Meeting Date: 01/04/07 06:30 PM

Meeting Type: Regular

Location: Junior Achievement of Southern California
6250 Forest Lawn Drive
Hollywood, CA 90068
Free parking in parking lot next to the building

Details: AREA 1
AREA 2
HOUSING, SOCIAL AND HUMAN SERVICES, RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS, PLANNING AND SUPPORT
ENVIRONMENT, BEAUTIFICATION, PRESERVATION AND AESTHETICS
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, PLANNING AND SUPPORT RESOURCES

HOLLYWOOD HILLS WEST NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL (HHWNC)

Thursday, January 4, 2007
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Junior Achievement of Southern California
6250 Forest Lawn Drive
Hollywood, CA 90068
Free parking in parking lot next to the building

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 Committee’s 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.

AGENDA

A. Welcome, Introductions and Sign In

B. General Comments

C. Presentation, discussion and possible vote on the proposed December 2006 Universal City Vision Plan Expansion for NBC/Universal. These issues include but are not limited to:

1. Whether the proposed NBC/Universal Expansion project follows the intent of the following Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council motion of May 2006 that reads as follows:

“The committees voted to support the following recommendations as a minimum threshold, requesting they be taken into consideration in the proposed design of the project:”

(aa) The project should plan to accommodate the anticipated major traffic increase by building a road to take traffic from Forest Lawn, through the project, to the 101 Freeway, with both North and South access to the Freeway.

Measures should be taken to shield the adjoining Manor community (especially Blair Drive) from negative visual and sound impacts created by this new road. The road should be built as far as possible from the existing residential community.

(bb) Barham Boulevard should be beautified through landscaping, streetscape, widening improvements, sidewalks, and the possibility of planted medians.

(cc) A significant landscape buffer should be created between the Manor community and the new proposed development.

(dd) The new development should be subject to a height restriction to avoid blocking existing views from the Manor community. Residents object to the construction of high-rise buildings.

(ee) Effective noise mitigation measures should be implemented to shield adjacent communities from ongoing production, entertainment, parking, trash trucks, traffic and construction noise.

(ff) The 11 foot chain-link fence with barbed wire separating the Manor from NBC/Universal Studios should be removed and replaced by a more discreet and esthetically pleasing fence set back downhill from Blair Drive.

(gg) NBC/Universal should conduct an in-depth study of development impact on wildlife and determine if the proposed landscape buffer offers sufficient protection.

(hh) No public roads and traffic should connect the new development with the Manor community since narrow Manor streets and congested Barham Boulevard cannot accommodate the additional load. For safety reasons, Manor residents strongly object to City Walk visitors having any access to adjacent residential communities.

(jj) The design of new development should be esthetically compatible with the Manor and the Knolls communities.

2. Discussion of and of whether these Neighorhood Council Committees should support the following Universal City Vision Plan Mitigations:

a. The freeway connection between the “Ventura” SR-134 and the “Hollywood” US- 101 freeways.

b. Improved pedestrian linkages across Lankershim Blvd. including grade separated access from Red Line station.

c. Direct connection between Universal City and the Southbound “Hollywood” US -101 freeway.

d. Shuttle System between new residential Universal Village, Studio, and Entertainment Districts, Metro Red Line Station, & the Burbank Metrolink Station.

e.Barham Boulevard Grade Separation at Forest Lawn Drive

f. Barham Boulevard widening at the LA river.

g. Barham Boulevard bridge widening, intersection, and ramp improvements at the US -101 and Cahuenga Blvds.- West and East

h. LA River Master Plan/Bikeway

i. Open Space preservation in the Santa Monica Mountains, particularly Cahuenga Peak

3. Discussion of new Community Concerns upon release of the December 2006 Universal City Vision Plan. These issues include but are not limited to the following:

a. The effect on local traffic and the surrounding community of the proposed development of the MTA Lot Commercial Development of over 1 million square feet without any significant traffic improvements prior to occupancy.

b. Effect of the residential Universal Village design as proposed with significant high rise development, retail and large open spaces between buildings on the surrounding community.

c. The effect of the proposed free MP3 screenings in the Universal Village on the surrounding community.

d. The apparent lack of marketing reorientation/redesign of CityWalk to a less criminally prone demographic while opening up and increasing exposure of the surrounding community.

e. The lack of security safeguards in the residential University Village design coupled with opening this new residential area to CityWalk.

f. The suggestion by some in government that the proposed Hotel be transferred to County jurisdiction.

