(editor’s note: NBC Universal is holding a community meeting next Tuesday, May 18 at 4:00 P.M. at the Universal Studio’s lot. You have to RSVP by this Friday, May 14 to get past security. Call 818-700-3583 to reserve a spot. If you have trouble reserving a spot, please leave me a note in the comments section, as we’re not certain if they’re going to let in everyone interested in the project or just "supporters.")
For Los Angeles River and bicycle advocates interested in seeing the Los Angeles River Bike Path through North Hollywood to Canoga Park the planned development project at NBC Universal, the same project that would be built over the North Hollywood Red Line Station, has been a major obstacle.
When we last checked in on the project, which was almost two years ago, NBC was insisting on building a bike path, but detouring it away from the river for security reasons. A Los Angeles Times article from two and a half years ago expresses concern that cyclists would throw scripts at important people’s offices which would be a major distraction. Really.
However, the same article also quotes both County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and City Councilman Tom LaBonge supporting the idea of leaving the bike path directly along the river. Plans for the path have consistently shown the path doing just that.
The fate of the bike planning is another major test for Metro’s "Transit Oriented Development" program. Because the project is going to be built on land that is currently a parking lot and bus depot owned by Metro, the transit agency has a voice in what the project is going to look like. The developers are going to spend somewhere between $35 million and $100 million in transportation improvements to that area to alleviate the impacts of 2,937 residential units, a television production facility, an office tower of up to 24
stories and another building that could be up to 34 stories. The residential units would not be located on or adjacent to the red line station.
While the transportation details of the plan aren’t finalized, there hasn’t been a lot of talk making things easier and safer for cyclists or pedestrians. The major improvement that is being talked about is completing an interchange with the 101 Freeway at Campo de Cahuenga Way. Just what North Hollywood needs, a "Transit Oriented Development" that is going to increase highway capacity.
Needless to say, if Metro really wanted to see a bike path, and more importantly the creation of a walkble and bikeable district, you can bet that they would find a partner in NBC and the developers, Thomas Properties. As plans move forward, we’ll have another chance to see if Metro is serious about encouraging development near its train stations that assimilate into the surrounding community, or if its just about creating developments that create lots of money for already rich developers that do little for anyone else.
Meanwhile, the communities surrounding the project are hardly unified in their support. A group calling itself Communities United for Smart Growth is circulating a petition calling the project "too big and too dense" for their "suburban" community.