Tue, Nov

Memo to NBC Universal: Keep Your Word, Subsidize the Red Line

CONSIDER THIS -  NBC Universal has proposed a $3 billion commercial and residential addition to its 300-plus acres in Universal City. It would include 2,900 additional housing units, and television and movie production facilities.

On Oct. 2, the company publicly stated that it would provide $100 million in transportation improvements to mitigate the extra traffic generated by the proposed new development.

It seems NBC Universal has forgotten its public commitment in the late 1980s to promote the use of the Red Line subway, which has a station directly across from the present entertainment headquarters in Universal City.

The executives of MCA Inc., then the owners of the Universal City property, promised to build a people-mover system running from Lankershim Boulevard up the hill to the entrance of the studio tour and CityWalk. It was never built.

Now inefficient polluting studio trams carry the thousands of guests each day up the hill. It is not a very attractive or convenient means to get to the park.

I believe any new development at the site must mandate NBC Universal spending a good part of that $100 million on subsidizing the cost of their guests using the subway to travel to the park and back home.

This would be an effective way to increase patronage on the MTA system. But, more importantly, it would reduce the millions of cars that travel into Universal City each year and completely clog the primary and secondary streets and surrounding residential and commercial areas.

If elected public officials are going to seriously evaluate the $3 billion proposal, they should put conditions on the NBC Universal proposal to mandate the use of the Red Line subway as a primary means of travel to the entertainment center.

We need a substantial reduction of automobiles from outside areas traveling to Universal City. Spending $100 million on underwriting subway tolls is much more effective than tinkering with traffic lights and building new freeway on-ramps.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has strongly endorsed the $3 billion NBC Universal proposal, citing the need for jobs. But he is also the No. 1 advocate for subway expansion in Los Angeles. He and his staff should endorse greatly expanding the patronage of the Red Line subway into Universal City and the corresponding reduction of automobiles.

These auto trips cause nothing but bumper-to- bumper congestion in our east San Fernando Valley communities. The mayor has the political clout to make this happen. Let's hope he provides the leadership.

(Jack McGrath is the former president of the Studio City Chamber of Commerce and is the owner of GM Communications, a public relations and advertising firm in Valley Village. He can be reached at: [email protected]) -cw

Tags: NBC Universal, Universal City, Red Line Subway, traffic, traffic congestion

Vol 9 Issue 66
Pub: Aug 19, 2011