Keeping it in the Family

Last night the city council made an open-slot appointment to the Landlord-Tenant Commission.

Here’s what he does:


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They could have gotten the Harvard grad with a specialty in the arts.


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Another manager-authoritarian type who’s already part of the system. Just perfect for Burbank.

Oh, but he does know how to appraise the situration.  Twice. That’s good.

This city council of ours. Jesus Christ, they’re assholes. A fucking meter maid. Known paragons of warmth and sensitivity.

Captains of empathy for sure. Looking out for the little guy is their occupational specialty.

Oh, here’s his curriculum vitae:

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None. That’s quite the degree. Should you even then put anything down?

Here’s the CV of the other guy– the one who didn’t get the job:

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Guess it doesn’t pay to type.

Like we said: this town’s run by assholes and idiots. But it does keep us supplied with plenty of material. We’ll never run out.

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It’s a sad day for Creative Expression

And that’s in capital letters for sure!

Can’t they do this to all of the movies this year?

With theater chains defecting en masse, Sony Pictures Entertainment has pulled the planned Christmas Day release of “The Interview.”

U.S. officials have reportedly linked a massive cyber attack against Sony to North Korea, which is at the center of the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy.

“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public,” Sony said in a statement. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

Here’s an idea. We can’t let Hollywood be terrorized.

Ashton Kutcher says:

Better yet, let people donate to cover the expenses and chip in to help them recover from the terrorist act. If you do it using bitcoin the hackers can’t track it like they do the banks and credit cards. Fight fire with fire.

Ashton Kutcher says:
December 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm
They should just leak it out to the internet. They can put up a simple QR logo linked to a bitcoin account. Then anybody that watches it can voluntarily ‘donate’ money to show support an appreciation. This is how youtube and other online pay-per view internet sights are running now. You can easily buy a few dollars worth of bitcoin at and send it to their bitcoin wallet so they can have it in seconds. And the North Koreans and Russian hackers can’t trace who donated.

That will teach them what a backfire is.

No wonder he’s successful.

Need a movie for Christmas vacation? Go see this instead. MOMA, December 19:

The first time it’s been shown in at least 30 years. One of the best movies of the era. No wonder too that people hate it.

(If it had been in a foreign language everyone would have loved it. Like Swedish.)

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A salute to 21st-century learning

Yeah, we asked the same thing…


If it’s Beethoven’s birthday, why is Kandinsky the Google doodle?


Apparently, they never have:

BrahmsBeethovenLevel 1

If they don’t celebrate Beethoven’s birthday, they must be truly ignorant.

Ba1DERLevel 1

Well, It seems They did it one more time…….¡Good job Google!, keep ignoring the anniversary of one of the most brilliant and creative minds in History


Chrome Version (type about:version into your omnibox):
Operating System (Windows 7/8/Vista/XP, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS):
Extensions (type Chrome:extensions into your omnibox):

All of the classical stations are playing his music. Sad to not see Google doing a doodle. :-((

ohjairLevel 1

I was just thinking the same thing! Hmpf!
0 0

ClintonStreetMattersLevel 1

Furthermore — I couldn’t find one in the Doodle Museum…
Did I miss something?
0 0

Here’s to technocracy.

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Obviously not a spelling addict.


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Happy Hanukkah

Mazel tov!

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So will the council be picking another local landlord to be on its Landlord “Tenant” Commission?

Here’s a little quiz.

Out of four applicants for the one open slot on the city’s Landlord-Tenant Commission, who do you think the council is going to pick tonight?

1) A city employee who works for the police department

2) A landlord/owner who also runs a property management service

3) Another person who helps run a local property management service

4) A Harvard graduate and college administrator who helps runs the local satellite campus (in media studies) of a prestigious, private liberal arts college from the East Coast

Who do you think is the most qualified, and would do the better job? Who do you think would be the most independent? Who do you think would be the most fair?

Who do you think the local landlords want?

Who do you think is going to get the job?

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When is a mixed-use project not a mixed-use project?

That’s an easy one. When it’s in Burbank.

Besides wanting to note again the near-criminality of allowing a supposedly “mixed-use project” to skate by and get all the mixed-use goodies in exchange for only one commercial/business unit — and 97 residential (!) — we have a couple of other questions about this obviously staff-favored project:

– Why is mere “proximity” to the downtown area considered to be an “exceptional” characteristic of the project itself, and thus an added inducement for approval? Why does this grant the developer a built-in, inherent freebie consideration? Staff acts like the developer was putting in another Whole Foods with how they’re pushing this supposedly exceptional attribute. But it has nothing to do with the project.

