The Burbank Walmart controversy just keeps growing. Now there are questions about the fairness of that quickie vote taken by the Burbank City Council at its February 21 meeting, which cleared the way for Walmart to get the permits it will probably need to renovate the site of The Great Indoors out at the Empire Center. Despite protests and hours of emotional speeches by opponents of the project, the council voted 4-to-1 to accept a staff report that dismissed all those protests and concerns. The lone “no” vote came from Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy.
Last night, anti-Walmart forces returned to the Burbank City Council meeting with new ammo. Several people raised questions about the council vote last week on Walmart, which came after midnight, but the decision appeared to be reported in the media as early as 10 p.m. Council members, Dave Golonski, Dr, David Gordon, and Mayor Jess Talamantes insisted their votes to not scrutinize the Walmart project further were on the up-and-up and not part of any back-room deal.
Here’s the e-mail sent out by Stop Walmart in Burbank on Monday, February 27.
Many of you probably saw the headlines in the media this week – we are sad to report that city council has approved the building permits for Walmart at the Empire Center.
If you would like to see the podcast of the council meeting, you can see it in its entirety here: www.ci.burbank.ca.us/index.aspx?page=633.
In a nutshell, after 7 long hours of waiting for the Walmart issue to be discussed on the agenda, we were disappointed to find that staff did not expand their report, as unanimously requested by council at the previous meeting. There was little discussion on the issue regarding either (1) the unsatisfied traffic mitigations or (2) the prohibited sales of grocery in sub-area D. Only Ms. Gabel-Luddy made a concerted effort to further explore these issues, and she was out-voted four to one. The staff report, which basically gave city leadership an “escape hatch” to avoid properly vetting this store, was approved, rubber stamped, and filed away.
What’s also disturbing, at 10pm (hours before the Walmart agenda even came up for discussion), KTLA reported that the Council gave approval for the Walmart permits to be issued – curious because the vote wasn’t made until well past 1 am.
There will be some sort of recourse for the council’s vote to go ahead with allowing the permits, and further investigation of their vote count that was leaked to the media. As we know more, we will let you know more.
Thank you for all your support!
Team Stop Walmart
Media City Groove will continue to follow this developing story.