Tag Archives: Empire Center

Three Grand Theft Suspects Escape

On Monday, August 6 at 5:50 p.m., Burbank Police responded to an incident of grand theft at Target in Empire Center, located at 1800 Empire Ave.

After the three adult suspects, two men and one woman, stole more than $900 in electronics, they were confronted by loss prevention officers. One of the suspects then punched the officer in the face and proceeded to flee the scene.

The suspects, reported as two men and a woman, left the stolen items behind and reportedly fled in a white sedan.

Ulta Beauty Burglary Suspects Arrested

On Sunday, May 6 around midnight, Burbank Police responded to a call of a smashed window which activated a burglary alarm at Ulta Beauty in Empire Center, located at 1351 Victory Place.

When police arrived at the scene, they observed the shattered store front window and noticed a large amount of perfumes had been stolen. In a matter of minutes, police realized the missing products were attached to GPS devices, and were able to track their current location.

Courtesy of Burbank Police Department

Police followed the signal and drove on the 101 Freeway towards Reseda. Around 1:00 a.m., Burbank Police officers along with the Los Angeles Police Department and Air Support located and stopped a vehicle belonging to a suspect in the 21000 block of Roscoe Blvd. in Canoga Park.

A man and woman in the vehicle were detained. Police searched the car and discovered the stolen perfumes, as well as alleged burglary tools.

Courtesy of Burbank Police Department

Courtesy of Burbank Police Department

Both suspects were arrested and booked into the Burbank City Jail. They have been identified as Giovanni Lopez-Valencia, 27 of Reseda, and Mariel Miranda-Guerra, 33 of Reseda.

On May 7, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed one count each of burglary and
grand theft against both suspects.

Lopez-Valencia and Miranda-Guerra are both being held on $250,000 bail and are due in court today.

The recovered perfumes which have an estimated value of over $19,000 have since been returned to Ulta Beauty.

Report of Shots Fired Near Walmart Proves Unsubstantiated

Both Burbank police and the California Highway Patrol received numerous calls of shots fired near Walmart in the Empire Center on Thursday, Oct 19 around 3 pm.  Witnesses reported hearing a number of gun shots and reported a car leaving the area at a high rate of speed.

Burbank police were on the scene quickly and with as airship overhead were unable to find the vehicle but a motor home of interest was located in the area.

Police shut down the area to traffic around Walmart.  They also responded their armored vehicle that they call their ‘Bearcat’ to the scene because it was believed that there were occupants in the motor home that might have been involved in the gun fire.

Once in place and with the motor home surrounded, police ordered the man and woman out of the motor home, who came out without incident.

According to Lt. Claudio Losacco of the Burbank Police Department, “We received a call of “shots fired” in the Walmart Parking lot. Upon arrival, numerous people told officers they’d heard the shots, but nobody actually saw a shooter.”

He said that there was no evidence that shots had been fired in the area.

“The cause of the loud sounds may have come from a backfiring generator, but that is unconfirmed at this time” said Losacco.

Two people were briefly detained during the investigation, but released.

Public Input Period Begins on Empire Street Widening Projects

The City of Burbank has prepared a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) evaluating a proposal to modify or remove two street intersection widenings identified in the Burbank Empire Center Environmental Impact Report (EIR) originally certified in 2000.

A 45-day public review and comment period for this Draft SEIR will begin on December 21, 2015 and will end on February 4, 2016.  The original Empire Center EIR identified improvements to the Buena Vista/Empire and Buena Vista/Victory intersections to add turn lanes.

These improvements that had not been made were one of the points made by residents when  they filed suit to stop the Walmart opening.  A judge later ruled that Walmart could proceed as long as the City made the improvements that had been specified.

These improvements were identified as mitigation measures to reduce project impacts of the original Empire Center project to less than significant.  These intersections were partially widened when the Empire Center was built, but full widening was not completed because acquisition of additional private property was required. NoticeAreamap

The Draft SEIR has been prepared in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 (CEQA) and the State CEQA Guidelines (California Code of regulations Section 15000 et seq.).

