than a few Burbank voters supported the sales tax increase because they had witnessed how Davis had transformed BWP.  By late 1998, the beleaguered utility was going broke as deregulation was upending what had been a forgiving business environment.   BWP’s major customers were threatening to purchase their power from Enron, and Southern California Edison was planning to gobble up municipal utilities like BWP.  The vacated General Manager position had to be filled quickly.    

“Fix the utility or we’re going to sell it!” was the challenge posed to candidates for the General Manager position, recalled Council Member Jess Talamantes.  But after speaking with Davis, he stated flatly to his colleagues, “I think we found our guy.” 

Council Member Timothy Murphy agreed. “I know what it was like pre-Ron,” he said, calling to mind his days on the Council back in the ’90s.  He appreciated Davis’ calmness in the midst of crisis, attributing it to his days “driving submarines.”

Council Member Murphy has a point.  Once you’ve been a Cold War Era submariner like Davis, dogging and dodging Russian nuclear subs under the ice-covered Arctic, floundering organizations that are financially underwater don’t seem so daunting.

 “And today BWP’s on anyone’s top ten list of the best public utilities,” adds Council Member Murphy.  Indeed, BWP has become so financially strong that it even fully supports its own retirement liability while delivering some of the lowest water and electricity rates in Southern California. 

The utility industry has also agreed with the City Council, having showered BWP with 29 major industry awards, including the American Public Power Association’s Diamond Level status for outstanding reliability for electric service.  In 2010, Davis received APPA’s James D. Donovan Individual Achievement Award for his “substantial contributions to the electric utility industry, with a special commitment to public power.” 

Anyone comparing photos of the BWP campus in 1999 with those of the campus today will see its striking transformation into one of the Burbank’s signature landmarks, attracting industry visitors from around the world.  As Mayor Gabel-Luddy put it, “Ron at heart is a landscape architect.  He loves to build stuff.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Former BWP Board member Bob Olson was also impressed with Davis as an architect of plans that work, hailing him as a “strategic thinker” without equal.

One example of such strategic thinking occurred shortly after 9/11 when first responders from different agencies were urged to develop the ability to communicate with one another over their radios during regional emergencies.  But squabbling over cost-sharing made even cooperation between Glendale and Burbank problematic.    In response, Davis instituted a Joint Powers Authority (“ICI”) supporting first responder radio communications in 2003.  “Today, ICI enables interoperable communications for dozens of first responder agencies,” remarked ICI Executive Director Ray Edey, who presented Davis with a radio-themed appreciation plaque.  

“It tough to say goodbye to Ron,” said Council Member Bob Frutos, especially impressed by Davis’ development of people. “You delivered us a Class A, five-star leadership team.” He credits Davis with transforming Council meetings from ordeals of time-consuming rancor into sessions of civility and focus that now end well before midnight, to the gratitude of staffs and spouses alike.  (Spouse Cheryl Davis nodded in vigorous agreement.)

Several other speakers praised Davis as a master mentor and builder of teams as well as things.  Davis is “a teacher, a mentor, and a great strategist,” said Acting City Manager Justin Hess.  “What really matters to you is the people you have met and helped to grow along the way,” said Community Development Director Patrick Prescott.  “No boss has ever cared as much about my success as you have.”   Current BWP General Manager Jorge Somoano paid tribute to Davis’ guidance, describing him as “a natural leader” who always looked to “the best interests of the customers as a whole.”

A close friend and community leader Barry Gussow added his praise and read aloud from a heartfelt letter from past Assistant Superintendent Tom Kissinger, in which he thanked Davis for his friendship and invaluable career advice.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Davis’ compassionate-but-results-oriented approach extended to his concern for children’s welfare, which Councilmember Murphy especially appreciated.  “I was trying to start a Boys and Girls Club in Burbank, and Ron’s knowledge and financial acumen made it happen.”  Davis has remained a key supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, now serving over 1000 children, including teens.

In recognition of Davis unwavering support and guidance, B&G Club Chief Executive Officer Shanna Warren presented a ceremonial check in the amount of $3,305, representing the donations made to B&G Club on Davis’ behalf.  Warren added that an anonymous donor would match this amount as well.

But the highlight was when Warren announced that in view of “Ron’s devotion to the children,” the facility for teens would now be named the Ron Davis Teen Center.

