I believe that in order for a leadership team to be as effective as possible, that it includes representation from many different experiences in our community. Some of the perspectives which are not currently represented that I will bring to council are: I am GenX (there has never been a GenX on council). I have three adult college age children who grew up here and are at the cusp of starting their families and careers. Two of my children are LGBTQ+. Our family is multicultural Japanese-American. My professional experience is in non-profit leadership and strategy, and I am currently earning a Masters in Applied Psychology and a LPCC and LMFT licensing, with a specialty in community psychology and policy. I am an ebike rider as my second vehicle (not recreational), and my children do not have cars (or expect to). And I grew up in a working class, small business family. My father was a mechanic and owned a tire store. I was the first in my family to earn a college degree. While none of these define me, they are part of my experience and perspective that shape my view on how we take care of folks in our community.
What Burbank organizations (Corporations, nonprofits, etc.) do you see as playing an influential role in Council decision-making? What specifically do you feel these organizations contribute to Council decisions that is productive? not productive? Please give some examples.
If elected, what Burbank community organizations will you see as influencers in regard to your decisions as a council member and why?
As an active community advocate, I am involved with a number of nonprofits in Burbank. I am happy to see an increase in organizational collaboration with each other, and coordinated work to address our city’s issues. Collaboration between our nonprofits/community groups and the city itself has been better, too. However, it is still inconsistent, and difficult to determine who is listened to and why. I would like to see a fair, consistent collaboration between the city and organizations, with a transparent process for who the city reaches out to for consulting and involvement in community initiatives, who the city reaches out to apply for CDBG funds, which community organization leaders are invited to the internal decision making table, and where city representatives show up in support.
Some of the organizations that I have seen have a positive impact to our community:
Boys and Girls Club; Burbank Arts and Education Foundation; Burbank Chamber of Commerce (new focus on small business); Burbank Coordinating Council; Burbank for Armenia; Burbank Housing Corporation; Burbank Human Relations Council; Burbank Teacher’s Association; Burbank Temporary Aid Center; Burbank YMCA/Social Impact Center; Elevate Burbank;
Family Service Agency; Friends of the Burbank Library; Home Again LA; Kiwanis; Leadership Burbank; Magnolia Park Merchants Association Parent-Teacher Associations; PFLAG; Reusable Burbank (Community Group); Rotary; St. Joseph’s Hospital; Together We Can (Community Group); Too many unions to mention (IATSE, SAG, Burbank Firefighters, etc.); Veterans of Foreign Wars; Zonta; (Enter your organization’s name here 🙂
There is always room at the table for more nonprofits, and it is my hope and part of my advocacy to include as many non profits and community groups at the table to work together. Working in silos no longer works
Burbank is currently #2 in the US in the number of gun stores per capita. Residents are demanding that action be taken to reduce the number of gun stores here. What is your stance on the number of gun stores in Burbank? If you think there are too many, and if so, what actions will you take to reduce the number of gun stores? If you disagree that the number is too high, what action will you take to address
residents’ concerns about public safety? Would you support a City excise tax on guns and ammunition?
According to the American Public Health Association, gun injury is the leading cause for premature death in the United States. (https://www.apha.org/topics-and-issues/gunviolence) According to the Harvard School of Public Health, women and children are far more likely to die by gun injury in the home, while men are more likely to be fatally injured by a gun outside the home. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/magazine/magazine_article/offthe-cuff-what-dont-we-know-about-the-causes-of-gun-violence-almost-everything/. And according to Nationwide Children’s Research center, 1 in 3 homes with children have at least one gun, adolescents in homes with guns are more likely to die by suicide, 75% of children who live in a home with a gun know where they are stored, and most parents do not believe their children know where the gun is located.
