Archive for February, 2009

Burbank Primary Election – Opinion

February 20, 2009

Now that most people have already mailed in their ballots, I thought I’d weigh-in with my final election thoughts. Was it just us or did anyone else have a hard time discerning which candidates to support? We read each candidate’s statement, watched their videos and the LWV Forum on Channel 6, visited each candidates web site, and conducted our own Q&A survey to see where they stand on a variety of  issues that are important to us. (See Below). So after all that, who are we supporting?

First off, someone new! Barbara Sharp is our No.1 pick in the upcoming Burbank Primary election. We’re very impressed by Barbara’s knowledge of local issues, her creative & innovative ideas, and common sense approach to solving the economic challenges we face. She supports our leading health & environmental initiatives, will abolish permit fees for small-scale video productions, and supports changes to our 10yr old Home Occupation ordinance to provide greater flexibility for those who choose to work from home. Moreover, Barbara is committed to ensuring Burbank remains the “Media Capital of the World” by working hard to retain & attract new media/entertainment companies & jobs. She’s a breath of fresh air with an infectious spirit, boundless energy and deep love for the City she now calls home. I hope my fellow media professionals will join me in supporting Barbara Sharp for Burbank City Council.

Second, someone older and familiar…Dave Golonksi. There’s something to be said for experience, especially during these uncertain times, and while Dave & I have not always seen eye to eye, he is tried & tested and has served this community well. He’s been fiscally responsible, lead the fight in obtaining airport protections for residents (Measure B, Part 161 study), has been a champion for youth causes, and put a stop to the mansionization that was ruining our neighborhoods. He proposed changes to our Art in Public Places program that now allows developers to give ½% of a projects total cost to fund school arts programs. He threatened to put up a billboard to shame a certain carrier that was violating our voluntary airport curfew. He has a vision for a new “green” aquatics center & year-round swimming programs, and recently came up with a proposal that could see Burbank & Glendale combining to build a new Armory on the B-6 property, that could also serve as a Winter Homeless Shelter. While others are talking, Dave is doing and has earned our support.

Third…someone “in-between”. There’s a number of candidate’s who’ve served the community on various boards & committees over the last few years, but we feel Lee Dunayer is a good choice to balance out the line-up. He’s a financial whiz and we could use all the help we can to balance the budget & deal with the financial challenges we face as a City. As BWP Vice-Chair he’s knowledgeable on Utility & infrastructure issues, is a big fan of renewable energy and our “green” efforts to be environmentally friendly, and as a former PERC member (& pilot), someone I trust to protect our best interests in relation to airport matters. My wife & I have been a big fan of Marsha Ramos over the years and trust her judgment, so with her glowing endorsement, along with that of City Treasurer Donna Anderson, Lee gets the nod for the 3rd available Council seat.

We all spent countless hours watching the Presidential campaign coverage this past year, but how many of us are willing to spend an hour or 2 researching the people who will be making critical decisions that in many ways, will have a greater impact on our daily lives than the decisions made in Washington or Sacramento. Ballots are due by February 24th. If you haven’t already done so, please take the time to Vote…Burbank’s future depends on it!

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Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Barbara Sharp

February 3, 2009

Barbara Sharp

Barbara Sharp

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit Housing? 

~ I myself am a non-smoker and allergic to smoke, so I am appreciative that I no longer have to be subjected to second-hand smoke aboard airplanes and in restaurants. Thus, I am supportive of some controls on smoking, for no reason other than smoking is not really a private habit or pleasure, as it impacts the air quality of everyone in the user’s vicinity. With that being said, I am in favor of allowing the private sector to address further restrictions on smoking, such as in multi-unit housing. I have lived in units where my neighbors were smokers and the effect does travel into adjacent units and impacts the ambiance and aesthetics of the premises in general. I am interested in taking a wait-and-see approach and allowing property owners to address any additional problems by, for example, designating certain buildings or units as non-smoking and/or charging appreciably more for units where smokers reside, such as is often done for tenants with pets. 

2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions? 

~ As Burbank is the “Media Capital,” I believe we must be supportive of film/television/Internet production, if we are to live up to the title. I have been a producer of low budget, small scale documentary and feature productions and see no legitimate public purpose that is served by charging these productions a permit fee based upon the mere fact that external lighting and/or audio gear is being utilized. These factors — either alone or in conjunction with other requirements of the production – do not necessarily mean the particular shoot is unsafe or otherwise burdensome to the City. 

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home? 

~ I definitely support revisiting Burbank’s Home Occupation Ordinance. A primary purpose of laws of this nature is to ensure neighborhoods are not burdened with additional traffic and parking congestion when residents run businesses out of their homes. However, today many home businesses are computer-based or involve very limited business-related visits, such as with music lessons or media freelancers, including audio and video computer production and editing. Additionally, our economy has made it a necessity for some residents to work at home due to job loss; because the operation cannot support off-site business rent; or in order to supplement a family’s income. As long as the particular business does not transform the residence and the neighborhood into an operation that should legitimately be conducted in a proper business zone, residents should be permitted to work in this manner. 

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends. What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety? 

~ While little can be done to address school hour drop-off and pick-up traffic, it is inexcusable that property owners should be subjected to unruly students who are excessively loud, damage private property and/or loiter. This needs to be addressed by the PTA organization, the Burbank Unified School District and, if necessary, the Police. The community is doing a complete disservice to students when this type of behavior is permitted without repercussion. I am fully supportive of meaningful penalties for students who vandalize property or otherwise create a nuisance, and I advocate a zero-tolerance policy for same. Weekend activities on school property should only be permitted when adequately supervised and monitored. 

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages? 

~ The Aquatic Facility is a unique feature of our City’s many public programs and services that other Cities simply do not enjoy. As with all facilities of this nature, major upgrades and replacement are required as the useful lives expire. Review of usage demand and cost should be undertaken, then, if feasible during this time of economic downturn, I support the renovation/replacement of the Aquatics Facility. 

