Tag Archives: Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Burbank Councilman Reassures Public

Letter to the Editor:

Friends and Neighbors,

We are going to get through this together.  As you may know, our City has declared a State of Local Emergency as part of a continued, proactive approach towards slowing the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.

This is unknown territory that we have not experienced before.  We need to remain positive, stay healthy and check up on our neighbors to be sure they’re doing well.   This said alone, I understand if some residents will worry about uncertainty or feel anxious.  You are not alone.    

Please know our City is doing evlwerything possible to maintain our essential services for the residents; our Police Officers are still coming to work, Fire Fighters are still responding to calls, Lights are still on, trash is still getting picked up and Burbank Nutrition Services for Seniors 60+  are available.  Also, our water system is the best out there, we do not need to buy bottled water in most cases.  We have good drinking water. 

We the people of Burbank are going to make it through this. 

Bob Frutos

Letter to the Editor: School Board President Asks for Support of Measure I

Op/Ed: On Becoming A “World-Class City” and a “World-Class School District”

On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, during the City of Burbank State of City Address & Luncheon, Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy stated, “I would like people to redouble their pride in the City of Burbank, which is a world-class city. We have really lifted ourselves up in a way that has us at the head of any city in this country.” Furthermore, in a separate video, she emphasized defining “world-class” characteristics where businesses are booming in Burbank thanks to innovative high-tech jobs, imaginative studios, and more. These high-tech jobs require innovative, evolving, high-tech education and curriculum, and that is the responsibility of our schools to prepare the future workforce, but that involves money the district does not have.

Very often, I hear from Burbank’s parents that one of the main reasons they live or work in Burbank is because of our schools. This choice is not only beneficial to our schools but also to Burbank businesses and to the overall health of our city’s economy. Unfortunately, many of our current/future teachers and staff are leaving Burbank or will not move to Burbank because of the rising cost of living. Still, the reality of the matter is that we are losing many current and future great teachers and staff at alarming rates to neighboring cities and districts, causing a devastating impact on the overall health of our schools and, ultimately, of our city.

Our current school district’s fiscal woes are not due to the district’s lack of frugality. The district has pinched and stretched every dollar, and it continues to do so. The reality is that state and federal funding does not provide enough to maintain a high-quality education. Burbank Unified School District (BUSD) receives the lowest amount of local funding per student of the local districts. When you combine local and state funding – BUSD is 2nd to Last.  $574 less per student (when compared to Glendale) equates to $8,861,986.00 based on enrollment as of August 26, 2019.

Our parents, teachers, and communities’ valiant efforts to support our schools are commendable, going as far as saving several teaching positions, even only if for a year, through fundraising efforts. Since we can no longer rely on state and federal funding alone, our community has determined that to continue meeting all the educational needs of all the district’s students; we need our Measure I to pass.

Yes, in the wise words of our mayor, “We have really lifted ourselves up,” but I hope that we do not forget that despite all the challenges, one of the reasons why Burbank has and continues to “lift itself” is because of the all the support and sacrifices our teachers, parents, and residents have made and continue to make for our children. They support our schools and choose to work/live in Burbank, despite all the challenges and changes, while donating their time and hard-earned money to support our schools, sometimes having to work two or more jobs.

To maintain and grow a World-Class City, we need a World-Class School District! I am confident that all Burbank residents will stand united behind Measure I. For the sake of our children, our schools, our beloved city, and our eight-year-old son. To learn more about the Measure, please visit https://yesforburbankschools.com

 

Dr. Armond Aghakhanian
Burbank Resident, Homeowner, Parent, and President of Burbank Unified School District Board of Education

Letter to the Editor: Councilman Wishes Burbank Well

As this year comes to a conclusion, I would like to wish everyone happiness and good health in the new year.  This year has been a bumpy year for many close friends, including my family who has been dealing with the reality of my mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. 

Yet, during this holiday season I was reminded how blessed I am to live in a tight-knit community with neighbors and friends who have opened their doors to help one another and have invited others to their home or church for a hot meal.     

