First published in the Oct. 29 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burbank City Council appointed Samantha Wick as the newest planning commission member Tuesday. Wick brings with her a degree in planning and a master’s in public administration, along with more than four years of experience on the city’s Heritage Commission.
As a planning board member, Wick will provide policy recommendations regarding the long-term growth of the community, guiding development through the permit review process to implement the city’s land-use plans, regulations and codes.
“I’m really excited. This just seems to be the right time for me to help the community and Burbank’s many unique neighborhoods,” Wick told the Leader.
The council delayed the appointment twice over the past three months, once when Councilman Bob Frutos was absent, and again because only two people had applied for the position. Some public commenters opposed that move, saying that it was unfair to the two candidates who “followed the rules” and filed on time.
Others commenters called to endorse Wick.
“I worked with her over the years and find her to be thoughtful. [She] takes in multiple viewpoints and understands the issues she is considering. Her agenda is only to do what is best for our city,” said Tamala Takahashi, a 23-year Burbank resident and candidate for City Council, in a public comment during Tuesday’s meeting.
“She understands Burbank our housing needs, the challenges of permitting, the history of how our city has changed and the various community interests and neighborhood character.”
In recent history, Burbank has been entrenched in debate between those who support development and the expansion of affordable housing, and those who wish to maintain Burbank’s small-town feel.
“As a planner, I’m not opposed to change in any regard. I completely understand the need to adapt and grow, but I also feel like Burbank has such a strong identity in aviation, union history and the entertainment industry. We do need to preserve the best we can some of these really great neighborhoods,” Wick said.
“I think that by preserving some of the charm that we have we preserve the community as well,” she added.
Strict laws like Senate Bill 35 have forced the city to rapidly expand its number of housing units. Just this week, City Council approved a 92-unit multi-family housing unit and discussed the city’s waning local control when it comes to housing decisions. Next week, the council will consider a 148-unit application at 2814 Empire Ave.
“The one thing that I really want to drive home is that it’s important — even though change is difficult — to use our voices to come to a consensus. Instead of focusing on what we don’t want in our neighborhoods, let’s envision what would we like to see,” Wick said.