An $800-million, 3.3-million square foot expansion on two Warner Bros. lots during the next 20 years was unanimously approved by the Burbank City Council last week. While few people complained about the nearly 9,000 jobs the project would bring the city, the plan alarmed residents in adjoining neighborhoods who feared the construction, new parking structures and employees would bring noise, crowds and more traffic.
Is the newly approved Warner Bros. expansion plan good for Burbank?
Burbank Vice Mayor Susan Spanos:
"I think the Warner Bros. plan is critical to our community's economic future particularly since the pullout of Lockheed. . . . I believe that Warner Bros. has been a responsible corporate citizen. . . . Although I have witnessed more support of the master plan from the adjoining neighborhoods than I have against it, even without all of the concessions that have been asked for, I believe that in some neighborhoods the master plan is going to have the net effect of improving the surrounding area."
Burbank City Councilman Ted McConkey:
"Clearly, not everybody is happy. We did try to be responsive in not allowing some of the impacts, which they removed . . . I think the most important condition was the gate on Pass Avenue at the Warner Ranch property. . . . We disallowed the gate and had Warner Bros. contribute to the mitigation measures in that neighborhood. . . . Overall, I think nobody went away with a sense of complete victory."
Anita Doohan, a Toluca Lake resident: "I live a third of a block from where Warner Bros. is going to be building one of their parking structures. . . . We objected to audience parking there. . . . The entire neighborhood was aligned behind the issue of no audience parking and having employees parking there. . . . And, they refused. . . . I'm exhausted from fighting and not getting anything. . . . Overall, Warner Bros. expansion is good for Burbank . . . It's a shame they don't turn around and do good for the neighborhood."
H.L. Chambers, president of the Woodland-Jacaranda Homeowners Assn.:
"The process worked out. . . . Warner Bros had done the right thing and eliminated the Pass Avenue gate and the on-ramp to the Ventura Freeway. . . . The bad side of it is the construction and we're going to have 20 years of it six days a week. Everybody be very, very cool and just remember you're doing it for Bugs Bunny."
Dan Garcia, senior vice president for real estate and public affairs at Warner Bros.:
"From our perspective, it allows the company the opportunity to expand and keep Burbank as its headquarters and to advance as one of the world's most important entertainment companies with more jobs and employment opportunities coming into Burbank. At the same time, with the various conditions we've agreed to, we feel we have been able to mitigate the significant impacts of our project. . . . We feel that as a whole, we have done what we could to lessen the impact on the neighborhoods."