First published in the Feb. 5 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burbank City Council said this week that it will continue to pursue the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic while promoting other elements such as sustainability and municipal services.
The council set several general objectives for itself during its annual goal-setting meeting Monday. The process provides an opportunity for the panel to hone its platform for the year, but also to allow individual council members to raise their ideas ahead of future meetings.
Each of the five council members offered 10 topics they’d like to see the city involved in, with those later narrowed down to a handful. The final list included economic recovery, responsible development, housing and homelessness, sustainability, transportation and traffic, city services, quality of life and infrastructure.
“We want council to dream and think of how we can make Burbank an even better place in the future,” City Manager Justin Hess said Monday.
The selections were very similar to the ones the City Council approved during its 2021 goal-setting meeting — the first held during the coronavirus pandemic — with several members noting that they wanted to continue the work they started years ago.
Absent from the final list — but included in some council members’ suggestions — was a commitment to insisting on local control of housing development and to diversity, equity and inclusion. Hess told the panel that both topics are included in many of the others that made the final cut.
“It’s not like we’re not going to have local control anymore,” he explained. “We’re going to push that hard.”
Though facilitators of the goal-setting meeting often ask council members to keep their suggestions rather general, some did offer more specific potential goals. Mayor Jess Talamantes and Councilman Nick Schultz, for example, said they wanted to see the city offer a more streamlined permit process for local businesses.
Multiple council members also reiterated that they want to make it easier for developers to build affordable housing, increase growth and recruitment for municipal departments and invest in greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.
Ideas that didn’t make it to the final list — but could fall under one of its items — included Talamantes’ suggestion that Burbank provide a tiered signing bonus to new hires and Schultz’s interest in exploring the creation of a citizens’ commission on DEI. Vice Mayor Konstantine Anthony advocated for stronger labor standards and higher wages for workers, while Councilwoman Sharon Springer recommended the city consider a “Vision Zero” plan to eliminate traffic fatalities.
Councilman Bob Frutos suggested that department officials seek ways to improve the Burbank Bus and reiterated his support for a fully balanced budget. He also once again raised a longtime idea of his: a trolley system that would transport people between the city’s major retail centers.
Talamantes thanked his fellow council members for participating in the discussion, though he acknowledged that goal-setting meetings sometimes push closely held but less popular ideas to the wayside.
“I appreciate your dialogue and the unique goals you shared during the session,” he said. “I think we can all agree we did a great job focusing on key goals for our city in 2022 and … it’s our goal to just make Burbank a better place to live and work.”