There seems to be a Fox studio expansion truce in the offing.
Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the Westside neighborhood where the studio is based, has proposed a tough and final set of conditions for the proposed Fox expansion that the studio “can live with,” according to Fox Inc. senior veepee David Handelman.
Yaroslavsky’s proposal would reduce the amount of office space, limit buildings to five stories and make phase three of the project conditional.
Fox had already agreed to build the $ 200 million expansion in three phases to lessen the impact on the neighborhood and allow the city to monitor the effects.
The chief concern among neighbors is the increased traffic that the expansion will cause.
Fox proposed the expansion to bring its various film and TV production and broadcast units onto the westside lot.
The new proposal puts rigid conditions on the three phases and changes the classification of phase three to “discretionary.” It would only be permitted “after a full environmental impact review and public hearings.”
“We’re happy that we have a compromise and we hope that the zoning process will be able to come to an end this month,” Handelman said. Nonetheless, Fox has strong complaints about several conditions of Yaroslavsky’s proposal.
“There is a heavy burden placed on us by this compromise,” Handleman said, specifically citing the final condition. “There would be changes to the project that would be costly to us. The third phase of the project is now discretionary.”
Yaroslavsky’s proposal also imposes tougher traffic control measures than had been previously approved.
“I have solicited input from a wide variety of individuals who have an interest in the Fox plan,” Yaroslavsky said in a news release.
“And I have attempted to formulate a position based on the advice I have received. While I have worked hard to gain Fox’s support, my proposals bear the imprint of our entire community’s thinking.”
Even so, Handelman also complained that “the continued development of the project is in some peril. There are greater restrictions put on us that could impede the full development of the project.”
Yaroslavsky has been a conditional supporter of the $ 200 million expansion plan despite opposition from the Cheviot Hills Homeowner Assn., the California Country Club Homes Assn. and Friends of Westwood, none of whom could be reached for comment Thursday.
At public hearings on Jan. 11 and April 1, opponents said the expansion would clog the streets with traffic, create added pollution and block their views.
At the April 1 hearing, California Governor Pete Wilson fully endorsed the project in a letter that said the “Fox expansion is a top priority.”
Yaroslavsky’s new proposal will be reviewed by the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee on Wednesday, the last hurdle before the expansion is reviewed by City Council.
Friends of Fox — a neighborhood group that endorses the expansion — prexy John Klein expects the councilman’s conditions will be met and approved.
“We are delighted with councilman Yaroslavsky’s plan … We just hope and pray there is no further regulation or downsizing. It’s our understanding that this is about minimum for Fox.”
Among the details of Yaroslavsky’s proposal:
o The volume of traffic caused by the expansion would have to be reduced significantly in phase one of the project, from 12,570 car trips approved by the Planning Commission to 11,500.
o Phase two would only be permitted if all first phase conditions were met and car trips would be capped at 14,310 trips.
o Phase three — which the commission allowed to be automatic — would be implemented at the city’s discretion. It will be capped at 15,646 car trips.
o Traffic will be monitored on a daily basis through an automated system in order to ensure compliance with the plan’s conditions.
o Fox’s request to build 600,000 square feet of office space would be clipped to 449,000 square feet in the first two phases. The remaining 150,000 square feet could only be built in phase three, pending approval by the city. Of that, at least 50,000 square feet must be production space instead of offices.
o A 25-foot setback along Avenue of the Stars with a larger plaza area at the intersection and a 20-foot setback along the west side of the Fox lot would be imposed.
o $ 5 million in street improvements must be completed by Fox.
o Fox will be required to provide $ 500,000 for neighborhood traffic improvements.