LA’s Burbank Boulevard Widening project

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Sign the Petition to Stop the Burbank Blvd. Widening Project on Change.Org/burbankblvd

  • The City targeted eighteen property owners in 2009 for easement acquisition and condemnation. The project failed to move forward. 10 years later in 2020 using the 2009 proceedings the City the City rebooted this idled project and blindsided the current owners of these properties with citations and demands for abatements without due process.

  • The City hangs its hat on an obsolete, inaccurate, twelve-year-old Environmental Impact Statement filed in 2009, that by rule, should have been rejected.  The fiscal impacts of Covid on neighborhood businesses must be considered and a decade of changes in the neighborhood; hotels, restaurants, studios, condos lay lie to the 2009 EIR. [4][6]

  • No Current, Proper, Citizen Reivew Process.  Citizen Review was held in 2009!  The City needs to reopen Citizen Review, now! 

  • Continuing, inaccurate statements by city planning as to the scope and exact dimensions of the project.  City Planning continues to state that it needs 24 feet to expand when in fact they need 30 feet or more.  

  • All of the above, during a pandemic to build an unwanted, unnecessary, five-lane highway that can’t meet the city’s own goals and in turn dumps a huge financial burden on the businesses that must pay for it.

Stop the Hot Mess that is the Burbank  Street Widening Project. Let Councilman Krekorian hear your opposition to this project on Change.org

The Burbank Boulevard Street Widening Project

The City of Los Angeles has embarked on a long-delayed street widening project in North Hollywood. Burbank Boulevard between Lankershim and Cleon is slated for a years-long widening project that will negatively affect most businesses situated along this roadway. The city is pitching this as a traffic reduction or management scheme but residents and business owners aren’t buying it. The question raised by business owners and residents along this roadway is why? “We don’t need five lanes. We’d don’t want more traffic.” The city has been less than forthcoming with information, and many business owners targeted for property modifications are still unaware of their jeopardy and responsibility under this city plan.

What is clear to the neighborhood is that with the conversion of the roadway from three to five lanes, traffic will increase, and property dimensions will decrease. And on the heels of the Covid Pandemic, businesses will continue to suffer from loss of access, restricted traffic flow, and the dirt and noise that will result from this project for the promised two-year project timeline. Restaurants will have to curtail outside dining. Recording studios will have to suspend activities because of structure-born noise. The body shops and auto mechanics will have difficulty in getting cars delivered via auto transport. The business owners feel there’s nothing to like in this city plan. Just as they were businesses are moving again post-Covid, a new disruption looms.

The neighborhood’s frustration with this project stems from the Planning Departments’ projected outcome versus on-the-street realities and the callousness shown to business and property owners. [1]This neighborhood, as it exists today is not the same neighborhood as in 2009 and today’s business and property owners didn’t have a voice in the decision-making when this project got a reboot in 2016.

[2]The City refrain that it will need twelve feet on each side of the Burbank roadway to achieve the road width necessary for this highway is deceptive. The existing roadbed across this stretch of roadway is roughly fifty feet. The Planning Department’s documentation shows a roadway with four, eleven-foot lanes, a ten-foot center lane, two, eight-foot parking lanes, and two, six-foot bike lanes. In addition, the plan calls for ten feet of sidewalk on each side of the road. In total, the roadway expansion will require eighty-two feet of roadway, an expansion of thirty-two feet, not the twenty-four claimed by the city. With sidewalks/parkways, the City will require one-hundred and two feet of right-of-way on a roadway with only seventy-five feet available in some places.

Between Lankershim and Elmer, there are roughly seventy-five feet between properties. The distance between the buildings themselves narrows to eighty-two feet at one point. The necessary one-hundred and two feet doesn’t exist on this roadway and never will without the condemnation of existing property. And it appears that the city did just that in 2016 with the condemnation of nine properties[5].  But the Planning Department isn’t mentioning that and we were unable to find the ordinance referenced in the City Attorney’s 2016 letter. 

[3]The city has red-tagged all walls, gateways, fences, and trees between Lankershim and Elmer to stretch the roadway to the desired width, and this is costing business and property owners, still reeling from the effects of Covid, tens of thousands of dollars in the relocation and reconstruction costs. The city isn’t offering a dime of support.

Instead, Planning has treated the property owners as scofflaws, citing them for building in the city “right-of-way,” despite the fact that at least in some cases, the fences and improvements were city-permitted and have been in place for decades. In one instance, a red-tagged fence was part of the original construction of the building, inspected and permitted by the city in 1979.

The setbacks of the buildings on this boulevard vary from building to building, so the city claim that it will create a boulevard with consistent lane/parking/sidewalk widths through this neighborhood per Burbank to the west is also deceptive. The city drawings we’ve seen appear to show a return to two-lanes at one point. The bottom line is that the one-hundred and two feet needed to accomplish this project does not exist. This is the classic one hundred pounds of S#!% in a ten-pound sack.