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative? 

~ These 12 years that I have been living in Burbank, I’ve been like most of you – working, paying my taxes, paying my bills and enjoying our exceptional quality of life. I can relate to the average resident and business owner. I plan to bring to City Council an open-door policy and some fresh energy to build consensus and arrive at meaningful solutions. I am against, and will not participate in, “back room deals.” The citizens of Burbank deserve an open, equitable system that encourages participation from all those desiring to do so. I bring no ties to pet projects, committees and/or organizations that might seek to influence decision-making. I have been a grateful recipient of the high quality of life afforded here in Burbank and would now consider it a privilege to serve the City and you, the residents. 

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes) 

~ I support free speech and participation by the public at all levels of government, including City Council meetings. I am in favor of preserving the current public comment period to the extent it serves the free exchange of information and expression, as well as the particular subject at-issue. 

8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)? 

~ I fully support enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act, which in California has been enacted as The California Public Records Act (California Government Code §§6250 – 6276.48. Under these provisions, access is immediate and allowed at all times during business hours. (§6253(a).) Staff does not have to disrupt operations to allow immediate access, but a decision whether to grant access must be prompt. An agency (e.g., City of Burbank) may not adopt rules that limit the hours records are open for viewing and inspection, but may adopt regulations stating procedures to be followed. (§§6253(d); 6253.4(b).) The agency has ten days to decide if copies will be provided, or, in some limited cases, 14 days (§6253(c)). Access is always free (§6253) and copying costs are limited to statutory fees set by the Legislature and not by local ordinances. The agency must justify the withholding of any record by demonstrating that the record is exempt or that the public interest in confidentiality outweighs the public interest in disclosure. (§6255.) I believe you will agree that if we simply demand enforcement of The California Public Records Act, our rights will be adequately protected. 

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services? Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies? 

~ The economic downturn that is being experienced at all levels of government and society affords us an opportunity to evaluate our fiscal policies in the City of Burbank. While it would be irresponsible for me to arbitrarily cite specific programs or services at this time, I certainly advocate taking a hard look at our expenditures. Then, under-serving and/or under-performing programs and services can be streamlined or eliminated. We need to look for ways to implement efficiencies that will save money across the board – just like all of us are doing in our own households. Also, Burbank is unique since we generate our own power and are invested in other generating facilities, such that additional opportunity may exist to sell surplus for more revenue. In general, City government needs to shift its way of thinking — from spending everything available to creating surplus resulting from successfully implemented efficiencies. A balanced budget is not a luxury; it is a necessity. 

10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally? 

~ Burbank is truly fortunate to have such good neighbors as Warner Brothers Studios and The Walt Disney Company, among many others, who afford us a supportive tax base, as well as give Burbank its unique character in being the “Media Capital.” Our City needs to ensure we do our best to continue to attract and retain entertainment and entertainment-related companies. Burbank presently enjoys a very low office vacancy rate, and we need to continue to foster a positive, nurturing business environment and not unduly restrict the rights of owners to profitably operate their businesses and properties. As far as dining and shopping locally, Burbank has come a long way in its offerings. It is precisely this wide variety of choice that encourages the public to shop and dine locally. 

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank. 

~ The stated goals and objectives of Burbank’s Redevelopment Agency Board are to remove blight; improve utilities/infrastructure; promote rehabilitation and increase housing stock to primarily low income households; and promote local employment opportunities. However, with respect to the Family Service Agency (FSA) of Burbank, which is a 501(c)(3) organization (exempt, non-profit), their stated purpose is to provide low-cost/no-cost professional clinical and psycho-educational services to the families of Burbank and the neighboring communities. Therefore, resident concern over the use of Redevelopment funds for FSA projects is justified. The Burbank Housing Corporation (BHC) is a private non-profit housing developer that was chartered in 1997 with the assistance of the City of Burbank’s Redevelopment Agency. The mission of the BHC is to preserve, upgrade and develop affordable housing opportunities in Burbank and to provide a safe, service-enriched environment for the residents in our community. As a result, much more interplay, including usage of Redevelopment Funds, is to be expected. 

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs? 

~ The biggest issue facing the Burbank Unified School District (BUSD) is how to continue, with less State money, to achieve academic goals without sacrificing programs like physical education, art and music. I would hope BUSD would first pursue non-classroom cuts and the freezing of non-critical purchases. We can explore collaborative opportunities with BUSD, such as combined purchasing and centralized printing and copying operations. We can also assist BUSD in implementing business-like practices with respect to education. As we move forward, we all must operate smartly and efficiently with respect to contracts and negotiations with unions, contractors and vendors. I would also like to see government restrictions lifted on parents and others who, through the parent-teacher organizations, would like to undertake to upgrade and enhance their individual schools, as well as fulfill service needs, but are prohibited from doing so independent of draconian government restrictions, primarily regarding labor. 

13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms? 

~ I believe the residents of Burbank are more than capable of implementing “term limits” via their vote; however, yes, I do personally vow to serve no more than two terms. I would consider it a distinct privilege to serve the residents and City of Burbank as a City Council member. 

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal? 

