Access to Burbank City Council by All Residents
Everyone deserves to be involved in how our city is governed. Too many people are left out of important discussions. Our voices are not included in what happens in our community.
If a Burbank resident wants to speak out on a matter or decision, that person has to attend a City Council meeting on a Tuesday evening and wait to speak during the Public Comment period. Not everyone can be in City Council chambers at 6:00 pm (or later) and wait for an unknown period of time for their name to be called.
The majority of the Burbank population has no access to City Council. This must change. Direct contact with City Council outside of the inconvenient requirement to attend Council meetings should be an opportunity available to all of us.
Decisions regarding Burbank as a whole should not be made based on the opinions of a few who have special connections to our elected leaders or who don’t mind being on television.
We live with the consequences of the severe affordable housing shortage in Burbank. Traffic, housing costs, evictions, and the cost of living overall are impacted significantly, and the problem gets worse each year.
The lack of housing in Burbank was clear years ago, and our elected officials failed to act. This chart shows that while LA County saw the problem and took action starting in 2010, Burbank has spent the past ten years falling farther behind.
There are those who declare that there should be “local control of housing.” Sacramento stepped in and dictated a solution because Burbank City Council preferred to ignore the problem. Had direct, decisive action been taken sooner, our situation would not be so dire today. It is foolish to think that we can ignore the state laws that mandate affordable housing.
Until we have built the affordable housing units mandated by our state government, Burbank residents should have access to the most current, relevant data about occupancy, rent prices, home prices, and other figures. The entire city should be able to learn about our housing situation from month-to-month and year-to-year.
The Permit Section of the Department of Public Works is known for its frustrating bureaucracy and disregard about how its decisions affect our citizens. A major change is needed so that those trying to improve or build housing can do so correctly AND promptly without delays caused by uncertain and ever-changing guidelines.
The wish list of special interests — which includes real estate developers — who influence City Council should not be what determines our quality of life.
Beneficial and Strategic Growth
Burbank will have to keep our city modern and vibrant in order to survive the current economic upheaval. We can grow as a city to bring jobs and economic opportunities to help us through these difficult times.
Investment in Burbank must continue. Our city’s economy depends on responsible and thoughtful progress.
An informed public should have ample opportunity to weigh in on the future of our city.
City Council should want to hear the feedback, concerns, and priorities of constituents. There has been no consistent, reliable, and convenient way for residents to be informed about what is going on in our city. If there are proposed new developments, we deserve to learn all the information and express our views about each project BEFORE City Council’s vote and decision.
Whether people agree or disagree with the ultimate outcome, it is vital that we not be influenced by propaganda coming from vested interests outside of our community.
There is no public transportation system in Burbank.
Officials will say that one exists, but the Burbank bus system is designed only for commuters who use Metro Rail or Metrolink to travel in and out of Burbank each day.
Residents have no way to travel quickly and conveniently around the city. For Burbank to be considered a “World Class City,” a modern, efficient, accessible, and reasonably-priced transportation system is a priority.
The Burbank Citywide Complete Streets plan is silent on this necessity.
We must begin a discussion about transportation in Burbank that is beyond adding more bike lanes. We can innovate and create public transportation that meets our needs. Our residents want to experience all that Burbank has to offer but are limited because city officials are refusing to expand their vision and show leadership.
Burbank Police Department and Community Trust
We need to refocus our discussion about police departments back to public safety, as this vital service must be the primary concern of any and every decision around policing.
In order to build trust between our residents and our Burbank Police Department (BPD), we must ensure that the protection of public safety coincides with the protection of civil rights and human rights. BPD can do this by specifically showing and not just saying that they are dedicated to delivering fairness, equity, procedural justice, transparency, and accountability.
It is a fact that neighbor disputes, mental health crises, and other situations that do not involve public safety have been thrown onto the long list of responsibilities given to police departments over many years. Police officers are often ill-equipped and not trained to handle situations that require patient, diagnostic problem-solving as opposed to protecting the public. Let’s move these responsibilities to those who are experts in those fields rather than criminalize these situations and, at the same time, move funding from police departments to those experts. This is what is meant by “defund the police.” It is not abolishing police; it is shifting resources to help both the police department and the community at large.
In these turbulent times, BPD needs to connect with the entire community, not just those who are available to attend programs at the convenience of BPD. Outreach means “to surpass in reach.” BPD needs to reach out and listen to our neighbors, who are now beginning to speak about their negative experiences. One option is regular public town halls at times and places convenient for the different sections of our community. We need to see BPD learn about us and from us, and then real, productive and lasting dialogue and a beneficial rebuilding of trust can begin.