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Angeles County | Community News File / Universal City

More Controls Sought on Studio Expansion

October 06, 1998

A coalition of labor leaders concerned about wages and homeowners worried about gridlock is pressing for new, stronger public controls over Universal Studios' massive expansion plan.

The group is proposing the creation of a permanent body with oversight authority over the expansion.

The group plans an announcement on their proposal Wednesday, minutes before the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission is set to convene twin hearings to review the final environmental impact report and the Universal City specific plan--the document that will govern the construction project.

The organization pushing for higher wages for Universal employees is dubbed CAUSE, Coalition for Accountability in the Universal Studios Expansion.

"A real mechanism for holding Universal accountable, that will give the community a continued say in the expansion project, is missing from this report," said Joan Luchs, president of the Cahuenga Pass Neighborhood Assn.

A spokeswoman for Universal called the existing arrangement "both responsible and responsive to the needs of business, labor and the community."

"What's really important here is that we're adding jobs and that we want to make an investment right here at home," the spokeswoman said. "We really hope that labor and the neighborhoods will work together with us to add jobs and enhance the tax base of the state and the county."

Ensuring that Universal sticks to the plan is the job of the city and county planning departments and the regional planning commission.

Larry Friedman, a city planner most involved in the expansion review, said the plan calls for citizen input through an annual workshop in which Universal would be required to review each portion of the mammoth expansion.

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