~ Presently, the voluntary curfew compliance rate is 97%. It is estimated that the imposition of a mandatory curfew will cause cargo flights to be diverted, with one carrier’s bank courier operations relocated in its entirety. This is in addition to the expected relocation of corporate operators, as well as passenger costs for cancelled or diverted flights. As aviation continues upgrading to “Stage-3” aircraft, Burbank residents are direct beneficiaries of superior technology in terms of noise reduction, and even more so, as “Next Generation” aircraft comes online. Noise is a concern we all share, however, a curfew does not necessarily address the overall noise signature. In the end, the decision to implement a mandatory curfew is within the sole discretion of the Federal Aviation Administration. We know the airport is a huge economic resource for our City, and a recent change in legislation now allows Burbank to reap an additional approximately $500,000 in wing-tip fuel revenue. We should look at whether continuing to fund expensive studies to address a 3% shortfall is the best use of our money. Additionally, Burbank is, for the time being, protected from the threat of airport expansion. Since the Airport Development Agreement does not expire until 2015, Council members elected to serve these next four years will not be addressing the fate of the B6 property. Furthermore, Measure B, which I fully support, requires the issue of a new or relocated terminal to be voted upon by the residents of Burbank. I also support avoiding Easterly take-offs, such that the Hillside and other areas not currently impacted by the Airport continue to be protected. I welcome the opportunity to speak with flight path residents regarding these issues. 

15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly? 

~ Environmentally-sound development – both commercial and residential — with consideration of issues such as water conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction, renewable energy and recycling deserves our attention. We can encourage building lean, green businesses and residences through educating the public on available options and the many benefits, including cost-savings, that construction of this nature affords. Additionally, we can feature green properties that implement these efficiencies in City literature. I am also interested in encouraging the use of solar panels on public buildings and private residences. By investigating and implementing these efficiencies, we will be making good decisions about our City’s growth and inevitable change that will help ensure our high quality of life continues for generations to come. 

Contact Barbara Sharp: 
Phone: 818-729-0507 
Email: bsharp7@earthlink.net 
Web site: http://www.sharpforburbank.com Barbara Sharp web site

Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Dave Golonski

February 3, 2009

 

Dave Golonski

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit housing? 

~ I strongly support our existing SHSCO and would be willing to look at the issue for multi-family housing. I believe that’s a tougher issue, but perhaps requiring notice would be a good initial step. 

2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions? 

~ Yes. 

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a ~Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home? 

~ I am willing to look at this issue, however I will want to make sure that we don’t turn residential zones into defacto commercial zones and that we make sure that neighborhoods are protected from potential negative impacts. 

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends. What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety? 

~ I am always willing to look at what can be done to improve the quality of life in every neighborhood. School traffic can be chaotic and we’ve been able to make some improvements in some areas. Living next to a school will always mean there are certain impacts that are unavoidable, similar to living next to a park. 

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages? 

~ Yes. 

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative? 

~ Yes. 

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes) 

~ Probably leave it as it is, I would like to see if we can schedule hearings on a certain night where that is all we are going to do. 

8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)? 

~ The city is required by law to respond to FOIA requests in a certain time frame. I think the city needs to be timely in honoring informal requests as well. 

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services? Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies? 

~ I would start by freezing all non-essential open positions, reviewing outside consulting contracts and looking for ways to save money on the various things that we purchase (i.e. insurance). We can balance the budget without impacting the level of service we provide. Rates are a different issue as our rates are all handled as enterprise funds and their levels are set based on our costs. I would look for ways to cut or maintain our costs to minimize any rate increase that may be necessary. 

10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally? 

~ We can get the word out to everyone that it helps our community to shop locally, use local businesses and keep jobs local. 

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank. 

~ We have used redevelopment funds to better our community and this has included supporting some non-profits that provide essential service to our community. We have also contributed in the range of $45 million to our schools, built a new Police/Fire headquarters, new fire stations and the Buena Vista Library with Redevelopment funds. I’d call that maximizing these funds. We also use these funds for infrastructure needs such as the recent improvements on Burbank Blvd. 

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs? 

~ We are funding the renovation of the track & fields at our High Schools and the building of a new stadium at Burroughs. We work closely with the school district and support Peacebuilders at the elementary schools as well as counseling at elementary, middle and high schools. We also support programs such as Challenge Day at our middle and high schools. We currently pay for a resource manager to help the district conserve energy and water and will continue to look for ways to help them provide better services and reduce their costs. 

13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms? 

~ I think the voters of Burbank are quite capable of choosing who they think will best represent them. I also don’t believe we have had a problem with lack of turnover on the council. After this election at least 4 of the council members will have less than three years experience. 

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal? 

~ I strongly support the Part 161 application for a mandatory curfew and believe a new terminal needs to come with guarantees against expansion. 

15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly? 

~ There are many things we can do to be a more sustainable city. I believe the city should be a leader in this area, as we have been with our Natural Gas fleet and our push towards more renewable sources in our energy portfolio. I would also like to see us create our own green waste composting program (we currently ship green waste to Ventura) and promote more use of bio-fuels. 

Contact Dave Golonski: 
Phone: 818-434-5873 
Email: Dgolon@aol.com 
Web site: http://www.reelectdavegolonski.com Dave Golonski web site

Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Lee Dunayer

February 3, 2009

Lee Dunayer

Lee Dunayer

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit housing?

~ While I support the current “SHSCO,” I would support a phased in approach to the “SHSCO” for multi-units over the period of one year, in coordination with the owner of the multi-unit property (not the association).  This allows the owners and tenants to work out a schedule for relocation.  I strongly feel that second hand smoke is far more dangerous inside the apartments/condo’s than outside.

 2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions?

~ At this time I have not had discussions with small media related production and post-production companies who may offer compelling reasons why the permit fees should be lowered or waived. I would reach a conclusion after such conversations.

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home?

~ I would be happy to revisit the ZTA.  As long as parking can be provided, I encourage flexible working hours and the use of one’s home for appropriate business purposes.

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and  my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends. What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety?

~ Each neighborhood has it’s own experience relating to these matters. I support a neighborhood engagement specific to each area to try to arrive at a happy medium between residents, PTA, School Board, etc. If a reasonable conclusion is reached, and it differs from another neighborhood, I would support a unique set of rules for each neighborhood’s cicumstances.  I recognize we have shortage of recreational facilities, and thus I would encourage shared use agreements between the City Council and School District. 

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages?

