Burbank City Hall

Burbank City Hall (File photo)

Burbank residents are being asked to weigh in on the city’s housing element at two meetings slated for next week, one of which will include a City Council discussion on implementing a moratorium on certain development permits, with the idea being to block community care homes that don’t require licenses.

On Monday, city officials will host a community meeting at 7 p.m. in room 104 of the Community Services Building, located at 150 N. Third St. in Burbank.

The meeting was scheduled following ongoing complaints from local residents and members of community group Save Burbank Neighborhoods regarding the state-required housing element the city adopted in January.

Specifically, the policy document states that community care facilities — which may include sober-living facilities — that house six or fewer people are considered a “standard residential use” and, therefore, do not have to obtain a permit to operate in single-family neighborhoods.

That’s been state law for years, and Burbank is already reportedly home to at least three unlicensed sober-living facilities, according to Community Development Director Joy Forbes. One is in an industrial zone, one is a multifamily area, and one is in a single-family neighborhood.

But some residents worry the facilities would increase traffic congestion, crime and reduce property values.

The city hired attorney Barbara Kautz, an expert in land-use law, to speak with residents Monday about how federal and state laws apply to single-family residential zones.

“(The meeting) is going to cover a lot of material in a very understandable way,” Forbes said. “We’re going to talk about next steps, where we go from here.”

A potential moratorium, however, which the council will be considering at its regular Tuesday meeting, may come with a catch. It may have to include a blanket ban on certain building permits related to single-family homes, even though there are hundreds pending at any given moment, ranging from moving the water heater to adding another floor to the home, Forbes said.

“Most of these (community care) homes, the law tells us we have to treat them like a single-family residences, so how do you put a moratorium on them without putting a moratorium on single-family uses and building permits related to single-family uses?” Forbes said, adding that the temporary ordinance could be written to exclude certain things.

According to a city report, it’s hard to say whether the temporary ordinance would be effective, since it would only affect proposed projects that would require permitting, like single-family home remodels and expansions, or new buildings.

So a proposed community-care facility that doesn’t require any reconstruction wouldn’t be impacted.

A Newport Beach ordinance limiting homes for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, which was struck down by a federal appeals court, has been cited repeatedly by Burbank officials who say they are extremely restricted in regulating such facilities.

The Orange County city, however, voted this week to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision that determined its group home ordinance is discriminatory, the Daily Pilot reported.

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

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