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Burbank Rewards Youths for Easing Neighborhood Tension


The Burbank City Council voted Tuesday to donate $1,200 worth of athletic equipment to the youth of a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood to reward them for their efforts to calm hostilities with a nearby middle-class, mostly Anglo community.

City officials said the unanimous vote was an acknowledgment of the truce between the two neighborhoods on Elmwood Avenue, which are linked by a footbridge over a flood control channel.

The city proposed demolishing the bridge last September, after residents on the western side complained that trouble in their neighborhood was caused by gang members from the eastern side.

As a compromise, the bridge is now locked at night and on weekends.

Mayor Michael R. Hastings said before the vote that criminal activity on Elmwood Street had largely diminished in recent months due to efforts by gang members to clean up their own community.

Hastings and other council members praised several Elmwood youths, who attended the council meeting, saying they had planted grass, painted out graffiti and removed litter.

"The change has been nothing short of miraculous," Hastings said. "The work ethic with the youth has improved a hundredfold. They feel responsible, and they also feel now that the city will be responsible for them."

The council voted to allocate $1,200 from the city's Youth Endowment Services Fund to purchase workout bags, stationary bicycles and basketball equipment for youths on the eastern side of the bridge.

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