City Should Beef Up Defense of Pickwick Decision

First published in the June 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Notably absent from the Leader story, May 21, “Developer Sues City Over Pickwick Project Denial” are any comments from the Burbank City Attorney rebutting the lawsuit and defending the Council decision. For anyone who watched the entire public meeting on Monday, April 18, it was clear that the City Attorney and City planning staff were unprepared to defend the City’s land use planning. Given staff’s failure to present the numerous reasons why the application did not qualify for special treatment under SB35 it is clear that to make sure the city presents the strongest possible defense, outside legal counsel will be required.

The developer and his attorneys will continue to raise issues designed to distract from the main issue — which is that the Pickwick site is not eligible for SB35. The project fails to meet the objective planning standards required by SB35; and Council’s denial of the project, in fact, meets the requirements of other state laws. Why the city staff failed to address the issues before deciding that it should be approved is unclear but a review of the record will clearly demonstrate that throughout the process, the staff/developer/ representatives offered a variety of interpretations of SB35 to facilitate the developers project.

I think the staff jumped the gun, without fully vetting Burbank2035 [the city’s general plan] and objective planning standards particularly the dimensional standards for off-street horse trails contained in Chapter 10 of the adopted Burbank Complete Streets Plan.

The only defense of the Council decision should come from an outside firm and not the City itself which has clearly demonstrated conflicts with the City Council’s ultimate — and correct — decision.

Alisa Cunningham

Burbank