~ In this current economic climate I would only support monies delegated for new facilities by state and federal grants…I place other infrastructure needs ahead.

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative?

~ Absolutely…and proudly.

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes)

~ I like Public Comment the way it is currently structured.

8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)?

~ I support public tranparency with every bone in my body….but I do not know what city staff could or should do better at this time. However, if I do notice room for improvement while sitting on Council, I would seek ways to communicate my thoughts in manner that embarrasses no one. 

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services? Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies?

~ While our current estimated deficit is manageable if we tap into reserves, the place to begin is performance standards for each task of each department.  This directly addresses where and how we can accomplish things faster, cheaper or both.  Second, we need aggressive stimulus programs to retain and promote business in Burbank.  Third, we ought to pay close attention to refiancing opportunities with our outstanding debt. I am confident that effort and concentration in these three areas will prevent cutbacks of city services.  An increase in utility rates is more a function of sustainablity efforts and requirements than the city budget.

 10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally?
 

~ Performance standards will reveal inefficiencies and opportunities. Programs such as “Let the Buck Stop Here” created and funded by the Redevelopment Agency were well thought out and successful.  We absolutely need to aggressively encourage business Downtown during the week day lunch hour through similar programs, increasing bus service to the Downtown areas (which may eventually lead to a streetcar system), and possible “micro loans” to encourage new business.  We need to maintain free parking in Burbank…it is a major attraction. We cannot be competitive enough with Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Glendale, Pasadena, etc., keeping sales tax dollars in Burbank.

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank?

~ Not by me…I think these monies have been invested wisely.  The purpose of redevelopment is to improve blighted areas so that local citizens have a better environment, local services are enhanced and property values increased. 

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs?

~ During my campaign I have spoken to both School Board Members and a few from local PTA’s.  At this point I have made no progress in finding a solution…but have every intention on continuing the quest.

13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms?

~ I have a very, very strong belief in term limits…from the American Presidency on down to the municipal level.  I will absolutely commit to no more than two terms, though my very strong preference is for one six year term for each elected official in the country.  Later, perhaps we can talk about campaign financing. 

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal?

~ I helped author the PERC report on these issues.  I believe we should continue to pursue an enforceable nighttime curfew under PART 161.  We are restricted for another year and a half in revisiting the B-6 Property issue.  However, we are at least two new FAA Administrator’s later.  We need to begin a new dialogue with the current Administrator and their staff as well as neighboring city elected officials. Currently our voluntary curfew is mainly adhered to by the airlines. However, I would like to offer a pilots prospective (I have been an active private pilot in this area for over thirty years).  The biggest threat we face to late night noise is from cargo operations.  This typically involves older and noiser aircraft, but hasn’t yet become the problem it might.  As for relocating a new terminal building I would like to be clear.  The terminal, though closer than usual to Runway 8 is safe.  There is a prevention for an incident similar to the Southwest Airlines Hollywood Way incident several years ago.  A new terminal building would likely be asthetically pleasing, but would do little to add to safety and would likely lead to the FAA insisting on additional gates.

 15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly?

~ First, I applaud the efforts and progress this City and BWP has made to be a leader in green efforts.  The world is on the brink of break through technology with battery capacity issues for plug-in hybrid vehicles.  BWP has led a joint effort amongst many other utilities in the country to promote this.  Additionally, the utility is ahead of the State for renewables over the coming decade.  Burbank should be proud of our leadership  in these areas, and knowing the leaders of this City, I have every confidence this will continue.

Contact Lee Dunayer:
Phone: 818-919-3807
Email: ldunayer@gmail.com
Web site: http://www.leedunayer.com Lee Dunayer web site

Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Elise Stearns-Niesen

February 3, 2009

Elise Stearns

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit housing? 

~ Although I’m not a big fan of this ordinance, it’s my understanding that a good portion of Burbank residents were in favor of it. I get a little nervous when we create laws/ordinances that dictate a person’s behaviors that are, albeit annoying, not illegal. I worry about civil liberties and where we draw the line on other behaviors. I would prefer that our police officers not spend time citing violators of annoying behaviors and rather cite folks that are a danger to our public safety (there is no clinical proof that second hand smoke is a danger to our health, only speculation). All that being said, and hindsight being 20/20, if a great majority of the feedback from city residents was truly in favor of the ordinance, I would have reluctantly voted in favor of it. 

2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions? 

~ I would be open to exploring the filming permit process with hand-held cameras a little further. I believe the biggest concern for me is that of safety when external lighting and audio equipment is used. I don’t want to stifle small-scale productions, independent film makers and students from filming in Burbank, especially if they are filming on their own property. So, yes, I would be open to revisiting this ordinance. 

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home? 

~ I would be open to exploring the Home Occupation Ordinance. In these days of job losses and recession, I’m open to making changes that help folks be successful in their home occupations, so long as it doesn’t disturb the neighbors and add vehicle traffic to the neighborhoods. Working from home has many benefits; telecommuting will reduce traffic and lessen carbon emissions and parents can spend more time with their children and possibly reduce child care costs. 

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends. What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety? 

~ I think dialogue with the school, the school district and police department would be the first plan of action. Brainstorm ideas with the school and parents to give incentives for carpooling to lessen traffic, consider permit parking on the street to reduce all day parking issues, and ask for more police officer presence at the beginning and ending of the school day. 

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages? 

~ I’m certainly open to exploring a new Aquatics Facility. I know there are a lot of lap swimmers in Burbank that would appreciate a year round facility. That being said, I think the existing public swimming pools are aptly located, providing a summer outlet for our kids in different sides of the city. I’d be open to repairing our existing pools to continue to provide those neighborhoods with water recreation. I’d look for funding, perhaps not now, but when our economy bounces back, for a new aquatics center. 

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative? 