The inconsistent setback of properties on this roadway are another challenge to this grand highway. Burbank to the west is residential, with apartments and strip malls all built with the same frontage.  This stretch of Burbank is old NoHo.  It seems every building has a different setback.  So Burbank to the west is not appropriate comparison or goal.  [4]And despite the claim made in the 2009 Negative Declaration, to the east it is only two-lanes.   And it means that the property owners within the widening zone will be inconvenienced disproportionately. Some properties with deep setbacks will suffer little while properties with street frontage will get hit with thousands of dollars of infrastructure replacement costs, and some will find the loss of space and parking intolerable and be forced to move or close their doors. 

Join us and make your voice heard. Say No to the Burbank Street Widening Project.
Let’s turn this project into something we can live with.
SIGN UP HERE or email committee@burbankwidening.com
Or Sign the Petition at Change.Org

In the documentation provided to citizens for this project, the city downplayed the impacts on business and represented that there were a few properties that impinged on the City’s right of way. In fact, nine properties were targeted for “condemnation”; in all. eighteen targeted for right-of-way abatemet and enforced easements in the April 1, 2016 City Ordnance. No property owner we spoke to had heard of this. Even on the easement side the City’s easment claim came as a surprise to at least one property owner. The project’s City real estate chief told the owner, in writing, that their property would not be affected, and then, in the middle of a Pandemic, the City’s Planning department dropped citations on blocks of property owners for right-of-way infractions requiring the abatement of fences and improvements that have been a part of these businesses for decades. Some question the City’s good faith in their representation of the stated goal of this project.

In the Environmental Impact Report project, written in 2009, there were several misstatements. In addition, the report is a decade old and certainly didn’t anticipate the damage to this business neighborhood from Covid.

The City states in the Negative Declaration that the construction noise will not be an issue because the boulevard is light-industrial when in fact, in 2021, there are five recording studios along this roadway, two hotels, several restaurants, and upscale condos. The City states in the EIR declaration that widening this stretch of Burbank will bring it into compliance with Burbank Bl. to the east and west when to the east it is two lanes, not four. We’ll look more closely at the EIR in the coming days, but the environmental impact in 2021 is not equal to 2009, and an updated EIR should have been considered.

Covid has many small businesses on life-support. Can they withstand years of chaos and construction, or will this roadway project finish the job Covid started for some of these businesses? Many businesses are angry that the City is diminishing their property, forcing substantial investments in their infrastructure on the heels of Covid and making life difficult for the dubious goal of lessening traffic by adding traffic lanes; a questionable thesis at best. Many experts dispute this claim and point to induced demand as the likely outcome.

What do the business and property owners get for enduring a loss of property value, expensive abatement and relocation projects, restricted access to businesses, a loss of income and customers? That’s the question the Burbank Widening Citizen Group is asking, and it’s a question the City of Los Angeles needs to answer. Why is this unpopular street project even being considered? Developers of future luxury condos will get a nice wide street to front their high-rises after the small businesses that have been the lifeblood of North Hollywood are driven out. What is the City’s vision for this neighborhood? Mr. Krekorian, why this impractical, and undesirable project. Crime, graffiti, and homelessness are this neighborhood’s focus. And it should be the City’s.

We think it’s time to challenge this project’s validity, legality, and soundness. The property owners have to navigate a fog of City Planning incompetence. Alice Kim, the project’s boss, recently told property owners to reference the spray-painted symbols on their sidewalks to infer their responsibilities in relocating their assets. No one in the neighborhood remembers any invitation for public comment or input on this project before it became a fait accompli – a requirement under state law. The Environmental Impact has not been assessed since 2009. The 2002 basis of this project was found to be irrelevant in the decision to end 2020 Magnolia Ave Widening. There are no architectural drawings to be seen that address the specifics of this project, such as the actual width of the sidewalks in front of each business and the parking that will be eliminated to enable the five lanes. And this is important, the property and business owners most affected by this project don’t want it. We haven’t heard a single word of support.

The one neighborhood not shown in the City’s examples of the project scope is the Magnolia Ave widening project that was suspended last year after citizens objected. In that case, upon further review, it was determined that the basis of the project was an outdated “roadway standard.” As is the Burbank project? This project also runs afoul of Mayor Garcetti’s promise of no street projects that increase traffic. When challenged on this point, a City Official responded that this project was in the works before Garcetti changed the rules. It didn’t count. Apparently, City Planning play by their own rules. The Planning Officials carefully avoid this conflict by pitching this as a traffic-reduction project. On Burbank Boulevard, nobody is buying the city line.

We propose that the City do the right and rational thing and scuttle this road widening as they did on Magnolia and embark instead on a beautification project as is being done on Magnolia. Yes, this stretch of Burbank needs some love. New sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, trees, and landscaping. So let’s clean up the boulevard, not blow it up.

