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Burbank Pride claims that their mission is to create uplifting, entertaining, educational, and safe events for their diverse LGBTQIA+ community, where “all people are respected, valued, and affirmed…” Have a look at the below video of the police body camera footage from last year’s Burbank Pride event and you be the judge of their claims.
The temperature is rising in Burbank as a major controversy unfolds over the proposed “Family Pride in the Park” event. At the heart of the debate is the planned section closure of Magnolia Boulevard, one of Burbank’s busiest arteries for traffic to and from North Hollywood. This has left local businesses and residents deeply concerned and questioning the motives behind the event. As of this writing, 157 business owners and residents within Magnolia Park have lodged their official “No” to the closure in connection with a recent community survey and overwhelming, a majority in the area oppose the plan. “Nobody reached out to us and asked if we were okay with the closure of our business district,” said a Magnolia Park merchant who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
“OH and Yeah… WE ARE CLOSING DOWN MAGNOLIA BLVD”
Critics argue that the event’s advertising tactics have been particularly provocative. Ads by Burbank Pride INC, led by North Hollywood resident Tracy Michele Tabb, have bragged, “OH and Yeah… WE ARE CLOSING DOWN MAGNOLIA BLVD.” This statement has heightened community members’ belief that the event is “forcing a narrative” on them, especially given the lack of consultation with local stakeholders.
Police Department Delays Release of 2022 Burbank Pride Event’s Body Camera Footage
The local community organization, Uprise, has submitted a request under the California Public Records Act to obtain body camera footage from the police department related to the 2022 event held by the same group. This event, organized by Burbank Pride INC and hosted in the UMe parking lot, generated considerable controversy and required significant police resources, funded by taxpayer dollars. The situation escalated to such an extent that the Chief of Police personally intervened, and a substantial number of officers were deployed. The event drew protests from ANTIFA members as well as local residents and business owners, according to an individual familiar with the situation.
As of a letter dated September 3, 2023, the police department has postponed the release of the body camera footage for two weeks. By that time, Ken Berkman and Chief Albanese are expected to have made their decision regarding the application to close Magnolia Boulevard. A spokesperson for Uprise pointed out that such delays are not uncommon for public records requests concerning contentious issues and the delay is being called politically-driven. While California law mandates that all public records be open for personal inspection during regular business hours, the delay raises questions about why last year’s footage is not being promptly released. The Uprise spokesperson has stated that once available, the footage will be published online to inform businesses and residents who may be impacted by the proposed road closure.
Numerous community leaders are demanding that the City implement public hearings and merchant/resident surveys at the expense of all permit applicants to obtain the majority consent of those affected in a proposed shutdown area.
42 Parks and Facilities in Burbank, So Why Magnolia Boulevard?
With 42 parks and facilities in Burbank, those affected argue that the only reason for considering the closure of such a vital thoroughfare must be political in nature. Critics question why an event that ostensibly aims to celebrate inclusivity and diversity would need to disrupt one of the city’s busiest streets, particularly when there are numerous other venues available.
“This is not a First Amendment issue, this is about a clear violation of the Burbank Municipal Code, in my opinion. The local ordinance controlling street closures is very clear, in that such a closure must not ‘unduly interfere with the public use’ of the street,” said Christopher Spencer, a resident in the closure area. “I am 100% certain if I wanted to apply for a permit to shut down the area to hold a political rally, the permit would be denied instantly with zero consideration. The City has expended tremendous time, engineering resources, fire and police staff time and other city staff time in the handling of this application. It is a very bad idea to shut down one of our busiest city streets for a political statement. The permit applicant has not paid a dime and the City has entertained this permit at great expense to the taxpayers with no public hearing nor consent from the affected residents and businesses,” Spencer added.
The Burbank Municipal Code and Public Interest
The Burbank Municipal Code, section 6-1-2301, stipulates that any temporary street closure must be approved by both the Public Works Director and the Police Chief, and it must serve a public interest without unduly interfering with public use. Critics claim that the proposed event fails to meet these criteria. A survey conducted by local community group Uprise supports this, showing a majority of area residents and businesses opposing the planned closure.
Take Action: Make Your Voice Heard
As the controversy continues to heat up, community members are urged to voice their opinions to local officials. Uprise is circulating a petition to change the Burbank Municipal Code, calling for public input and approval on all non-emergency street closures.
The upcoming decision on the event’s permit is more than a matter of a single day’s disruption; it has become a symbol of broader issues concerning public interest, financial accountability, and democratic participation in community decisions. As the event’s proposed date nears, all eyes are on the city officials to see if the permit will be approved or denied—a decision that is sure to set a precedent for future public events in Burbank.
Approval of the event permit requires consent from both Public Works Director Ken Berkman and Police Chief Michael Albanese. You can contact them, with your opinion at the following email addresses:
(copy/paste) email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org