~ I will always do my best to be open to dialogue with Burbank residents, whether through emails, telephone or in person. I truly hope to be a voice for my community. We may not always see eye to eye on every issue, however it is important to have reasonable, open discussions about things that matter the most to Burbank. 

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes) 

~ I believe the Council Meetings have become unnecessarily long, which sometimes means the agenda items are discussed well into the night and even sometimes past midnight. I believe this is due in large part to an inordinate amount of time being devoted to public comment. I believe that on the vast majority of issues, a citizen’s point can be made within 3 minutes. Thus I would favor shortening the public comment time to 3 minutes, and strongly urge those participants to not repeat what has already been said. This is not to in any way squash free speech, but to help the council members stay focused on the agenda items. 

8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)? 

~ Currently, everything that comes before City Council on Tuesday nights is open for review via the City of Burbank website and I believe in the City Clerks office as well as the main public library. I’m in support of open/transparent government. 

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services? Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies? 

~ I don’t believe there is any one answer to the projected budget deficit. I think we need to look for varying solutions to the problem. I will look at every solution to the deficit before considering a rise in our utility rates (with the exception of water). I will look at ways to be more efficient, look to not cut any programs, but possibly look at under utilized portions of a program or low priority parts of a program to temporarily cut back on. I would be open to regionalization of services to help share the costs with our neighboring cities, so long as the quality of the service does not suffer. 

As for our water bills, I can’t make any promises. I know this is not a popular answer, but for the sake of being transparent, we are several years into a drought with our reservoirs being used up at a rapid pace. Even with the city’s efforts in helping residents voluntarily cut back on their water usage, we are looking at increases in our water bills. I hate to sound like an alarmist and be a bearer of bad news, but the reality of it is, we will most likely see a rise in our water rates over the next couple of years. 

10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally? 

~ I like the idea of continuing to use City’s existing programs that help Burbank businesses continue to thrive, such as “Team Business” partnerships, Business Bootcamp workshops, “Business Bucks”, ect. 
I think the city’s partnering up with the Chamber of Commerce with the idea of ongoing round table discussions with city executives and business owners, as well as exploring the idea of a “city business trade show” may help our local businesses as well. I’m also open to “Buying in Burbank” campaigns, such as the “Buck Stop’s Here” over the holidays, in which some of the local businesses give special discounts for shopping in their stores. 

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank. 

~ To be honest, I’m still learning about the different criteria that must be met to spend redevelopment funds, so I can’t say for certain how or when I would agree to spend redevelopment funds. I can say for certainty, that I have appreciated the city’s partnership with some of our non-profits in Burbank, such as FSAB and BTAC. Helping these organizations better serve the whole of our community, in my opinion, is a worthy investment. 

With regards to any development in Burbank, whether it be with redevelopment funds or not, I will always decide on a case-by-case basis, especially being mindful of any negative impacts a development will have on the surrounding neighborhoods. 

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs? 

~ Unfortunately, I don’t believe the City is in any position to financially help out BUSD. However, the City has done a good job in partnering with our school district in the past. I would be open to more joint efforts with the district, much in the same way we have done with the JBHS field and stadium, BHS field and the Jordan Middle School renovation and parking lot. 

13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms? 

~ I personally am not for term limits, because I feel the people have the power to vote a candidate in or out, regardless of how long a person has served on city council. However, I don’t feel really strong about this, and I would be open to putting this particular issue to a vote amongst our residents. I would trust the democratic process on this one and support what the majority would like. 

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal? 

~ I am against airport expansion. I am in support of the FAA Part 161 Process that requests noise relief through a mandatory night-time curfew. I am against noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport. I am in support of a safer, quieter airport. If making the airport safer through modernization is needed, I would be open to those possibilities, in that they do not increase the number of gates, nor increase the air and vehicle traffic of the airport. I think we have a nice airport that serves our community well. I don’t wish to see it expanded. 

15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly? 

~ The city is doing quite a bit toward bettering our environment by following as closely as possible to suggestions in the UN urban accords. We have a top-notch recycling center and our city has made it a priority to invest in alternative fuel vehicles. I am open to new ideas of sustainability. I think we can focus on making our city a more walk-able, bicycle friendly place, and also protect the open spaces we have. However, being green isn’t always cheap. I would prefer not to raise taxes of our residents in order to be green. I have faith that Burbank residents will step up voluntarily to do a better job of reducing, reusing and recycling, in its efforts to be a cleaner, healthier city. 

Contact Elise Stearns-Niesen: 
Phone: 818-843-5473 
Email: elisestearnsniesen@gmail.com 
Web site: http://www.voteelise.com Elise Stearns web site

Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Dan Humfreville

February 3, 2009

Dan Humfreville

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit housing? 

~ Interesting that this is the very first question among some big, and far more significant local issues to be confronted, but I note you are also passionately involved with the ordinance, and I appreciate that fact. Here’s my response: Smoking is a bad habit. People would be better off not starting it. We all know it is implicated in a higher likelihood of numerous diseases. But there’s another bad habit that I find even more disturbing… and that’s little city councils (such as ours) deciding that they know more than all of their citizens how people should behave. There is ample and adequate law at many levels to protect the health of those who don’t want to be exposed to smoke. The laws concern “indoor” exposure where smoke is obviously far more likely to be concentrated, and I agree with them. When it comes to “outside” exposure, I have to draw the line. Simply put… the threat to ones health from the possibility of transient, momentary exposure to smoke from cigarettes outside is nil. The composition of outside air (in Burbank) will reveal that cigarette smoke hardly even makes the list. The effort to ban outdoor smoking is a fanatic reaction by those who think health is the supreme social goal. If health is ones primary goal, they can’t logically justify living in a densely populated urban environment. Cigarettes are a legal product; their use is heavily taxed. Smoking them is not something I choose to do, but outside, I have no stake or claim on the right to control them, short of those areas where simple logic dictates otherwise… like dry forests or fueling stations. I will not support additional measures to ban outside smoking, any more than I will support measures to prevent fireplaces or bar-b-ques, which I observe seem to be the next targets of many anti-smoking zealots. We need to quit obsessing on punishing the “easy” targets and micro-managing our citizens. I know you will vehemetly disagree, but this is an issue as much for me on my side as it is for you. 