https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/research/areas-of-research/center-for-injuryresearch-and-policy/injury-topics/general/gun-safety We see mass shootings in the news and that brings our attention to gun violence. However, more and more organizations are recognizing the proliferation of gun ownership as a national health crisis not because of mass shootings, but because of the higher and higher number of suicide by gun, accidental shootings of children and family members, and domestic violence with guns. So I have asked our community, do we want to be a city that turns a blind eye to this health crisis with such a large footprint in the gun sales market? When I ask this, the vast majority of our community’s answer is “no”. And I agree. - I support the moratorium on more gun store licenses. - I support voluntary buy back programs and gun safe storage education. - I support the city’s partnership with the Brady organization to identify the best way to address our local gun and supply sales in an appropriate way for our city. I do not want to punish the current gun store owners. - Regardless of one’s stance on gun violence, it’s clear that our city’s gun store zoning is outdated, and needs to be equalized with the rest of the county. - I support a gun and ammunition tax, and hope that we can use it to fund school safety and mental health programs. At the same time, I would like to see the data of how many guns and ammunition are sold in Burbank, as the stores with gun licenses also sell gun supplies. - I do NOT support taking away guns from law abiding individuals. - I do NOT support taking away licenses from law abiding gun stores
Critique the response of Burbank elected officials and Staff to the Covid pandemic starting in March 2020 to the present. What do you think worked best for the community and what needs to be improved?
Do you support the City creating a formal Pandemic Response Plan for future contagions? What factors do you feel are crucial to be incorporated in a comprehensive plan?
The pandemic was an incredibly stressful time for all of us. Overall, we were able to pull together as a community, and get through it to where we are today, together. I’m incredibly proud and impressed with the community’s support of one another with mask making, shopping for one another, volunteering for Project Hope, sharing information and resources, and checking in on one another.
Some of the city responses are also to be commended. Project Hope was a successful program to ensure that seniors and disabled residents were able to access groceries, and medicine and prescriptions, stay connected and informed, and get help with technology as we moved over to Zoom. I also appreciate the city’s action to provide signage for free for businesses, to enact a moratorium for utility payments, and offer local COVID grants for
both rent and for small business expenses. This was a lot of work in a short time to offer these sources of support.
We did experience confusion and sometimes lack of information, especially during the early weeks. Our lack of having a city-appointed health coordinator or some other official spokesperson created a void where folks were left to figure out for themselves which requirements from LA applied to us, and which ones didn’t. We also had areas where that was lack of leadership, especially in the beginning, where the community did not know who was doing what, who to ask questions to, and who was working to protect us. I wrote many letters to staff and council during that time, and when there was little being done, I started my own City of Burbank COVID update videos and posts on social media to keep people informed. I also included COVID information in my weekly newsletter. After doing a few of those videos, the city starting doing their own, and I was able to discontinue and hand that responsibility over to them. Those regular updates from the city were very appreciated by the community.
In the future, I would like to see a better preparation plan not just for a pandemic, but any health related situation. One possibility is to have a pre-determined ad hoc leadership team, with a transparent decision tree and community communication plan in place. Lacking that, if we find ourselves in another serious situation, I know how important it is for the community to have information. I commit to doing what I can to keep the our residents and businesses informed with the most up to date and accurate information to get through tough times together. I also fully supported using the city’s emergency texting service to update our residents.
If elected, what will you change in regard to the actions the city has taken to obtain additional funding for homelessness services such as the MHET Team, housing and other necessities?
Do you think the homeless in Burbank are getting the services they need? If so, what are those services? If not, what more is needed?
Describe what actions your would take to help the most vulnerable homeless, such as teenagers, LBGTQIA, substance abusers, domestic violence survivors and those needing mental health services.
- Housing. At the root of all homelessness in every city in every country in the world is housing. While we cannot solve the entirety of the issue with housing only, we cannot solve it at all if we don’t have housing.
