Meeting Date: 10/24/07 06:30 PM
Meeting Type: Regular
Location: Universal City Nissan Auto Dealership
3550 Cahuenga Blvd. West
2nd floor Conference Room
Hollywood, CA 90068
Details: HOLLYWOOD HILLS WEST NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL
Joint meeting of
Area 1/Area 2/Housing, Social and Human Services, Religious and Charitable Organizations, Planning and Support Traffic/Business Development, Planning and Support Resources Committees
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Universal City Nissan Auto Dealership
3550 Cahuenga Blvd. West
2nd floor Conference Room
Hollywood, CA 90068
Free parking in building parking lot
The public is requested to fill out a “Speaker Card” to address the Committee on any item of the agenda prior to the Committee taking action on an item. Comments from the public on non-agenda and agenda items will be heard during the Public Comment Period and, within the discretion of the Committee Chair, when the respective item is being considered. Comments from the public on other matters not appearing on the Agenda that is within the Committee1s subject matter jurisdiction will be heard during the Public
Comment period. Public comment is limited to 3 minutes per speaker unless waived by the Chair. Agendas are posted for public review at Gardner Street Elementary School, Valley View Elementary School, Yucca Community Center, on bulletin boards at the top and bottom of Runyon Canyon Park, Los Angeles Library: Will and Ariel Durant Branch and electronically on the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council website www.hhwnc.org . As a covered entity under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City of Los Angeles does not discriminate on the basis of disability and upon request, will provide reasonable accommodation to ensure equal access to its programs, services, and activities. Sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, or other auxiliary aids and/or services may be provided upon request. To ensure availability of services, please make your request at least 3 business days (72 hours) prior to the meeting you wish to attend by contacting the Neighborhood Council Project Coordinator at (213) 485-1588.
A. Welcome, Introductions and Sign In
B. General Comments
C. An Update Presentation, discussion and possible motion and vote on the proposed Universal City Vision Plan Expansion for NBC/Universal. The presentation will be allotted 20 minutes. There will be a question and answer discussion period following where the issues to be discussed include but are not limited to the following:
1. Traffic impacts and connections to the Hollywood/101 Freeway INCLUDING THE NECESSITY OF A DIRECT SB FREEWAY ENTRANCE FROM THE PROPOSED “VILLAGE” (2934 UNITS) DEVELOPMENT TO THE SB 101 FREEWAY. (15 minutes)
2. The design and effects of the proposed residential development. (15 minutes)
3. View Blockage impacts by the proposed development of views of the surrounding neighborhoods. (15 minutes)
4. Security Impacts of the proposed development. (15 minutes)
5. Citywalk redesign impacts. (15 minutes)
D. An Update Presentation, discussion and possible motion and vote on the proposed MTA -Thomas Properties development on MTA land surrounding Universal Station.
The presentation will be allotted 20 minutes. There will be a question and answer discussion period following where the issues to be discussed include but not limited to the following:
1. Traffic impacts and proposed connections to the Hollywood/101 freeway INCLUDING A DIRECT VEHICULAR SB CONNECTION FROM THE PROPOSED
MTA/THOMAS PROPERTIES GROUP HIGHRISE OFFICE/PRODUCTION DEVELOPMENT TO THE SB 101 FREEWAY. (15 minutes)
2. Parking requirements and impacts of the proposed development. (15 minutes)
3. Building Height and view blockage impacts of the proposed development (15 minutes)
4. Architectural Design and design mitigations of the project’s bulk. (15 minutes)
E. Public Comments – Comments from the public on agenda items and non-agenda
items within the Committee1s subject matter jurisdiction. Public comments
are limited to 3 minutes per speaker.
F. Schedule next meeting and adjourn.
DRAFT and UNAPPROVED MINUTES
Minutes for Areas 1 and 2, & Housing, Traffic, and Business
Committees Joint Meeting
HOLLYWOOD HILLS WEST NElGHBORHOOD COUNCIL
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Universal City Nissan Auto Dealership
3550 Cahuenga Blvd. West, 2nd Fl. Conference Rm.
Hollywood, Ca. 90068
A. Welcome, Introductions and Sign-In. Joan Luchs, Area 2 (Cahuenga Pass/Universal City) Committee Chair and Meeting Facilitator, introduced herself and called the Meeting to order at 6:37 p.m. She encouraged people to complete Stakeholder Registration Forms and/or sign up for an e-mail list(s)- noting that this is an Areas 1 and 2, & Housing, Traffic, and Business Committees Joint Meeting. Ms. Luchs then introduced the following Board Members:
Wayne Johansson, Issue 8 (Traffic, Public Transportation & Parking).
