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BURBANK : City Acts to Reinstate Residency Rule

August 19, 1993|ED BOND

A loophole confirmed this week was staggering to a city councilwoman: You do not have to live in the city to represent it.

"It's almost as if during the election I had heard there was a counterfeit cash machine in the basement of City Hall and thought 'Oh, no. That can't be true,' " Councilwoman Susan Spanos said, adding that when the information was confirmed, "I was far more surprised than anyone else."

On Tuesday, the council voted 4 to 0 to have the city attorney write a change to the City Charter reinstating residency as a requirement of council membership. The change, which was accidentally deleted nine years ago, has to be approved by voters in February, 1995.

"In Burbank we have a residency requirement for members of boards and commissions and not for the people who appoint them," said Spanos, who had asked the city attorney's office to research the issue because of rumors she had heard since she began her campaign this year. Under the current City Charter, a candidate for the City Council just has to be a registered voter and live in the city for 30 days before the election.

In 1984, a voters' referendum that removed several outdated sections of the City Charter had also deleted the section on residential qualifications for elected officials. A charter review committee had recommended the deletion because of one clause requiring one-year residency before the election had been declared unconstitutional. But instead of deleting just the one clause, the entire section was eliminated in the referendum.

"I talked to the prior city attorney who had no recollection of it being discussed," Fletcher said, adding that even current Mayor George Battey Jr., who chaired the charter review committee, did not remember how the mistake could have happened, Fletcher said.

Former Councilman Thomas Flavin, unaware of the loophole, had bought a house in Ventura County toward the end of his one-term but moved into his brother's apartment in Burbank so he could maintain residency until he left office in May.

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