First published in the June 18 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burbank City Council and Rancho residents are frustrated in losing local control over the Pickwick development and are in opposition to proposed developers multi-story, multi-unit apartment building project. They complain that state legislation (SB 8, 9 and 10) that let developers build apartments on the Pickwick lot will impact quality of residents’ lives and increase traffic congestion.
Why did the state get involved in lifting restrictions in cities’ housing developments? Because state [officials] finally realized that the acute severe housing shortage is caused by decades of local governments’ opposition and failure to add to housing stock and meet this fundamental need of the residents.
Today, suburban housing is not overtly and legally segregated by race but we do have overt segregation by income that is enforced by land use and zoning regulations and it is done by requiring single-family dwellings on each lot, by lot size restrictions, by mandatory set-backs and by floor area limits, and finally by prohibition against apartment building.
The state Assembly bills will increase traffic in suburbs but that is because we have segregated land use and zoning regulations and big chunks of our cities’ land are mostly suburbs with single-family dwellings on each lot. State Assembly bills are first steps toward reducing the housing shortage but, by themselves, are not enough. We need to expand mixed-use occupancy zones and build more apartments to reduce the housing shortage and make cities walkable and reduce car dependency.
The housing shortage has become a serious social crisis. It impacts working and middle-class families and families living in suburbs that have to house their adult children because they can’t afford to move out and pay rent and be independent. Multi-unit, multi-level apartments are the most efficient model of utilizing land and space.
Apartments, in aggregate, use less energy and water. Apartments require less extension of water, sewer and electricity lines and paved streets. Horizontal suburban housing requires more paved streets that degrades the environment, creates car dependency, traffic and global warming. The Burbank City Council should support and accommodate developers that want to build apartments and add to city’s housing stock and not oppose them unnecessarily.