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Defeat for Mayor Hastings : Burbank Kills Proposal to Restrict Development

February 04, 1988|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

A proposed ordinance that would have dramatically slowed future residential development in Burbank was shelved by the City Council Tuesday after several developers and council members denounced it as "illogical and damaging."

Councilman Robert R. Bowne said the ordinance, introduced by Mayor Michael R. Hastings, could create apartment shortages and was "the kind of thing that could end up ruining this community."

During a scathing monologue that lasted several minutes, Bowne said: "This ordinance, in my opinion, contains so many flaws and contains so many things that it is catastrophic to our community. It's illogical and damaging."

The ordinance would affect proposed apartment buildings, condominium complexes and tracts of single-family homes, officials said.

Permits by Lottery

Under the ordinance, only 400 residential units could be built each year from 1988 through 1997. Developers would compete each year in a lottery for a limited number of building permits.

The city's Planning Board then would judge each project by its impact on city services and "the best design, pursuant to specified criteria," the ordinance said.

City Atty. Douglas Holland, who drafted the ordinance, said it was justified because of the adverse effects of increasing development, such as traffic congestion, loss of open space and the overburdening of sewer systems and other city services.

Hastings was accused of overlooking reason in his enthusiasm for the ordinance.

"I can't support this, and I would like to see it go away and not come back," said Vice Mayor Al F. Dossin. "We're all concerned about growth, but this is not the way to handle it. This is too heavy-handed to work."

Bowne called the ordinance "Big Brotherism run amok." He said present city ordinances and the law of supply and demand would control development.

"I want to see the free-enterprise system work here," Bowne said. "We don't need to impose ordinances to correct perceived weaknesses."

'Note and File'

It was the first time the council had commented publicly on the ordinance. The council voted 3 to 1 to "note and file" the proposal, with only Hastings supporting the measure. Councilwoman Mary Lou Howard abstained.

Hastings said Wednesday he was not going to give up trying to restrict growth in Burbank. He said he would modify the ordinance by compromising with local developers and bring it back to the council in about three weeks.

"In my heart, I know I'm right," Hastings said. "There is a constituency out there that does not want runaway growth and gridlock in Burbank."

Hastings said he proposed the ordinance because he believed developers were not voluntarily controlling growth in Burbank. He added that the council had recently approved projects that increased the density of single-family neighborhoods.

The mayor said Burbank should try to maintain a steady rate of development rather than growth at a "fluctuating, overly rapid" rate.

Hastings said an average of 260 residential units were built annually in Burbank in the 12 years ending in December, 1986. But last year, he said, about 2,300 residential units were being built or proposed within the city.

In defending the ordinance, Hastings said he had been seeking direction on how to modify it. He said he knew the ordinance was too strict, but he had been willing to negotiate with developers.

Called 'Developer-Bashing'

"I was looking for compromise, not condemnation," he said.

During Tuesday's council meeting, developer Thomas Tunnicliffe said the ordinance "was the worst law I've ever seen." He said the ordinance was "uninformed, irresponsible developer-bashing."

Tunnicliffe said that the ordinance would have victimized "regular folks who have invested" in lots that they hoped to develop. He said those investors may never get the chance to develop their property.

"Every year those folks may have to get in line, and they may wind up empty-handed," he said. "This would destroy millions and millions of dollars for those people."

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