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City OKs homeless shelter

Despite a few complaints, most of council agrees to let homeless stay in armory; some members are angry with Glendale.

October 29, 2008|By Jeremy Oberstein

BURBANK — With winter fast approaching, the City Council on Tuesday night finalized a plan to provide a shelter for the region’s homeless population, similar to the details worked out in 2007.

The plan, approved by a 4-1 vote, calls for the shelter to open Dec. 1 and close March 15 and will provide shelter in the city’s National Guard Armory at 3800 W. Valhalla Drive for up to 150 homeless people from around Southern California.

“I’m glad to be able to help people out,” Vice Mayor Gary Bric said. “I don’t think the impacts are so great to the community.”

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Last year’s drive to open the shelter in Burbank was marked by a string of mostly supportive comments from residents who called on the council to approve the armory as an acceptable site to house the homeless.

Their support was buttressed by a unanimous council, which on Dec. 4 voted 4 to 0 to support the shelter with an abstention from Councilman David Gordon, who opposed the measure Tuesday night.

Still, a few residents opposed the site last year, mostly under the auspices of public safety. Four residents spoke against the site Tuesday.

They pleaded with the council to look into moving the shelter from the armory to a location farther away from schools, parks and homes near the National Guard center.

“I understand that’s it people in need now,” resident Oscar Cabrera said. “But I believe it’s too close to too many schools. I would suggest the City Council consider another location. I’m concerned for the safety of my family, my wife, my little girl taking a walk at night.”

Bric tried to assuage residents’ concerns in promising that homeless people are not allowed to roam the area when staying at the shelter, saying it is “on 100% lockdown.”

But that contention was dismissed by Gordon, who said the shelter is not “a prison camp.”

Most staying at the shelter last year were picked up in the evening and dropped off in the morning at prearranged bus stops in Burbank or Glendale, but a small percentage arrived at the Valhalla site on their own, said Carrie Gatlin, vice president of government relations for Union Rescue Mission.

Those who did arrive on their own were told not to roam in nearby parks and to respect the community, or risk being thrown out of the shelter for good, she said.

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