2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions? 

~ Yes… if we’re going to encourage more filming within the city, and the economic and jobs benefits it brings (which I DO), we have GOT to make it less burdensome for film-makers to come here. I support amending the fee structure and for smaller producers, likely waiving it all together. 

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home? 

~ Absolutely… anything that empowers citizens/residents to control their own financial destiny, without creating undue impact on their neighbors, gets my support. I see no logical argument to preventing more “work-at-home” opportunities where the work is primarily solo entrepreneurship, and not creating obvious traffic or parking hardships. 

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends. What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety? 

~ The issue here, again, concerns the limits of city government. Obviously, we can’t move the school or prevent its use. But, what we CAN (and MUST do) is work with the administrators and residents to draft appropriate terms for hours and permitted use… and aggressively punish those caught committing vandalism. I take neighborhood protection seriously, and would frankly expect to take a leadership role in this area. 

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages? 

~ In a time of economic surplus, such a facility might seem attractive. Right now, short of bringing the existing pools back on line for summer, I would not make it a priority. It would seem more responsible to enlist the high schools to make their indoor pools accessible to the general public and build a program around those new opportunities. 

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative? 

~ To every extent possible, Eric, and I mean every… I will be accessible and available to meet, confer and/or respond to any inquiry. If a local candidate can’t make that pledge and promise, they have no business seeking your vote. To that end, I envision actually setting up a public appointment calendar wherein residents can get a committed time and date appointment for the same purpose. 

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes) 

~ I am not aware of a major concern with the current structure, but am certainly open to change or revision based on mutual consent. The primary consideration has to be making sure that residents have appropriate access and a forum for addressing the council. 

8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)? 

~ Laws in this area are quite clear and specific. I would not do anything to impede or restrict the seeking of information otherwise legally available and requested by citizens. Staff responsiveness obviously also depends on available man-hours to compile and copy the requested data. The council remains charged with seeking the most efficient and appropriate means to complete those requests. 

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services? Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies? 

~ City department heads know that efficiency is going to be a key to sustaining the services for which they are responsible. They will be held to them. Beyond savings from efficiency goals, my priority, in order, would be: 

1. freezing positions already vacated through attrition. 
2. freezing new hires where openings had previously been posted. 
3. examining schedules for replacement of major equipment and anticipated new large-scale purchases to see where delays can be sustained… such as fire trucks, city maintenance vehicles, etc. 
4. potential closure of “non-essential” resources (libraries and other city-staffed departments) on specific days determined to be least impactful. 

10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally? 

~ First and foremost, I would resist any implementation of paid parking programs or meters. I would also engage a campaign to promote Burbank as being “Open for Business,” reminding consumers of our free parking and ample retail/food choices. With regard to employers, I would engage the Chamber of Commerce to do frequent communications among their members touting the virtues of local hires, reminding them of the same points. For new “small” employers, I would entertain a waiving of the first year’s fees for business licenses. 

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank? 

~ Beyond the imposed state requirements for certain housing mandates accounting for low and moderate income densities, I would curtail the more abundant practices of the past with regard to these agencies. In particular, the Family Service Agency has been well supported and highly coveted by city leaders with good reason. But, I sense a need to have them begin to show their own sustainability in light of the economics at play. 

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs? 

~ The city council lacks any real direct influence or control in school related matters. The school board (and state of CA) is much more responsible to those issues. That said, I would favor taking a lead in examining the potential revenue opportunities from the rental and supplemental use of the schools’ facilities where it makes sense… (athletics, filming projects). 

13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms? 

~ Very simply… I WOULD NOT serve more than 2 terms. On the matter of limits, I would be supportive of them ONLY based on a voter referendum (as opposed to a council-only determination). I am principally opposed to anything that takes choice away from voters, even in the case of their preference for a 4 or 5 term councilman. If the voters themselves, however, wish to impose term limits, then I am comfortable with their having made that decision. I just don’t want the council making it for them… much as with item #1. 

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal? 

~ I am satisfied with the stipulations of Measure “B” as well as the current 10 year moratorium that Burbank residents are well protected from undesired additional growth of airport assets. While the airport is a phenomenal business asset to the greater community, I am sensitive to its being a liability for those residents most impacted by its presence. Going forward, I favor the council working through the airport authority and the board to continue to reinforce our goals and assist the airport with prudent management of its operations. To the extent the curfew is found legal, I will back it. As to Part 161, I fear it has become a windfall payday for attorneys and is no longer producing anything of value to the city. We need to call a halt to the endless cycle and gain a consensus on moving forward… without lawyers. 

15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly? 

~ I fear that people throw the term eco-friendly around at times as if to imply doing otherwise automatically paints one into a corner with child rapists and animal torturers. I am ALL for prudent resource management, conserving wisely and recycling where possible. I am NOT in favor of using law or imposed mandate to force conformity to ill-defined goals or the broader sweeping fervor simply put under the label “environmentalism.” Let me clarify… one of the most environmentally influential elements in Burbank is the Golden State Freeway. It ostensibly contributes a large accumulation of particulate pollution to the city, to say nothing of auto emissions and traffic. Now… we’re not going to be able to shut it down, or move it… ever. It’s here, and we have to make peace with it. Far better that we continue to encourage the development and availability of cleaner cars and trucks. Within the city, we have already taken significant steps in the way city vehicles are engineered and used. And, we’re shortly engaging a large scale use of “gray water” for major outside landscaping requirements. These are meaningful, and prudent measures. The main point is, in such a small city, we can’t logically do anything that will have significant measurable, definable impact, but we certainly can take steps that help. 