Thor Lee, Issue 1 (Business Development, Planning & Support Resources);
Paul Ramsey, Issue 6 (Housing, Social & Human Services, Religious & Charitable Organizations &Planning; and
Daniel Savage, Area 1 (Hollywood Knolls, Manor, Forest Lawn);
Ms. Luchs stated that the purpose of the Meeting was to share information and get Stakeholder feedback, and that no Speaker Cards were needed, as this was only an informational Meeting.
Present were approximately 36 Stakeholders plus guests and Committee members .
B. General Comments.
Daniel Savage read into the Minutes a letter which he had received from HHWNC Board President Anastasia Mann today, written yesterday by Thomas G. Smith, Sr. Vice President of West Coast Real Estate/NBC Universal. The entire letter follows:
October 23, 2007
President Anastasia Mann
Members of the Board
Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council
7095 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 1004
Hollywood, California 90028
Dear President Mann and Members of the Board:
As you know, NBC Universal has expressed a commitment and desire to work closely with the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council (HHWNC) to engage in a productive and meaningful dialogue regarding issues related to the proposed Universal City Vision Plan. We have been working as an Ad Hoc Committee which established by the HHWNC Board for the purpose of gathering information on the Universal City Vision Plan and reporting such information back to the Board. We were requested by the Board to work with Universal City Vision Plan members as it proceeds through the entitlement process.
On October 1, 2007, the HHWNC, acting through the President with the support of the Executive Committee, temporarily disbanded the Ad Hoc Committee due to concerns regarding how the Ad Hoc Committee was proceeding. We have now learned that the Ad Hoc Committee chairperson has decided to hold a Joint Committee meeting on the Universal City Vision Plan, seemingly for the purpose of taking action on the project, notwithstanding the action of the President and Executive Committee.
We must go on record as strongly objecting to the upcoming October 24, 2007 Joint Committee meeting for which the agenda includes a “…possible motion and vote on the proposed Universal City Vision Plan for NBC Universal.” As you may know, the Draft EIR for the project is still in process and has not been released. As such, it is premature for any vote to take place until after that document has been released for public review and comment.
It seems to us that such a meeting is directly counter to the process established by the HHWNC many months ago and is inconsistent with the October 1, 2007 ruling issued by the HHWNC President, with the support of the Executive Committee. To our knowledge, the HHWNC Board has not taken an action to re-establish a process to work with NBC Universal with regard to the Vision Plan.
NBC Universal desires to honor our commitment to continue working with the HHWNC. However, it is important that the HHWNC Board make clear what the process will be. We have advised Ms. Luchs that we are not available for the Joint Committee meeting she has called for October 24.
Thomas G. Smith
Senior Vice President
West Coast Real Estate
Mr. Ramsey stated that he called this Joint NC meeting; that it was not Ms. Luchs’ Idea. Darren Martinez, Deputy L.A. City Attorney, HHWNC Advice Division, advised the NC Joint Committee members present not to have this meeting but if we did we should not make any Motions regarding the NBC/Universal project. Mr. Ramsey said that Ms. Mann disbanded the Ad Hoc Committee on October 1, 2007 because one person lives within 500 feet of NBC Universal property and therefore, has a conflict of interest. That person resigned from the NC. Ms. Luchs noted that all of Ad Hoc Committee Meeting following the City Attorney’s requirements.
Mr. Ramsey stated that someone came to the NC, stating that a person owned property within 500 feet of NBC Universal property, therefore having a conflict of interest and violating the Brown Act. The Ad Hoc Committee was formed to work through the details of the NBC Universal Vision Plan. However, very little information was forthcoming from NBC Universal. Mr. Ramsey said that NBC/Universal hasn’t been participating to date in good faith with the HHWNC. Mr. Smith’s letter surprised the NC because the NC is functioning as a NC is required to function.
Mr. Savage elaborated that Mr. Smith’s letter was sent to Ms. Mann, who sent the letter to Mr. Martinez for advice; Mr. Martinez responded today, advising our NC not to meet or discuss the topics on the Agenda. However, this is a meeting, not a hearing. Ms. Mann said that the Ad Hoc Committee was disbanded due to a possible conflict of interest. He said that her characterization of the October 1st Meeting is inaccurate. The EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is likely to be released within the next two months; we can meet again and take Motions.
