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Safety in question at proposed Taco Bell

Residents say the intersection is too dangerous to allow for a fast-food restaurant.

October 07, 2011|By Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com
  • The old Conroy's Flowers in Burbank will soon be demolished and turned into a 24-hour Taco Bell. Neighbors are trying to prevent it, arguing that it will generate more traffic. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)
The old Conroy's Flowers in Burbank will soon be…

As several residents oppose construction of a Taco Bell at the intersection of Buena Vista Street and Burbank Boulevard because of the number of accidents there, new traffic figures indicate the problem may be worse than first thought.

Earlier this year, Burbank officials looked at traffic-collision rates along Buena Vista from the beginning of 2006 to mid-2010 and found 20 accidents at the intersection with Burbank Boulevard, making it the second-most accident-prone intersection along Buena Vista.

But in the past year alone, police have logged 15 collisions at the intersection, Sgt. Robert Quesada said, making it the third-most dangerous intersection in the entire city. It tied with Hollywood Way at Magnolia Avenue.

The new figures could bolster the argument of residents who live near the proposed Taco Bell, who say the fast-food restaurant would make an already dangerous intersection worse.

The intersection at Victory Boulevard and Hollywood Way had the most accidents during the past year with 20, Quesada said, followed by the 2600 block of Hollywood Way near Bob Hope Airport with 16.

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David Kriske, deputy planner for transportation, said city officials will be looking into “the discrepancy” in numbers and compile the information before the City Council hears an appeal of the Taco Bell project on Dec. 20.

Quesada also said the intersection at Burbank and Buena Vista is the only one in the top three to have a fatal crash in the past year.

The collisions continue to occur. On Sept. 30, there was a four-car crash at Burbank and Buena Vista, Quesada said.

After the Burbank Planning Board approved a Taco Bell at the intersection on Sept. 12, Robin DiGiulio and Robert Phipps filed an appeal, contending that the site cannot accommodate the increased traffic, and that cars waiting in the drive-through will spill out onto Buena Vista, clogging traffic in both directions.

City officials said a Taco Bell would generate about 1,300 more cars daily — with 79 during the morning peak hour and 55 during the evening peak hour. They said the increase is within the safety threshold for the area.

Residents did have one of their concerns addressed when the Planning Board denied a permit to operate the Taco Bell 24 hours a day, instead limiting hours to 8 a.m. to midnight.

The new 2,680-square-foot restaurant would have a dining area and onsite parking. If it opens, the existing Taco Bell located at Buena Vista and Magnolia Avenue will be closed, according to company officials.

In addition to limiting the operating hours, the Planning Board also required that a fence proposed for north of the restaurant be increased from 6 feet high to 8 feet to better serve as a noise buffer.

Taco Bell had already made some concessions before the Planning Board meeting, including muting the colors on the building’s exterior and agreeing to construct a monument-style restaurant sign that can be no taller than 10 feet.
 
 

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