Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Revised Paramount Master Plan Presented at Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association Meeting

Sharon Keyser from Paramount Pictures presented latest version of Studio Masterplan
Sharon Keyser from Paramount Pictures presented the latest version of the studio’s Master Plan

The latest version of the Paramount Pictures Master Plan was presented to neighbors at the semi-annual meeting of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association (LVNA) Tuesday evening at Van Ness Elementary School. Sharon J. Keyser, Paramount’s senior vice president for real estate, government and community relations, presented a preview of the Plan, which she said addresses some of the concerns that have been raised by neighbors in previous discussions. A full presentation will be made, and public comments collected, at the first public hearing for the Plan on Monday, May 16, at 9:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood.

In the Master Plan, Paramount is requesting entitlements from the city to add approximately 1.3 million square feet of office and studio space to its 62-acre site.  As part of that effort, the studio is proposing to build parking and office buildings on two ancillary lots owned by Paramount on the south side of Melrose Avenue, which are currently used as surface parking lots. Paramount has agreed to increase the setback on both lots from 5 feet to 10 feet, and has agreed to include the phrase “will use materials and landscape sensitive to nearby residential streets,” when referring to design in the planning documents.

Paramount would also like to build a 15 story office building on the current lot behind the KCAL building, which many neighbors feel is still too tall for the neighborhood. The most controversial aspect of the project, however, is Paramount’s request to create a Digital Sign District along Melrose Avenue, which would replace the company’s current static billboards.

Keyser explained that the company has reduced the requested brightness of the signs by half, but said signage has always been a key part of Paramount’s identity, and the studio should have the ability to use competitive technology for advertising its products as part of its 25-year plan for the future of the company.  Images on the requested signs would change every  eight seconds, but will be limited to a rotation of still images promoting Paramount and Viacom products.  There will be no animation or video displays. Keyser also explained that Paramount does not intend to “lead the effort to convert to digital, but rather is following it,” and said the studio would not request a permit for 5 years after the approval of the Master Plan.

In response to concerns raised about traffic, Keyser said Paramount has committed to spend $100,000 on traffic mitigation efforts on intersections in the neighborhood, which goes above and beyond the city’s requirement to provide mitigation funds for five more intersections north of the site.  (Surprisingly, the traffic study conducted by the City of Los Angeles concluded there will be no traffic impacts on neighborhood intersections after the implementation of Paramount’s plan.)

Keyser also said Paramount is committed to saving the RKO globe that currently sits atop the soundstage at the corner of Gower and Melrose. Though it would not be re-used at that location, Paramount has offered to move the globe to another site in order to preserve it.

One neighborhood resident at last night’s meeting asked how many people currently work on the studio lot. Keyser said between 5,000-6,000 people, but that number would double after the build-out described in the Master Plan. She also said Paramount would continue to look at the possibility of reducing the height of the office tower.

Charles D’Atri, LVNA president, urged residents to attend the hearing on Monday or submit comments individually. He said the LVNA remains opposed to the electronic sign district, which could set a precedent to allow large digital signs in the neighborhood. He also said he continues to be deeply concerned that the proposed 15-story office building is too tall for the neighborhood.

David Ryu, C4 Council member spoke to the LVNA about his efforts to address the homeless issue
David Ryu, C4 Council member spoke to the LVNA about his efforts to address the homeless issue

Council member David Ryu also spoke to residents at last night’s meeting, noting that he has now been in office ten months.  He said that although this was his first time at an LVNA meeting, he has lived in the neighborhood…and promised to attend more meetings in the future. Ryu also spoke at length about his efforts to address the issue of homelessness in the city, explaining he is currently focusing on helping parents and families gain conservatorship over transitional age youth (18-26) who might be at risk for drug addition.

Finally, Ryu also urged residents to attend the Paramount Master Plan hearing on Monday, and to use the opportunity to press the City for more funds for traffic mitigation.

Other items on last night’s LVNA agenda included a presentation by LAPD Wilshire Division Senior Lead Officer Dave Cordova (filling in for SLO Joe Pelayo, who was out of town).  Cordova urged residents to secure their property to avoid being a victim of theft or burglary. Several residents asked questions about traffic speeding, as well as how to address squatters living in a residence under construction. Cordova said he would ask West Traffic Division to look into the matter and urged residents to call 911 in the event of emergency.

Finally, the meeting also included a discussion of an architectural survey of all the homes and buildings in the Larchmont Village neighborhood, for possible inclusion in a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ). Sarita Singh and Michael Knowles, members of the LVNA’s HPOZ Steering Committee, reported that 70 percent of the buildings and homes in the neighborhood qualify as “contributing structures.” Neighbors who are interested in getting involved in the effort to preserve the neighborhood are welcome to join the steering committee for its monthly meetings at the home of steering committee facilitator Karen Gilman.

Residents look over the map of contributing historic structures created as part of the HPOZ survey.
Residents look over the map of contributing historic structures created as part of the HPOZ survey.
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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