Tag Archives: Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Community Member Endorses Candidate

Letter to the Editor:

I’ve lived in Burbank for more than 20 years and deeply value the strong sense of community here as well as the countless ways in which citizens and organizations work together to make our city a wonderful place to live.

City Council Candidate Tamala Takahashi moved to Burbank in July of 1999 (the same month as my family!) and shares my love of our beautiful city. She is a committed community advocate who loves to “connect the dots.” I have witnessed her in numerous board and committee meetings, where she’d hear of a challenge and then connect the people who can help solve it. She understands how various components of our city work in unison to make the Burbank ecosystem thrive and is committed to figuring our how we can do even better, especially as we navigate current and post-pandemic challenges. Tamala is running an informed, compassionate, and focused grassroots campaign.

Her weekly newsletter is full of useful information about upcoming meetings and events, answers to citizen concerns and information on ways in which community members can get involved or get support. This is a valuable resource that Tamala plans to continue to utilize to inform fellow Burbank citizens as a member of the City Council. If you want a sensible, practical, capable leader who believes in the value of good management, good governance and open communication, please join me in voting for Tamala Takahashi for Burbank City Council.

 

Suzanne Weerts

 

Letter to the Editor: Resident Throws Support Behind Takahashi

Letter to the Editor:

I first met Tamala at Toastmaster Club* 6 years ago. Having been with the club for many years, Tamala achieved the highest level of educational achievement in Toastmasters. She is not just a good speaker on the surface. I love listening to her speech because of the content, more importantly the logic and critical thinking she put into the content.  She is also a great organizer for the club, serving various functions, and organized leadership events at international toastmaster conferences.  

As I know her better, I am awed that she has homeschooled all her three children while working, done a lot of volunteering works and later on served on boards and commissions in our city.  

Since the beginning of this year, Tamala hold a “Freeway Side Chat” at IKEA, once a week. It was an opportunity to have open dialogues with residents. From these chats, Tamala gathered the concerns and suggestions from Burbank residents for our city. But not only that, she took action right from there, e.g. she helped a senior resident to find where to apply for senior housing, joined the Equity Diversity and Inclusion committee at BUSD after discussion with voters about the importance of equity issues in our schools. The week before school closure due to COVID-19, I stopped by to talk to her about my concern on homeschool, because some schools have already been closed in other parts of the country by that time. She then hosted two zoom seminars on homeschool for parents like me, which provided fundamental suggestions to help us with this crisis.  

During the COVID-19 quarantine, she continued to hold the “Chat” online by posting videos on her Facebook page. In those posts, she continued shared information about things we all cared about, e.g. police policies, Burbank’s rental assistance program, things discussed in city council and school board meetings.  

No matter you make up your mind for any city council candidate or not, I recommend you follow Tamala’s Facebook page. There is rarely a post about “voting for me”, most of the contents are useful information for our life, epically for Burbank residents. For example, you will find business reopening updates, family friendly activities in Burbank, cooling center info during hot waves, Burbank housing survey, etc.  She has communicated discussion on city council or school board meetings, summarized work done by BUSD DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) committee, and held discussion on Burbank measures. As a parent who deeply cares about our children’s future, Tamala also shared sustainability efforts across the country. In another word, while some other candidates using FB to promote themselves, Tamala has used FB as a platform to serve the community and build a bridge for communication. 

Back to the days when we were both at Toastmaster Club, we talked about our favorite quotes and inspirations at several meetings. Tamala’s favorite one is always this: “Be the change you want to see”. And she has truly fulfilled it all these years I have known her. She has a natural sympathy for people and advocates for those who may not have much voice. She not only cares about the critical issues but has taken the time to learn the reasons behind and move forward to tackle the difficulties.  

Tamala has served our city in many ways for a long time. No matter elected or not, I know she will do the same as she has always been doing. However, I do believe she would contribute much more for our city as a leader in the Burbank City Council. 

We need a leader who asks “how can I help”, not the ones repeating “vote for me”. We need a leader who studies the issues in further details, not the ones who simply shout emotionally. We need a leader who solves the problems, not the ones only voice their criticisms. 

Please join me in electing Tamala Takahashi to Burbank City Council. 

*Toastmaster Club: a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.

Yifan Zhang

Letter to the Editor: Bessin Supporter Spells Out Reasons for Support

Letter to the Editor:

While we have several good candidates for city council in 2020, one stands above the rest. Linda Bessin. As a long time Burbank resident she has seen the changes and developments – good and bad – that have altered our fair city. 

