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City hopes to acquire hillside land

August 07, 2001

Karen S. Kim

HILLSIDE DISTRICT -- Burbank is trying to purchase about 3.5 acres of

land up for auction next week in the hillside district where a debris

basin -- a large pit of branches, rocks, dirt and mud -- now stands.

A debris basin is used to collect excess rainwater that runs off the

hillside during heavy rain. Burbank has dozens of debris basins

throughout the hills, Public Works Director Bruce Feng said.

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"If we didn't have the debris basin, then the water would overflow the

storm pipe," Feng said. "Once the pipe was full, water would go in the

streets, flood homes, flood buildings."

In addition, the debris-basin property is adjacent to two water tanks

that provide water to homes on the hillside.

Burbank Water and Power has an agreement with property owner Socaland

Corp. that grants access to the water tanks. Though BWP could maintain

that access even if the property is sold to a new owner, BWP General

Manager Ron Davis said Burbank would like to own the property itself.

"What if I need another tank or a different configuration up there?"

Davis said. "To provide for the future of the city, it would just be nice

to make sure we have a nice neighbor to those water tanks."

The property is up for auction Monday and Tuesday because Socaland

Corp. has failed to pay property taxes of about $3,000.

Burbank missed the deadline to bid in the auction, but is attempting

to buy the property directly from Socaland Corp.

"We're trying to see if we can acquire it, because it is a hole within

our open space," Community Development Director Sue Georgino reported to

the council Tuesday.

The property is surrounded by Burbank's hillside reserve, an area of

city land along the hill that is to be preserved as open space, but is

zoned for residential.

City officials suspect that the property might fail to go to auction

if Socaland Corp. steps in during the eleventh hour to pay the taxes it

owes.

"They're notorious for waiting to the last minute to pay their

delinquent taxes," City Manager Bud Ovrom said.

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