The SEIR assesses how modifications to the planned improvements at these intersections would affect Transportation & Traffic and Land Use.

The Draft SEIR identifies new land use impacts caused by the original intersection mitigation measures.  Alternatives to the original two mitigation measures are identified in the Draft SEIR that would reduce land use impacts but create Transportation & Traffic impacts.

The draft, which is 109 pages long, is available to read on the City’s website.

Click here to review the Draft SEIR.

Comments on this Draft SEIR should be submitted in writing no later than February 4, 2016 to:

City of Burbank

Planning & Transportation Division

150 North Third Street

Burbank, California 91502

Contact: David Kriske, Assistant Community Development Director

You may also email your comments to: dkriske@burbankca.gov.  Please put “Empire Center SEIR” in the subject line and include the name of a contact person within the commenting agency.

You may contact David Kriske at (818) 238-5250 if you have any questions related to review of this Draft SEIR.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Lockheed and Empire Center

Empire Center Lockheed 1928 areal

Many of us are shopping this Holiday season at the Empire Center and Costco to find the right gifts for all those on our lists.

One must deal with all of the traffic and parking issues to just begin shopping. We thought you might enjoy this aerial view of the area when traffic was less stressful.

Of special note the plowed field area at the upper part of the picture is Costco now, and just to the right is that narrow train bridge that all must pass under to get to the stores.

At the middle left in the photo where Empire St and Victory Place meet, that is the small company called Lockheed where now you can eat at Wendy’s, Panda Express, Olive Garden or Outback.

So next time you are frazzled by the Empire Center traffic think back to this picture of a more tranquil time and have a Merry Christmas.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: The Empire China Company

Empire Center 1924

Ever Driven on Empire Ave by the Empire Center and wonder why it is called that?

The Empire China company was located just next to where Wendy’s is today. They
produced fine china products, plates, Vases, and statuary. The products they produced are very collectible today.

When they went out of Business the Building was bought by a little known company named Lockheed for an airplane factory.

This picture of the employees of the China factory is courtesy of Mr. Fermer Kellogg of Burbank whose father is shown on the right in the white coveralls.

Visit the Burbankia website for more great Burbank history

Empire Center Puts the Brakes on Krispy Kreme Tuesdays

Following days of media hype, legal threats, and cries of anger from auto enthusiasts, Krispy Kreme Tuesdays is now a simple footnote in Burbank history. According to Burbank Police sources, Empire Center management decided to shut down the main parking lot serving Empire Center, effectively putting an end to the “flash car mob” event. Private security guards put up cones, with signs clearly noting the parking lot was closed.

(© 2015 Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(© 2015 Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Burbank Police, with assistance from a number of local mutual aid partners, had a very large and visible presence in the area. One police motorcycle officer monitoring traffic flow, joined by a Glendale Police officer, commented that “we are not bothering anybody here who is not breaking a law.”

Parking lots serving restaurants on the I-5 side of the center remained open until 10 p.m., allowing patrons to continue either patronizing the food establishments, or accessing the stores in Empire Center by foot. One Best Buy employee, wishing to remain anonymous due to restrictions talking with media, noted that their business was about 10% of normal, and that he “was very honored to have patrons coming into the store” in spite of the difficulty getting to the store.

(© 2015 Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(© 2015 Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Krispy Kreme itself closed at 4 p.m. In an official statement by Darryl Carr, Senior Director Corporate Communications at Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation, “Krispy Kreme has no affiliation with this group or their event. We are not a sponsor nor do we support this group or their gatherings. The Krispy Kreme name has been used without our approval or consent. At this time, we are working with the Burbank Empire Center and the Burbank Police department to protect the Center, its tenants and patrons, as well as the community at large. In doing so, we will be close our store today from 4pm to 5am.”

The Krispy Kreme store did have a number of private security present along the perimeter of their property to ensure no vandalism occurred based on anger from “mob” enthusiasts turned away from the center.

