Tag Archives: Walmart

“Explosive Device” Threat at Walmart Prompts Police Response

Burbank police received a call from Walmart around 1:20 pm on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 27 of a threat.  The store was immediately evacuated of both customers and employees while waiting for Burbank police to arrive.

Walmart Parking lot nearly empty while the Burbank Police investigate after a suspicious phone call received and the store evacuated. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

An employee who was in the store at the time of the evacuation told myBurbank that “Talking to other people who know, they said there was a caller who said there was a bomb in the store and then the evacuation was called. The employee later said the store manager thanked the employees for evacuating the store within two minutes. The threatening call was made to the Pharmacy.

Police sent out an update at 2:00 pm with the following, “At about 1:20 PM, Burbank Police received a call from Walmart reporting that a suspicious phone call and a perceived threat was received inside the store by an employee. At this time, the details of that threat are unknown, as Police Officers have not yet spoken to the employee who answered the call. Store management chose to evacuate the store prior to the arrival of police. We are working with store personnel to investigate this incident and determine the validity, type, and origin of the threat.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

myBurbank was keeping followers aware of the situation via Twitter, reporting a possible bomb threat per the employee until corrected by Burbank Police in an email.

At 2:43 pm, Burbank Sargent Derek Green said “Our released statement never mentioned a “bomb” threat as you said in your Tweet. It said we had yet to interview the employee to determine what kind of threat.”

At the time, more than an hour had passed and it is not known why it took so long to interview the employee.

Employees hung out near their cars while Burbank Police searched the store during the incident. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

At 3:10 pm, police then sent out a release, “Ongoing police investigation at Walmart in Burbank. Allied agency response with explosive detection dogs being deployed to search Walmart following phone call threat of an alleged explosive device inside the store.”

Dogs searched the store until 3:22 pm when they said there was nothing found in the store. Police at 3:45 pm said they deemed the store safe for re-entry.

No other details have been released at this time.

In the release, police said, “The Burbank Police Department takes all threats seriously and investigates any threat, perceived or otherwise, to the fullest extent necessary to protect and ensure the safety of the public.”

Employees wait for the sign that the store is safe and they can return to work. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

 

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Burbank Walmart Testing Artificial Intelligence Robot

Next time you are walking down an aisle at Walmart, don’t be surprised to see a small robot also wandering down the aisle beside you.

Walmart officials have expanded a pilot program that started in Pennsylvania three years ago into Burbank that is designed to handle the repeatable, predictable and manual task of scanning shelves for out-of-stock items, incorrect prices, and wrong or missing labels.

Burbank has been chosen as one of four Southern California stores to undergo the test.

The automated unit, produced by Bossa Nova Robotics in California, uses artificial intelligence to find products that have sold out on the shelf, may be out of place or make sure products have the right prices attached.

At first, the robot travels the aisle of the store (at this time only doing dry goods) and ‘maps’ out different sections. “Once the robot is activated from its charging station, it is able to travel up and down isles'” said Martin Hitch of Bossa Nova. “Once the robot is activated it will travel up and down the aisles scanning the shelves.  If the robot comes to an aisle that looks crowded with customers, it will automatically skip that aisle, move onto another and come back when that aisle is less crowded”.

If you are wondering why they just do not deploy the robot during hours the store is closed to make it easier for the robot, Hitch explained, “If you scan the shelves during the time the store is open and customer are purchasing items, you will be able to tell quicker if an item  is out of stock and the software will notify the store so the item can be restocked immediately.”

According to Tiffany Wilson, Director of Communications for Walmart, the robot is not designed to replace humans.

“While this is more efficient we are not looking to replace our workers. In fact, it will open up new jobs for people to read the data the robot sends in.” If there are any redundancies, workers will be retrained in the new technology.  “This new shelf-scanning technology provides near real-time views of what areas of the store need the most attention and frees up associates to focus on serving customers.”

The robot travels about one-half mile per hour so it does not come up on an unsuspecting shopper without warning. It also admits a subtle sound so people will know when it is nearby.

The robot can run up to three hours at a time before automatically returning to its charger.

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.

Walmart Surprises Stevenson Teacher Of The Year With Gifts

R. L. Stevenson Elementary School’s Sara Line, the Burbank Unified Teacher of the Year, was surprised with gifts from Walmart at a school assembly on Monday morning, October 3.

“Burbank Walmart Store Manager Panthi Patel and associates Rosy Lopez and Mayra Hinojos  presented Line with flowers, balloons, a collection of classroom essentials and a Walmart gift card for $490.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Pictured from L/R School Board President Larry Applebaum, Director of Second Education Peter Knapik, Superintendent Matt Hill, Sara Lane, Burbank Walmart Manager Panthi Patel, Store Associates Rosy Lopez and Mayra Hinojos.  (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Unified School Board President Larry Applebaum, Superintendent Matt Hill, Director of Human Resources Anita Schackmann and Director of Elementary Education Dr. Peter Knapik all attended the event.