– Why is the developer being allowed to pawn  their “commercial” parking requirements off on the Mall?  What customer is going to park over there when they can park on Cypress instead? BTW, staff hides this proposal from their main staff report.  It’s buried deep within another exhibit.

– Why too the paltry residential parking requirements? In this age of mandatory roommates — and our regular R4 code — is one only space per bedroom really enough parking for that area? Normal zoning would require 30 more spaces total.

– How too does 124 “bicycle” slots take up the slack? Who rides bikes in Burbank?

– How is following the R-4 requirement in regards to setbacks  and open-space allowances considered to be an “exceptional” characteristic of the project as well? Staff actually claims in their official report that this should be a valid consideration for approval:

Staff believes that the proposed architecture implements these policies by providing the following design elements:

 Significant vertical and horizontal articulation;
 Upper floors being set back from the street to avoid towering appearance;
 Façade appropriately interacts with and addresses public streets;
 Use of a variety of colors, materials, and textures;
 Open space buffer provided to adjacent residential structures;
 Units on the ground floor fronting the sidewalk emphasize pedestrian character; and
 Providing green or open space accessible to all.

So, of course:

The Planning Board recommended that the proposed project be considered an exceptional project, and allowed to exceed the maximum density because the project will implement the goals and policies in the GP related to land use, transportation and multi-modal accessibility, housing, sustainability, and economic development (see Exhibit F). The specific conditions of approval pertaining to the project’s exceptional features are provided in Exhibit K. 

– Again, does our city council really believe that this is an authentic mixed-use project for Burbank, and thus worthy of the development bonuses that are granted these uses?

Like this:

Consistency with Zoning Ordinance

The project site is in Burbank Center Commercial Limited Business (BCC-2) zone, which is intended to promote retail centers and commercial and professional office complexes in the Burbank Center Plan. The Burbank Center Plan emphasizes mixed use development and uses to support the nearby businesses; however, there are no development standards provided for mixed-use projects. In the absence of development standards for mixed-use development projects, staff utilizes the R-4 multi-family standards (R-4 assumes exclusively residential projects in residential zones). Due to the unique designs of mixed-use projects in commercial zones, most applicants request a zone change to Planned Development.

 How convenient. Put in 97 units, and one yoga studio, and you can get “mixed use.” And then create your own zoning rules through the PD/DA process..



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As always, they could care less about the real local issues

So all of a sudden the local newspaper wants to get involved in political issues.

For an outfit that hasn’t had an op-ed page in years, or any kind of political columnist to speak of, this is only going to end up being particularly salacious in intent.

In the coming weeks, likely in early January, we will be unveiling our “Election Central” pages on both and They will contain not just news about the election, but campaign finance information, mailers, a map of where candidates and elected officials live, and detailed profiles of each of the candidates.

… In addition to a series of questions and answers, our profiles will have a significant amount of background information. This will include civil lawsuits, bankruptcies and criminal records. (I’m going to ignore traffic infractions, but everything else is fair game.) Whenever possible, we will also post the relevant documents.

Yup. Let’s traffic in personalities why don’t we? And externalities even better.

So often in municipal races, shadowy figures working in the slimy world of “opposition research” will drop a bombshell about someone’s past, often coming from public records. I think it’s important for us to get all that information to the public as soon as possible, giving the affected candidates time to explain themselves both to the newspaper as well as to their potential supporters. (As a side note, I was surprised about how much stuff is out there. I need to vet it properly prior to making it public, though.)

Actually, when’s the last time this happened in Burbank? Who ever ran people’s TRWs for public review? We can’t even remember an occasion where the personal life or background of a candidate ever became much of an issue during an election, if it was even mentioned at all.

But now it will be … thanks to the oh-so-conscientious Burbank Leader. Who will be vetting it properly for our consumption, thank you.

(Whatcha wanna bet this involves Evans’ intense dislike for Will Rogers? Or to provide a handy way to bump off the avowedly anti-establishment Steve Ferguson?)


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Hey, that was us

The latest Rogers for Council message is up at his official campaign web site. It’s actually pretty good, but there’s one thing he says there that’s wrong. Or shall we say it’s misleading, if not a bit petty.

Rogers fails to accurately describe how it was that HE obtained the tip about the Talaria appraisal, which he so eagerly attributes instead to one of his (always famously evasive) unknown correspondents and friends.