Linda brings a level-headed, pragmatic approach the city council needs to break out of its current rut. In recent interviews she has taken a critical look at issues which others choose only to look at the surface. She brings her career experience as a claims analyst into her examination of issues and gets to the point.

We know we need to address housing, and Burbank is well past being a bedroom community. Linda supports reasonable and locally responsible development that includes truly affordable units, not just cookie-cutter “luxury” condos that are well out of reach of most local incomes. She understands that development should happen in under-used areas first, such as Front St., rather than opening up blocks of homes to bulldozers, and that developers need to answer to the citizens of Burbank rather than ignore them.

The challenges of infrastructure to support new housing are also on her list. Improved public transport plans, considering the old Ikea space for something like a mixed use community and cultural center, continued support of and coordination with our excellent Burbank Water and Power utilities, these are all things she is thinking of.

Linda Bessin brings a plan to work toward the solving issues that won’t happen overnight. Previous city council members have kicked problems down the road too many times, and Linda is the woman to put them into perspective and make progress. I urge voters to check the box for Linda.

Mike Krause

Letter to the Editor: Burbank Human Relations Council Stands in Solidarity with Armenia

Letter to the Editor:

The Burbank Human Relations Council stands in solidarity with our Armenian friends and neighbors. Together we stand for human rights, freedom and democracy. Together we stand up against hate and authoritarian rule.

On September 27, 2020 Azerbaijan launched an attack on innocent people in the independent region of Artsakh. This is a region with over 2000 years of rich Armenian history and culture. Azerbaijan has a long-standing history of constant human rights violations. The current violent aggression toward Artsakh is aided by the Turkish government who has provided arms and mercenaries to fight from Libya and the Turkish Syrian border. These attacks have decimated the fragile peace agreements that had been in place for three decades. Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman Empire, has a long history of violence against the Armenian people. This unprovoked violent attack of the Armenian people is perceived as a continuation of the hatred and atrocious crimes that Turkey committed against the Armenian people during the genocide of 1915.

Sadly, this international conflict has expanded beyond Artsakh and into the Armenian community in here in California. Last week we read news of hate crimes against the Armenian community in San Francisco. Hate filled messages were sprayed across an Armenian school which was later riddled with gun fire from a drive by shooting, and St. Gregory’s Armenian Apostolic Church was a victim of an arson attack.

The Armenian community has raised local awareness, and urge all people of good will to come together to ask our government officials to hold Azerbaijan and Turkey accountable. We join our Armenian friends and neighbors in condemning the attacks, especially the targeting of churches and schools. We call for an end to all military actions and support ongoing dialogues to secure a cease-fire and a lasting peace agreement. Additionally, we extend our sympathy for the loss of lives, and for the suffering endured by the children and families impacted by this violence.  

Marsha Ramos
Vice President, Burbank Human Relations Council

Letter to the Editor: Resident Supports Council Candidate

Letter to the Editor:

I have known and admired Tamala Takahashi since we met around 2001, when our children were small. We were regulars at the Western Bagel on Verdugo. At the time, Tamala was writing and editing a newsletter for parents in Burbank called Kidsize Connections, so from the first time we met, she was already proving her commitment to the families of Burbank.

When her kids were older, she homeschooled and wrote books about it. She volunteered all over the city for causes and organizations she believed in, and took up leadership positions with Toastmasters and her Knitting Guild of which I am a member. I was always hearing about her activities on social media. 

In more recent years, while Tamala’s daughters have been attending Burroughs, she has participated even more fully in leadership roles in our lovely city and it is only right that she be elected to our City Council. Tammy has demonstrated consistent and committed leadership for many years and in many contexts. She is an outstanding listener and, in my opinion, exemplifies the attributes of a servant leader who sees her role as support and encouragement, rather than as authority. 

Tamala Takahashi will be getting my vote for Burbank City Council. 

Wendy Stackhouse

Letter to the Editor: Support for Council Candidate

Letter to the Editor:

I just want to let you know that I endorse Tamala Takahashi for Burbank City Council. She would make a great addition to the council because she is not backed by any corporate interest or developers. She lives in Burbank and she really cares about our city and wants to improve it. She understands how to deal with difficult people while also listening to their issues and allowing them to feel heard. She is open to hearing all sides of the issues before deciding on her stance. She’s smart, competent, compassionate, articulate, patient and has a great work ethic. She will be a great asset to the council. Please vote for Tamala.

Laura Sadler

Letter to the Editor: Council Candidate Appeals to Voters

Letter to the Editor:

There is a long debated English phrase: “may you live interesting times.” Central to the argument is the question as to whether it’s intended as a blessing or a curse. I feel little is more representative of where we are in this moment right now.