A visibly moved Davis said, “It has been our true blessing to be here.”

Burbank Looking to Fill Two Board Vacancies

The Burbank City Clerk’s Office is accepting applications for the Board of Building and Fire Code Appeals and the Board of Library Trustees beginning July 17, 2019 through August 16, 2019. To apply, please visit www.burbankca.gov/bccapplication to submit an application online or pick up an application in the City Clerk’s Office located in City Hall at 275 East Olive Avenue, First Floor. For more information, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (818) 238-5851 or by email at cityclerks@burbankca.gov.

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The deadline for submitting an application to the City Clerk’s Office is Friday, August 16, 2019 by 5:00 p.m. Applications may be submitted online at www.burbankca.gov/bccapplication. The appointments are tentatively scheduled to be made at the September 10, 2019, City Council Regular 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 lives in the City of Burbank, with the exception of the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission and the Sustainable Burbank Commission. (Per BMC Section Nos. 2-1-405, 2-1-406, and 2-1-407)

For more information, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (818) 238-5851
(818) 238-5853 fax or e-mail at cityclerks@burbankca.gov  

City Launches Campaign On Youth Vaping

Society is battling many social problems that have become front and center such as the homeless problem and the battle that many have with opioids. Both are important issues but a large issue floating under the radar is teenage vaping and the use of e-cigarettes.

Photo by ShutterStock

Last week, Burbank officials started their campaign to educate and hopefully stem the use of e-cigarettes and vaping among our younger population.  The campaign is a result of a grant that the Community Development Department in the City of Burbank received in 2018. The Building & Safety division oversees administration of the grant.

According to Carol-Ann Coates, Building Administration Manager for the City of Burbank, “The California Department of Justice awarded the City the $104,335 grant in 2018 to support the City’s efforts toward combating the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors. The City applied for this grant because it aligns with goals to educate the community on the dangers of tobacco use by youth and to combat the illegal sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to minors.”

“The City has several program initiatives that will be carried out.  During the two-year term of the grant, the Police Department (PD) will conduct two Shoulder Tap and two Decoy operations.”

Burbank Police Sergeant Derek Green said that the department will be overseeing the decoy operation.

“New laws are focused more on cracking down on retailers selling/furnishing tobacco to people under 21, in hopes of stopping at the source the growing epidemic of tobacco use by our youth,” explained Green. “Anyone who furnishes a minor/person under 21 with tobacco products could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor in addition to other penalties.”

“Vaping and the use of nicotine falls under new tobacco laws effective in 2016, which raises the age to 21 to purchase tobacco products, including vaping cartridges. The only exception is active U.S. Military, which is 18 years of age,” according to Green.

Vaping or -cigarettes take on so many different looks

While selling the products to anyone under 21 has severe consequences for retailers, there is not much teeth for the police when it comes to possession of e-cigarettes, vapers, cartridges or just lighters and regular cigarettes. Police officers have their hands tied to a point about enforcement.

When asked if a police officer can confiscate any items from a minor if they are in possession, Green stated, “Mere possession of a vaping device (without cartridge) is not illegal. Tobacco products in possession of a minor could be confiscated by officers as evidence, depending on the circumstances.”

It would be up to the City to come up with an ordinance to assist police.

Beverly Hills is trying to stem the problem by outright banning all tobacco products, not just those in possession of minors. This does not mean minors can not possess products or smoking is illegal by adults but it makes it harder to get tobacco products unless they drive to a different city.

Burbank City Councilmember Jess Talamantes is a strong supporter of limiting Burbank’s youth from vaping and smoking in general. “The state has recognized that there is a problem, by first classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products and than raising the legal age to 21, they are on the right track.”

“The Beverly Hills city council went one step further by banning the sale of almost all tobacco products within city limits. At this point, I’m not certain that a total ban is right for Burbank, but I would like to meet with our City Attorney, Police Chief, Chamber of Commerce and PTA Council to identify the potential benefits and pitfalls of such an ordinance for Burbank.”

Of course he also recognizes that you can draft all the laws and ordinances that you want, but then they will need to be enforced, which will take additional manpower and resources.

“Let’s not forget a vital aspect of the existing laws and any future ordinances In Burbank, is enforcement! I have no doubt that Burbank P.D. is ready to enforce the laws already in place and any potential ordinance in the future, but we have to make sure the PD staffing levels will allow for it,” Talamantes added. “After all, as the Beverly Hills city council said ‘that any potential revenue lost by local businesses is outweighed by the public health benefits.'”