I look forward to a prosperous year and I hope 2020 brings blessing to all.

Bob Frutos

Letter to the Editor: Burbank Residents Want Affordable Housing, Not Hotels

Dear Editor:

We are experiencing a massive wave of development in our city. Hundreds of hotel rooms and market rate units of housing are in the pipeline, and we have serious concerns about the ways in which this development might negatively impact our environment and our need for affordable housing. The project proposed at 777 Front Street exemplifies both of these concerns. It proposes hundreds of market-rate units of housing and a 307-room hotel. Burbank residents deserve more.

To be clear, the Project includes 69 moderate-income micro units. At 499 square feet, a micro unit is hardly comfortable living for an individual, let alone a working family that would benefit most from the project’s proximity to transit. Working families relying on affordable housing deserve access to an abundance of living space. They should not be relegated to choose between tiny micro-units or no housing at all. Their needs are no different than the families pursuing the project’s market-rate units. Furthermore, at 120 percent of the Area Median Income, moderate-income units in Burbank are unaffordable for many working families.

We are in the midst of an affordable housing emergency. The City needs to aggressively pursue low-income housing development if it hopes to come close to achieving its low-income Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals. According to Steven Sharp of Urbanize, Burbank will not meet its low-income RHNA goals until the year 3000 if it continues to permit low-income housing development at its current pace. Rent control is a crucial component to developing comprehensive and creative solutions to our housing crisis; however, more than anything, Burbank needs to build low and very-low income housing, and it needs to build it fast.

The City’s chosen rhetoric around the 777 Front Street Project is incredibly damaging to the pursuit of low-income housing development. We must push ourselves to think beyond the usual rationales used to support a project like 777 Front Street, particularly when those rationales lead us to make statements like “this Project is not a cure all, end all for our housing problems,” which was heard – over and over again – at the Project’s November 4th Planning Board hearing. This rhetoric only accomplishes one thing, which is to limit us in our pursuits to imagine and create a city, and project, accessible to all. Instead, conversations around housing development must be nuanced and comprehensive. Yes, housing development of all types is important. But what kind of housing are we building? And whose abilities to remain and thrive in our communities are we prioritizing? The City can – and indeed, must – require more from developers if it hopes to uphold the inclusive, diverse, and democratic values it claims to maintain. This is particularly true as we head into the 2020 municipal election, historic due to its inaugural alignment with the high-turnout general election.

We support housing development. We do not support housing development that is not accessible to working families, insists on the development of hotel rooms instead of community-serving spaces, implicitly prescribes deservedness to affordable housing tenants by relegating them to 499 square foot microunits, and drives up housing costs overall. Burbank can do much better than the Project as it is currently proposed, and it can – despite popular opinion – take the time to meticulously create a project that serves all people.

We urge the Burbank City Council to vote NO on the proposed Front Street project, and instead purse the alternative project that does not exclude working families from accessing quality living space, prioritize hotel development over community-serving development, or contribute to our environmental state of emergency.

Sincerely,

UNITE HERE Local 11
Burbank Democratic Club
Burbank Tenants’ Rights Committee

Letter to the Editor: Councilman Wishes Burbank Happy Holidays

Letter to the Editor:

Neighbors and Friends,

“I’m truly grateful, Happy Holidays”

The holidays give us an opportunity to be thankful for what we have.  I am truly grateful for all my blessings. Let us remember those who are less fortunate and reach out to help someone in need.

I am honored to continue to serve you and I am thankful for the many residents and businesses who truly care about our community.  I am also thankful for all our dedicated city employees and our police and fire departments for your hard work.  It is because of you, Burbank is a great city!

My wife, Laura and I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your families Peace and Joy this holiday season.

Bob Frutos

Letter to the Editor: Former School Board Member Urges Yes Vote on Measure QS

Letter to the Editor:

As a longtime Burbank resident and a former School Board Member, I wholeheartedly support Measure QS. Nobody likes taxes, but everyone knows that having quality schools ensures a quality community. Our schools are some of the best schools in the State. Unfortunately, 95% of the school district’s budget comes from Sacramento and they are not allocating enough money to our schools.