Just over six months have passed since COVID-19 first rushed in to our city limits, grinding our flourishing community to a halt.

We all know that Burbank is facing a public health and economic crisis, which appears to have no end in sight. Our small businesses have been hit hard. This is what initially inspired me to action and is a large part of why I am running as a candidate for Burbank City Council. The impacts of this pandemic on our businesses have been unprecedented, which calls for us to mount an unprecedented response.

We can do it. Our community is in fact one of the best equipped to respond to this crisis: we are the center of a global powerhouse that is the entertainment industry; a city with a rich history of entrepreneurship and strong small businesses; a town that built the planes that helped us win World War 2; and a city with a hardworking, skilled, and talented workforce.

Since the start of this campaign I have proposed the creation of a Burbank Economic Recovery Taskforce (BERT). I believe that it is crucial that we bring together our tremendous assets, experts, and stakeholders to the table to inform the Burbank City Council on the best strategies for economic recovery. I would like to see the BERT be comprised of leaders from the entertainment industry, small business owners, entrepreneurs, retailers, organized labor, community leaders, and representatives from the food and beverage and hospitality industries.

There are significant barriers to starting and maintaining a small business, including the financial costs and paperwork required for proper licensing and registrations with the City of Burbank. I would like to explore ways to make it easier to do business in our city so that we have new home-grown employers ready to offer good-paying jobs for our workforce.

We need to get creative. We also need simple changes such as offering concierge-level customer service in which any business, including locally owned small businesses, could obtain one-on-one assistance from a seasoned staff member in the City of Burbank. This concierge service could help our businesses navigate permits, licensing, and connect them with community resources.  It’s a simple fix that wouldn’t cost a lot of money. A simple fix we could do right this very moment.

We are certainly in interesting times. This moment has been challenging, and it will be for potentially years to come. But we also have so much opportunity, so much we can do, and the talent and spirit to get it done.

I believe the City of Burbank needs to roll up our sleeves and be proactive in exploring ways to enhance small business formation and retention.

With bold proposals like the one outlined above, I have no doubt that the City of Burbank can overcome the challenges that we’re facing and help to save our small businesses!

You can read more about my economic recovery proposals here: www.nickforburbank.com/economic-recovery.

Sincerely,
Nick Schultz
Burbank Resident, Candidate for Burbank City Council

Letter to the Editor: Resident Supports Takahashi for Council

Letter to the Editor:

I have known and admired Tamala Takahashi since we met around 2001, when our children were small. We were regulars at the Western Bagel on Verdugo. At the time, Tamala was writing and editing a newsletter for parents in Burbank called Kidsize Connections, so from the first time we met, she was already proving her commitment to the families of Burbank.

When her kids were older, she homeschooled and wrote books about it. She volunteered all over the city for causes and organizations she believed in, and took up leadership positions with Toastmasters and her Knitting Guild of which I am a member. I was always hearing about her activities on social media. 

In more recent years, while Tamala’s daughters have been attending Burroughs, she has participated even more fully in leadership roles in our lovely city and it is only right that she be elected to our City Council. Tammy has demonstrated consistent and committed leadership for many years and in many contexts. She is an outstanding listener and, in my opinion, exemplifies the attributes of a servant leader who sees her role as support and encouragement, rather than as authority. 

Tamala Takahashi will be getting my vote for Burbank City Council. 

Wendy Stackhouse
Burbank resident

 

Letter to the Editor: Parent Supports School Board Incumbents

Letter to the Editor:

There’s been a lot of conversation about the Burbank City Council election and it’s candidates, but not about Burbank Unified School District’s election and it’s candidates. I would think with all the school budget cuts as well as Measure I not passing, it would be of more importance. As a parent and a 20+ year resident, who moved here partially for the school district, it certainly is to me.

I think our current board has done a fantastic job under the circumstances. There are currently three seats open and four candidates vying for them. In my opinion, in the uncertain climate of our daily lives, which has my child learning from home, the thought of changing gears right now makes me nervous. Especially with the fact that the only newcomer is not a parent and does not teach in Burbank or at another public school, but at a private school. I’m worried that she wouldn’t have knowledge of the inner working of the City, a Public School District and especially not of BUSD. And during these uncertain times there really isn’t room for error or learning as you go.

