Posts Tagged ‘occupation’

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!

–LINKS-

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

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Film Permits & Home Occupations comments

October 20, 2009

Dear Burbank City Council,

Thank you for your reconsideration of the latest set of revisions to our Film Permit Ordinance. A few final comments:

I’m glad to see Tripods are back as a permitted use and to see the added definition of “camera stabilization equipment”. Last meeting I asked a specific question about the use of stabilizers such as Steadicams, Varizooms, Glidecams etc., and Staff clearly stated that they we’re allowed as they’re attached to the body, held in the hand and carried by the videographer. That said, there still appears to be some confusion in the community on this and I think it would behoove Staff to clearly re-state this for the record tonight.

I am disappointed that we still don’t have a reasonable and safe allowance for low-watt lighting such as a 1000W permit-free lighting cap; I know several people submitted comments in support of this idea but there was no such mention in Staff’s report. It appeared a few Council members were willing to consider it last meeting but were talked out of it by Staff who said something to the effect of “it’s not the wattage but how it’s used”. Well you can say that about anything right…cutlery, power tools, vehicles etc. I would ask that a poll be taken prior to your final vote to see if there is support (3 votes) to add this exemption.

I still have major concerns re the definition of “Commercial Use” to include “Advertising on YouTube”. This is going to hurt small businesses who use the web for viral marketing, realtors who advertise properties via virtual tours etc., and should be removed. Previously we made no distinction between personal vs. commercial use, as the end-use has no bearing on public safety. To require our local small businesses to pay $350 to produce short videos that advertise their products & services in this economic climate seems counter-productive to previous stated Council goals re economic development. I’m glad we will be considering a reduced 1-Day Film Permit for 2010/11, but I made that request with ample time for consideration during this budget cycle and fear that whatever reduction is made for 2010/11 may be too little too late.

Finally, a few recent events have come to my attention that concern me. I’ve just learned of a situation where an out-of-town Film Director was told he needed a permit and Police & Fire staff on site to film a small scene in a house for his reel. Now I have no idea of how many people or how much equipment was going to be used but on the surface this seems unreasonable to me. I also read in the Burbank Leader of a BPD raid on a local film maker shooting a scene in a friends front yard that lead to a $700 citation. Then there’s the prosecution of Kevin Muldoon, an unemployed local car enthusiast prosecuted for filming a car show at Bob’s Big Boy without a permit. These incidents coupled with the City’s failure to grasp the pertinent issues & technology have caused irrevocable harm to our image and reputation as the “media capital of the world”. Considering the current economic crisis and rampant runaway production, you are not helping but hurting local media production companies that are the lifeblood of this City. I have also learned of a potential conflict-of-interest re Police & Fire Dept. personnel involved in the drafting of the ordinance who benefit financially from working on local film shoots, and find that very disconcerting.

One more thing re the Home Occupation Ordinance Staff Report; All I asked is you consider making a small allowance for low volume client visits i.e. A handful of people each week and Staff comes up with this? Think about it; one of the primary goals of the HOO is to encourage less vehicular traffic by allowing folks to work from home. So if someone works from home and does not make 2 peak-hour trips each day but has 2-3 clients visits per week which are off-peak who park on their premises, isn’t that a net reduction? How can Staff claim such a person is creating additional vehicular traffic? Let’s say I have a few people come over to play cards, or watch the game, or do a bible study or sit-in while I edit a video for them…what’s the difference? A lot of people who film now edit themselves and are also impacted by these inflexible rules & regulations but this HOO effects more than just film makers, it effects musicians/composers with home studios, graphic/web designers, people who do bookkeeping/taxes etc. The HOO is over 10 years old and can be improved by making a few simple changes that don’t require a task force or a lot of Staff time IMO. Please use your common sense when considering this item.

Lights, Camera… oh, wait a second…

September 25, 2009

MAILBAG – Published in Burbank Leader 09/25/2009

I want to thank the Burbank City Council for its approval of our revised film permit ordinance Tuesday evening. There are many additional exemptions that I’m very pleased with, as well as the expanded hand-held devices definition that allows stabilizers like steadicams, reflectors and the like to be used without a permit.

I’m also happy that external lighting will now be permitted in some cases without a permit, subject to Burbank Fire Department review. I think it’s imperative we maintain an up-to-date list of FAQs on the city’s film permit Web page and believe it would be a good idea to consider the formation of some type of ad-hoc Film Advisory Committee to review the ordinance’s effectiveness and report back to the council on an annual basis.

That said, I was shocked to learn during council discussions that tripod use, which was previously permitted under the revised 2008 ordinance, may now be precluded with respect to video camera usage. I believe this is a giant step backward and will cause a lot of unnecessary public confusion.

While there are other things I’d like to see changed — such as a one-day film permit at a reduced fee and a 1,000-watt permit-free lighting cap — I’m willing to wait for a year to discuss those issues again once we’ve had a chance to see how this works.

However, I ask that the City Council please allow tripods at the second reading of the ordinance. I believe the existing language still gives Burbank police the ability to control situations where foot traffic is being hindered or the equipment is being used in a manner that unreasonably interferes with public safety. I hope we can correct this oversight.

ERIC MICHAEL CAP

Burbank

http://burbankleader.com/articles/2009/09/25/opinion/letters/blr-mailbag090509.txt


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