Ms. Luchs noted that the Ad Hoc Committee was specifically formed to gather information, and that NBC Universal could’ve objected seven months ago to Member living within 500 feet of the their property. Also, NBC Universal raised concerns about the behavior of a specific committee member from HHWNC and the Executive Committee suggested that those concerned individuals should follow the HHWNC By Law process and prepare a petition to remove this individual; however, more than a dozen people testified on her behalf at the 10/1/07 Meeting and no such petition was presented. Mr. Ramsey stated that only elected officials are affected by the 500-foot rule, and that NC advises the City regarding this kind of issue.
C. An update presentation, discussion and possible motion and vote on the proposed Universal City Vision Plan Expansion for NBC Universal.
1. Traffic impacts and connections to the Hollywood/101 Freeway, including the necessity of a direct southbound (SB) Freeway entrance from the proposed “Village” (2,934 units) development to the SB 101 Freeway.
Ms. Luchs described the Metro Studio at Lankershim Project, which may include a heliport to accommodate NBC News’ move from their current Burbank facility. Two of the buildings are proposed at 390 and 362 feet tall. One of NBC’s Project includes 2,934 apartments on their eastern border adjacent to Hollywood Manor plus a hotel and other additions on NBC/Universal property.
She said there is a lot of traffic on and off the Universal Center Drive Bridge which the community is impacted due to Universal employees and patrons using Caheunga Blvd. West to access the SB Hollywood Freeway at the Barham on or off ramps.
As a mitigation from the Barham/Cahunega Improvement Traffic Study the Barham Bridge is scheduled to be widened from 48 to 60 feet but it will not add any lanes. It’s purpose it only to widen the existing 5 lanes but not to add any lanes. There are no plans to lengthen the bridge. The NC has heard from an overwhelming majority of Stakeholders not to add any more lanes to either Barham or Cahuenga Blvd. West.
Ms. Luchs added that Caltrans (the California Department of Transportation) is reviewing whether the Barham ramps would need to be closed in order to build a south bound ramp off of Universal Center Drive bridge because of their close proximity to each other.
NBC/Universal is also studying a flyover from the Hotel/ Buddy Holly Drives intersection that could provide a HOV SB entrance to the 101 Hollywood Freeway but the concern is “would people drive approximately 1/3 of a mile north/west when they want to go southeast? Many drivers may instead use the closer existing Universal Center Drive Bridge and enter the SB101 Freeway entrance at the Barham southbound ramp off of Cahuenga Blvd. West; the theory being that using Universal Center Drive bridge to get to the SB 101 Freeway is a lot closer for ‘Village’ residents than a fly-over at the Hotel and Buddy Holly intersection.
One bright note is that Caltrans is studying a proposal for a direct SB on-ramp off of the Universal Ctr. Drive Bridge but the concern is whether one or both of the Barham SB on/off ramps have to be closed to approve this proposal. If this design location is not permitted it is believed unlikely that the residents from the 2,934 units would drive in the opposite direction to use the Hotel/Buddy Holly Drive flyover instead of using Universal Center Drive Bridge which is a lot closer.
Mr. Savage asked for feedback regarding widening Barham. A straw poll showed approximately 5 people in favor of this and 25 against. Mr. Ramsey offered that it would be difficult to widen or lengthen Barham because of the many businesses that’d have to be condemned. Also, parking spaces would be lost, though there’re areas that could be widened, and it would destroy community feeling and create a sort of Cahuenga Blvd. West and Barham Highway. Ten years ago, traffic measured at 5,000 cars per hour, far in excess of what traffic engineers had thought possible. A Stakeholder voiced that more traffic lanes bring more traffic.
A Stakeholder said that helicopters would disrupt homes. Mr. Savage stated that, so far, NBC Universal has not presented information regarding a heliport and that this property would, presumably, be NBC’s West Coast Headquarters; however politicians are not likely to approve closing either on/off Barham ramps.
Ms. Luchs indicated that a Memorandum of Understanding was recently signed approving the transformation of the abandoned Cahuenga East and West ramps so left and right turn pockets can be created to facilitate traffic over the Barham Bridge.