D. Public Comments – Comments from the public on agenda items and non-agenda items within the Committee’s subject matter jurisdiction. Public comments are limited to 3 minutes per speaker.

E. Schedule next meeting and adjourn.

PROCESS FOR RECONSIDERATION: The committees may reconsider and amend their action on items listed on the agenda if that reconsideration takes place immediately following the original action or at the next regular meeting. The Committees, on either of these two days, shall: (1) Make a Motion for Reconsideration and, if approved, (2) hear the matter and Take an Action. If the Motion to Reconsider an action is to be scheduled at the next meeting following the original action, then two items shall be placed on the agenda for that meeting: (1) A Motion for Reconsideration on the described matter and (2) a Proposed Action should the motion to reconsider be approved. A Motion for Reconsideration can only be made by a committee member who has previously voted on the prevailing side of the original action taken. If a Motion for Reconsideration is not made on the date the action was taken, then a committee member on the prevailing side of the action must submit a memorandum to the committee(s) chair(s) identifying the matter to be reconsidered and a brief description of the reason(s) for requesting reconsideration at the next regular meeting. The aforesaid shall all be in compliance with the Ralph M. Brown Act.

Minutes Detail
January 4, 2007

AREA 1
AREA 2
HOUSING, SOCIAL AND HUMAN SERVICES, RELIGIOUS AND CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS, PLANNING AND SUPPORT
ENVIRONMENT, BEAUTIFICATION, PRESERVATION AND AESTHETICS
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, PLANNING AND SUPPORT RESOURCES

HOLLYWOOD HILLS WEST NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL (HHWNC)

Thursday, January 4, 2007
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Junior Achievement of Southern California
6250 Forest Lawn Drive
Hollywood, CA 90068

UNAPPROVED

Area 1 Chair Paul Ramsey called the meeting to order at 6:45 PM.
64 participants registered on the attendance sheet.
85 were present including:
Ben Saltzman, Deputy for Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
Stacy Marble, Field Deputy and Doug Mensman, Assistant Planning Deputy for Councilman Tom LaBonge
George Mihlsten, Esq.- Partner and Sharon Keyser, Land Use Project Manager for Latham & Watkins
Sydney Dailey, Managing Principal for the public affairs consulting firm of Greer/Dailey/Minter
Evelyn Jerome, Director of Communications for Thomas Properties Group
Joan Luchs, Area 2 Chair for HHWNC
Wayne Johansson, Elected Chair of the HHWNC Traffic Committee
Wendy Kneedler-Senior, Elected Chair of the HHWNC Environment/Beautification Committee
Daniel Savage, HKCC President
Florence Blecher, CPPOA Vice President

The meeting was co-chaired by:
Frank DeFoe, Housing Chair-
Anne Marie Lardeau, Environment/Beautification Chair-
Thor Lee, Business Chair.
All co-sponsoring committees had a quorum.

Paul Ramsey gave an overview of the proposed December 2006 Universal City Vision Plan Expansion for NBC/Universal.

George Mihlsten explained the approval process and the anticipated timeline.

Frank DeFoe noted the lack of communication and feedback between the HHWNC May 2006 meetings and motions focused on the NBC/Universal proposed expansion and the public mailing of December 2006. No one from NBC/Universal got back to the committees with information or a presentation. The HHWNC committees co-chairing today’s meeting look forward to a more cooperative relationship with good communication in the future.

The committees discussed whether the proposed NBC/Universal Expansion project follows the intent of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council motion of May 2006.
The committees also discussed proposed mitigation measures and new community concerns that arose after the release of the Vision Plan to the public in December 2006. There were numerous public comments during the discussions.
For clarity, the minutes are presented by topic.