A long-time City Hall watcher recently told me that council members were not permitted to see an appraiser’s report discussing the value of property recently sold to a developer so he could complete his project. (The council ultimately took the staff’s recommendation and accepted the lowest value put on the property sought by the developer.) My long-time acquaintance insisted that, by some rationale or another, council members were talked into believing they had no right, nor a need, to see the appraiser’s report.

Skeptical that city staff had actually argued council members couldn’t or shouldn’t see the material, I asked a council member if the report was true.

Looking every bit as puzzled as I’d expected, the official replied, “What? That’s ridiculous! I’m sure staff would have let us see the appraisal if any of us had wanted to see it.”

I froze for a moment and thought, “Um, wait a minute. You were asked to set a value for city land, using a window provided by an appraiser that varied in price top-to-bottom by about $3 million, and you never even asked and didn’t care to see the actual appraisal for yourself to weigh the appraiser’s priorities, expertise and arguments?”

This was actually WORSE than accepting a ruling they could not see the report.

Rogers is right. But hey, we were the ones here who first:

a) asked the basic question about WHAT in the world the appraiser had said about these “remnant” city properties in question, as well as exactly how they were valued, and with what methodology, and we did so in about four different postings;

b) wanted to see the report ourselves and not just take staff’s word for its content;

c) demanded that the council get together and read it, and;

d) reported news-wise here that Dr. Gordon had indeed wanted to see it much earlier, but had been denied access.

Will still can’t play straight about things, can he? The old, old Will Rogers also wouldn’t have needed any “long-time City Hall watcher” to help him arrive at his wonderings about local politics. No, he would have been down there that very night demanding an answer from all concerned.

So where was he on Talaria? Two different hearing nights and no appearance?

Oh that’s right– we asked that question too.

BTW … if Rogers is really serious about this concern then he should go ahead and legally demand to see it. Because the official appraisal was cited in the staff report, it’s now fully disclosable under the state’s open records act. The city wouldn’t have any good reason to keep it secret, public policy wise, at least no longer. The Talaria negotiations and vote are now over and done with.

We too would love to see how much the city’s appraiser valued these supposedly useless remnants. We think staff fabricated the lowball figures in order to give a little extra gift to Burbank’s First Family.  The official appraiser’s report would either prove or disprove our contention.

You can see here how marginal the city’s land is to the success of this project. Being only right in the center of the development it’s hardly worth a thing:




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Mixed use on Third means that there might–just might–be enough room for Compton’s Shoe Repair. And 97 apts



Come on. While there’s nothing basically wrong with this FIVE 50 THIRD development (or whatever they call it now) being planned for where the old Auto Club used to be, for anyone to want to call it a “mixed-use project” would be like calling a place like Woodbury College a university.

Mixed use of course means stores on the bottom and apartments on the top. What’s happening here though is 97 residential units packed onto a couple of lots, and only one (count ‘em, o-n-e) small 1,526-square-foot commercial space set off on a side street somewhere.

So what’s with the wacky combination? Thanks to our new Burbank2035 Plan, mixed use also means that the regular zoning codes no longer apply. Instead, it becomes Planned Development time in Burbank, a happy world where you get to craft the rules to suit your own needs and then have everyone agree to call what you’ve just done a “Development Agreement.”

Specifically, this FIVE whatever outfit wants to build 25 percent more units on Cypress and San Jose than the normal R-4 zoning and downtown General Plan allow, and so if they can throw in a token storefront it will help smooth the way. That’s because they’re not just building a regular apartment house any more. It’s now called mixed use!

A DA also doesn’t have to abide by all of the normal R-4 limitations either, like height or required open space. You can even get extra development points and goodies if you make the case that your project is “exceptional.”

These Development Agreements obviously then make for a very handy end-run around the old rules, and if you have nothing much to offer in the downstairs part then so what? Remember, it’s Burbank we’re living in. You don’t need much upstairs to do well around here either.

It was bad enough a few years ago when staff used the state-mandated Burbank2035 plan to basically liberate our city’s “underused” commercial and manufacturing properties and turn them into profit centers for apartment and condo developers. No longer restricted to the old, limited number of R-4 and R-5 properties in Burbank, these eager builders and development interests could now set their sights on “mixed-use” commercial corridors for future exploitation. And that’s exactly what Burbank2035 allowed them to do. Surprise surprise.