2. The design and effects of the proposed residential development:
Ms. Luchs noted that an October 9th Ad Hoc Committee Meeting for Thomas Properties and an October 16th Ad Hoc Committee Meeting for NBC/Universal were scheduled to show the designs; however, after Ms. Mann announced on October 1st that the HHWNC Ad Hoc NBC Universal Vision Plan Committee had been temporarily disbanded, both meetings were canceled.
Mr. Ramsey observed that NBC Universal’s housing development wouldn’t be built for approximately 15 years. Ms. Luchs stated that 4 stoplights currently exist in less than _ of a mile between the Barham and Universal Center Drive Bridge.
Mr. Savage expressed that NCs have been trying to work with NBC Universal to allow them to maximize their shareholder value and develop their property as they see fit while respecting local residents’ rights. He also reported that NBC/ Universal presented a concept of a four-lane grade road which possibly leaves room to make it a six-lane road, which would start at Forest Road and Barham.
A Stakeholder asked whether a tunnel through the Hollywood Hills had been considered to relieve some of the Barham traffic. Another Stakeholder stated that traffic on the southern part of the corridor toward Hollywood also needs to be addressed, because only addressing the northern end won’t solve the problem.
Ms. Luchs stated that the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy unanimously voted against any portion of NBC/Universals land being removed from the jurisdiction of the Mulholland Scenic Corridor Specific Plan Ordinance Borders.
3. View blockage impacts from proposed project in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Mr. Ramsey is concerned about the height of the two hotels at the Metro Studio @ Lankershim location which Universal/NBC would be leasing from MTA. Like NBC’s ’30 Rock’ headquarters in New York, the Media Center is currently planned to be a 28 story complex. He related that NBC Universal anticipates 15,000 employees at the Media Center, and that their projects include buildings with one million and 1.6 million square feet, with a total of 5 million square feet for the complex. NBC Universal plans to provide 2.6 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space, anticipating 15,000 employees’ cars, while most business leases provide 3.5 or more parking spaces for that amount of space, leaving NBC Universal’s parking approximately 1,000 spaces short. He considers other NBC Universal parking allowances insufficient as well.
Ms. Luchs introduced stakeholder Anne Marie Lardeau, who said that NBC Universal is polling residents to get them to support NBC Universal development.
A Stakeholder is confident that the Media Center, the westernmost of NBC Universal’s three projects, will definitely be built, even if the easternmost project, which may just be proposed as a negotiating tactic to ensure that the other two Metro projects are built, may not be built. Another Stakeholder noted that Lankershim Boulevard is already backed up with traffic and commented that he has grave concerns about adding the kind of traffic these projects will generate.
Mr. Ramsey reported that L.A. County, the MTA (L.A. County Metropolitan Transit Authority)- and Caltrans have not communicated with the HHWNC regarding these projects and their regulations or their costs.
Mr. Johansson related that the L.A. City Council is considering reducing parking requirements within 750 square feet of any Metro transit center. A straw poll of attendees was unanimously against that idea.
Ms. Luchs said that the City of Los Angeles is drafting a required implementation of the State Senate Bill 1818, referred to as the Density Bonus Ordinance, which as currently proposed will increase more market rate housing units to be built but reducing the number of affordable units as well as providing less parking spaces.
4. Security impacts of the proposed development.
A Stakeholder explained that South Weddington Park is already negatively affected by a small apartment complex that was recently built nearby; groups of young people habit the Park late at night smoking dope. Ms. Luchs recommends they contact Rene Weitzer, Chief of Staff for Tom LaBonge at (213) 485-3337.
Another Stakeholder wants the Lankershim/Cahuenga/pedestrian tunnel/Yitzchak Rabin Square traffic patterns and area evaluated, while another Stakeholder contended that traffic and crime are increasing around the Universal Theme Park. Mr. Savage mentioned that these issues will be evaluated in the EIR process.
A Stakeholder suggested that a police station kiosk could be built to help with security for that area. Ms. Lardeau reported that the LAPD (L.A. Police Dept) said that they wouldn’t do that because it’s an inefficient use of their resources.
Ms. Lardeau explained that NBC/Universal recommended no vehicular passage between Hollywood Manor and the proposed ‘Village’; walking trails would be allowed. MTA could facilitate foot traffic between the Village and Universal Citywalk; otherwise it would be unsafe to walk like New York’s Central Park at night. NBC/Universal also recommended that private security would handle this; local residents would have to pay for it. During NBC Universal’s security’s off-hours, private security would have to take over
5. CityWalk redesign impacts.
D. An update presentation, discussion and possible motion and vote on the proposed MTA/Thomas Properties development on MTA land surrounding Universal Station.
