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Supervisor speaks up on studio plan

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky weighed in this week on NBCUniversal’s proposed 400-acre “Evolution Plan,” asking the company to drop efforts to build almost 3,000 residential units that are part of the proposed project.

Burbank officials expressed concerns in a letter last year about the proposed project in Universal City, which would include 2 million square feet of new commercial development.

The project would significantly increase traffic on surrounding streets in west Burbank, city officials said, adding that they thought traffic estimates in a draft environmental impact report were low.

They argued that the report used inaccurate assumptions, including one that projected roughly 20% of the new residents would use public transportation instead of driving their own vehicles.


Universal City, an unincorporated area, is part of the Los Angeles County Supervisorial District, which Yaroslavsky represents.

Burbank Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy said the City Council might consider voicing concerns about the project again in light of Yaroslavsky’s request to abandon the residential units.

She agrees that the mass-transit assumption is faulty.

“The proposed housing component was going to be marketed to more affluent people,” she said. “They’re less likely to use public transit.”


She said the project — bounded by the Los Angeles Flood Control Channel, Lankershim Boulevard, Cahuenga Boulevard and Barham Boulevard — isn’t going to benefit the city.

“I didn’t see anything that was good for Burbank in that proposed project,” she said. “I haven’t heard anything that would make me change my mind on that.”

Yaroslavsky, in a letter to top brass at NBCUniversal, raised economic concerns because the project would eliminate part of Universal’s back lot, which would result in less production space for movies and television shows and lead to job cuts.

“The loss of those jobs to the immediate community, and perhaps their loss to the Los Angeles area completely, would be inconsistent with the best economic interests of your company and the Los Angeles area,” Yaroslavsky stated in his letter to NBCUniversal President Ron Meyer.

NBCUniversal is aware of objections to the housing portion of the project, a company representative said in a statement.

“This is something we have heard from some community members and we are currently considering as part of the response-to-comment period,” spokeswoman Cindy Gardner said.

In addition to traffic concerns, city officials also pointed out in their letter that the draft environmental report didn’t examine the project’s impact on public facilities in Burbank, such as a nearby library and park, said Michael Forbes, assistant community development director.