But even with our worst feelings about Burbank2035, we thought — naively of course — that staff would have at least insisted on these folks building some real live and authentic mixed uses on their newly enfranchised properties. Who’d a thought the City of Burbank would be so shameless as to let apartment and condo developers pencil in only one unit in order to take advantage of these liberalized mixed-use allowances? And to do so right away?

Wonder what single commercial “use” will end up being over there on Third and Cypress. Again, you’d think staff would have required the whole bottom floor for non-residential, but apparently not.

None of this would have been so easily done without Burbank2035. So, here’s to the future! Mixed use that isn’t even mixed or use.


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So don’t complain

Here’s a new one.

From a matter completely unrelated to Burbank, this new philosophy can, and will, be applied in general everywhere:

Armchair economists and MasterCard Marxists don’t understand that tenants set market rents not landlords. Rent is mutually agreed on by two parties and nobody is forced into anything. With commercial leases, both sides are represented by very sophisticated lawyers and brokers. Nobody wins when a business doesn’t make it but the gamble is worth the potential payoff.

It’s the tenants who set the rents! So don’t blame the landlords.


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Christmas round the world

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Here comes Santa

It’s just not the same.

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Besides deliberately cutting out half the Valley — and all of Canyon Country — is it really wise to put a rail tunnel on top of the San Andreas Fault?



Although we’re big fans here of the proposed California High-Speed Rail plan, we’re also beginning to agree with the critics that this project is most likely intended be nothing more than a huge boondoggle for the Highway Lobby.

Proof? What more insane idea is there than that of choosing an alternate route that’s not only ridiculously more expensive but also completely bypasses a huge population center?

People from the north will have to drive all the way to Burbank to use it. Just watch the cartoon above.

Published on Dec 4, 2014
The proposed high-speed rail alignments through the East Corridor in the Palmdale to Burbank Project Section would travel through the San Gabriel Mountains, connecting the Palmdale Transportation Center to Burbank Airport Station. The proposed alignments are approximately 35 miles.

There’s no good reason for this “East Corridor” choice but that the someone wants to feather the nests of the construction and lobbying industries.

You also really want to be underground some mountain in the middle of nowhere during an 8.0?

Right below you?


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Who knew he was our Secret Santa?

Shhhh. Don’t let anyone know that this never happened…

One by one, people of all ages made their way into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Burbank. It wasn’t a sermon that brought thousands to the church’s grounds on Sunday.

Instead, they came to see an age-old story, told more than 200 times.

The church’s Burbank location hosted its annual “Christmas Nativity Festival,” displaying hundreds of sculptures, pieces and sets depicting the birth of Jesus Christ with his parents, the Virgin Mary and Joseph, and the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem.

The festival, with 15 pieces from Bob and Dolores Hope’s personal collection, showed visitors unique interpretations of the nativity story from various countries such as Peru, Germany, Uganda and Indonesia. Upstairs, the festival also provided onlookers a live nativity performance with a replica of what the scenery could have looked like at the time of Jesus’ birth, from a replica manger to a canopy made of sticks and covered with grass blades.

The display took roughly a week to set up.

“Some of these are handcrafted, family heirlooms or collector’s items,” said Kellie Austin, spokeswoman for the event. “This year, we reached out to community leaders and even businesses to showcase their nativities.”

We can’t wait for the one at Talaria. Maybe they’ll bring in some real authentic Malibu sand to help complete the look.

Children and adults pointed at the unique nativity scenes lining tables that curved around the church’s gymnasium. Some scenes were sculpted into glass or wood no bigger than a strawberry. One artist created the nativity with “Peanuts” characters, replacing Jesus Christ with Woodstock. Another used cats while only a few feet away, a black moose filled in as Jesus and as angels peering down at the Savior.

As a cappella groups and a children’s choir sang Christmas tunes, the cheery sounds didn’t divert the attention of Diane Hirsch and her 10-year-old daughter, Kaylee. Hirsch said there are four nativity scenes inside her Burbank home. Her eyes scanned the wooden — and sometimes even faceless — renditions of the cherished story.

“Being Christian, this is a focal point,” she said, pointing her index finger to a specific nativity scene. “Who would have thought to make it out of burlap? It’s great to see the different expressions.”

The festival began in 2012 at the behest of church Bishop Dennis Barlow. Barlow came across a similar nativity festival hosted in the Inland Empire and decided to make it a tradition in Burbank.

“It’s a wonderful way to start Christmas and the holidays,” Barlow said. “And it’s a great gift to the community.”


Remember the days when Burbank was considered to be ahead of the Inland Empire? Now look what our inspirations are.

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