By Aaron Blevins, 6/14/2012
Review Scheduled for June 19
According to multiple sources, the Los Angeles City Council is slated to vote on the Hollywood Community Plan on June 19 after eight years of discussions regarding the future of Hollywood.
The plan aims to guide commercial and residential development while protecting historic properties and neighborhoods. It also presents guidelines for future transportation options, bike lanes and green space.
Ziggy Kruse, a member of People for Livable Communities (savehollywood.org), claims that the foundation of the plan, which was championed by Councilman Eric Garcetti, 13th District, is based on bad population data. The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) has predicted Hollywood’s population to rise in the coming years, though a recent Census showed a population decline.
“The plan is fatally flawed,” Kruse said.
She said People for Livable Communities fears that the plan will reduce height restrictions to allow developers to construct skyscrapers. Kruse said the area’s infrastructure is insufficient, and the plan’s accommodations fall short.
Officials have stated the plan calls for increased density in Hollywood, specifically near subways and other public transportation. However, Kruse believes that Hollywood’s police and fire protection would become increasingly strained.
“That’s a dangerous game they’re playing,” she said.
Kruse said the organization is not against development — it simply must be done right. She spoke of the shopping center at Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue, which she said turned out nice.
“The only downside is the parking,” Kruse added. “People, quite frankly, like it.”
She suggested that the council send the plan back to the planning department to redo the environmental impact report. Otherwise, the council could be facing a lawsuit, which People for Livable Communities is currently preparing.
“We are ready if it’s needed, yes,” Kruse said.
Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, said he supports the plan as drafted, though he is concerned about “super high-rises.” A portion of his district is in Hollywood, where the tallest building is 22 stories.
“It does preserve the center … of Hollywood,” LaBonge said, adding that it also preserves neighborhoods. “The middle of Hollywood will still be the same.”
He said he would like the current council or any future councils to have discretion when it comes to proposed skyscrapers in Hollywood. LaBonge also said that he believes any proposed high-rises should have an observation deck for tourists and residents.
“There needs to … be potential development,” he said, “and this is a guide for development in the future.”
In terms of the population figures, LaBonge said he supports SCAG’s numbers. While Hollywood has lost some of its population over the last few years, he believes that people will return.
“I think it’s good to look to the future this way,” LaBonge said.
Doug Haines, of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association, both of which have raised objections to the plan, also said the plan is “fundamentally-flawed” due to the population figures.
“The plan itself doesn’t stand up,” he said, adding that the EIR is based on inaccuracies. “Instead of resolving that … they’ve just been trying to fudge it the whole time.”
Haines said 16,000 people have left Hollywood in recent years, and officials believe that Hollywood’s population of 198,000 could grow to 249,000 by 2030. He said his neighborhood has witnessed a 35 percent decrease.
“It’s not a community plan,” Haines said. “It’s a development plan, first and foremost.”
Haines wondered aloud what companies would contemplate relocating to Hollywood. He referenced several media and film businesses that have left the area, such as CBS, which occupied Columbia Square several years ago. Haines also mentioned the office towers in Century City and other areas.
“What is the draw in Hollywood? It certainly isn’t the aesthetics,” he said, adding that the blight is not the fault of the community. “The jobs aren’t in Hollywood anymore. Hollywood has always been a residential community.”
Haines stated that there are no funding sources attached to the plan. He also echoed Kruse’s sentiments regarding infrastructure and fire and police protection. John Walsh, of the Yucca Argyle Neighborhood Watch Group, expressed similar thoughts.
“It’s a blueprint for overdevelopment,” Walsh said.
He said he is not against the plan itself, but the lack of height restrictions is concerning. Walsh said skyscrapers will take away from the view in Hollywood, which is a major component of its charm. He said high-rises could affect property values in the Hollywood Hills.
“‘You’re next.’ That’s what we’re saying to the rest of the city,” Walsh said, referring to the city’s plan to create community plans for other areas.
Kerry Morrison, the executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, said the plan will provide forward momentum to keep Hollywood on its path to revitalization. She said it will be beneficial to lawmakers, community leaders, investors, property owners and other decision makers in determining what kind of retail, housing and jobs to bring to Hollywood.
“Otherwise, there has been, up to now, a lot of ambiguity … and a lack of clarity about Hollywood’s future,” Morrison said, adding that a lack of planning will be a disincentive for new projects and employers. “Adopting this community plan will reduce ambiguity [and] provide clarity and a sense of common direction.”
She said opponents tend to lose sight of how big Hollywood actually is, focusing on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street instead.
“We’re talking about a very large community that is integrated with jobs, schools and transportation,” Morrison said. “It’s all good because it kind of weaves everything together to transform this into a thriving community.”
She said density is welcome, as business owners need a requisite density to support retail projects. The lack thereof has led to a vast amount of tattoo parlors and “stripper stores,” Morrison said.
“Density is what is going to be required if we’re going to transform the retail and actually transform ourselves into a live-work community,” she added.
Morrison said Hollywood needs more people living and working there. She said the population figures may be misleading because the demographic of Hollywood has changed. More young people have entered the area, filling vacancies left by families.
“It is hard for a family to live in the heart of Hollywood without the amenities,” Morrison said, adding that many area apartment complexes are full.
She said it is obvious that Hollywood, and Los Angeles as a whole, cannot survive by clinging to the car culture. Morrison said it is imperative that the city provide an opportunity for people to move about without cars, which could be resolved by adding density to public transportation hubs.
“That is the future,” she said. “We’re very excited about it. We’re ready to get started on it. …It’s been a long time coming.”
Representatives from Garcetti’s office could not accommodate multiple requests for an interview by deadline. However, they issued the following statement from the councilman.
“This community plan isn’t about driving development,” Garcetti said. “This is about being prepared when outside market forces create a demand for development. Right now the city is not prepared. The current plan dates from 1988. If there were a time to ‘freeze’ things in Hollywood, it certainly wouldn’t be 1988. We need a plan that contains additional protections for neighborhoods and that includes traffic mitigations like the Red Line that didn’t exist in 1988. That’s what I’m looking for.”
To view the plan, visit cityplanning.lacity.org.