Archive for the ‘Home Occupations’ Category

Home Occupations redux

February 22, 2011

Below is my final attempt to get Council action on this issue.

Dear Burbank City Council Members,

I am writing to request your support for amendments to our Home Occupation Ordinance  that would allow for up-to 2 visits a day (5-10 a week) as per my previous letters on this subject. A quick review of surrounding cities within Los Angeles & Orange County show other cities have much more flexible ordinances that do allow for on-site client visits (see Attachments). The Home Occupation Task Force which I was briefly part of was charged with seeing if there was a way to make it slightly more flexible with regards to client visits while maintaining our neighborhood protections. Unfortunately Task Force members were not able to find a way, even though I presented clear evidence from other City & County Ordinances that show this could be achieved. Staff has been against making changes from day 1 and the stacked Tasked Force made up of 1 Chamber Rep, 1 Board of Realtors Rep & 2 Retired Citizens did essentially what Staff wanted them to do. It’s important to note that no survey or notice of meetings was sent to the 1200-1400 residents with registered Home Occupations in Burbank for their input. I would encourage you to review the minutes of the 2nd meeting I participated in for some of my comments on specific changes. I’m also attaching a copy of my resignation email so as to avoid any undue controversy re alleged inadvertent Brown Act Violations (keep in mind this was an Ad Hoc committee). The City has an opportunity this evening to display both leadership and understanding of current economic conditions and advances in technology that enable more people to work at home, especially in media related professions. I ask you direct Staff to come back with an amended ordinance with a provision that allows a reasonable number of visitors with an on-site parking provision. Thank you for your consideration.

UPDATE 2/17/11: As expected, the Council voted 4-1 to adopt Staff’s recommended changes containing only 1 amendment, with virtually no discussion outside of Dr. Gordon on the major issue of Client Visits. Mayor Anja Reinke called it “crazy” but still voted for it “as is”. Gary Bric asked a question about set-backs, while Dave Golonski & Jess Talamantes said absolutely nothing, surprising since they had supported it before and pledged their support during their Election Campaigns. * Video highlights are now available on my BurbankHomeBiz YouTube channel (see below Links).

What that means (according to Staff) is you are breaking the law if you have anyone visit your home for business purposes, including clients picking up or dropping off work, although I beg to differ with their interpretation. Of course the ordinance is unenforceable; you can have as many family members & friends visit as you like and there’s no way for the Home Occupation Police  to determine who’s coming & going, and unless you’re creating a disturbance you probably don’t have much to worry about out as enforcement is complaint based (although Staff could manufacture bogus complaints just to hassle you).  I’ve stated before that I believe the ordinance violates our constitutional rights and is discriminatory as it allows some people (music teachers) to have client visits, and I hope to have the item re-considered before a new Council. I gave up going to Council meetings a long time ago after their failure to grasp the Film Permit Ordinance and specifically their failure to allow the use of even 1 external low-watt light (LED, CFL etc.) for photo/video purposes. Unfortunately they still just don’t get it. Another EPIC FAIL!


L.A. County Home Occupations

Orange County Home Occupations

La Canada Home Occupations

Pasadena Home Occupations

San Diego Home Occupations

Calabasas Home Occupations

HOTF Resignation Letters

Home Occupations Staff Report

YouTube_Staff Report

YouTube_Council Discussion

Home Occupation Ordinance – Public comment

March 3, 2009

Dear Burbank City Council,
I am writing to once again restate my support for an update to our existing Home Occupation Ordinance. As stated 2 weeks ago, what I’d like to see are some minor changes/tweaks to allow face-to-face client visits as per the Music Lesson amendment 3 years ago, but without the time-consuming & costly AUP process. They key points are as follows:
– Maximum 2-3 client visits a day (10-15 trips per week)
On-site parking must be provided
– Daytime business hours (9am-6pm)
– All other rules apply re “approved” home occupations, no noise/vibrations etc.
I believe that if we keep-it-simple we can create a more flexible ordinance that will not negatively impact our residential neighborhoods or create major traffic/parking problems. I suggest you direct Staff come back with a Draft Amendment and seek input from the Planning Board and the public via 1 or 2 Community Meetings prior to coming back to the Council for the normal Public Hearing. I believe that we need to act with a certain urgency given the current recession and would discourage a long drawn-out process given the relatively minor changes I’m proposing. The reality is people are working from home with relatively few problems as is, and I believe these changes will actually encourage those who haven’t registered their businesses to do so. As an incentive to register and pay their business license taxes, I suggest the City creates an online searchable database (with disclaimers) of all registered businesses as a marketing tool that will encourage & help residents to hire local vendors.
Below are comments from a number of current and past Council members and candidates to questions I posed on this issue that show an overwhelming support to revisit the ordinance. I look forward to your responses.

Eric Michael Cap, Producer/Editor
Tel/Fax: 818-567-1911. Burbank, Ca. USA.

Q. 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?

Dave Golonski: 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.

Barbara Sharp: 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.

Elise Stearns-Niesen: 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 childcare costs.

Lee Dunayer: 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.

Dan Humfreville: 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.

Garen Yegparian: I like common sense solutions and would be supportive of increased flexibility.

Steven Ferguson: Yes.


2007 Council Candidate Question:
In 2006 the Council adopted a zone text amendment to allow music lessons as a Home Occupation. Given Burbank’s standing as the Media capital of the World, advancements in current technology, and the traffic gridlock in the media district, do you support further amendments to encourage more people to work-at-home in arts/media related areas such as motion graphic design & animation, video editing and the like?
Anja Reinke:  Yes I support people working in their home as long as it does not present a nuisance to the neighborhood.

Gary Bric:  Most Definitely.

Phil & Carolyn Berlin: While Carolyn was on the Planning Board she was successful in encouraging the passage of an earlier ordinance that loosened the restrictions to allow for broader work at home situations.

Vahe Hovanessian.: I support further amendments to encourage more people to work at home in arts/media related areas as well as other areas. I support all reasonable attempts to avoid increased traffic and congestion on our streets and believe that home occupations will only increase in the future.

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