Here’s what we got ourselves into back then. It’s not quite the perfume and roses situation that staff’s making it out to be.
This extension request does make you wonder what’s going on. Is WB planning on selling some of these entitled properties? That’s what usually happens with these pre-approved agreements. No one in their right mind would build a new studio nowadays.
And the planning staff wants to grant a 35-year agreement based upon ancient 35-year-old traffic and environmental studies for that area?
Does that makes sense. It’s rather insane, isn’t it?
If you had told people back then that this was going to be a 35-year-long agreement instead of 20 it would never have been approved. It was bad enough that these original DAs were never approved by the Planning Board, too. That threw alarm bells then and should be doing the same now. Staff bypassed the PB in 1995 and went straight to the city council with their own studio-approved plan.
So read it and weep– we’re a much more stupid, gullible and careless community these days, obviously.
Notice too that there’s not much talk about those other 15-story office towers now. In fact, not many details about the original plan are going in front of this 2011 city council. It’s supposed to be a complete hearing though. They want a re-do? On another 15 years? Then we have a re-do. On everything.
Think about it. What they want tomorrow night is a 15-year development agreement on a huge expansion plan with no hearing on the specifics.
That’s right, let’s just move along folks- there’s nothing to see here.
Fight Over Warner Bros. Expansion Intensifies : Burbank: Opponents launch last-minute bid to stall the 20-year plan as City Council prepares to vote on the project.
September 26, 1995|JEANNETTE DeSANTIS | TIMES STAFF WRITER
An ambitious 20-year development plan by studio giant Warner Bros. comes before the Burbank City Council tonight in a vote that has supporters and opponents gearing up for battle.
Local residents are mounting last-ditch efforts to stall the project. Warner Bros. has heavily lobbied city officials and is planning to transport employees to council chambers for the scheduled public hearing tonight. And members of Burbank’s planning board are upset about significant recommendations they drafted that were ultimately ignored by the city’s planning department.
“The community is being torn apart by this,” said resident Stan Hyman of the studio’s plan to expand its Main and Ranch lots by 3.3 million square feet, with four 15-story office towers, two six-level parking structures and various offices.
Residents opposed to the project are worried about the votes of two Burbank council members who received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Warner Bros. two years ago.
Council members Susan Spanos and Bill Wiggins received $2,000 and $4,500, respectively, from the Warner Bros. Political Action Committee in their 1993 council races. But both deny conflicts of interest.
“Of course there is no conflict,” said Spanos. “Warner Bros. was one of many supporters in that campaign well before I had any knowledge of their master plan.”
Wiggins said the contributions are totally legal.
“It is all part of running for election,” Wiggins said. “I can accept them and then vote on issues that come up involving them while I am sitting on the council.”
Meanwhile, a flyer circulated at Warner Bros. invited all employees to “share your thoughts before the council or just be there to show your support” at the public hearing.
“We will have a fairly large contingent,” said Dan Garcia, vice president of real estate and public affairs. “But they won’t all be our employees. We have some support in the community.”
Of controversy in the 20-year plan are the construction of parking structures on Franklin Avenue and California Street, construction of a Pass Avenue entrance to the Ranch Lot and blocked access to the El Chiquito Mexican restaurant on Olive Avenue.
The pending decision has sent anxious residents desperately combing through city files to find possible obstacles to the proposed expansion.
Hyman dug up a map of underground sewer lines and found a main that runs underneath the proposed parking structure at Franklin Avenue.
“One of Toluca Lake’s main lines runs right under the proposed structure. Now how are they going to dig with a sewer line right there?” said Hyman, who plans to ask the council to address the issue before it votes on the project.
Garcia said the studio is fully aware of the sewer line. “It is not a major impediment but it will cost us some money” to deal with it, he said. “But we expected that.”
What members of Burbank’s planning board did not expect was how the city planning department chose to disregard significant alterations the board suggested for the expansion plan after hours of poring over reports and listening to public testimony over the last two weeks.
After two private meetings between planning department staff and studio executives, the department decided to recommend that the council adopt a version of the project closer to the studio’s vision.
“What the City Council gets in our report is from numerous sources,” said Rick Pruetz, chief assistant community development director. “That means we don’t always agree with the board.”
Garcia said Warner Bros. executives and residents have the same rights to meet with city officials, such as those in the planning department, to have their concerns heard.
Planning board members wrote letters to the City Council expressing their dismay and frustration.
“We bent over backwards to accommodate the development goals and plans of Warner Bros., all while addressing the community’s needs,” planning board chairwoman Carolyn Berlin said. “Yet the staff has ignored most of the recommendations put forward by us. It is frustrating.”