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Council mulls ways to increase housing

Mandate from state law requires the city of Burbank show capacity for 1,000 more residential units through 2014.

October 03, 2007|By Jeremy Oberstein

CITY HALL — Burbank is experiencing a housing crisis, prompting the need to increase residential development projects, the Planning Board told the City Council Tuesday night.

State law mandates that each city take stock of its housing capacity. That mandate, called the General Plan Housing Element, is unique to each city and depends on factors such as jobs and regional development. The number of housing units a city must have is calculated through the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, which identifies each city’s existing and future housing needs.

“Different cities get different numbers proportional to their population,” Principal Community Planner Michael Forbes said.

According to the assessment Forbes presented, the city must show it has the capacity to build at least 3,800 additional housing units through 2014.

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Currently, the city has about 2,800 residential units, 1,000 units short of the state’s mandate, the Planning Board found.

“Based upon preliminary calculations . . . [we] believe that the city will be unable to show enough sites with sufficient capacity to provide the amount of new housing needed to meet the [Regional Housing Needs Assessment] allotment,” Forbes said.

Residential projects do not have to be built, but Burbank must show it has the capacity to build additional units, Forbes said.

“Don’t expect 3,800 units are going to be built from now until 2014,” he said. “We just have to show we can.”

To accommodate the shortfall, the Planning Board presented 10 options to alleviate the housing crunch. One option called for construction of residential units on top of commercial stores, which could increase residential capacity by 400 units. Another option called for the construction of 300 units by allowing residential units to be built in zones normally used for commercial purposes.

The Planning Board recommended that the council adopt five of the 10 options, which would increase residential capacity to 4,900 units.

The housing concerns were a jumping-off point for some council members, who highlighted other issues related to future construction.

“Did you consider traffic concerns in this report?” asked Councilman Gary Bric. “Putting in this many units will result in more traffic.”

“We wouldn’t expect to see severe traffic impact because multifamily units are low traffic generators compared to commercial centers,” Forbes answered.

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