This Week’s City Council Roundup: 3/2/2021

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The Burbank City Council met virtually on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 and opened the meeting in adjournment of retired Burbank Fire Captain, Guy Thompson, who served the Burbank Fire Department for 33 years.

BWP Drought

Mayor Bob Frutos proceeded with some announcements to the public including an online community workshop for the Burbank Housing Element hosted by the Community Development Department on February 27th from 11:00am-12:30pm. You can attend the meeting via zoom here https://burbankca.zoom.us/j/99610663018.

An online community meeting addressing the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan including provisional measures to reflect city and community measures in reducing greenhouse emissions will be held on March 3rd at 6:00pm. To join the webinar visit https://burbankca.zoom.us/j/92525738473.

Two certificates of recognition were awarded at the meeting. The first was to the Syrian Community of Burbank in appreciation of a donation of $7,877 for the Senior Nutrition Program and the procurement of personal protective equipment. The second Certificate of Recognition commemorating the 25th anniversary of Leadership Burbank was accepted by Board Chairman Albert Hernandez. Burbank Leadership’s mission statement is “Identify, educate and motivate current and emerging leaders in Burbank to develop ideas and solutions that make Burbank a strong, sustainable and vibrant community.”

The consent calendar was approved unanimously in one vote and contained four recommended adoptions. The first adoption was of an urgency ordinance temporary removing the Administrative Use Permit for new restaurants and determine incidental sales of alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption to be an Ancillary Use at restaurants, distilleries and wineries in the Downtown Central Business District. The second adoption extended the local state of emergency and authorized the City Manager to sign an agreement with BUSD to facilitate the City Fire Department’s Vaccine Program for city and school district employees. The third adoption was of a Resolution establishing the salaries and conflict of interest code designations for the classification of Police Communications Manager, Lead Jailer, Property/Senior Property and Evidence Technician, and approving the citywide salary schedule. The last adoption was of a resolution revising the specification for the classification of Electrician Apprentice.

BurCal Apartments8715

After the consent calendar was approved, a Public Hearing was opened to introduce an ordinance to the City Council approving the fourth amendment to a development agreement extending the expiration date by one year to April 30, 2022.  Senior Planner Lisa Frank presented on behalf of the Bob Hope Office Center Project No. 18- 0002676 located at 3201 W. Olive Ave. The extension was requested in order to allow more time for the City to complete an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a proposed longer-term amendment to the current Development Agreement and existing entitlements.  The original agreement was approved in May of 2001 and has had three additional amendments since then. The new developer took over the property in 2012 and is looking into an alternative project which is different than originally approved 20 years ago. The study of this alternate will be done in the EIR once the fourth amendment has passed. Public comment was opened up but there was only one caller and then it proceeded to an hour long discussion of questions from the council to city staff and the developer.  After getting off course, Attorney Amy Albano was able to pull the council back to the original ordinance and they proceeded with a vote. Councilmember Sharon Springer made a motion to approve the ordinance and it passed unanimously.

After the public hearing some reports were presented to council. The first report was from Simone McFarland, the Assistant Director of the Community Development Department, regarding an update on the homeless in Burbank. In the last year, Burbank has seen a 3% increase in the homeless population with a total of 291 homeless individuals.  In 2017 a Homeless Plan was passed by council and covers seven different strategies. The strategies the city has been working on are developing storage, enhancing the quality of life and mental health, building temporary housing, creating affordable housing, continuing outreach and community awareness, increasing homeless prevention and rapid rehousing, and enforcing the public health and safety ordinance. 

McFarland announced that 86 individuals have been housed or reunified with families since April of 2019.  In addition, 15 Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers and 20 Permanent Supportive Housing vouchers were given out. Since July 2020, 14 homeless encampments have been cleaned up and services provided to the individuals. Items taken are stored for 90 days so the individual may pick up their belongings. Additional steps moving forward are to ask for an additional position to help in implementing strategies at the next budget meeting and receiving funding from measure H which comes to about $6-8 million annually. This report was noted and filed.

The next presentation was from Mary Hamzoian in order to adopt a resolution authorizing and approving the submission of the fiscal year 2019-20 Annual Action Plan Amendment under the consolidated plan and the filing of applications and certifications for Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act funding totaling $1,227,261 in Community Development Block Grant. In 2020, 104 applications for Small Business Loans were submitted and 1 was awarded and 72 applications for Micro-enterprise Loans were submitted and 21 were awarded. During the presentation, proposed updates for 2021 regarding the Small Business Loan were talked about including an increase loan amount for micro-enterprises to $10,000 and small businesses to $20,000. 

Other updates were to allow the first round recipients to receive a second round loan, reduce loan approval time, change business employees from 2-20 to 2-200, and add a requirement that businesses must be up to date with their BWP utility bills because over 400 businesses are delinquent as of now. The allocation of funds would give $227,261 to the Rental Assistance Program and $1 million to the Small Business Assistance Program. Other parts of the resolution included authorizing the City Manager or designated official to execute the CDBG agreements and to amend the fiscal year 2020-21 budget by appropriating Cares Act funds and Measure H funds. Councilmember Konstantine Anthony made the motion to approve the resolution and it was unanimously passed.

On the next report to Council, Councilmember Anthony recused himself from the meeting due to a conflict of interest regarding the adoption of an unmodified urgency ordinance to cap commission rates for food delivery and non-delivery related service fees and to assist in the reopening of businesses impacted by the Novel Coronavirus. The ordinance would cap delivery fees at 20% and stop third party companies from applying fees that the restaurants did not agree to. Councilmember Springer spoke on not supporting the ordinance because she didn’t feel it was an affordable option and it didn’t support the businesses or give them a voice.  She acknowledged that there are other smaller delivery companies, other than the four large ones mostly used, that can be a more viable and affordable option. Councilmember Schultz spoke on behalf on the ordinance, saying it was the right thing to do and that there was no time for a relief plan because immediate action needed to be in place to help the restaurants of Burbank. A 4/5 vote was needed to pass the ordinance but because Mayor Frutos, Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes, and Councilmember Nick Schultz voted in favor and Councilmember Springer opposed it, the ordinance did not pass. The item was asked to be brought back at the next city council meeting.

The final report of the night was to adopt a resolution rescinding the Friendship City Status of the town of Hadrut in Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has impacted the Armenian communities worldwide, including in Burbank and the war justified revocation of Burbank’s Friendship City status. The peace deal from November created territorial changes in which Hadrut no longer fell into the jurisdiction of Artsakh.  A request was also made to formally recognize the independent Republic of Artsakh following Congressman Schiff’s letter stating support. Councilmember Schultz made a motion to adopt the resolution rescinding the Friendship City Status which passed unanimously.  Councilmember Schultz also made a motion to have staff bring back a resolution to formally acknowledge the Republic of Artsakh which also passed unanimously.