Since 2017, Sharon Springer has been a member of the Burbank City Council.
This past December, the rotating one-year mayor term elevated her to Mayor.
With Burbank facing many of the same issues that Californian cities are currently facing, such as the housing crisis, local governmental control, and growing auto congestion, the city is trying to improve in them as much as possible. A few other issues, such as the growing jet and noise pollution issues at Burbank Airport, may even have statewide ramifications. The California Globe sat down with Mayor Springer and talked about what she wants to do for the city in her term as Mayor.
Mayor Springer explained that her first of three major goals as mayor is to keep local control in Burbank.
“The state is trying to take local control away, and I don’t agree with that,” began Mayor Springer. “SB 50 would have been a big one, but others got through.”
“AB 5 is one. I think it’s kind of tragic what happened. We have artists, translators, photographers, journalists and others who are suffering here. They should have been brought in to consult, but they weren’t called.”
With many entertainment companies either headquartered or keeping a large contingent in Burbank, such as Universal, Warner Brothers, and Disney, the effect on Burbank has been detrimental.
“Entertainment is very important to Burbank and AB 5 has been hurting many in the industry here,” noted the Mayor. “Many artists too.”
The Mayor also mentioned the effects of the law on rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft in the city.
“Uber and Lyft drivers have been affected too,” said the Mayor. “Only a few have wanted to go full time. Most are happy filling their own hours and driving freelance. They’re happy the way it is.”
“I usually walk, but when I take one I tip to help make up for the money they lost because of the law.”
Her second goal was housing. And like many lawmakers in the region, she didn’t like what the impact of SB 50 would have been.
“I do not support SB 50,” said Springer. “I don’t support it because it restricts moms and dads to compete with investors.”
Mayor Springer has talked with many Burbank residents who lost out on affordable housing because of investors and developers that would have had even more power under SB 50, as well as with city officials in other cities who have seen similar laws spiral out of control.
“I’ve spoken with a young father who was outbid by investors,” explained Mayor Springer. “I talked with officials in Minneapolis who are a few laws ahead of us who have been dominated by investors buying everything affordable. And we’re seeing continued increases in prices all over.”
“I hope I’m wrong, but that’s what I’m seeing is the future here. Investors dominating and home prices going up.”
Mayor Springer also explained how the housing crisis came to be in Burbank specifically.
“We didn’t build enough housing,” said Springer. “We wanted to be Mayberry, and for years we didn’t build up to keep that. There will be housing, especially if another law like SB 50 is passed, but it won’t be affordable.”
“Consumer and labor costs are also so high in Burbank. That’s been a large factor in housing prices here. The average price here is $2,300, and it’s easy to see why. I’ll give an example. The Burbank Housing Corporation just bought a triplex. It was old and dilapidated, and by the time we renovated they had put $1.5 million into it. An affordable price would not cover that sort of investment for a long time.”
“Right now we have a housing goal of 12,000 more units in the next 15 years. That exceeds even our own goals. And we also plan to use every state program available to help people get affordable housing.”
The third big goal for the Mayor is public transportation. The city has been pushing public transportation more and more in recent years, and in her term Mayor Springer hopes to expand it even more.
“We’re proud of the pink line extension and how it now connects Universal Studios with the red line in NoHo,” said the Mayor. “Ridership has actually gone up 30% in a year, which far exceeded expectations and I aim to keep ridership high on that.”
The Mayor also outlined rail plans.
“We’re working right now to get Amtrak to stop in downtown Burbank,” noted the Mayor. “We have the airport right now, but a Burbank stop would be great for the city.”
“And this is in the early stages, but we’re also planning for a trolley right now. The trolley would go on Magnolia Avenue connecting up to the Noho red line. It would be a rubber wheel trolley at first, but perhaps a more traditional trolley in the future.”
The new connection between Pasadena and Noho is also a highlight in Burbank. A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line would connect the Red and Gold lines, stringing together those two areas, with Glendale and Burbank also being connected in the middle. Like Mayor Ara Najarian in Glendale, Mayor Springer gave that as another positive example of growth of public transportation in Burbank.
Other areas of focus for Burbank
Like most Californian cities in 2020, Burbank has a homeless problem. According to the Mayor, the homeless population in Burbank is at 268, making it around par for cities in both the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys.
“We’re working on that. We’re working with a church in town for improvements,” added the Mayor. “We don’t know if it will be permanent shelter or more short-term, but we’re looking at solutions.”
The Mayor also noted the street help.
“Streetplus is also working with them,” explained Springer. “We’ve had success stories on getting people off the street or improving their care through them. One person they helped hadn’t had dental work for years and needed it badly and they helped take care of that. Others they’ve taken off the street have come back with a roof over their head.”
Burbank Airport Noise
Regionally, the jet noise issues coming out of Burbank Bob Hope International Airport have been the focus of heated public debate, with several meetings since 2019 bringing out hundreds of local residents to complain. Residents in Van Nuys, who have similar noise issues, and Studio City, who have been complaining about the increased low air traffic around them, have only added to to the growing angst of airport noise concerns. While the main cause has been identified as the shifted traffic from the closing Santa Monica Airport, a decision of which the FAA could still reverse and residents of Santa Monica do not want reversed, the airports in Burbank and Van Nuys have been focusing on coming up with a plan to decrease the noise.
“The noise footprint actually is decreasing,” pointed out Mayor Springer.
Mayor Springer said that after the next meeting the cities recommendation over what to do will be out in March.
That decision could become the new baseline for airports in California on everything from acceptable jet noise, the number of allocated flights, times in which airplanes can take off and land, as well as even force the FAA to change decisions that led to the problems growing in the first place.
Burbank in 2020
Mayor Springer still has another ten months as Mayor in Burbank, during which time she hopes to see improvements and fulfill her goals in time for the next Mayor to carry on.
But for now she plans to tackle every problem that comes Burbank’s way and to work to fulfill her three main goals as Mayor.