First published in the Feb. 19, 2022, print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The city of Burbank moved toward streamlining regulations for single-family home construction, but will not make a final decision until it holds a community meeting on the subject.
The City Council agreed Tuesday to introduce an ordinance implementing a set of code changes local officials said would make it easier for residents to make changes or additions to their houses. And, after receiving many calls from community members who expressed concern that the adjustments would allow neighbors to build towering homes, the panel also directed officials to hold an informational meeting this month to explain the details of the proposal to residents.
Among the potential changes is the removal of the Single-Family Special Development Permit requirement, increasing the maximum possible height of buildings by 2 feet and clarifying certain portions of the construction rules. Officials from Burbank’s Community Development Department have said the changes will result in objective standards that will shorten the review process for home remodels — which they said takes twice as long as it should — while making the requirements applicable for single-family homes of all sizes.
But some residents have opposed the proposal, fearing it will weaken restrictions the city implemented in 2017 in response to complaints of oversized houses. Several also said they felt there hadn’t been enough information disseminated about the potential changes.
While City Council members indicated sympathy for residents, contractors and realtors who urged them to adopt the adjustments — with some saying they’ve waited years to expand homes by a few hundred square feet — they acknowledged that community members need more information on the proposal.
“I support the [amendments] … but there’s so much misinformation out there, and our public is so confused,” said Councilwoman Sharon Springer.
The community meeting is slated for Feb. 28, with the City Council expected to vote on whether to adopt the changes during its March 15 meeting. The City Council held a public hearing on
The topic at last week’s meeting but delayed its initial decision because of the absence of Councilman Bob Frutos.
Council members also said they didn’t want to stall the item any longer than necessary, noting that some residents are still waiting to receive the necessary clearances from CDD. If the council adopts the ordinance in March, it wouldn’t go into effect until a month later.
While the bulk of public comment on the issue occurred at last week’s meeting, some community members did address the City Council on Tuesday to express their support or opposition to the proposal. Resident Simon Hammel alleged the allowable height increase would allow residents to look into their neighbors’ yards and asked the panel to hold more meetings before making a decision.
Another resident, Caroline James, said she’s been waiting 26 months to receive a permit to add 525 square feet to her home. In that time, she added, the cost of the project has risen out of reach.
“Can you please tell homeowners in Burbank how this process is fair?” James said. “This has gone on long enough and it’s the homeowners here in Burbank who are suffering the most.”
Councilman Nick Schultz recommended that the council introduce the ordinance approving the changes, but delay making a final decision on the matter until after the community meeting. His colleagues agreed, with some indicating that they’ll support the ordinance when it returns for a vote.
“I went through those two or three years of making the perfect policy that we developed [in 2017], and now we know that it’s not perfect,” said Mayor Jess Talamantes. “The people that are working with this, our staff, is saying it’s not working. Our residents are saying it’s not working.”