Yet being home to major studios like Disney, Cartoon Network, and a booming community of gaming companies has created some growing pains.
The city’s population jumps to 250,000 during work hours, and many of those employees would prefer to live closer to their jobs—if only they could afford it. “In rental properties we have a 1 percent vacancy rate,” says [Burbank Mayor Will] Rogers. “We have landlords who are thrilled with that and raising rent by $100 at every opportunity, and more than a few who are issuing 60-day evictions.”
Uh huh. That kind of tough talk will solve the problem.
Which is why Burbank is leveraging new developments like the arrival of North America’s biggest Ikea. Every time I mention the Swedish retailer, Rogers responds with a chorus that sounds like heralding angels—to address its housing shortage.
The old Ikea location will be overhauled into a mixed-use development where the city will be imposing requirements to build new workforce housing (which in Burbank means housing for residents who make between $40,550 and $103,515 per year) as well as subsidized housing. The adaptive reuse of Ikea’s former footprint is representative of the way Burbank wants to convert more aging commercial spaces, says Rogers.
Will’s fooling himself if he thinks that allowing developers to call conventional singles apartments “micro-units” and let them out at market rates is going to solve the problem.
Some trade-off. But that’s exactly the deal they’re being given in return for big zoning concessions from the city. And how are families going to live in these exciting new micro units they’ve all got planned?
Rogers also has a plan for how more walkable development, like the ongoing pedestrianization of Burbank’s Town Center, might help address both transportation issues and the city’s housing challenges.
“There are folks my age and older who don’t understand what it is to walk out of your apartment, go to your dry cleaner at the bottom of your building, and go across the street and eat a great restaurant that you love which is literally around the block,” he says. Rogers envisions new housing that specifically entices downsizing seniors, which will not only get longtime property owners to vacate their desirable homes for young families, but also introduce this older generation to a more active, car-free lifestyle.
That’s because no folks of any age are living in Manhattan, Burbank. LA has places you’ve gotta go far to get to.
(In reality, when and if you walk out of your door around here it’s more likely you’ll run into a dollar store and a McDonald’s. Where does Rogers think he lives?)
And seniors? What about all those local workers he wants to house? They gonna walk to the job?
This kind of crap is not just delusional in concept, or short-sighted in design. It’s also being used as a convenient pretext for more grand development schemes — in the town that’s apparently “leading the Valley’s urban transformation.”
When btw did that become Burbank’s responsibility? Or commercial goal?