1. Traffic impacts and proposed connections to the Hollywood Freeway, including a direct SB connection from the propsoed Metro Studio at Lankershim high-rise office/production development to the SB 101 Freeway.
Ms. Luchs reported that NBC Universal bought the first rights of refusal to the MTA Station land. Mr. Ramsey acknowledged that NBC Universal is proposing a direct SB ramp.
2. Parking requirements and impacts of the proposed development.
3. Building height and view blockage impacts of the proposed development.
4. Architectural design and design mitigations of the project’s bulk.
5. Ms. Luchs indicated that design diagrams and renderings of the projects have not been provided so far. Mr. Lee spoke regarding the Metro Studio at Lankershim Project, saying that the current NBC offices are old and functionally obsolete, and that our community includes the entertainment business. We have to let them develop. In my opinion supporting this project would benefit the community and help ensure NBC / Universal remaining in Hollywood for the foreseeable future, which is economically critical to our community.
There are current examples of production flight as well as entertainment based companies unable to accommodate growth needs here in Hollywood. If we don’t accommodate NBC/ Universal’s needs, they may choose to go to one of the many other cities that will accommodate their business needs; thus we risk loosing our economic and entertainment base. In light of ongoing production flight out of Hollywood, it would be a major economic blow to the area if one of our largest production studio’s moves to another city. Mr. Lee used the case of Hughes Aircraft Company moving from Canoga Park to Arizona to reference recent major business flight from Los Angeles.
There is the potential for NBC / Universal to move to another market if their needs can not be accommodated here in Hollywood. Hollywood is in jeopardy of further business flight. The entertainment business is a major economic contributor to Los Angeles in general and Hollywood specifically, and our stakeholders should be conscious of the need to retain these businesses in the city We all need to understand the potential negative economic implications of further flight).
Ms. Luchs said it is true that the studio production business needs to flourish and grow. At the same time NBC/Universal also needs to provide adequate and over due infrastructure for their Vision Plan Project to flourish and not impact the highly dense adjacent residential communities. Their current activities including studio, offices and amusement park uses which have been congesting our streets with traffic for many years; with their cars using Cahuenga Blvd. West in order to access the SB Hollywood 101 Freeway. Adding approximately 10 – 12 million square ft. including 2,934 residential units will require that all of their impacts be identified and fully mitigated.
Mr. Lee said that there are current examples of production flight as well as entertainment based companies unable to accommodate growth needs here in Hollywood. If we don’t accommodate NBC Universal’s needs, they may choose to go to one of the many other cities that will accommodate their business needs, thus we risk loosing our economic and entertainment base. In light of ongoing production flight out of Hollywood, it would be a major economic blow to the area if one of our largest production studio’s moves to another city. I used the case point of Hughes Aircraft Company moving from Canoga Park to Arizona to reference recent major business flight from Los Angeles.
A Stakeholder contended that we can’t do business with dishonest people who’re exhibiting predatory, condescending behavior and are badly managed.
Ms. Luchs expressed that the NBC Universal project is the only large project in the City adjacent to the hills, and NBC/Universal location and traffic makes safe vehicular access a much more important and necessary guarantee.
A Stakeholder added that the NBC/Universal project could create a business ghetto if the mixed-use is not accessible or properly planned, especially to the MTA station, and that Universal’s traffic has greatly increased in the last five years. Mr. Johansson added that we would need to be assured that the project is a 24-7 community.
Mr. Ramsey commented that the City doesn’t devote enough resources to planning, and that decisions are not made for public benefit due to a corrupt system; planners are completely overwhelmed with variance requests. Mr. Savage remarked that the Ad Hoc Committee was appointed by the NC President and that the NC will decide how to proceed; the City Attorney wanted this Meeting not to happen and, if it did, no motions to be taken because of NBC Universal’s objections. Mr. Johansson stated that the City Attorney wants the NC to wait until more information is available, including the EIR.
Ms. Luchs said that there’ll be many more meetings with NBC/Universal regarding their project and added that she supports reasonable growth for NBC/Universal as long as it’s mitigated and will not impact the quality of life for the surrounding residential communities. She thanked everyone for attending this Meeting.
E. Public Comments.
Public comments were made throughout the Meeting as noted.
F. Schedule next meeting and adjournment.
The Meeting was adjourned at 9:27 p.m.