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Hearing Tomorrow for NBC/Uni Plan, River Advocates Oppose

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The NBC/Universal Evolution Plan [pdf] is on the docket for tomorrow's City Planning Commission hearing. The once-massive plan is now less massive--the project's Environmental Impact Review scaled-back an earlier version that would have built "6.18 million square feet of commercial uses, which includes a net increase of 2.01 million square feet of new commercial development, and 2,937 dwelling units over an approximately 391-acre site." What's left in the version of the plan before the Planning Commission kills the residential component, leaving an expanded Universal Studios and a new 500-room hotel in the plan (in total, the plan would allow 1.45 million square feet of studio and office space, a 327,000 square foot theme park, and two 500-room hotels).

But KCET reports that ahead of tomorrow's hearing, a large coalition of interest groups has announced opposition to the Evolution Plan. The opposition includes Friends of the Los Angeles River, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, Mujeres de la Tierra, North East Trees, the Trust for Public Land, Urban Rivers Institute, and Urban Semillas. The group sent a letter to the Planning Commission claiming that the Evolution Plan is inconsistent with the city and county's vision for the LA River. At issue is the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan's call for a "pedestrian/bikeway along the south bank of the L.A. River from Lankershim Boulevard to Barham Boulevard," explains KCET. "This stretch of the river forms the northern border of the property slated for development as part of the Evolution Plan -- which in its current state would essentially privatize and cut off the river from forming a continuous greenway all the way to Los Feliz and beyond." The group also claims that the plan violates SB 1201, which the state approved in August to allow easier access to the river whenever it does not interfere with flood control. The groups recommend that the Planning Commission require the Evolution Plan "to incorporate plans for a 12-17 feet-wide pedestrian/bikeway along the portion of the river affected by the development," adds KCET.

Just so it's clear that the scaled-back version of the Evolution Plan doesn't equal a quaint proposal, here's a confusing list of actions (including many confusing deviations from the city's General Plan) necessary for the plan's approval:

--Certification of the EIR
--Statement of Overriding Considerations
--Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program
--General Plan Amendment (i.e., zoning code changes for "Open Space, Minimum Density Residential, Very Low Density Residential, Medium Density Residential, Limited Commercial, Community Commercial, and Regional Center Commercial to Regional Commercial")
--Universal City Specific Plan
--Specific Plan Amendment to the Mulholland Scenic Parkway Specific Plan
--Development Agreement between Universal Studios, LLC and the city of Los Angeles
--Zoning Code Amendment to establish the Universal City Specific Plan (UCSP) Zone
--Amendment to the City's Sphere of Influence for Pre-Annexation Agreement and Annexation of land from the unincorporated area of the county of Los Angeles to the city of Los Angeles
--A de-annexation of land from the city of Los Angeles to the county of Los Angeles.
· L.A. River Advocates Request Planning Commission to Deny NBC Universal Evolution Plan [KCET]
· NBCUniversal Drops All Housing From Huge Development Plans [Curbed LA]
· Sacramento Passes Bill to Allow Easier Access to the LA River [Curbed LA]