- Single point of entry for services. Homelessness is a complicated, multifaceted issue. Most folks think of the individual sleeping on a park bench with their belongings surrounding them or encampments along the freeway overpass. However, these cases are only about 1/3 of the currently homeless population, and a much smaller percentage of the entirety of the housing insecure population
https://www.burbankca.gov/documents/20124/643769/Homelessness+Plan+-+Appendices.pdf/84da8aff-6fef-a7dc-d9bf-364245097ec6?t=1618525830570 . The majority of folks on the path to homelessness are unseen. Every one of those visible homeless situations started out with a need that was not met. A critical part of the challenge is that folks don’t know where to go or what to do when their life starts to unravel. And for those who do not want services when offered, we often forget that they may have come to this perspective due to unreliable, confusing, or even traumatic interaction with services in the past. When folks have positive and effective assistance early, they are less likely to find themselves in a chronic, visible homeless situation. We have a number of excellent organizations that provide high quality services https://www.burbankca.gov/resources and in order for them to be able to help as many folks as possible, it’s crucial to have a single point of entry where organizations work together to ensure housing insecurity can be appropriately and expeditiously addressed.
- Tiny homes. While not a panacea, tiny homes are an example of a way to provide urgent shelter while someone is waiting for transitional housing. I support the proposed tiny homes project in Burbank.
- Non-uniformed, unarmed responses to non-violent calls: I have been a long time advocate of the MHET team, and successfully advocated for an additional MHET van using the Denver STAR van as an example. I continue to advocate for additional MHET staff, in particular civilian staff such as social workers and therapists. Streets Plus has been a successful addition to our community. I support initiatives like Streets Plus and continuing to expand it further.
- Drug addiction and mental health care improvements: We may be limited in Burbank in what we can do directly, but other cities have attracted mental health urgent cares, wellness centers, and non-severe drug rehabilitation centers as successful models of preventative opportunities before folks become homeless in the first place. I believe Burbank can look at these models to prioritize our community’s overall health.
- Funding: Measure H funds are hard to come by but we have to advocate for those funds with high quality proposals (like the storage units). Regional partnerships, grants, federal funding, and incentivizing community level organizations to participate in the process are also ways we can increase our funding for these programs. Homelessness and mental health, particularly pertaining to historically excluded groups, has funding available if we look for it. https://www.grantwatch.com
What additional steps would you take to expand access to affordable housing in Burbank?
What has not been done by City Council that you see as helping to solve the housing crisis and comply with the State mandate to build more housing?
We have a 3/1 jobs to housing ratio. This is the highest in California, and nearly the highest in our country. This means that property values are high, which is good for those who have property as investments, but it’s pushing Burbank into a higher new resident earning bracket. The housing that is available is out of reach for most folks, especially our work force. We are losing our city’s identity as a middle class, working class city. I’m a general advocate for more housing, and specifically for housing for teachers/first responders/government staff and contractors, and essential workers. For these I’m looking into the viability of allocating housing in the Burbank Housing Corporation, the new Tri-City Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena affordable housing authority, and Disney and Warner Brothers supportive housing for workforce. I have a comprehensive housing plan (that is flexible based on the changes in housing laws etc), that includes focussed high density housing near transit and services, gentle density near R1 areas, protected walkable neighborhoods, and rent-to-own and community shared housing incentives. But whatever we do, we have to take a serious look at our housing element, our city zoning, and what kind of city we want, which will take some heavy lifting, challenging conversations, and reality checks. To do this, I believe the best way would be to create a housing task force, including community members, local organizations, housing authorities, and subject experts, and create the best plan we can.
There are many folks who are worried about our city growing, identifying issues like traffic that have been caused by our growth. But the truth is, we haven’t grown our population since 1990. https://www.biggestuscities.com/city/burbank-california
The traffic we see as an example of our growth is almost entirely from commuters. If we bring folks to live in our city, they don’t have to commute. It’s counterintuitive, but having more housing will make our city safer, quieter, healthier, and less traffic. That said, we have to be proactive in where and how we add housing, and make sure that we are creating a safe city to get around without a car, so that we are a quiet, walk/bikeable, quaint suburban city, not a bustling Los Angeles metropolis.
