burbankleader.com/the818now/tn-818-1127-burbank-still-has-concerns-over-toned-down-nbcuniversal-project,0,2196339.story

Burbank Leader

Burbank still has concerns over toned down NBCUniversal project

Officials draft letter questioning entertainment company's scaled-back expansion plans.

By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

3:28 PM PST, November 27, 2012

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Burbank officials plan to send a list of qualms they have about a planned NBCUniversal project to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which is slated to vote on the $1.6-billion project early next year.

NBCUniversal’s Evolution project would bring 2.6 million square feet of new studio, retail and hotel development, along with $100 million in roadway and traffic improvements to Los Angeles. While the proposed developments stretch beyond Burbank’s borders, city officials maintain the project will impact quality of life for local residents, traffic flow and police operations.

The studio had originally proposed building nearly 3,000 new residential units, but vehement opposition prompted the studio to ditch the housing component and instead double the number of hotel rooms to 1,000.

The scaling back of the Evolution Plan is expected to reduce daily trips to the site by 9,000 — easing potential traffic impacts on Burbank streets — but local officials still aren’t totally sold.

The Los Angeles City Council has already approved the project, but since the majority of the proposed development is on county land, the board of supervisors must also sign off on it.

According to the letter being drafted by Burbank, officials don’t feel the NBCUniversal proposal addressed the Burbank Police Department’s concern that the increase in tourism and commercial activity would also lead to an increase in traffic accidents and crime citywide, while also slowing down public agency response times.

The environmental impact report on the project suggested police use sirens and drive on the wrong side of the road to accelerate response times, which officials felt “disregards the importance” the issue plays in terms of maintaining residents’ quality of life.

Officials also felt too much traffic associated with the Evolution project would be spill into residential neighborhoods, prompting requests that the studio fund better traffic protection programs for Media District residents.

The City Council also asked that the studio be required to add transit from the site to Bob Hope Airport, and extend the Los Angeles River bike path from Barham Boulevard and Lankershim Boulevard, which would link to Burbank’s own bike infrastructure.

RELATED:

Planning Commission gives OK to NBCUniversal expansion

NBCUniversal scraps plan to build housing on Universal back lot

NBCUniversal cuts about 500 employees

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.