Council chambers were filled to capacity Tuesday with an overflow of
30 people in City Hall’s rotunda for a marathon City Council review
to decide the fate of a proposed four-acre, $200-million development.
Council members were halfway through considering the statements of
more than 30 residents who favored and opposed the Burbank Media
Center at 10:30 p.m.
Though the center, proposed by the Platt Companies, was voted down
last year 5-0 by the city’s Planning Board, it has been revised to
address concerns from the board and residents, said city staff and
“Since the Planning Board [decision], we’ve significantly reduced
density by lowering the two 15-story structures to 12 stories,”
project spokesman Mark Wittenberg said.
In comparison, the Disney Channel building across the freeway from
the project is 20 stories.
Burbank Media Center would include offices, housing, a church,
retail businesses, a health club and a child-care center on a
triangle- shaped lot near the Ventura (134) Freeway along Alameda
Street, Lima Street and Olive Avenue.
Locals opposing the project cited concerns about increased
traffic, pollution and the overall size of the project.
Burbank resident Rolf Darbo said the traffic generated by tenants
and customers will strangle the area.
Several residents wore labels that said, “Still Too High,” which
Darbo said reflected the view of people in the neighborhood who “know
that the area needs redevelopment,” but that 12 stories is too much.
But people “could live with several five-story buildings there,” he
Others supported the project, citing the developer’s promise to
subsidize Burbank schools with $750,000 and address the needs of
working parents by offering child care.
“Anything that is going to help the children [will be a plus],”
said resident Jack Stern, a teacher who attends the Trinity
Foursquare Church that would be rebuilt as part of the plan. “It’s
going to be great to get a new church.”
In addition, Burbank resident Glenn Stewart, who works in the film
industry, said the center would help attract producers to the city
and keep filmmaking from continuing to runaway to cheaper locales.
But Sharon Bridgeman just bought her house in August and is
concerned that if the buildings are approved, “I probably won’t see
the mountains and I won’t feel the breeze.”
However, city staff recommended that the council approve the
project because it meets the guidelines of Burbank’s Media District
Specific Plan, which called for a “signature development” on the
proposed site, Community Development Director Sue Georgino said. The
plan was created by city planners in 1991 to control growth in the
“It’s an opportunity for people to live, work, recreate and even
have child care right on the site,” Georgino said.
But hitting the marks set by city planners a dozen years ago might
not be enough to get the council’s go-ahead.
“Just because it meets the criteria of the [Media District
Specific Plan], it doesn’t mean the council has to say ‘sure,’” Mayor
David Laurell said.