TRAFFIC AND PARKING

HHWNC motion of May 2006: (aa) The project should plan to accommodate the anticipated major traffic increase by building a road to take traffic from Forest Lawn, through the project, to the 101 Freeway, with both North and South access to the Freeway. Measures should be taken to shield the adjoining Manor community (especially Blair Drive) from negative visual and sound impacts created by this new road. The road should be built as far as possible from the existing residential community.

A large part of the meeting focused on traffic issues. There was a general consensus that proposed mitigations were insufficient, vague, and not represented in the Vision Plan map. There was no guarantee that permits or funding could be secured.
Mr. Mihlsten stated the details would be developed during the EIR, public comments and approval process.

Public Comment from Hugh Biele: The GE/NBC/Universal development proposal as presented is grossly, grossly, grossly inadequate with respect traffic and parking mitigation. The present plan proposes merely a four lane road through Universal to accommodate almost 3000 housing units and an enormous increase in commercial and retail building. The proposed road would need to be a minimum of six lanes with connectors to the Hollywood Freeway north and south and there also needs to be another road either parallel or on top of the Los Angeles River in order to connect Forest Lawn Drive to Lankershim Boulevard.

Stakeholders expressed concerns that construction would proceed before traffic mitigations were in place. There was also concern these mitigations might never materialize.
Paul Ramsey explained that the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) has a four-step funding process before construction of any improvement may begin. Each step takes a minimum of two years. So, in normal circumstances, it would take eight years (usually longer) and funding would have to be available at that time for construction of any traffic improvement to begin.

The following motion was made:
“We oppose the proposal due to the grossly inadequate traffic and parking mitigations. The infrastructure should be in place before any permits are pulled.”
The motion passed: Yes 45, No 0, Abstentions 3.

Public Comment from Hilda Hoesli: Major streets adjacent to the project are currently gridlocked and cannot absorb any more traffic.
Stakeholders pointed out the cumulative effect of other projects currently under construction that will add to the problem:
– at the Braille Institute former location
– at the Hanna Barbera site
– the Banana/Hollywood Bungalows
– on Lankershim at the old post office location
– the expansion of the Oakwoods apartments complex on Barham and Forest Lawn
– in Toluca Lake
– in the central and north area of Hollywood at the southern end of the “dog bone”.

Specific concerns were expressed about the lack of parking to serve the public in the MTA development area. Mr. Mihlsten assured stakeholders that parking would be sufficient and that details would be provided later this month.
Stakeholders expressed concerns there might be a cost to the public when using the new facility. Ample, free parking should be requested as a mitigation for this project.
The effect on local traffic and the surrounding community of the proposed development of the MTA Lot Commercial Development of over 1 million square feet without any significant traffic improvements prior to occupancy is a particular concern for stakeholders.

Comments were made about the proposed Barham Boulevard Grade Separation at Forest Lawn Drive. Whether a grade separation road can be built without affecting traffic flow to and from Barham in all directions is questionable. An overpass would create visual blight.
Public Comment from Eileen Peterson: When considering the proposed Barham Boulevard Grade Separation at Forest Lawn Drive, the connection from Forest Lawn Drive into Universal should go under Barham Boulevard.

Stakeholders were supportive of the following mitigation measures:
– The freeway connection between the “Ventura” SR-134 and the “Hollywood” US- 101 freeways.
– Improved pedestrian linkages across Lankershim Blvd. including grade separated access from Red Line station.
– A direct connection between Universal City and the Southbound “Hollywood” US -101 freeway.

There was much discussion about possible locations for a Southbound access to the 101 Freeway and the difficulties associated with the process. Some possible locations were controversial due to the visual blight that an overpass in the Cahuenga Pass would create.
Paul Ramsey explained that Caltrans engineers have demanded long distances between freeway on-ramps and off-ramps because of federal highway regulations. In the past, this requirement made designing a South-bound on-ramp around the Universal Center Drive bridge difficult. This problem is now compounded by the additional need of an on-ramp at the Lankershim development location.
If the “Great Street” is linked southbound and northbound to the freeway in an effective manner, traffic on Barham and other community streets could be greatly improved.

