Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Barbara Sharp

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

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