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Angeles County | Community News File / Universal City

Studio Could Get Permits for Nighttime Filming

October 15, 1998

Universal Studios could circumvent nighttime filming restrictions by obtaining a special permit, a city planning official said Wednesday.

Over the studio's objections, the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission a week ago voted 3 to 2 to recommend restrictions on loud early-morning filming noises at Universal, which, if enacted, would be the first such curbs ever imposed on a Southern California movie studio. Universal called it a blow to the entertainment industry.

"What's to stop you from circumventing the process by getting a special film permit," asked commissioner Donald Toy, as the panel continued its review of the studio's proposed expansion. "If it can be circumvented it means nothing."

Robert Sutton, deputy director of the city's planning department, acknowledged that "theoretically" Universal could do just that.

"Again, we're trying to balance out the concerns of the community with the rights the applicant has today," said Sutton, whose department has helped draft the staff recommendations on the expansion project.

Sutton noted that the request for a permit could be rejected if the city and county's Entertainment Industry Development Corp., the agency most likely to handle the matter, deemed the exemption inappropriate.

The commission was unable to conclude its 22-month-long review of the proposed expansion at Wednesday's meeting. Universal is seeking to add 3.2 million square feet of space to its hilltop perch.

The commission said it will take up the matter again Nov. 19.

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