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Changes Prompt Moving Up Plan For Warner Center

With a city planner assigned to oversee the process, Warner Center is getting ready to create a new Specific Plan to replace the guidelines that have governed development in the area for the past 13 years. The timetable for the new plan was moved up as a result of the surge in residential development that has occurred in the area in recent years, making Warner Center’s the first new plan to come under development in the city in about 10 years. The assignment of Tom Glick, who has overseen the current Warner Center Specific Plan for nearly a decade, is only the first step in what is certain to be a long, complex and laborious process likely to take about three more years, or perhaps longer, experts say. “A lot of different interests are involved and everything from the technical complexities to all the emotional baggage that goes with the Specific Plan,” said Larry Kosmont, president and CEO of Kosmont Companies, an Encino-based land use and planning firm. “There’s reason why they don’t get done that much. They’re complicated, their arduous and they’re expensive.” More than 30 neighborhoods in the city of Los Angeles are governed by Specific Plans, which typically spell out what types, how much and where building can occur within a community as well as how the resulting traffic and environmental issues will be mitigated. Although three Specific Plans have been adopted in the city since 2000, those plans are limited to transit districts and the downtown Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment District centered around Staples Center. The last Specific Plan providing a framework for a residential and commercial neighborhood was adopted in 1997, and most of the specific plans in effect throughout the city were adopted in the 1980s. Warner Center’s plan was adopted in 1993, although it has been revised several times since then. The plan provided for a new study of the area either by the summer of 2008 or when a commercial development threshold of 20 million square feet in the area had been met. But the city council late last year determined that the timetable should be moved up after community groups began to voice concerns over the growing residential development. “We wanted the Specific Plan revised so it would have better urban design features,” said August Steurer, vice chair of the Woodland Hills-Warner Center Neighborhood Council. “(The current plan) focuses a lot on traffic mitigation and widening, which is, in the end result, anti-pedestrian. While it tried to deal with pedestrians, it really didn’t deal with them seriously nor did it deal with creating commercial districts or districts at all.” What Steurer would like to see is a new plan that addresses how the new residential development can be better integrated into the community. That will take some time and involve numerous experts in planning, land use, transportation, environment and other areas. A citizens advisory committee has been formed, and that group is also seeking ways to involve a broader sector of the community in providing ideas and comments. “One of the things we’ve spoken about is having an opportunity for a visioning exercise where people can come in and say this is what I think,” said Brad Rosenheim, a land use consultant and vice-chair of the advisory committee. “Then you hire people who can take this input and from that create a vision document, and from that you can create the legislation that is reflective of that input. Then all the technical work has to be done.”

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