Ask Paul: What's the Deal with the NBC Proposal?
In the latest Ask Paul column in Patch, Councilmember Krekorian answers Studio City Neighborhood Council member Lisa Sarkin’s question regarding the NBCUniversal Evolution Plan, which was submitted to us by via Tumblr.
As you know, the City Planning Department recently held the first of what is expected to be several public hearings to discuss the new version of NBC/Universal’s Evolution Plan.
As now proposed, the plan has eliminated the nearly 3,000 residential units it previously featured, and instead will focus on entertainment, film and tourism amenities. The proposed project includes 1.45 million square feet of office space for media firms, a 327,000 square feet expansion of Universal Studios and two 500-room hotels.
NBC/Universal’s decision to drop its plans to develop housing as part of the project certainly is a positive step in reducing impacts to the area. Nonetheless, this project still has the potential to significantly affect the community for decades to come, which is why I want to hear from as many residents and business owners in the area as possible.
While my office’s review of this new plan is ongoing, I’m happy to offer the following information in response to your questions:
Where will the proposed new freeway ramp be located?
Based on a recent traffic study, the project’s current proposal requires the developer to spend $100 million on transportation improvements, including widening and improving nearby streets, adding an off-ramp to the nearby freeway, and more. The new onramp will be on the Hollywood (101) Freeway going south for Universal Studios Boulevard. Improvements have also been proposed to the 101 at Campo de Cahuenga Way. In addition, the onramp to the 101 North from Highland Boulevard will be improved. Currently, some drivers who enter onto Highland may immediately, and dangerously, try to cut across all lanes to exit at Barham Boulevard. The new onramp would instead prohibit drivers from doing this and ensure a safer flow of traffic. The proposal also calls for upgrades on the Ventura (134) Freeway in both directions at the 101 interchange, adding an additional lane.
What is proposed for the sign district and where is it?
My understanding is that this plan does not include any proposed changes to the sign district.
Will the land swap, from county to city and city to county, be done?
Changes to jurisdictional lines between the City and unincorporated County areas will be proposed to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for realignment. Currently, there are buildings that sit on the boundary between County and City jurisdictions. With the proposed new lines, one of the new hotels would lie within City boundaries as would the two existing hotels. In addition, the new home of Channel 4 News and Telemundo, which will each be housed in a remodeled Technicolor studio, will lie within the city’s boundaries just as certain portions along Barham Boulevard would too.
What specific traffic mitigations are still unavoidable?
The new project proposal still includes the same traffic mitigation measures, including the improvements of 120 intersections in the San Fernando Valley. With those improvements and the abandonment of the housing plans and the Metro station project that had been slated for across the street, it appears that there is only one unmitigatable intersection, at Moorpark and Cahuenga in Toluca Lake.
How much open space will be part of the project?
The current proposal includes a plan in which NBC, in conjunction with the County, will establish a new set of bike paths along the northern portion of the L.A. River. In addition, the project proposal also calls for the creation of a new trail head park at the northeastern portion of the property. The project also calls for the addition of new trees to the southeastern portion of the property between the 101, Barham Boulevard and the Blair Drive residential community near Barham. The open space on the north end of Blair Drive, east of Barham Boulevard, will be preserved.
Where will the east/west road be located to?
I think you may be referring to the north/south road. In any event, because the housing development has been abandoned, the newest iteration of the project removes the necessity of this road.
Thank you for your interest and continuing engagement. I continue to welcome and encourage the community’s input on this project proposal, which can be submitted by email to email@example.com.
Have a question for the Councilmember? Get it in to AskPaul@lacity.org today!
About this column: Every week, you’ll have the opportunity to ask Councilmember Paul Krekorian about issues affecting your neighborhood. Curious about that new development? Have concerns about street cleaning? Are there areas the city can improve? This is your opportunity to get answers to your burning civic questions about Studio City, North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and beyond, answered directly by Councilmember Krekorian! Send your questions to AskPaul@lacity.org.
Thursday: NBCUniversal Project Proposal Meeting
This Thursday at 8:30 a.m., the City Planning Commission will meet to discuss the NBCUniversal Evolution Plan. This is an important step in this project’s process and I wanted to make sure you are aware of this meeting.
The proposed plan has eliminated the nearly 3,000 residential units it previously featured, and instead will focus on entertainment, film and tourism amenities. As now proposed, the project includes 1.45 million square feet of office space for media firms, a 327,000 square feet expansion of Universal Studios and two 500-room hotels. Despite the elimination of the housing component, the project proposal does still require the developer to spend $100 million on transportation improvements, including widening nearby streets, adding an off-ramp to the nearby freeway, etc.
This is another opportunity to hear the details of the project, including how it will impact surrounding neighborhoods in the short and long term. Most importantly…
Job Creation, Economic Stimulus Project Approved By City Council
LOS ANGELES - A plan that is projected to create tens of thousands of jobs and provide $1.6 billion to the local economy was unanimously approved by the Los Angeles City Council today. The NBCUniversal Evolution Plan includes office space for media outlets, an expansion of Universal Studios’ back lot and theme park, and two 500-room hotels. The plan was significantly pared down since originally proposed, when it featured 3,000 housing units that would have caused horrendous and unmitigatable traffic impacts on surrounding communities. That plan changed in the face of strong opposition from residents, and all of the housing units have now been removed from the project.
Despite the reduction in the size of the project and the elimination of the housing portion, NBCUniversal has committed to spending $100 million in traffic improvements in the area, including a new freeway off ramp, street widening and more. It will also spend more than $3 million in improvements and greenway development on the LA River and bike way.
The proposal was approved by the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee in October, when Councilmember Paul Krekorian announced that NBCUniversal had agreed to spend an additional $300,000 on community improvements specific to Studio City and North Hollywood, including street traffic mitigation measures and neighborhood beautification.
“Modernizing and expanding production facilities will help ensure that Los Angeles remains the leader in film and television production,” Councilmember Paul Krekorian said. “This project will create 30,000 good paying jobs, provide $1.6 billion in economic investments, and deliver $100 million in transportation and transit improvements, of which nearly $40 million will be in my Council District. The Evolution Plan truly has evolved, and it has become a win-win project that I’m proud to support. This is a good example of how a developer of even the largest of projects can work with a community instead of trying to steamroll over a community, for the mutual best interests of both the project and the residents.”
In addition to the community benefits the project will produce, it will be an important step in the continuing economic recovery of Los Angeles. The new studio facilities, Councilmember Krekorian said, will help keep more production local, open the door to new jobs and help Los Angeles realize a much needed infusion of economic activity and new revenues.