Public Comment from Paul Merritt: The river bed could be used and covered to ease traffic concerns between the 134 and the 101 Freeways.

Widening Barham Boulevard at the LA River is not difficult but may be ineffective. Existing buildings on both sides of the bridge are built right to the property line making widening the street at the bridge level difficult.

Widening of the Barham Boulevard bridge, intersection, and ramp improvements at the US -101 and Cahuenga Blvds.- West and East have already been approved.

Paul Ramsey stated that the County has no master traffic plan. In the last Universal Specific Plan proposal, many of the same traffic concerns were expressed by the community but have not been addressed by the County or the MTA in those 10 years. The County collects a sizable amount of taxes with little expenditure or return to the community.

ENVIRONMENT, BEAUTIFICATION & HOUSING

HHWNC motion of May 2006: (bb) Barham Boulevard should be beautified through landscaping, streetscape, widening improvements, sidewalks, and the possibility of planted medians.

Committee Chairs commented that this issue had not been addressed in the Vision Plan or included in proposed mitigations.
Mr. Mihlsten made positive comments on the possibility of improvements to Barham including beautification elements.

HHWNC motion of May 2006: (cc) A significant landscape buffer should be created between the Manor community and the new proposed development.
HHWNC motion of May 2006: (ee) Effective noise mitigation measures should be implemented to shield adjacent communities from ongoing production, entertainment, parking, trash trucks, traffic and construction noise.

More details are needed to assess whether the proposed buffer is sufficient, especially across the 3200 and 3300 block of Blair Drive where it is thinnest and the terrain grade is not steep. Residents expressed concerns about the possible loss of existing green landscape and noise from residential development right next to their home.
More details should answer these questions and these issues will also be covered in the EIR.

HHWNC motion of May 2006: (dd) The new development should be subject to a height restriction to avoid blocking existing views from the Manor community. Residents object to the construction of high-rise buildings.
HHWNC motion of May 2006: (jj) The design of new development should be esthetically compatible with the Manor and the Knolls communities.

The proposed high-rise buildings up to 12 floors are not within the letter or the spirit of these HHWNC motions.
George Mihlsten offered that a model showing building height and the impact on views would soon be available. Multiple “cross-section” drawings cut through the affected residences and the proposed residential development, showing relative heights of each and potential view blockage will also be available.

The effect of the residential Universal Village design as proposed with significant high rise development, retail and large open spaces between buildings on the surrounding community is a source of concern. Several stakeholders commented that projects consisting of isolated tall buildings similar to the vision plan have led to failed, crime-ridden neighborhoods worldwide.

Public Comment from Paul Merritt: Clustered density around communal green space creates vibrant neighborhoods that are commercially successful. This approach should be used instead of the current plan. Mr. Merritt also made supportive comments for the creation of bike paths and trails.
Paul Ramsey concurred that clustered density would be a better approach, avoiding high-rise buildings without affecting a commercially viable density.
Comments were made supporting a mixed-use approach to create a more pleasing and safer neighborhood.

Public Comment from Joel Samuels: Expressed opposition to the planned development because of its breadth and scope and the fact that the development is completely inconsistent with the residential character of the surrounding neighborhoods.

HHWNC motion of May 2006: (ff) The 11 foot chain-link fence with barbed wire separating the Manor from NBC/Universal Studios should be removed and replaced by a more discreet and esthetically pleasing fence set back downhill from Blair Drive.

In view of crime concerns raised by the design of the project, this topic needs to be reconsidered with crime prevention in mind.
Mr. Mihlsten expressed a willingness to work with Manor residents on the fence issue.

HHWNC motion of May 2006: (gg) NBC/Universal should conduct an in-depth study of development impact on wildlife and determine if the proposed landscape buffer offers sufficient protection.

