Op-ed: Building a better plan for IKEA

There is little effort being made to mitigate the negative impacts of the proposed new IKEA at 805 S. San Fernando Blvd. between Alameda and Verdugo. There are benefits to IKEA expanding in Burbank: jobs, sales tax revenue, recycling underutilized real estate to more productive uses, and proximate shopping for Burbank and other nearby residents. Unfortunately, these positives do not offset the negative impacts and the importance of mitigating them. We must insist, encourage and help IKEA be a good neighbor. Indeed, mitigation is consistent with the "spirit of IKEA — to create a better everyday life for the many people."

The project's massive 472,000 square foot size generates impacts beyond the store property borders and, without mitigation, the proposed IKEA is in conflict with the Burbank 2035 Plan, the Burbank Center Plan, and Assembly Bill 1358, the Complete Streets Act of 2008. Through a process of omitting or not adequately considering surrounding land uses, the EIR ignores the project's cumulative impacts and is therefore in conflict with the requirements of CEQA.

Impacts and issues include:

  • Worsened air quality once the store is operational

  • Urban heat island effect of the IKEA parking lot

  • Cumulative impacts in the context of the larger neighborhood, the two proposed hotels, and its location on the South San Fernando Road corridor between Magnolia and Alameda avenues.

  • Circulation and safety of pedestrians, children, the elderly, the disabled, the visually impaired and those using walkers and wheelchairs

  • A goal of 100% of the regional shopper traffic should access the store directly from the 5 Freeway and via First Street.

The proposed new IKEA will be one of the largest stores in the world. It will generate 2,382 trips on a typical weekday and 6,798 on a typical Saturday and Sunday. Customers will come from up to 30 miles away. The worsened air quality is attributed to IKEA's operation and the traffic generated. The Statement of Overriding Conditions in the EIR states that City Council accepts the impacts the way they are due to the economic, legal, social technological and other benefits of IKEA. Benefits to whom? Already, Burbank has horrible air quality attributed to its geography backed up to the Verdugo Mountains, and two freeways going through it, with heavy car and truck traffic. In 2006 Burbank was named the sixth sootiest city in the country by the South Coast Air Quality management District. With the newer, larger IKEA in the neighborhood, it will get worse!

Herb Mendelsohn, with PermaCity Solar, says covering the parking area with solar panels will result in a reduction of over 5 million pounds of CO2 into our air. The cost is estimated at $4 million and would be recouped in five years. "They" say this is not feasible. Not feasible for whom? According to Bloomberg, IKEA had gross sales of $34 billion in 2011 with a net profit of $4 billion.

A pedestrian presence has been encouraged in the neighborhood and includes three senior communities, disabled housing, apartment complexes, a community center and two schools. Many of these residents and patrons do not drive, yet their safety as pedestrians has not been considered. A development plan that includes neighborhood input for the section of South San Fernando between Alameda and Verdugo, and considered in the context of the entire corridor, is needed. We can't be afraid to ask IKEA to consider a public private partnership and contribute monetarily to mitigate the negative impacts and fund such a development plan. IKEA espouses a sustainable culture and expresses that it wants to be a good neighbor. Let's rally behind them and help "to create a better everyday life for the many people."


SHARON A. SPRINGER is a member of the Sustainable Burbank Commission. She can be reached at SSpringer73@yahoo.com.

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