There is already an ordinance in Burbank banning any type of smoking, including vaping, in the Burbank Downtown area. Police are responsible for enforcement.

“Under Business & Professions Codes, vaping falls under California’s Smoke Free Laws and makes vaping illegal anywhere that smoking is prohibited. Under our local smoking ordinances in Burbank (e.g., Downtown Burbank no-smoking), vaping would be prohibited as well,” according to Green.

According to Coates, another part of the grant allowed the City and Burbank Police Department to work together on an educational campaign, “Our Police Department and our Public Information Office (PIO) recently released an educational video on social media targeted to youth and retailers on the dangers and illegality of purchasing e-cigarettes. Community Development is working with PD and PIO on outreach and licensing of tobacco retailers. The City Attorney Office provides legal support as necessary.”

In the video, Know the Risks – E-Cigarettes & Youth, which features Green discussing e-cigarettes and vaping, he states that according to the National Youth Tobacco survey in 2018 tobacco use is up 78% among high school students. He also said that 21% of high school students are using e-cigarettes regularly as well as 5% of middle school students.  No mention was made of elementary students but no doubt as younger kids see their older siblings using vapers, they will follow.

With one vape pod equaling the same amount on nicotine as a pack of traditional cigarettes, it is important to not only work on enforcement, but on the education.

Dr. Matt Hill, Superintendent Burbank Unified School District, is also quite concerned about this epidemic overtaking the youth of this country, “The BUSD takes this epidemic seriously. We are working closely with students, parents, the City, BPD, and the community to educate individuals about the harms of vaping. We all need to work together to protect our youth. On July 18, 2019, the BUSD will be discussing this topic at their Board meeting.”

They can not just come out with a blanket uniform education or enforcement because students range from 5 to 19 years old so many factors need to be taken into consideration. When it comes to discipline, Dr. Hill reiterated, “Regarding discipline  – it depends on the situation (possessing, using, how many times, etc.) The discipline can range from suspension, to in school suspension, Saturday school, parent conference, etc.”

Obtaining the grant the City is using is only a first step to helping parents in this fight.

It is up to parents to monitor their kids. Vaping is not only done by fringe students, but some of the best and smartest. By having so many flavors available, it has become a social thing for kids to try different flavors and share with their friends. Vaping instruments have also been designed to sometimes look like computer jump drives and other routine items.

Parents need to be on the lookout not only for these devices, but also their children’s spending habits. Some of these cartridges can run $30 and $40 dollars each besides the delivery system, the e-cigarette, which can also be expensive.

It is going to be up to the Burbank City Council down the line when it comes to the laws and how they will be enforced. At this point most of the laws only really apply to the retailer or supplier of the tobacco products and not the user, no matter the age. While the grant was a great first step, “one of the program initiatives is to evaluate our existing regulations and policies. The results of that study will be presented to Council in the future. The subject of smoking and vaping by minors is a concern to the City,” said Coates.

Talamantes put it best when he said, “The health and well-being of Burbank residents and more importantly our youth, is a priority for this Councilmember!”

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Editor’s Notes:
Here is a link to the tobacco law amendment voted in during 2016.

Here is the video produced by the City and the Burbank Police Department. PLEASE watch it, watch it twice, talk to your kids. This will only get worse unless everyone takes a stance to make it better!

City Manager Ron Davis Set to Retire September 30

It has been 20 years since Ron Davis left the private sector to become the General Manager of the Burbank Water and Power Department. He remained in that role until June of 2016 when the Burbank City Council chose him to become City Manager.

Burbank Manager Ron Davis will step down September 30

September 30 Davis will call it a career.

Burbank’s City Manager is responsible for the day in and day out operation of the City. He only answers to the City Council and has authority on who to promote and which department heads are selected.

According to his bio on the City’s website, during the his 17 years with the BWP,  it evolved into a model organization recognized internationally for innovation and dependability, while delivering some of the lowest water and electricity rates in all of Southern California.

He is married and has two sons.

Davis has appointed Assistant City Manager Justin Hess to work full time as the Acting City Manager while Park and Recreation Director Judie Wilke has been appointed as the Assistant City Manager. An acting Park and Recreation Director will be named later.