The April 28th community meeting on neighborhood design standards hosted a diverse crowd from all over Burbank. Despite a number of grumpy proclamations from both sides of the mansionization issue, the meeting was extremely civil and informative. The key takeaway from the meeting is that there are four different paths forward for the City Council to consider when the issue comes to a vote:
- Maintain Existing Standards (do nothing)
- Revise Zoning (global revisions to code that affect every new project)
- Design Guidelines (strict rules and standards that would impose specific limitations)
- Neighborhood Overlays (per neighborhood standards and guidelines)
City staff and their agents heard from some homeowners who feel the city is overreaching and others who want to see development rules enacted. It’s a tightrope walk for the city. Is one method more fair than another? How does this work in other cities? What gives someone the right to tell me what to do? Is this even enforceable? The main thing to remember is that the city is gathering information and opinions on the matter and no decisions will be made without a lot of input from the public. In fact, here’s a slide that outlines the next steps to be taken. (Take note of the upcoming report to the City Council on May 17th – mark your calendars)
One interesting thing about the meeting was the utilization of “click” voting. Basically the attendees where given electronic remote control “clickers” and would be asked poll questions. The results were then displayed in real time. The presenters made it clear that this was an informal show-of-hands-type of polling that they would incorporate into their findings. A few purists in the audience noted that the voting is skewed toward people who want to see changes made. That may be true, but it just demonstrates the need for people to get involved and make their opinions known. This includes showing up at community meetings.
The presenters discussed an available app dedicated to the process where you can submit comments and even snap photographs of houses you love or hate and explain why. It looks like only the “loved” houses are included in the app gallery for obvious reasons. I have no problem with this type of application and engagement with the community. In fact, I’d like to see technology like this embraced even further by the city.