First published in the Feb. 5 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
A developer has filed documents notifying the city of Burbank of its intent to build a total of 470 affordable housing units on Empire Avenue, though the application remains incomplete.
ABS Properties, Inc., a Los Angeles-based developer that has overseen other major affordable housing projects in the region, filed the notice of intent in late November, according to documents recently released by the city. As proposed, the apartments, located at 3000 and 3001 Empire Ave., would include roughly 370 units for low-income renters and about 100 for moderate-income tenants.
The developer submitted the two projects under California Senate Bill 35, a state law that restricts a city’s ability to deny housing projects that meet certain criteria, including having affordable units and matching the municipality’s preexisting development requirements.
Nonetheless, city representatives have moved to the next step of the SB 35 process, consulting with Native American tribes whose cultural resources might be affected by the proposed projects. Samir Srivastava, CEO of ABS Properties, told the Leader that his company is preparing documents that will correct any omissions in its initial submission.
An estimate from the city regarding when City Council would review the projects’ eligibility for SB 35 was not available as of this week.
The proposal for the first development site, a roughly 320,000 square-foot lot at 3000 Empire Ave. that currently hosts a jewelry store, involves a seven-story building with 340 housing units and 75 parking spaces. The developer would convert the other site, which is about 130,000 square feet and includes a parking lot and 21 trees, into a second seven-story building with 131 housing units and 95 parking spaces.
SB 35 allows projects that qualify for its provisions to waive parking requirements if they are close to public transit options such as the Metrolink station next to the Hollywood Burbank Airport. ABS Properties also said, under Assembly Bill 1763, its proposals qualify to bypass density restrictions because the units are all affordable and close to transit. The developer would also invoke the same California law to exceed height limits by up to 33 feet.
The Burbank City Council and planning officials have said they plan to concentrate future housing development in the airport area — the Golden State District — to meet their share of regional housing goals, set by the state to address its housing crisis. The city recently approved an 860-unit project, which will include 80 apartments for very low-income tenants, for 2311 N. Hollywood Way.
The area may be one of Burbank’s most diverse. Data from the 2020 nationwide census for the tract that covers much of the Golden State District — and some of the adjacent area — shows that nearly half of the population there is Hispanic, the highest concentration for that group of any tract in the city. The data also indicates that less than half of the tract’s population is both white and non-Hispanic (the U.S. Census Bureau considers race and Hispanic origin to be separate categories).
However, the tract may also be one of the most environmentally disadvantaged in Burbank, according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, which cited the high cost of housing, and exposure to pollution and traffic.