Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Dan Humfreville

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

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