I’m a fairly involved parent, I’ve been Booster President, a PTA Chair, Room Parent, on the School Site Council and have attended my fair share of School Board meetings over the years and I can tell you that everyone on the board has always been approachable, open, proactive and caring. Of the incumbents, Steve Ferguson and Dr. Armond Aghakhanian have started the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to help address racism and discrimination in our schools and Dr. Roberta Reynolds was instrumental in starting PFLAG in Burbank, as well serving on Burbank School Board for over a decade. After Measure I not passing, I know that they have had to make some very tough decisions, through no fault of their own, and yet they have strived to do the best they can for children and their education and I trust they would continue to do so.

Krista Zampino
Burbank Parent

 

Letter to the Editor: Burbank Businessman Requests NO Vote on Proposition 15

Letter to the Editor:

It is very beneficial for people in our community to engage in dialog about important matters that effect our city, and the more well informed we are, the better we can jointly address these issues. I agree completely with much of what local school advocates have been saying recently about our schools. Specifically, many local school advocates are saying “It’s time for large property owners to pay their fair share to support public schools,” and I completely agree that large property owners must pay their fair share to support public schools, but the fact of the matter is that business related properties (office, retail, industrial, investment properties, etc.) currently pay 55% of the property taxes in Burbank, and home owners pay 45%. That imbalance is growing every year as huge new commercial projects like the Worthe/Warner Bros. ”Second Century” project and Overton Moore “Avion” come on line, and the percentage of property taxes that are paid by business increases every year while the percentage paid by homeowners goes down every year. This is simple math……

Local school advocates are saying that “good schools are fundamental to an equitable society of educated citizens”, and that we need to do everything in our power to ensure our schools remain excellent. And again, I completely agree. Burbank schools are incredibly important and fundamental to what makes Burbank, Burbank.  Burbank schools are fantastic and need to be properly funded.  And these are not just empty words. My family and I have been actively involved in community engagement in Burbank for decades and have contributed an enormous amount of time, effort and money to a wide range of community causes, including many in support of education right here in Burbank. So again, I am on the same page with what local school advocates are saying regarding the value of the BUSD to this community.

What I don’t understand is why local school advocates would support Prop 15 because what it guarantees is so little in new funding to the BUSD as to be ridiculous. When I addressed this measure with school officials last year, they were dismissive that it held much promise of substantive increased funding for Burbank. What Prop 15 guarantees to the BUSD is $100 per student per year (see Section 8.7.(a)3), and that’s it. That’s about $1.5M per year. There is no reason to believe that Burbank will get any more than this statutory minimum. The state has never given Burbank an even break in funding going all the way back to Serrano. There is no reason to think they will now. We were supposed to get a bonanza from Lotto money; how did that work out? Further, Burbank gets about $11,054 per student from the State (2019) while districts like LA ($14,757) and Fresno ($13,225) get much more; how is that fair? And what evidence is there that this would change if Prop 15 were to pass? If Prop 15 is expected to be such a wind fall for districts like Burbank, why did it not include a meaningful new funding guarantee? $1,000 per student per year? $2,000 per student per year? Why? Because it’s not happening. Read the actual text of the proposition. The guaranteed funding under Prop 15 is $100 per student per year.

So the bigger issue here, in my opinion, is not whether business and investment properties should pay more than 55% of the property taxes that it already pays, but rather, 1) how do we fix the fundamentally flawed state funding format for education in the state where districts like Burbank always get the short end of the stick, and 2) how do we address the deficient overall funding allocation for education in California in general. As you know, in spite of being one of the highest costs states to live in, California ranks among the lowest states in per student funding for education. In 2016, the average funding for students in the State of California was $11,495 per student, while New York spent nearly double ($22,366 per student) and many states like Connecticut and Massachusetts spent 50% more than California, but Prop 15 does not necessarily change this, especially for Burbank.

Finally, the inability of our community of late to be able to engage in meaningful and mutually beneficial decisions that lead to long terms success for this community is disappointing. Last year the Burbank Chamber of Commerce reached out to the BUSD and recommended that the BUSD undertake a standard “parcel tax” in the exact form that had been used routinely across the state to provide additional funding to school districts like Burbank for decades. Chamber members even offered to fully fund an enormous community outreach campaign that would have virtually guaranteed the success of the parcel tax, and which would have brought in nearly $10M a year in new, unrestricted revenue to the BUSD. The BUSD rejected the Chamber’s offer to support a standard parcel tax that was commonly and successfully used across the state in favor of an alternative tax that is rarely used and has a much lower rate of success. As you know that effort failed. Twice.