Measure QS funding will stay in Burbank so that it can only be used support our local children. Measure QS even has a provision where property owners over 65 can opt out of the tax. However, I encourage everyone to not opt out, if they can’t afford the $.10 per square foot of improved property. For a Burbank resident with a home that is 1700 square feet, it comes out to around $14/month. I really hope you will join me in voting Yes on QS!

Peter McGrath
Burbank

Letter to the Editor: League of Women Voters Speaks Out About Candidate Forum

Letter to the Editor:

Some of your readers may have attended our forum held on Wednesday, October 24th at City Hall. Others may have heard that several audience members seemed intent on disrupting the forum. Their interruptions delayed the forum and caused us to eliminate a number of good questions that we didn’t have time to ask. 

Civil discourse requires humility because we cannot learn if we are 100% certain that we have all the answers. Being open-minded and being willing to listen to someone with whom you disagree could build trust, which is sorely needed is our world today.

Unfortunately, both humility and trust were in short supply in the audience at the Candidates Forum held in the Burbank City Council Chambers and moderated by the League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank, this past Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. Supporters of challengers in the race for the House of Representatives 28th and 30th Districts, were so convinced that their candidate is better, or that the “other” guy is so much worse, that they felt entitled to yell and jeer at the incumbents – despite pleas from the League members to stop interrupting the forum. By their own actions, the angry audience members prevented their candidates from engaging in the most fundamental need of a democratic society – civil discourse and debate by candidates for public office.

Many audience members who wanted to listen to the candidates were so upset by the rude and obnoxious behavior they left the forum frustrated by the lack of decorum. League members urged the crowd to let the forum proceed without interruptions. We were not as successful as we would like but appreciate support of Burbank police officers who attended the forum. Our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Rita Zwern, Burbank resident, who moderated the forum with grace and conviction to the process.

The League of Women Voters has been educating its members for nearly 100 years and has seen a lot worse, but it is still shocking when adults are unable to control their emotions in a public forum. We can assure the community that it only doubles the motivation of League members to continue our work of voter education. We want people to be passionate about politics but we also want the community to have an opportunity to hear the positions and qualifications of the candidates and to debate important public policy issues.

The forum will be replayed on Burbank Channel 6 (Charter Spectrum cable) and is available on demand on Burbank’s YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcA4SeTAxqU&t=360s  

If you see a snippet in your news feed, we urge you reserve judgment until you watch the entire forum. It is awkward because of the interruptions but you have the right to hear the candidates before you vote. And please do vote!

As we discussed improvements for future forums with the Burbank Police, a League member expressed hope for the future.  She said, “maybe in 2020 we’ll be able to come together and discuss the issues facing our community.”  We hope she is right, but in any event, we pledge to be there with her, trying to make that happen.

 

Mary L. Dickson, President

Joan Hardie, Board Member & Forum Organizer

League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank

Letter to the Editor: BUSD Parent Wants No Vote on Measure QS

Letter to the Editor:

VOTE NO ON MEASURE QS (Property Parcel TAX)

I’m a Parent of a Burbank High Jr and was part of the successful YES On Measure S campaign. It might surprise you to know that I am Voting NO on Measure QS, as are many other Parents, Property Owners & Measure S Supporters. Here’s just a few reasons why we can’t support this Property Tax increase at this time:

  1. This Tax is not needed at this time; The BUSD Budget is Balanced for the next 3 Years.
  2. The Tax places an unfair burden on Burbank Property Owners & Renters who are still paying for previous School Bonds (until 2032), while approx 1300 Students who live outside the district pay nothing. Businesses with larger footprints are also disproportionally hit with larger bills.
  3. This Tax will exist in Perpetuity, highly unusual for Parcel Taxes, which typically have Sunset clauses and need to be reconsidered by Voters every 4-7 years.
  4. The Tax does not address future Maintenance needs or extra Classrooms needed to accommodate anticipated demand from Planned Development requiring yet another Bond in a few years.
  5. Significant funds will be used to augment Salaries/Benefits. Having $9M/year that can be re-assigned to any Goal “pot” will lead to more demands for Salary/benefit increases, resulting in less money available for Student programs over time.
  6. Obscures the real problem – mandatory Pension obligations imposed by the State. Unlike our City, BUSD has always paid its share of Pension contributions. But because of poor management by the State, our contribution to fund Pensions is increasing to 19-26¢ per Dollar of Payroll; taking money from current students to pay past obligations. Cost-of-Living-adjustments that previously provided money for modest Salary increases are now being used entirely to Fund Pensions.

In conclusion, the proposed Parcel Tax is a band-aid approach to a STATE issue. Political pressure must be brought to bear at the STATE level to either provide More Funding or Relax the onerous Mandatory Pension payments.  #NOonQS 

Eric Michael Cap
Burbank Resident & BUSD Parent

Letter to the Editor: Retired Educator Supports Measure QS

Letter to the Editor:

Over 40 years ago, I purchased my home in Burbank for the very same reasons that many people purchase homes in Burbank today—excellent city services and outstanding schools. My three children attended and graduated from Burbank schools and I have recently retired from BUSD as a teacher and administrator. I can speak as a parent, community member, and a former BUSD employee, and I can vouch for the top-tier education that our schools provide and the incredible preparation my children received for life beyond high school.

Funding for public education from the state alone does not provide the level of education and multitude of opportunities for our kids that we have come to expect in Burbank. To help close the funding gap, I support Measure QS on the November ballot in order to continue the excellent programs in our schools and retain and recruit excellent staff.  Key features of Measure QS include an opt-out for seniors (65 years of age and older) as well as oversight by an independent committee. 

As a property owner in Burbank, my property value benefits from outstanding schools and city services.  A Yes vote on Measure QS will add approximately $170 to my tax bill each year. I am certain that the investment I make in the Burbank Schools by voting Yes Measure QS will continue to bring a strong value for my home as well as a continuation of the legacy of excellence in education that we know in Burbank! Won’t you join me in voting Yes on QS?

 

Anita Schackmann
Retired BUSD Teacher/Administrator
Parent, Community Member

Letter to the Editor: No Vote Recommended on Measure P Sales Tax Hike

Letter to the Editor:

Just months after pleading with Voters to Pass Measure T: “To maintain essential City services/infrastructure like police, fire, parks, libraries…”, Burbank wants to increase our Sales Tax by a massive 0.75¢ to 10.25¢, to essentially do the exact same thing.

An honest Ballot statement would read: “To pay for our Unfunded Pensions because previous Council’s took a Pension Holiday (now Illegal) and did not contribute what they should have for 6 consecutive years; and our highly paid City Staff Salaries + generous Benefits; future Infrastructure Maintenance needs because we don’t make Developers Pay their Fair Share in Fees like Glendale ($2k Unit vs $18k); shall Burbank Taxpayers Bailout the City (again), even though we just passed Measure T, by raising our Sales Tax 0.75¢ Forever (no Sunset), giving Burbank the dubious honor of having the Co-Highest Sales Tax in the USA”?

What about Pay Cuts? What about Living Within Your Means like the rest of us? What about getting back to focusing on providing the best Municipal & Public Safety Services instead of wasting time on non-essentials like banning Columbus Day!

This $20M Measure is 2x what the City actually needs to balance future Budget deficits, creating an $11M annual Cash Pot. It’s also Bad For Business, esp. those selling higher-ticket items.  

I love Burbank and want to see our City prosper, but this Taxpayer Bailout only encourages More Spending & Waste. I urge my fellow Burbank residents to Vote NO in November and send our elected Leaders a loud message: Trim The Fat, Cut Spending & Live Within Your Means! #iLuvBurbank

Eric Michael Cap
Burbank