Burbank Approves Major Street Renovations Plan

Photo courtesy City of Burbank
Photo courtesy City of Burbank
The Burbank City Council voted to approve the new “Complete Streets” plan during its virtual meeting on Tuesday, reserving extra sidewalk space for outdoor dining and identifying a number of priority streets and focus areas based on several factors, including proximity to community centers, traffic and location in disadvantaged communities.

Councilmembers recently approved a sweeping set of recommendations for the improvement of Burbank city streets, including an initial development being built this year.
The “Complete Streets” plan was presented to the City Council during its virtual meeting Tuesday, with city transportation planner Hannah Woo explaining that the recommendations in the plan are aimed at making streets safer and more convenient for those who use them.
Recommendations include adding bike lanes, road signs and highly visible mid-block crosswalks to some streets, as well as expanding curbs with wheelchair-accessible ramps. Woo said that one of the major goals of the plan, which the city has been preparing since the end of 2018, is to help those who may have difficulty navigating Burbank’s streets, such as the elderly and people with disabilities.
“The issue of addressing the disabled community and universal access is really the core of the entire plan,” she said during the council meeting, pointing to parts of the plan recommending placing bus stops where a ramp can be deployed for those in wheelchairs.
Priority is given to projects on streets that meet certain criteria. These include streets in disadvantaged neighborhoods, roads that are a five-minute walk from schools, senior centers and other community areas, and streets that are hotspots for crashes.
For example, priority streets for drivers include Glenoaks, Burbank and Magnolia boulevards, among others.
The plan also includes several recommendations for short- and long-term projects, including three the City Council approved Tuesday.
The approved projects include adding crosswalks and upgrading curb ramps, as well as adding a cut-through access road, on Bonnywood Place at First Street and Olive Avenue. The project is expected to be in construction, which would require a temporary closure of the street, by winter 2020.
Woo said that funding for these projects, as well as the rest of the Complete Streets plan, were included in the city’s annual budget and do not use general fund dollars. The plan was funded through a grant from the California Department of Transportation, according to its introduction.
Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy pointed out that some residents had objected to one of the long-term projects, which would reduce driving lanes from two to one in each direction along Magnolia Boulevard between Catalina Street and Hollywood Way. The allocated space would allow for a total of about 176 parking spaces on new center medians.
Gabel-Luddy said that one community member had reported that, with the Burbank Boulevard bridge demolished in April, many drivers were now using Magnolia Boulevard, meaning shrinking down to one lane in each direction could increase traffic.
However, Woo explained that the long-term projects are for designs very far in the future — at least 20 years ahead.
Adopting the Complete Streets plan, she added, does not mean its projects are automatically approved — they will reappear before the council in the future — and that projects not included in the plan can still be brought up.
Councilmembers also asked city staff to make some minor tweaks to the Complete Streets plan. Gabel-Luddy requested that restaurants be allowed to use expanded sidewalks for outdoor dining, saying that the current coronavirus pandemic has put those spaces in short supply.