Contact Dan Humfreville: 
Phone: 818-515-7634 
Email: dan@burbankdan.com 
Web site: http://www.burbankdan.com Dan Humfreville web site

Burbank City Council Candidate Q&A – Steven Ferguson

February 3, 2009

 

Steven Ferguson

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit housing? 

~ The SHSCO was and is a great ordinance for Burbank. When it comes to regulating smoking in multi-unit housing I think we would have a very large enforcement issue. Smoking regulations in multi-unit housing should remain under the jurisdiction of local Home Owners Associations and Management. 

2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions? 

~ Yes, I believe the current fee is too overbearing and would support reducing the fee for small scale productions. 

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home? 

~ Yes 

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends. What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety? 

~ Unfortunately there is not much we can do. Parents will always pick up their children and children walking home will sometimes get into mischief. 

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages? 

~ Realistically our two pools, as they stand today, are in need of a total renovation. I support renovating those pools and their current facilities. I do not support spending money to have a totally new center because I don’t believe our community is really looking for one. Our pools have met the recreational needs of our residents for many years and I support renovating the current pools so that they will last for many years to come. 

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative? 

~ Yes, to the best of my ability I would. 

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes) 

~ I believe five minutes is a long period of time and feel 3-4 minutes should be allocated to agenda items and 2 minutes to non-agenda items. I am really open for discussion and debate on this one. 

8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)? 

~ I believe City staff does an excellent job of trying to meet the needs of Burbank’s residents, including FOIA requests. They know the law and do not need an extra step except for maybe a small reminder from a Council Member. 

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services? Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies? 

~ First, I must set the record straight. A budget deficit in the General Fund has no bearing on the rates which the City assesses its utility rate payers. The General Fund and Utility Fund are completely separate. I see current economic times as a mandate to assess the value of all community programs. This is a time to “cut the low hanging fruit”. Realistically cuts will have to be made, if not this year then soon. I must state that through these budgetary struggles the high level of safety that we enjoy will always be my number one priority. 

10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally? 

~ We need to give residents a reason to come out and spend. Currently, I am working on the Cultural Arts Master Plan Committee to help foster and strengthen Burbank’s art and cultural communities so that we can have community events that promotes the arts and encourages people to explore Burbank’s retail base. For example a person who comes to an art show in the downtown is likely to visit the show and then eat in the downtown, and possibly shop in the downtown. Money that wasn’t going to be spent before is now being spent because the opportunity was present. 

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank. 

~ Redevelopment Agency funds have specific uses. I support the way we have used Redevelopment Funds, but would also like to ensure that assets that are acquired with Redevelopment Agency Funds stay assets of the community. 

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs? 

~ This is a time when our partnerships with the district are going to mean more than ever. There is not a lot we can do as we ourselves face a tough budget climate. I will always been open to new partnerships that may be mutually beneficial. 

13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms? 

~ I do support term limits for City Council and would vote to support a ballot measure to set term limits to three terms. I will commit to only serving two terms.

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal? 

~ I support the airport’s efforts to attain a nighttime curfew. I am not for airport expansion and would not support relocating the terminal. 

15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly? 

~ I think we have done a great job of being green friendly…I would support efforts to continue to go green but also hesitate to give a one-hundred percent commital to always being environmentally friendly. You see, often going green has a significant cost and I will not vote “to green a project” if the costs may lead to a reduction of other services for residents. I support responsible greening because at the end of the day, green is expensive. 

Contact Steven Ferguson: 
Phone: 818-967-1907 
Email: Steven@ibelieveinsteven.com 
Web site: http://www.ibelieveinsteven.com Steven Ferguson web site

Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Kimberly Jo

February 3, 2009

Kimberly Jo

Kimberly Jo

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit housing?

2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions? 

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home?

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends. What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety?

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages?

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative?

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes)

8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)?

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services? Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies?

10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally?

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank.

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs?

13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms?

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal?

15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly?

As your City Councilmember, I will:

• serve to support and protect the public’s health & well being
• serve to leverage the City’s reputation as the Media Capital of the World
• serve to encourage entrepreneurship
• serve to promote human relations among diverse communities
• serve to promote recreation facilities
• serve to respond to the concerns of all residents
• serve to promote civic participation of all residents
• serve to practice government accountability and transparency
• serve to identify efficiencies, make cuts and raise taxes only as a last resort with your permission
• serve to establish relations and build collaborative forms between business and thought leaders to identify Burbank as a place to incubate and innovate
• serve to maximize Redevelopment dollars by investing in high priority, critical needs
• serve to promote healthy relations among our agnecies
• serve to increase levels of civic engagement in our City
• serve toidentify opportunities for improvement, lower environmental impact and increase capacity
• serve to ensure that Burbank has the infrastructure to take advantage of new, eco-friendly technologies

I am open to consider the merit and feasibility of any solutions that accomplish these goals.

Contact Kimberly Jo:
Email: kimberlyjo@gmail.com
Web site: http://www.KimberlyJoforBurbank.com Kimberly Jo web site

Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Garen Yegparian

February 3, 2009

garen_main

Garen Yegparian

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit housing?

~ I absolutely support the ordinance.  My great-grandfather, whom I had the good fortune to know, died gasping.  He was a heavy smoker until about 15 years prior to his death.  I despise the habit.  I do not think people should be allowed to poison others.  What they do to themselves is their own business.  Within the context of this principle, I would also favor expanding the ordinance’s reach.  However, I would not be in favor of constraining people from smoking in their own homes unless the building has a shared ventilation system that carries the toxics into others’ homes..

2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions?

~ I generally favor being supportive of small businesses.  In that context, amending the current fee structure, at least temporarily during the current economic downturn, is something I would favor. 

