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Planning goes interactive

Burbank to invite input from the public by broadcasting status of projects online using Google Maps.

November 03, 2007|By Jeremy Oberstein

BURBANK — Using one of the Internet’s most popular search engines, Burbank unveiled its newest tool to help residents stay informed of planning projects, officials said Monday.

The planning projects map, run by Google, is an interactive list of all residential, commercial and industrial projects throughout Burbank that are being processed or have been recently approved or denied.

Each project icon on the map includes information about the project and a link to its current status, said Burbank Principal Planner Michael Forbes, who created the map.

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“We’re always looking for a way to get the public involved in planning projects and to get more information out to the public,” he said.

In the past, Burbank listed all of its current planning projects online, but not in an interactive format, which made them difficult to navigate, Forbes said.

“We had our projects online, but it wasn’t really easy to see,” he said. “We’ve been looking for a while for ways to make it easier for us to communicate and for the public to get status updates on projects.

“We’ve been looking .?.?. and just recently, within the last year, found Google Maps was easy to use. It’s not a new tool that someone has to learn. It’s a good tool.”

The Planning Division will upgrade the site at least once a week, Forbes said.

“It took quite a while to initially put it together and get it online,” he said. “Now that that initial step is done, it’s very easy to update.”

While Google Maps has been a popular portal on the Internet, some city planning departments, such as those in Los Angeles and Glendale, have not adopted the technology.

“We have nothing like that,” Glendale Senior Planner Jeff Hamilton said. “I’m totally envious. We hope to do something like that within the next year, but have been told that our technology is further off than we would have liked.”

Los Angeles also lags behind Burbank’s mapping technology.

“We don’t have anything that interactive,” said John Butcher, geographic information systems chief for the Los Angeles City Planning Division. “We have one set of maps and biweekly reports that show the cases that have been filed.”

Los Angeles maps are in a file format similar to what Burbank used to run, Butcher said.

In addition to the Planning Division, other Burbank departments use Google services to help its users navigate websites.

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