Alex Wraith, a Best Buy patron who took the long walk to do a bit of shopping, noted that in his home town of Edgewater, New Jersey, similar motorcycle flash mobs in his home town had created a lot of problems, including violence. Wraith commented that he was “happy to see the Burbank Police out in force protecting the community resource.”

Others were confused why the parking lot was closed, and were not aware of the background. Most were surprised, with one couple from China finding amusement in the situation, joking “this could only happen in America.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

On the Krispy Kreme Tuesdays Facebook page, most comments were focused on the heavy handed Burbank Police approach, without an understanding the closure was really a decision by the Empire Center management.

The “owner” of the Krispy Kreme Tuesdays account on Facebook, and apparent leader of the event, commented “due to the legality of this gathering. We do not condone or permit a Flash Mob Car Show. We do not condone public damages and or road blocking at Krispy Kreme / Empire Center. We will denounce ourselves as ‘hosting this FLASH MOB CAR SHOW according to authorities.’ I will be present at the empire center eating as a patron at one of the empire centers many food vendors. I do not mind if you come and say hello. Any gathering at this point would be at your own individual discretion and owns choice to show up at the empire center and Burbank city.”

Others commented (not accurately) that “It’s technically a direct violation if our first amendment which states “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Amy Albano, Burbank City Attorney, according to “Krispy Kreme Tuesdays” account on Facebook, sent a letter which threatened legal action, and accountability for the cost of security at Empire Center on Tuesday evening if the event continued. This was, expectedly, responded to on the Facebook page with less than positive comments, although one level-headed participant did note that “Empire Center is private property, and if property management does not support the event…nothing you can do, freedom to assemble or not. The pic makes it simple…. Top – Public Street…Bottom – Private property.”

The Krispy Kreme Tuesdays “mob” attempted to move the event to other locations in the City of Industry, Burbank Airport, and even Gardena, police were ahead of the mob at each move, and no alternate location materialized.

While those prevented from using the Empire Center for their “Flash Mob” car rally used terms such as the “heavy handed response by Burbank Police,” Burbank Police officers also noted that during previous Krispy Kreme Tuesdays events numerous fights broke out between rivals, drivers showed very poor behavior, including burnouts, racing, and “donuts,” and the police had extreme difficulty responding through crowds when problems occurred.

“We simply could not break through the crowds quickly enough to adequately handle the situation” noted one officer, who was more concerned with safety and protection of resources than anything else.

The cost of protecting the Empire Center from potential damage or liabilities from the Krispy Kreme Tuesdays event was high. All stores had a fraction of the patrons expected during the afternoon on a beautiful summer day. Employees were let off early, suffering a loss of income based on either hours or commissions. The center and several stores hired large numbers of additional security for the evening. Police and fire department personnel from Burbank and up to 12 mutual aid contributors come with a high cost, as well as the dilution of assets or resources from the home cities.

Burbank is strong, and will recover, but the cost to individuals, entrepreneurs, and companies was high. Based on previous “flash mob” rallies, the response was justified, and the level of response observed very appropriate.

Burbank Mobilizes for “Krispy Kreme Tuesdays” at Empire Center

Burbank is preparing for another possible “flash mob” style gathering of automobile enthusiasts on Tuesday evening at the Empire Center.  While not sanctioned by Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc., the event has been promoted via social media, including Facebook which has references to the event dating from July 2011.

During the evening ever parking spot was filled with cars or people. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Back in 2012 during the evening every parking spot was filled with cars or people. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

According Sgt. Adam Cornils, Public Information Office at the Burbank Police Department, “The Burbank Police Department will always respect and recognize the rights of individuals to peacefully and lawfully assemble. We also respect and recognize the need for area residents and businesses to safely utilize city streets and services.”

The Burbank Police also understand the potential of several thousand automobile enthusiasts converging in an informal rally event at the Empire Center could create serious traffic issues, and possible safety issues due to the potential of illegal activities such as street racing, drifting, and burnouts.

