Speeding Tops Concerns, City Survey Finds

A woman holds an anti-speeding sign during a September 2021 demonstration in Burbank. A recent community survey indicated, for the first time since it was offered in 2017, a majority of respondents believe speeding and reckless driving are the city's top crime-related issues.

First published in the Feb. 26, 2022, print issue of the Burbank Leader.

More than half of Burbank community members surveyed said speeding and reckless driving is the most concerning crime issue, according to a recent city study.

The results of the survey, which was administered by the Burbank Police Department in late 2021, included about 1,100 partial or complete responses — the vast majority of them from residents of the city. Of the approximately 900 respondents who answered a multiple-choice question regarding what they believe is the most concerning crime-related category in Burbank, about 57% said speeding and reckless driving.

The second most-selected choice, at 17%, was violent crimes. When the BPD administered the survey in 2019, those percentages were 47% for reckless driving and 15% for violent incidents, though more respondents — 21% — said burglaries were their top concern.

A plurality of respondents has identified speeding and reckless driving as their biggest crime concern in each biennial survey since the BPD began offering it in 2017, but the share of community members giving that response has grown in each iteration. The most recent results mark the first time a majority of respondents have pointed to the matter as the city’s most critical crime issue.

Responses to some questions differed to varying degrees depending on the respondent’s zip code, and some zip code areas were more represented than others due in part to their population sizes. Additionally, though the BPD also offered the survey in Spanish and Armenian, only one response was received in each of those languages.

“The results reported in this study can only be considered the opinions of survey participants,” the BPD cautioned in its report. “Not all respondents answered all questions, and the results cannot be generalized to represent the entire city population.”

Many respondents said they believe reckless driving is a major problem, with the issue receiving an average score of 2.63 out of 3, with higher numbers indicating the matter is more serious. The category with the next-highest score, theft, received an average score of 1.71.

Other crime-related issues respondents could select from included gang violence, auto thefts, residential burglaries and business burglaries.

“In response to the input and suggestions received, the Burbank Police Department will be focused on reducing and deterring crime, increasing safety on our roadways and improving quality of life in Burbank,” the department said in its survey report.

The BPD added that the city saw an increase in traffic collision fatalities last year. Those included the deaths of three young people whom police said were killed when two other vehicles that were racing struck their car. The tragedy spurred many community members, some who said they’ve had concerns about speeding for years, to renew pressure on Burbank officials to address the issue.

The department noted in its report that its traffic bureau has changed its schedule and increased its workforce to better respond to reckless driving issues, and that it is planning a new driver education program for high school students. City officials have also said that they plan to implement a number of infrastructure improvements on some Burbank roads to improve traffic safety.

On quality of life issues, a majority of respondents, 55%, said that the local population of people experiencing homelessness is Burbank’s top problem. It was a slight increase from the response given in 2019, when half of respondents said the same. Another 22% instead identified traffic congestion as the most concerning noncrime issue last year, down from 28% in 2019.

Just over half of respondents, 52%, said they feel Burbank is less safe than it was five years ago, while 47% had said the same in 2019. But 78% said they feel safe or very safe in the city; only 5% said they feel unsafe or very unsafe.

Lt. Derek Green of the BPD’s community outreach and personnel services bureau told Burbank Police Commission members at a recent meeting that the responses showed few drastic changes in respondents’ outlook.

“There haven’t been many surprises, to be quite honest,” he said. “Everything has stayed pretty consistent, which is a good thing.”

The department itself once again received fairly high marks from respondents, scoring between four and five out of five in all categories, including helpfulness, professionalism and speed of arrival. Respondents were more muted about their perception of the BPD’s presence in their neighborhoods, with the average response being 3.23 out of 5.

About 70% of respondents said they were confident or very confident the BPD could handle and address their needs. A similar percentage said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the services they received, though that figure decreased from 78% in 2019.