“It’s appropriate to amend the agreement to reflect the current zoning code,” Development Services Director Philip Lanzafame said.
The Planning Commission’s recommendation for the development amendment is tentatively scheduled to go to the City Council on April 22 for final consideration.
In either case, DreamWorks has the right under the current development agreement to expand its square footage of 331,784 to 495,000, according to city reports.
“DreamWorks is still vested in building out the remainder of the allowed square footage,” Jeffrey Haber, an attorney for the animation studio, told the commission Wednesday. “What’s at stake is the height allowance for the square footage.”
An environmental consulting firm for the studio determined that the increased shadows of a building 165% taller than what had originally been allowed under the old development were insignificant, and that minor physical changes to Flower Street would adequately address the addition of an emergency access gate on the property there.
The addendum to the development agreement would also include an addition to the parking garage to provide 256 more parking spaces and an extension of the south parking lot, according to a city report.
Despite the environmental findings, Planning Commissioner Richard Ramirez remained unconvinced of the proposal’s safety, citing potentially unexplored impacts to the underground water table and effects of possible soil contamination of a property that is within the boundaries of the San Fernando Road corridor Superfund site.
“You haven’t proven to me that you have a safe site,” Ramirez said. “I would love to see the building go up, but I just want to make sure it’s safe.”
Haber pointed to his consultant’s report, and zoning language that allowed the proposal to bypass additional environmental review, in refuting Ramirez’s assertion.
“All of the analysis that we’ve done thus far shows that we do,” Haber responded.
Commission Chairman Bill Kane and colleague Gary Gero — the only other members on the dais — agreed, going so far as to yield chairmanship to Ramirez in order to pass the motion 2-1, since Kane, as chair, is not allowed to second a motion.
The narrowly passed recommendation sends the proposal to the Redevelopment Agency for design review and the City Council for a final sign-off on the development agreement.
JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.