Gabel-Luddy improperly lobbied her fellow council members to completely ban granny flats in her own neighborhood (updated about missing language in the current Code)


And tonight she’ll apparently be allowed to exercise this serious conflict of interest even more by actually voting on it in open session.

It’s a special privilege for her own neighborhood alone, this exclusion, and one that will probably turn out to be illegal in the end because it attempts to deliberately thwart a new state law that almost literally mandates such an allowable use everywhere in California.

By legal necessity, the council thinks it must cook up an interim ordinance tonight to waylay the effects of a broader state law that encourages the development of granny flats in urban neighborhoods (these are now also known as Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs).  If Burbank doesn’t get such a law on the books ASAP it will be forced to abide by the much more liberal terms of the Legislature.

Here’s one aspect of what they’re trying to do:

Permitted zones: ADUs are now allowed as a by-right use in all single family residential zones (i.e., R-1) and multifamily zones (i.e., R2, R3, and R4) that contain an existing single family dwelling unit. Interim Ordinance No. 17-3,892 does not allow ADUs in the City’s R-1-H zone.

The problem with the last sentence is that it’s a completely new rule being slipped into the books in order to circumvent the clear intent of the Legislature in liberalizing the use and construction of ADUs in California. Never before have granny flats actually been illegal in the Rancho district itself, but thanks to Gabel-Luddy’s lobbying that’s exactly what Burbank is trying to accomplish tonight.

This is blatant, wholesale favoritism towards one and only one local neighborhood in Burbank: the Rancho.  EGL’s reasoning last month for such an exclusion was specious at best (we can’t have people living near our horses now, can we council members?) But the problem with it legally (besides her obvious COI here) is that Burbank can’t cook up a completely new exclusionary rule that’s designed to circumvent the clear intent and purpose of an  already chaptered state law.

That’s exactly what Burbank is trying to do tonight. They don’t like granny flats, the state does, and so let’s do something about it now to keep them out. Problem is, such a blatantly sudden new effort at blocking them in an entire neighborhood zone is illegal.

And why stop with the Rancho? If the council can successfully exclude the R1-H neighborhood, why not all of our R-1 completely? Why not R-2 to R-4 as well?

That’s the reason why this clearly preferential “interim ordinance” will will never hold up in court if challenged. The city can’t make such a sudden huge change in its current practices in order to waylay a state law, and there’s no good public policy reason for the change in the first place, let alone Emily Gabel-Luddy’s serious conflict of interest problem here in trying to ram it through.


Contrary to discussions elsewhere, there is no language in the current Burbank Municipal Code that bans ADUs in the R1-H zone. There’s a chart that implies a non-permitted use, but that’s it.

No? Where is it then? A chart’s not enough.

Albano must be aware of this serious omission, which is why she’s trying to pencil it in tonight in full.

This is all there is currently, which is not a ban. All it does is suggest missing language:


There shall be a minimum distance of 20 feet between any second dwelling unit and the nearest lot line of any R-1-H zoned lot.

When too was this “no R1-H” granny flats interpretation developed? In 1989 they were OK.

Here’s an entry from the city’s list of ordinance changes. Notice how Burbank allowed granny flats in R1-H? Apparently they never formally changed it correctly:


Declaring a Temporary Moratorium on the Issuance of Certain Conditional Use Permits for Second Dwelling Units in R-1, R-1-E and R-1-H Zones as an Emergency Measure Pending Further Study of Needed Revisions in Existing Zoning Provisions of the Burbank Municipal Code

Where’s the express language banning granny flats in R1-H? We can’t find it. We also don’t recall any discussions about completely exempting the Rancho District from granny flats — until now — and we’ve been following this issue for years!





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14 responses to “Gabel-Luddy improperly lobbied her fellow council members to completely ban granny flats in her own neighborhood (updated about missing language in the current Code)

  1. H.C.L.

    the rancho is filled with rich elite people that love horses more than people.

    • semichorus

      There aren’t even that many horses any more.

      Most of the residents there would rather convert their ersatz “stables” to profitable and convenient granny flats. There’s plenty of room to do so, and it could be easily done.

      Which is … EXACTLY why some people want this new exclusionary zoning rule. But it will never hold up in court now what with this just-signed state law liberalizing ADU development. Albano’s fooling herself to think so.

      It’s really a blatantly illegal stunt they’re trying to pull tonight. Ridiculously hamfisted, actually, to try to suddenly carve out an entire residential zone as ADU impossible, and especially just because of the new pro-ADU law!

  2. Anonymous

    She seconded the motion to exempt R1H

    • semichorus

      Proof of two things

      — Gabel Luddy has a conflict of interest problem that she doesn’t give a damn about

      — Albano knows that by specifically injecting exemption language that doesn’t currently exist, the old ordinance was inadequate when it came to banning granny flats in R1H. She knows damn well that I’m right here, and that current law provided an insufficient basis for a ban.

      This complete Rancho exclusion will never hold up in court if challenged. They can’t artificially contrive an exception in their zoning rules that is designed to contravene the intent and purpose of this liberalized state law.

      Not only is the council fooling themselves here by giving the Rancho neighborhood a ridiculously preferential exception, they’re also on the wrong side of the issue. ADUs are a good thing.

  3. Al in SoCal

    When the esteemed former Councilmember Dr. Gordon was elected one of his very first items was to pave the street his optometry business was on – and I pointed that out – here on this site, in fact.

    It was exactly the opposite reasoning – and apparently from the adoring fans – ZERO conflict of interest. Not that 2 wrongs make a right – simply pointing out the extreme hypocrisy on matters like this – and I do think EGL is in the wrong.

    ADU’s, SDU’s, Granny Flats, Guest homes, whatever you want to call them are a great way to increase housing availability – especially for exactly who it is named for Grandparents, parents and-or kids who haven’t quite made enough to move out yet. Basically family.

    • semichorus

      No council member has the power to pave a street. It’s done on a long-budgeted schedule, and it’s been years too since Burbank’s done real paving. The streets get slurried. Big difference.

      No COI either unless it’s just his own neighborhood within 300 feet. There’s no “hypocrisy” there, nor is there a clear personal economic benefit to a street slurry.

      Meanwhile — unlike a street slurrying that benefits everyone — EGL’s eager ban will last for years.

      Until of course it’s overturned in court!

  4. Dina

    Asshole in So Cal still has a hardon about Dr, Gordon.
    His antics at Mc Cambridge Park shouldn’t be forgotten.
    His support for Luggage Lady and the Brown Act Princess with no briefs is part of a pattern of ignorance.
    Just another Not-Yet-Gonski worshipper.

  5. Al in SoCal

    Dina – I didn’t know GOP women were allowed to speak without first being spoken to – Trump knows how to get you to STFU. (you cussed first darlin’)
    Anyway – no bonus points for disagreeing with EGL? Tough crowd I guess. Let me tell you that “Luggage Lady” – is that Sharon(?) – will be sooo much better at preventing massive development and encouraging compromise on development projects than: one vote against – 4 votes for – which did NOTHING to prevent ANYTHING.

  6. Al in SoCal

    Plus – it’s nice to see you still bitter over the election – but at least you can celebrate our Russian .. err American President who appointed another Supreme Court Justice that thinks women shouldn’t be able to make their own decisions. Perhaps with you serving as an example – I kind of agree.

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