Television City Studios owner Rick Caruso accused developer Rick Caruso of “hypocrisy” in opposing the $1.25 billion studio development, which is next door to Caruso’s The Grove shopping center.
Caruso is running for mayor of Los Angeles in the Nov. 8 election. He has voiced his support for bringing film and television productions to LA. It also promises to make it harder for opponents of development projects to file “undesirable” objections under California’s Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.
But on Sept. 13, Grove filed a 374-page opinion letter citing several flaws in CEQA’s analysis of the Television City project. The letter said the draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was “fatally wrong” for several reasons, including its failure to properly consult with Native American tribes. Failure to consider noise impacts including platform doors and platform shots, not fully addressing the risk of methane gas explosion or crane collapse during construction; Not missing the distance from the project site to the Hollywood disaster; And failing to consider the health problems associated with hauling soil during Santa Ana winds.
Caruso said he is not opposed to redeveloping the studio, but is echoing residents’ concerns about traffic and parking conditions in an already busy area.
Grove’s letter also raises concerns about the DEIR’s discussion of historical or archaeological aspects of the site. The DEIR is a historic site that dates back to 1852, adjacent to the Gilmore Adobe. However, Grove’s letter contains an error in the document because “Native American labor was used to construct the first adobe building, or if Native Americans were used as domestic help or labor on the adobe and adjacent lands.”
Grove’s letter also mentions his failure to mention La Brea Seth, a human remains excavated from nearby tar pits in 1914; And not to mention the Gabrieno/Tongva village of Guaspet, which was abandoned sometime before 1820.
The letter goes on to say that two building additions to the existing studio facility — dating from 1969 and 1976 — may have historical significance because “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” “All in the Family” and “The Carol Burnett Show” were filmed by. The studio in that period, and therefore removing those additions “damages the overall historical resources.” (The original 1952 studio has been declared a city historic monument, protected from demolition, but nothing built after 1963 is currently considered historically significant.)
The City must respond to each comment raised in opposition to the DEIR, which has the potential to extend the approval process.
Television City Former CBS Television City is home to “The Price Is Right,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Real Time With Bill Maher,” among other shows.
Hackman Capital Partners bought the property from CBS in 2018. The company announced last year that it plans to add more than 1 million square feet of production and office space, which will increase noise levels from eight to at least 15. The company mentioned that there is an urgent shortage. Production facilities in Los Angeles pushed for approval of the project.
In an interview, Hackman Capital Senior Vice President Zach Sokoloff denounced Caruso’s “hypocrisy” and accused the project of “refuting” CEQA. Caruso said he was sorry. Difference Apple said the entertainment industry has put its operations in Culver City, and as mayor, he will personally urge entertainment companies to locate in Los Angeles.
Sokoloff said Grove’s actions would create “suspicion” around the project and contribute to a business-friendly climate.
“Apple is our client. Amazon is our client. Netflix is our client,” Sokoloff said. “We’ve worked with these companies and many others like them. Caruso’s actions are the reason these companies don’t want to do business in LA.”
Grove, the owner of the original farmers market, and AF Gilmore Co. have funded the Beverly Fairfax Community Alliance, a group opposing the TV City project. “The project will choke our streets with traffic and cause residents to pay higher rents,” the union sent a text message to neighbors.
At an Oct. 7 candidate forum hosted by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Caruso said his main objection is traffic impacts, particularly on Grove Drive.
“I’ve never opposed a project in my life and I’m not going to oppose this one,” Caruso said. But I am opposed to a traffic plan that affects that residential neighborhood.
Sokoloff argued that Caruso is spreading “misinformation” in the community. The city’s analysis shows the project will have a “less than significant” impact on vehicle miles traveled, which is currently measured as traffic congestion. He also said that the analysis came from a traffic consultant who worked on Caruso’s projects.
“Candidate Caruso recognizes the urgent need to build new sound systems,” Sokoloff said. “If not on existing studio lots, where should we build new soundstages that have the capacity to build those soundstages?”
Caruso’s spokesman, Peter Ragon, said Monday that Caruso “is focused on the mayor’s race and is not involved in this matter.
“He supports building new studios, but we all have to be good neighbors,” Ragon said. “Unfortunately, the current redevelopment proposal will cause significant inconvenience to the community, including additional traffic congestion and parking in residential areas.”
Homeowners in the area also submitted about 400 letters expressing concerns about the project.
“What they want is huge,” said Danielle Peters, one of the local protesters. “Traffic will be an absolute disaster.”
Peters said the neighbors are not opposed to the TV City redevelopment, and she personally would like to see some housing on the site.
“We’re good at one project,” she said. “We don’t want anything that’s going to ruin the neighborhood, ruin the farmer’s market, ruin the Grove.
Rosalie Wayne, a member of the Beverly Wilshire Housing Association, said project documents do not adequately describe the parameters of the expansion project.
“There’s no objection to having a built and expanded studio. It’s just a matter of degree,” she says. “They’re looking for a blank check to do whatever they want. That’s not going to work for us.”
Caruso stepped down as CEO of the company in September. He said he would put his real estate holdings in a “blind trust” if elected mayor. The main decision maker when the project moves forward will be the council member for the 5th district. Kate Yaroslavsky and Sam Ybry are vying to replace Paul Koretz in that race.
In a recent interview with CityWatch, Yaroslavsky said that while she supports expanding the recreation workforce at the site, the developer’s proposal should be viewed as an “opening shot.”
“Given the scale and the environmental impact, you can’t assume that your proposal will be approved,” she said.
At the chamber event, Caruso said that if elected, he will try to find a solution between the city of television and the neighbors.
“As mayor, I would get in the middle of the TV City thing and say, ‘Let’s find common ground here,'” Caruso said. “This is how I build each of my projects. Without snapping my fingers, a groove emerged.
But Sokoloff said he believes Grove’s letter of opposition sets the stage for a CEQA lawsuit to try to block the project in court.
“That’s definitely the next play in their playbook,” he said. “We want to make a deal. We want to be a good neighbor. I sincerely hope that the misunderstandings we find ourselves in can be reversed.
(Pictured above: Hackman Capital Partners’ planned expansion of Television City)