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home?

~ I like common sense solutions and would be supportive of increased flexibility.

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends.  What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety?

~ The solution to this is long term. Improving public transit, making it reliable, clean, and cost efficient is the way to reduce traffic loads on all our neighborhoods and streets.  As to the noise, wherever possible, we should plant trees or shrubbery to damp it.

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages?

~ I am a lap swimmer who looks forward to year round availability.  Obviously, I strongly support building an aquatics facility, and have spoken to that effect at City Council and Park, Recreation, and Community Services Board meetings.  Our pools are beyond just “aging”.  Verdugo is effectively out of commission already.  We should strive for world class facilities and do it right.  I expect the committee currently studying the issue will present some good options.  This kind of opportunity presents itself less than once a generation—it’s been half a century with the current pools.  We should make the most of this opportunity.

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative?

~ I will respond to and meet with anyone, regardless of support for my candidacy.  That’s part of my duty as an elected official.  I can conceive of no other behavior.

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes) 

~ One public comment modification I’d like to see is speaking to each agenda item immediately preceding its consideration with council members having the opportunity to interact directly with speakers.

On a related matter, I’d also like to evaluate the possibility of having public hearings on separate days from Council meetings with regular agendas.  Public hearings often require a lot of time, impacting the consideration of regular business.  With this separation, both would receive better attention.

 8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)?

~ I fully support maximum access by the public.  I would prefer not to have to resort to FOIA, which to me evokes an adversarial relationship between City Hall and the public.  It should also be easier now to access information off the City’s website.  Currently, the website is lacking but, it will soon to be upgraded, enabling long term, easy access to documents sought by residents.

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services?  Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies?

~ Much of our budget constrained.  Of the roughly three quarters of a billion dollars total, only about a fifth is in the general fund.  Of this, some 80% goes to payroll, so at best, less than $30 million is touchable.  Certainly, public safety is top priority.  But we must not take actions or make cuts that injure our health and long term viability as a livable city either.  I cannot be any more specific than this without the benefit of the extensive and detailed data I would be reviewing once elected to the City Council, particularly the input of those who have the most intimate knowledge—our department heads and employees’ union representatives.

How dramatic our actions to balance the budget will have to be depend largely on what happens in Sacramento.  We should energetically pursue securing our fair share of the stimulus package being worked on in Washington now.

Accountability is just plain common sense.  Of course I will not accept wasteful practices by anyone.

 10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally?

~ I would advocate giving additional “points” to those bidders for City contracts who will hire and purchase locally.  Using our Public Information Office is another way of encouraging people to buy and play locally.  A concerted effort among the Chamber of commerce, rotary Clubs, and other business interests can partner with the city to achieve this goal of attracting retail businesses to our city.

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank.

~ I both instances, insufficient attention to detail led to the controversy.  Everyone is now alert to this.  Future instances are unlikely to recur.  I think Redevelopment dollars are best used to support projects that contribute to the local business community’s vitality and enhance opportunities to improve our public transit system and expand its ridership.

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs?

~ Infrastructure needs at the schools are largely under control, including the pending upgrading of the fields with the City’s assistance.  Given the City’s tight budgetary circumstances, direct infusions of cash are unlikely to be feasible.  However, cooperative maintenance, purchasing, and other efforts might save both parties money that could be reapplied towards meeting children’s educational needs.

 13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms?

~ I do not support term limits for legislative offices.  I think they penalize the individual for committing no transgression.  We also need look no farther than our neighboring large city and Sacramento to see the chaos and ridiculous revolving door of political-office-chasing term limits have created.  The solution to over-long tenures is leveling the ELECTORAL playing field.  There are various ways of doing this. I will be advocating that our next round of charter review (slated for three years from now) focus on our electoral system, including addressing this question.

As to my personal tenure in office, I am highly unlikely to want to serve more than two terms.

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal?

~ I support the energetic pursuit of curfew and the findings just adopted by the Airport Authority.  We should lobby our two Congressional representatives to shepherd this effort through the FAA.  There is no need for expansion at the airport.  Passenger numbers decreased over the last year, and even this terminal can handle more passengers, if necessary (though this is something I would discourage until we have improved access to the airport via public transit so we don’t add to our traffic congestion).  However, at some point a new terminal will be built for safety, handicapped access, and general modernization reasons.  With the courts’ findings in Burbank’s favor regarding determination of land use, it’s up to us to make sure a new terminal remains within limits acceptable to our community.

 15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly?

~ The biggest contribution we can make on the environmental front is to have more residents avail themselves of the programs we already have in place.  At a fundraising event, one of the guests who’s in the solar energy business complimented Burbank, saying we are at the forefront in providing good energy solutions.  But his observation, agreeing with mine, is that we have not done enough to get the word out among or residents.  In addition, we must secure more public transit funding to reduce the amount of pollutants dumped into our air.  This has the added benefit of reducing traffic and providing a viable alternative for short, in town, trips.

Contact Garen Yegparian: 
Phone: 818-563-3918
Email: yeghpairank@earthlink.net 
Web site: http://www.garenforcouncil.org Garen’s web site

 

2009 Burbank City Council Elections

February 3, 2009
Two years ago I sent a Questionnaire to those running for local office and the responses were very helpful to many Burbank resident’s in determining which candidate’s to support in the 2007 election. You can see the published responses here:
 

Well it’s 2009 and Burbank is holding it’s Primary Election with 3 seats up for grabs and 13 candidates. By now you should have received your ballot. All you need to do is mark your choices and mail or deliver your ballot by Tuesday, February 24th. To help voters discern where the candidates stand on the issues, I sent those who participated in the recent LWV Forum another Questionnaire covering a variety of important current issues. What follows (above) are their responses, along with their contact information. 

For more information, please visit the City of Burbank web site:

City of Burbank – Official Primary Election Information

 

 


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