City Council Accepts North Campus Plan

Plans to develop the North Campus biotechnology park at Cal State Northridge were approved in a 10-0 vote Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council.

The vote came on the heels of the Planning and Land Use Management Committee's recommendation to the council Tuesday to approve the Joint Powers Agreement between the city of Los Angeles and CSUN.

Under the agreement, which serves as a legal vehicle spelling out the responsibilities of both parties, CSUN agrees to submit the plans for the North Campus development project to the city for review. In turn, the city agrees that Los Angeles building inspection officials will process and grant permits for the project in a timely manner.

Tuesday's recommendation by the committee led to a speedy approval of the proposal, which took less than one minute, said Ali Sar, a spokesman for Councilman Hal Bernson, whose district represents the northwest Valley.

"There was no need for discussion and there was nothing controversial, so it was smooth sailing," Sar said.

Nevertheless, the speed of the approval caught university officials who attended the meeting by surprise.

"If you blinked, you could have missed it," said CSUN spokesman John Chandler, who witnessed the vote on a cable television broadcast.

The approval paves the way for businessman Alfred Mann, who owns the Sylmar-based biotechnology firm MiniMed Inc., to build a five-building, 720,000-square-foot complex on 28 acres of the North Campus property.

Under the partnership between CSUN and Mann, the university will provide the developer with a long-term ground lease. Chandler said the annual lease payments will start out at $350,000, ultimately rising to nearly $800,000.

After the approval, Chandler announced that the groundbreaking for the project will take place July 30.

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