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Fox Opposition Brings Response From Yaroslavsky

February 27, 1992

I am writing in response to your "Letters" column of Feb. 16, headlined "Fox's Expansion Plans Continue to Draw Criticism." Indeed, Fox continues to draw criticism, but from the same group of individuals who have opposed Fox from the day it announced it preferred to keep and expand its studio in Century City rather than replace it with condominiums.

Eleven years ago, when Fox planned to phase out its studio, the city eliminated 5 million square feet of commercial development rights from its property. Instead, it permitted one office building (the Fox Plaza), one 350-room hotel (the Marriott), and the replacement of the existing studio with 2,200 mid- and high-rise condominiums. I authored this milestone agreement governing the Fox property, and in 1981 this was an excellent deal for our community.

A decade later, Twentieth Century-Fox decided that it preferred to stay and expand its studio facilities in Century City, and forever relinquish its massive residential development rights there. When Fox first approached the city two years ago with its plan, I and a coalition of 15 homeowner associations in and around Century City believed the proposal deserved careful and serious consideration. That review has been under way for most of these two years.

Three groups and some individuals, including those who took me to task on these pages on Feb. 16, were Fox critics even before the specifics of Fox's proposal were known. And, they have consistently rebuffed efforts by my staff and by the 15 homeowner associations to include them in constructive discussions about the studio's proposal.

There are essentially two questions that we need to answer in evaluating Fox's plan. First, what are the relative environmental impacts of the studio expansion vs. the 2,200 condos? Specifically, which option will create the greatest traffic impact on our Westside streets? For much of the last two years, the homeowners coalition has been working with their own traffic consultant, my office, city traffic engineers and Fox to carefully analyze the potential impacts on traffic of the studio's proposal, as compared with those of the original plan. This analysis will be concluded soon.

The second question is, if the traffic generated by the studio expansion is no greater than that which would be generated by the condominium plan, which is preferable? The studio or the condominiums? In 1981, there was no studio option to consider; today, we have the luxury of considering the merits of one land use against the other.

It is evident from the community response we have received, at dozens of public meetings and in hundreds of letters, that most Westside residents prefer the studio to more high-rise and high-priced condominiums. Fox is part of the Westside's history and a significant part of its economic base. What's more, the studio would be lower-rise and a much less dense development, with only one-third as much density as the condominium plan.

It is just as evident, however, that if the studio expansion proposal creates more traffic than contemplated in the 1981 plan, it should and will lose the community's support.

We have a long way to go before we know what amount of expansion the city should permit at Fox. Issues such as the amount of new and renovated office space and the policing of development limits face a critical analysis from my office and the community coalition.

This process of review is complex and laborious. Nevertheless, the majority of our community's leaders and residents believe in a careful and thorough analysis of Fox's expansion plan. They and I are committed to seeing this process through to a rational, reasoned and civil conclusion.

ZEV YAROSLAVSKY

Councilman, 5th District

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