Proponents of Prop 15 say, “there are provisions in the measure to protect small businesses”, but what does that mean? It means nothing because it’s really not true. Take an actual small business and run a desk top analysis of the real impact that Prop 15 will have. I have randomly selected an RV sales and leasing facility that has been in Burbank for about 30 years, for example, which has a current taxable assessment of $1.5M and their property tax due (before direct assessments) is $15,000 per year. The property taxes are paid by the tenant, not the owner. Under Prop 15, the property will be taxed at its “full cash value” which will be based on its underlying value and highest and best use, not as an RV dealer, and I suspect the new tax (before direct assessments and school bond assessment, etc.) will be about $100,000 per year; can a small business like this RV dealer absorb a $85,000 per year increase in property taxes? No.

Take Black Angus restaurant here in Burbank as another example. Their current tax assessed value is $6.6M. Under  Prop 15, the property will be taxed at its “full cash value”, and I suspect the new tax will be about $210,000 per year; can the Black Angus  absorb a $144,000 per year increase in property taxes? No. Is Black Angus not paying their “fair share” of property taxes by paying $66,000 per year plus all the special assessments, including costs of the current BUSD bonds? I suggest that they are paying their fair share now, and to expect them to pay significantly more is not equitable.

These two examples are indictive of the impacts that Prop 15 will have on most businesses in the community. This is all publicly available information, so interested parties can do the research and undertake their own pro forma reassessment model and will come to the  same conclusions of the impacts of Prop 15 for most of the “small businesses” in the community. The fact is that most small businesses will pay substantially more property tax under Prop 15.

Many, or maybe even most business properties have a value of $3M or more, so those get no exemption. Further, most small business lease, rather than own their properties, and most leased business properties are owned by ownership entities that own more than $3M in property, so are all re-assessable, with the increased costs paid by the business. So for example, I own a tiny property, say 1,500 sq ft on Burbank Blvd and its worth about $600,000 (1500 x $400/ft), and I lease that to a small retailer, that tiny property will be reassessed and the tax due will increase by more than 1,000%, and the small business that rents there will pay the entire increase in property tax. Most business properties in Burbank will be subject to re-assessment, which is why I say that the claimed exemptions for small businesses are mostly illusory….

An unbiased academic study on a split roll tax by Pepperdine University School of Public Policy titled, An Analysis of Split Roll Property Tax Issues and Impacts made the following key findings:

  • Increasing the taxes of businesses…would result in lost economic output and decreased employment. The cost to the California economy of this property tax increase would total $71.8 billion dollars of lost output and 396,345 lost jobs over the first five years of a split roll property tax regime. These losses would be even greater in succeeding years.
  • The introduction of a split roll property tax valuation system would result in increased instability for local government finances, as they would become more directly susceptible to the value gyrations of the real estate market. For example, in 2008‐2009 when California property values faced the traumatic decline in the wake of the sub‐prime crisis and the market collapse (industrial and commercial values fell 6.5 percent), property taxes collected from these same properties actually rose 5.0 percent. Accordingly, an assessment format that tracks market value will make the property tax valuation system subject to fluctuations in the market in a way that it never has before under Prop 13.
  • A split roll property tax valuation system would also further undermine the attractiveness of the business climate in California. Because small businesses typically lease properties where the cost of property taxes is passed through to the lessee, this research concludes that the employment losses described above would be disproportionately concentrated in small businesses, and especially those owned by women and minorities.

In closing, we again reiterate our support for local public education, but to add a devastating new tax to business that will substantially damage the local economy and local business while not materially improving local education does not benefit this community.

Specific things to consider:

  1. Because Burbank is such a business dense community, Burbank will be harder hit by this proposition than other cities in our state because billions of dollars of commercial, retail and industrial property in our city will now be subject to periodic reassessment. My estimate is that the cost to Burbank business will exceed $100M per year. Every year. And there is no guarantee (and I suggest, no chance) that any significant portion of these funds will be returned to Burbank.
  2. Regardless of what proponents say, a huge portion of this burden will be passed on to small businesses and consumers. The so called “exemptions” for small business are mostly illusory and will not provide any real protection whatsoever to most small businesses in this community.
  3. This measure dis-incentivizes investment in sustainable technologies as it removes the tax exemption for solar facilities.
  4. This measure provides no accountability to the taxpayers.
  5. Regardless of what proponents say, this measure will drive business from California.
  6. This measure will increase prices across the state as higher property tax costs are passed on to consumers through higher prices.
  7. This measure will hurt agriculture across the state as all agricultural improvements ARE subject to reassessment under this measure.
  8. Regardless of what proponents say, Prop 15 lays the groundwork for the full repeal of Prop 13 at some time in the future.

Michael Cusumano