This issue will be addressed in the EIR.

Public Comment from Hilda Hoesli: A thorough geological survey of the NBC/Universal property should be done. Pollution created by the new development should also be addressed.
These issues will also be addressed in the EIR.

Comments were made in support of the LA River Master Plan/Bikeway improvements and Open Space preservation in the Santa Monica Mountains, particularly Cahuenga Peak. However, the acquisition of Cahuenga Peak, although desirable, is not a direct mitigation of the impact of this project on the community and should not have priority over more relevant mitigations.

CRIME AND SAFETY CONCERNS

HHWNC motion of May 2006: (hh) No public roads and traffic should connect the new development with the Manor community since narrow Manor streets and congested Barham Boulevard cannot accommodate the additional load. For safety reasons, Manor residents strongly object to City Walk visitors having any access to adjacent residential communities.

The current plan does not include a traffic link with the Manor. The issue of pedestrian links has been explored since access to Universal commercial businesses, the MTA, open space trails and bike paths could be attractive for Manor residents. However, crime and safety concerns place a great damper on this potentially positive element.

The following items are a source of concern for the community:
– The apparent lack of marketing reorientation/redesign of CityWalk to a less criminally prone demographic while opening up and increasing exposure of the surrounding community.
– The lack of security safeguards in the residential Universal Village design coupled with opening this new residential area to CityWalk.
– The effect of the proposed free MP3 screenings in the Universal Village on the surrounding community.
– The Vision Plan currently includes a Shuttle System between new residential Universal Village, Studio, and Entertainment Districts, Metro Red Line Station, & the Burbank Metrolink Station.

A stakeholder commented that his family felt very safe in Disneyland but did not perceive the NBC/Universal facilities, especially CityWalk as a safe environment. This feeling seemed generally shared by residents.

The Hollywood Manor community is already under pressure from the presence of transients and gangs seeking access to NBC/Universal territory. Any secluded area with a beautiful view is a magnet for gangs citywide. The ugly 11-foot chain link fence topped with barbed wire currently acts as a deterrent.

If the shuttle system links the Universal Village with CityWalk and the MTA, this buffer area will now be vulnerable from the Universal side.
The non family-oriented customers of CityWalk will have access to the Village and to the Manor neighborhood.
Criminal elements currently use the MTA to access hillside communities in the Cahuenga Pass. The Village and the Manor neighborhood will now be accessible to them.
The planned MP3 screenings will be a strong draw for less than desirable elements from CityWalk and the MTA.
The proximity of trails, the buffer zone, and isolated dark spaces at night are a built-in recipe for drug trafficking, prostitution and gang wars to control the area.
Mr. Mihlsten indicated that no final decision had been made on the shuttle system and public connectivity between the Village, CityWalk and the MTA.
Anne Marie Lardeau stated that a strong private security component will be needed to keep the Village and the Manor safe since no public law enforcement agency has the manpower to effectively patrol this area. Different jurisdiction between LAPD and LASD will make effective prevention efforts difficult and compound the problem.

Public Comment from Leah Creed: The impact of a development of this size on emergency services should be studied.

BUSINESS, JOBS & TAX REVENUE TO GOVERNMENT

A stakeholder asked participants whether the proposed project offered anything positive for our community. Among the overall negative response, the creation of jobs for the community and keeping the entertainment/motion picture industry in Los Angeles were positive elements identified.

In response to the suggestion by some in government that the proposed Hotel be transferred to County jurisdiction and that the Village be transferred to the City, stakeholders expressed concerns that this development was taken for granted by officials. Discussions of boundary changes give the impression that important decisions have already been made without public input.
It was also suggested that the City should fight to keep commercial tax revenue from this project, especially the hotel.

Paul Ramsey pointed out that the County collects sizable tax revenue from NBC/Universal every year but has not provided commensurate infrastructure improvements appropriate to the intensity of this use back to the community.

Public Comment from Abe Bloom: The need to provide a new school for the children should be studied.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 PM.

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