“We are so appreciative of Walmart and their recognition of our teacher Sara Line,” commented Stevenson Principal Christina Desiderio. “Being honored today on California Art Day was perfect! Mrs. Line has a strong arts background and is an expert in integrating art into the curriculum.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

When Sara Line’s name was called during the assembly she was shocked. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“She believes that all students can succeed with hard work and dedication. The students and parents absolutely adore her. The staff and I are very proud of her accomplishments.”

The Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year finalist teaches fourth grade.

Ms. Line is an 11-year teaching veteran who was recognized by the county for encouraging her students to take risks and using their mistakes as opportunities to grow, according to a Walmart news release. She was one of 16 teachers throughout the county and 75 across the state to be so recognized.

The National Retail Federation estimates teachers will spend an average of $490 of their own money this year on classroom-related expenses.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

 

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.

Burbank Shoppers Must Wait Even Longer For Walmart

In a court decision announced this week, a judge has ruled that the proposed Walmart store in Burbank cannot go ahead until the City of Burbank meets certain legal requirements.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Alan J. Goodman issued the tentative ruling that will stop Walmart from opening a store until the City of Burbank completes all legally required actions, and completes all traffic improvements originally required when the Empire Center project was approved 13 years ago.

Walmart Burbank RenderingThe decision is a victory for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, the labor union that represents workers in Southern California super markets.  The union’s lawyer was legal counsel for the three Burbank women who brought the suit. Although traffic congestion was the issue that weighed heavily on the court’s decision, the real motivation for the suit appears to be the union trying to prevent competition with the grocery stores where workers must join the union in order to hold their jobs.

This is also the same union that spent thousands of dollars (more then any other candidate in the race) in the last Burbank election in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Councilman Jess Talamantes.  Despite the unions efforts, Talamantes easily won re-election.  The union’s attempt at influencing the Burbank election was apparently motivated by Talamantes’ vote in favor of Walmart.  Apparently unable to influence Burbank voters, the union has turned to the courts in an attempt to delay the inevitable opening of the Walmart store here.

Walmart Protest

Protesters were at an informational meeting held by Walmart recently

Walmart finds itself in the unusual position of being too successful in this case.  The plaintiff’s argued that the store would attract too many customers and thereby negatively affect traffic in the area.  The previous occupant of the site where Walmart will be located was Great Indoors.  Traffic was not an issue when that store was open, because basically nobody shopped there.

The City issued a building permit for Walmart to begin remodeling the existing building over two years ago.  In the 36-page opinion handed down by the court, the City is cited for not followings requirements to conduct another environmental impact report, and not completing traffic improvements that were part of the original development agreement for the Empire Center when it was constructed 13 years ago on a former Lockheed Aircraft Corporation site.

While the City contended that all legal requirements were met when the Empire Center was built, it’s argument that Walmart was simply occupying an existing retail space was rejected by the court.  The court’s opinion noted the huge disparity in the number of customers Great Indoors attracted to the potential number of customers a Wal-Mart would attract.

In a prepared statement, Walmart said, “We’re reviewing the tentative ruleing and evaluating all available legal options.  We believe the vacant, former Great Indoors store is suited for Walmart and the permits wre granted properly by the City of Burbank — like 1,300 similar permits granted for this shopping center over the last 13 years.  The Burbank Walmart will offer Empire Center customers a new option when it comes to affordable goods for their families and we decided to open a store here because we know local residents want good employment opportunities, including hundreds of jobs for the construction industry, a convenient place for one-stop shopping, and a new business to bolster the local economy.”

Walmart-Protest--1_1[1]

Protesters also took to City Hall during the hearing process to try and stop the project (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Although union attorney Gideon Kracov has portrayed the court decision as a victory for the residents of Burbank over a giant corporation like Walmart, the judge has put responsibility for this matter squarely in the lap of the City.   Neither the City of Burbank nor Walmart have stated whether they will appeal the judge’s tentative ruling.

No matter what the eventual outcome of the case may be, the real losers are the residents of Burbank who will have to wait even longer for the Walmart that was originally scheduled to open in January of 2013.

City Council to Bring Back Walmart Questions on February 21

Burbank’s City Council took up the Walmart issue on Tuesday night to a packed Council Chamber and many questions went unanswered.  The question will be brought up again at the February 21 meeting.  Expect residents who object to the project as well as Walmart supporters to be back in force again.  One of the big questions that went unanswered is Walmart a grocery store and what percentage of the store will be dedicated to selling groceries.

Burbank City Council Chambers were packed with those for and those against Walmat, staff was instructed to come back with more information for the Councilmembers. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Talks: Walmart – Good or Bad for Burbank?

With Walmart announcing that they are coming to Burbank in the near future, we traveled to Larry’s Chile Dog in the heart of Burbank to talk to local residents and small business owners about the impact they believe the super store will have in Burbank. Hosted By BurbankNBeyond’s Deborah Dodge.

Burbank Talks: Walmart – Good or Bad for Burbank?

With Walmart announcing that they are coming to Burbank in the near future, we traveled to Larry’s Chile Dog in the heart of Burbank to talk to local residents and small business owners about the impact they believe the super store will have in Burbank. Hosted By BurbankNBeyond’s Deborah Dodge.