City Council Denies Appeal to Halt New Mixed-Use Development at Old Fry’s Location

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On Tuesday, November 18th, Burbank City Council held a regularly scheduled meeting.

The main topic of discussion that took up about a third of the meeting was regarding a new project at 2311 N Hollywood Way, the old site of Fry’s Electronics. Specifically, an appeal was made to the city’s Planning Board seeking to stop the development of the newly proposed project.

Two months ago, the city Planning Board approved a mixed-use project to be built at the Hollywood Way address. The project would entail the construction of two, seven-story buildings that would house a total of 862 people, with 80 of these units being reserved for very-low income housing. The ground floor of the building would be reserved for retail space, with additional office buildings being constructed in the vicinty.

According to the presentation laid out by the Community Development Department, the possible benefits of this project would include more housing, increased revenues for the city and the expansion of the nearby neighborhood. Additionally, the proximity of the project to the airport and Metrolink Station would allow for easy transportation.

After the Planning Board approved the outline of this project, an appeal was brought to the city council by Roy Wiegand, a member of the activist group Save Burbank Neighborhoods. Sustaining or denying the appeal made by Wiegand was the agenda item ahead of the council.

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Wiegand’s appeal was on the basis of two primary issues that he and his group have with the project: water usage and traffic.

The appellant began making his case by referencing the extreme drought California is currently in. Due to the extreme drought, a state of emergency has been declared in the state and water usage has been drastically cut.

Yet, Wiegand feels as if the city has not done enough to curb the issue, claiming that they have instead exacerbated the issue by continuing to build large scale mixed-use developments. In his appeal to the council, Wiegand stated, “I find it irresponsible – even reckless – to move forward with high-density projects like this until [the water crisis] is resolved.”

In addition to finding the project’s water usage problematic, Wiegand also made the case for why traffic would become worse along Hollywood Way due to this development. With the recent construction of the Amazon warehouse along the same street and talks about expanding the nearby airport, Wiegand claimed that this project would make traffic along the Burbank thoroughfare much more congested.

Discussing the appeal, Burbank City Council found that there was little they could do in order to stop the development from going through, especially along the grounds of water usage.

Due to the existence of California Senate Bill 330, housing developments that are consistent with objective development standards set up by local governments can not be denied a permit unless there can be proven to be a “specific adverse impact” on public health or safety. However, city staff at the Community Development Department found there to be no specific adverse impacts to public health or safety with the current project plans.

Additionally, the project developers prepared a state-required Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment (SCEA) to address environmental concerns. The SCEA was cleared, with the state not finding any substantially negative environmental impact arising due to the project.

Due to these two reasons, the city council unanimously denied the appeal.

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