Sgt. Cornils continued that the Burbank Police Department will be fully deployed in the area to enforce all applicable laws, including those involving illegal engine/vehicle modifications.Krispy Kreme Nite39

Burbank residents, visitors, and workers should be aware the event is planned, and avoid the area if possible.  If the car rally does occur, then it is possible the Burbank Police Department will set up access controls, possibly blocking roads or direct access to the area as needed to ensure public safety and crowd control.

In the past Burbank Police have been supported by other law enforcement agencies controlling Krispy Kreme Tuesdays, including Glendale PD and the California Highway Patrol.

You can stay informed as Krispy Kreme Tuesdays develops by monitoring the myBurbank Twitter feed @myburbanknews

I-5 Empire Project Update: Upcoming Construction Activities and Closures

The construction activities and closures listed below will occur during the week of December 15-19, 2014, as part of the I-5 Empire Project in Burbank, a series of freeway improvements between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street. More information about the project is here. Construction activities and closures are subject to change.

Major Construction Activities for the week of Dec. 15-19, 2014   All day work, unless otherwise specified.

  • Leland Way Channel Cap: Drilling operation to begin December 18. Placement of roadway markings (one-way arrows). Flaggers will be on site if needed to ensure street and driveway access at all times. Work may be delayed due to rain.

NOTE: Leland Way is now a ONE-WAY STREET (temporarily). Motorists may travel in a northerly direction only, as directed by signage. Also, parking restrictions are now in effect. More info is here.

  • Retaining wall work near the southbound I-5 Buena Vista Street off-ramp (night work).
  • Signage operation at the southbound I-5 Burbank Boulevard off-ramp.
  • Utility removal/relocation operation near the closed southbound I-5 Scott Road off-ramp.

Please be attentive to closures, slow down, and watch for workers in construction zones.

What to Expect: Residents and businesses close to the freeway may notice vibration and construction noise, but it will not exceed levels permitted by state, federal and local regulations. Also, the contractor is using approved dust-control measures to minimize airborne particles, but some dust is expected.

Additionally, motorists should be attentive to new traffic patterns created by restriping of travel lanes and concrete barriers. Please proceed cautiously and watch for workers.

Closures for the Week of Dec. 15-19, 2014

  • Up to two lanes of southbound I-5 between Hollywood Way and Buena Vista Street will be closed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Resources for Motorists

  • Project Information: Information about the project is here.
  • Closure Information: Closure information for this and other freeway projects is also available on the Caltrans website and the I-5 website.

Three Arrested On Prostitution Charges Near Extended Stay

Three people were arrested for conspiracy and loitering with intent to commit prostitution at 2:10 p.m. Saturday afternoon, April 19. Jeremiah Ignont, male age 24, Michelle Lindley, female age 26, and Jennifer O’Keefe, female age 29, all from National City, CA, were arrested in the parking lot of the Extended Stay America hotel.

BPD New Police Car -2A police officer patrolling the Empire Center noticed a black SUV parked away from the local businesses with expired registration tags, according to Lt. Eduardo Ruiz of the Burbank Police Department.

“The officer, based on his training and experience in burglaries and vehicle thefts, finds this suspicious,” explained Ruiz.

The officer contacts Ignont and O’Keefe who are in the vehicle and he smells the odor of marijuana coming from inside the SUV. Ignont consents to a search, which results in the recovery of a large amount of U.S. currency from his shorts.

A further search of the vehicle resulted in the recovery of condoms, lingerie, high heels and similar items, added Ruiz. “O’Keefe was also dressed in very provocative clothing.”

Ignont and O’Keefe told the officer they were waiting for a third person, later identified as Lindley, who was in Target. However, Lindley exited the Extended Stay and walked to them, continued Ruiz.

“The officer’s investigation led him to believe that Ignont, O’Keefe and Lindley were involved in prostitution activity,” said Ruiz.

All three were arrested on prostitution related charges and booked at the Burbank Jail. Each suspect’s bail was set at $2000.