Folks have also voiced environmental concerns about more housing. Counterintuitively, density of housing is better for resource efficiency and reduces overall environmental impact, as it slows down sprawl. Resource allocation and delivery is more efficient per capita in density. As we develop new housing, we can set high environmental requirements, focussing on efficiency and reduction of waste. It is also important to reduce the developments that will increase the number of cars in our network, by incentivizing up zoning near (improved) transit and bike networks. In addition, to require low-water landscaping or recycled water for vegetation. I’ve been meeting with my enviro team about this to make sure I'm not missing anything. It’s unanimous on my team that increasing density and updating buildings has an overall net positive effect on the environment. There are concerns, like the additional cars added to the network, but the concerns we’ve identified can be mitigated by good planning
The pandemic and economic crisis have taken an emotional and mental toll on our residents. While there are teen programs as part of BUSD for mental health support, there are no programs for adults in Burbank that allow that type of access to help. Do you think that City Council should take action on finding ways to provide this access? If so, what is your plan for assisting residents who are mentally and emotionally struggling?
As mentioned in an earlier reply regarding homelessness, we could do better in our city with mental health care improvements. We have quality services available, but not enough of them. And we don’t have enough breadth of services and treatment. In many situations, those seeking mental health care will be referred outside the city.
We may be limited in Burbank in what we can do directly, but other cities have attracted mental health urgent care, wellness centers, and non-severe drug rehabilitation centers as successful models of preventative opportunities. I believe Burbank can look at these models to prioritize our community’s overall health.
It’s also important to recognize that mental health concerns are intertwined with everything we do. From transportation, to police response, to housing, to dealing with emergencies, to event permitting and planning, the city’s policies and practices have a mental health impact on both the community and the staff that works with them. Everyone is impacted in some way by the way the city does business and the laws that are in place.
And lastly, September is suicide awareness month. This would be an excellent opportunity for the city to partner with experts and community groups to highlight services, destigmatize self and mental health care, and do an internal city mental health audit. The city leaders themselves can be well versed in understanding mental health, as well. For example, suicides are the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-14 and 25-24 and the third leading cause of death for 15-24. https://wisqars.cdc.gov/data/lcd/home And by far, the most common way to die by suicide is with a gun.
What plan would you implement to increase public awareness of our water crisis and effectively decrease public consumption of water by residents and businesses?
What changes can be made to decrease water consumption by Burbank City agencies?
While we are in a regional water system, we can do our part to increase efficiencies and reduce overall pull from our water sources. First is to prohibit manicured grass maintenance with tap water, as well as increase our promotion of drought resistant beautiful yards.
Second is to densify and upgrade our housing here so folks aren’t needing to buy houses out in the far suburbs. As mentioned earlier, densification is counterintuitively one of the best defenses against water overuse. And lastly, I’m a strong advocate for the advanced water recycling program to make waste water potable .
How do you plan to focus beneficial development on under served areas and neighborhoods in Burbank to revitalize those business districts? Examples are Burbank Blvd., Olive, and Victory.
Small businesses in Burbank are still struggling. Describe your plan of action that would help these locally owned businesses survive the present challenges and build a stable future
Olive Blvd. will benefit greatly with a fully featured BRT. That will reimagine the entire corridor.
Magnolia Park has a neighborhood plan that needs to both be adhered to, and updated.
Victory and Burbank Blvd could benefit from a similar plan. In fact, it would be beneficial to have a city-wide commercial corridor plan if possible, which includes rezoning commercial to incentivize quality businesses and allow housing.
In general, our micro businesses are not supported enough in our community. (Most business on our corridors are micro businesses.) The Chamber of Commerce has a potential solution for this, creating a local small business bureau, to help new and existing business to navigate the difficult parts of running a business. Most micro business owners are working on their own or with a small staff, and don’t have the resources to have experts available. If the Chamber creates this service, it would help the small businesses start up and keep businesses open.
It would also be beneficial for the city to offer incentives for street facing brick and mortar businesses. Many of the business along Burbank and Victory are doing very well, but it doesn’t look that way on the outside. How we feel about our community is partly based on how it looks.
Lastly, our business permitting and process is cumbersome. It puts stress on business owners and stress on city staff. It’s time for us to move our city squarely into the 21st century and automate processes that are straightforward or don’t have variances. I’ve been
advocating for this with key staff, and if I’m on council, I’m confident that more automation will be available, like the business license renewal process that went online during the pandemic.