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Ask Paul...What's the Deal With the NBC Proposal?

You may have heard some news about a proposal from NBC/Universal to transform a section of Universal City into a brand new development. Councilmember Krekorian answers your technical questions about that proposal.

This question was submitted to us by Studio City Neighborhood Council member Lisa Sarkin via our brand new Tumblr page, which you can visit at cd2news.tumblr.com. On our Tumblr page. we post up daily news updates, tips and useful info about our neighborhoods and the city.

Dear Lisa,

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 councilmember.krekorian@lacity.org.

Best,

Paul

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