Economic recovery, tackling climate change and promoting diversity were just some of the ideas City Council members put forth during their annual goals-setting meeting this week.
The purpose of the Wednesday meeting, city staff members reminded the council, was to provide direction to the city manager and his/her team about what aims they should pursue for the year. As per their annual practice, council members also approved an agreement with the city manager outlining the expectations for both sides.
“Enough detail to make it understandable,” said Betsy McClinton, management services director, of the council members’ task. “But, again, we’re not looking for a detailed plan.”
Common goals suggested by council members included restoring a local economy shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, promoting diversity and equity within city commissions, upholding eviction moratoriums and increasing housing affordability.
Some council members also gave semi-specific ideas. Mayor Bob Frutos expressed interest in re-examining the city’s commissions and boards, ensuring their members receive training and noting that he’d particularly like to see the council provide the police commission with more direction. He also recommended, as he has in previous years, a trolley system that would transport riders to major city hubs.
Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes agreed with some of his colleagues that the city needed to emphasize recruitment and retention of workers in Burbank’s police and fire departments. He also suggested the city have a referral department that could answer program or paperwork questions from businesses and residents.
Every house in Burbank should have access to broadband internet, said Councilwoman Sharon Springer. She added that she was interested in developing environmental strategies such as regenerating soil and citywide composting.
Councilman Konstantine Anthony recommended the city ensure universal access to public buildings and streets, such as by providing “blue curbs” reserving spaces for drivers with disabilities. Increasing protections and wages for city employees, he added, are also worthwhile goals.
Councilman Nick Schultz suggested the city invest in solar energy to aim for a 100% renewable energy system by the end of the decade. Like several of the other council members, he said housing stability was a priority, pointing to rent relief and a home buyer program as potential initiatives.
McClinton led the goals-setting meeting along with chief information officer Kevin Gray and community development director Patrick Prescott, the latter of which assured council members that city staff members would take their suggestions seriously.
“I speak, I believe, for the entire executive team when I say we are committed to living up to the expectations set forth in the documents you will be voting on this afternoon and to pursuing the successful implementation of your goals in the next year,” Prescott said.