[1] Neighborhood as described in City’s original filing in 2009. W.O. NO. E1906869 “The surrounding parcels are zoned primarily for commercial uses and are occupied by a variety of small businesses in single-story buildings. From Ensign Avenue to Cleon Avenue, along the south side of Burbank Boulevard, the area is zoned for industrial uses. A large retail hardware supply store occupies the southwest corner of Vineland. Avenue and Burbank Boulevard and a variety of light industrial shipping and manufacturing businesses are found to the east of Vineland Avenue. There are a few residential properties along the proposed segment of Burbank Boulevard between Benner Avenue and Fulcher Avenue, Krump Avenue and Bonner Avenue, and Lankershim Boulevard and Bakman Avenue, but the majority of the properties along this segment are commercial light industrial, or light manufacturing”. 
Missing are the hotels, 5 recording studios, restaurants, condos, etc.

[3] The City’s claim on easement and condemnation per the 2009 initial filing. “The project would require permanent easements on 18 parcels in total to accommodate the expanded right-ofway.
An existing building at 11178 Burbank Boulevard (Assessor Parcel Number 2350005030), located on the
southeast corner of the intersection of Klump Avenue and Burbank Boulevard, would either be cut and refaced or
demolished to accommodate the expanded right-of-way.”

[5]  City Attorney Letter regarding Burbank Blvd Street Widening Project property condemnations.  “The City Attorney states that an Ordinance to condemn nine parcels for this project was adopted on April 1, 2016.”
This letter is really the “smoking gun.”  The City Attorney says no further environment review necessary, accept what planning tells you, accept the ordinance condemning the properties and pay the man.  This required 10 votes from City Council and we have been unable to determine it this was passed into law. You can read the full statement here.

[2] The claim of 12′ feet needed doesn’t square with the facts.  The 50′ existing roadbed plus 24′ doesn’t equal the 80 feet needed.  From the City’s initial filing in 2009′ “A Class II, Major Highway would generally be at least 80 feet wide; however the existing stretch of Burbank Boulevard between Lankershim Boulevard and Cleon Avenue is not a consistent width of at least 80 feet. With implementation of this project, the final width proposed for Burbank Boulevard would be at least 80 feet through the entire section, thereby conforming to the Class II Major Highway standards of the City.”  And the City needs another 24′ for sidewalk and parkway. The implementation with removal of buildings as initially proposed was revised and dropped for lack of funds. Nine properties at 2021 real estate prices would doom this 11M project. Again, the proposed project can’t be built as proposed in 2002 and the subsequent 2009 CEQ filing. 

[4]  Dishonesty in the CEQ filing; “The proposed project would widen Burbank Boulevard between Lankershim Boulevard and
Cleon Avenue, thereby increasing the capacity of this section of the roadway and bringing it
more in line with the capacity of the roadway to the east and west. No additional vehicle trips
would be generated by the proposed project. The project is designed to ease congestion in
the area. No major shift in traffic is expected as a result of the street improvements. Therefore,
no impact would occur.”  It’s an absurd claim that an increase in traffic won’t occur when using the phrase “increase the capacity” and “in line with the capacity.”  And to the east, Burbank Blvd. is two lanes not the four claimed in this filing rendering this argument specious.

[6] In 2009 the City made the following claim in it’s CEQ Impact filing: “d) Does the project have environmental effects that will cause substantial adverse effects on human beings, either directly or indirectly? [Anwser] Comment: The project is designed to alleviate traffic congestion and provide standard road widths within an established community. The proposed project would not result in substantial or adverse effects on human beings, either directly or indirectly.”  Tens of thousands of dollars in costs  for business owners in abatements of improvements on top of the financial disaster that COVID wrought was not considered in 2009.


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Wall to Wall Burbank Bl has at most 100′ of separation between buildings if lawn, trees, fences, and gates are removed and as you can see it is often narrower.  The Burbank BL roadbed is 50-52′.

Welcome to your Los Angeles Burbank BL Widening Survey

1. Do you support the Burbank Bl street Widening as proposed by the City of Los Angeles.The City of Los Angeles intends to widen Burbank BL between Lankershim and Cleon in January, 2022.  The city intends to remove all private property that impinges on the city "right of way" redrawing the property lines of all area businesses.
2. Are you a property owner/business owner in the Burbank BL "Widening" area between Lankersheim and Cleon?
3. If Yes on the above question, have you recieved a citation from the city ordering you to remove property?

Burbank Widening Citizens Group

This site is operated by the Burbank Widening Citizen Group. This group has formed in opposition to the Burbank Street Widening Project and is comprised of businesses and residents affected by this project.  It is non-profit and not affiliated with the City of Los Angeles or any political party. Your participation in this group will be confidential upon request. No data collected by BWCG will be sold or used for any purpose and will not be retained beyond the scope of this endeavor.

© 2021 Burbank Widening Citizens Group.  All rights reserved.

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