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Burbank Leader

At second Burbank town hall, concerns about water, smoke and speeding

2:37 PM PST, November 29, 2012

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Water rate hikes, speeding near schools, smoking downtown and the looming threat against after-school programs were hot-button topics Wednesday at Burbank’s second town hall meeting.

The meeting -- an attempt by the Burbank City Council to get feedback from residents in a more casual setting -- attracted roughly 50 residents to Luther Burbank Middle School.

Residents frustrated about the high cost of water -- despite their conservation efforts -- discovered they weren’t the only ones.

The city -- which gets most of its water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California -- has also faced its own rate hikes for the imports, said Mayor Dave Golonski.

And neither Burbank nor its residents are likely to catch a break any time soon, officials said.

“Water is going to cost you more as we deal with reliability in the Delta,” Ron Davis, general manager of Burbank Water and Power, said in referring to the Sacramento River Delta, an important supply source for Southern California.

Council members -- who reported that they've also personally been hit with steeper bills -- encouraged residents to continue to conserve.

To facilitate conservation, the utility offers a water system auditing program that checks for leaks in your home, said Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy.

“Leaks can be a hidden problem in terms of your water bill,” she said.

Davis also reported that in roughly a year, the utility would launch a new online billing system.

Multiple residents complained about speeding drivers near schools and in residential neighborhoods.

Burbank police urged residents to report speeding to the police by calling (818) 238-3100.

Residents can also petition for speed bump installations.

A downtown Burbank resident who complained about a local hookah bar -- and smoke wafting through her apartment complex -- asked the City Council to revisit the city’s smoking policies.

“We are suffering,” she said, adding that if she could afford to move, she would.

Gabel-Luddy suggested putting the smoking issue on the agenda for a later date.

“It would be worth it to have a discussion on the outdoor smoking situation in the downtown area,” she said.

The last town hall meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at John Muir Middle School, 1111 N. Kenneth Road.

-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.