Tuesday, December 20, 2011
In fact, the Update totally conflicts with LA's General Plan. It is nothing more than the city planning version of the fantasy film, Field of Dreams, in which an Iowa farmer built a baseball diamond that magically materialized high caliber baseball teams and games.
The politicians promoting this "plan" believe that a slew of mega-projects in Hollywood will propel economic growth. Nothing could be further from the truth, which is why the General Plan Framework is strongly opposed to such real estate bubbles.
First, Hollywood's public infrastructure and services cannot support super-sized projects, a barrier clearly documented in the Update's Final Environment Impact Report.
Second, there is no evidence that the upscale tenants, shoppers, and residents required to make these mega-projects succeed will ever materialize. LA is no longer a boomtown, but an old, deteriorating city, mired in poverty, inequality, and decay. Instead, like the Hollywood and Highland shopping center, the new skyscrapers encouraged by the Update will languish until their developers are forced to beg for public handouts to avoid bankruptcy.
If City Hall really wants to revitalize Hollywood and the rest of Los Angeles, it must provide amenities, not green light financial speculation. This city desperately needs code enforcement, bans on supergraphics and billboards, undergrounded utility wires, good schools, extensive transit and bike lanes, more parks and community centers, repaired streets and sidewalks, and an urban forest.
This ought to be the clear local lesson from the Wall Street financial crisis that began in 2008 and has yet to be resolved.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
WHAT CRITICS SAY ABOUT THE PROPOSED UPDATE OF THE HOLLYWOOD COMMUNITY PLAN: BEWARE OF INTENDED CONSEQUENCES
After 18 years of work, LA’s Department of City Planning has finally unveiled a draft update for the 1988 Hollywood Community Plan, including 105 pages of detailed amendments to increase permitted building densities in
Because of the
The following six points summarize much of this DEIR testimony:
1. Infrastructure and Services: First, LA’s public infrastructure, which has not been monitored in over 11 years, and in some categories, not planned in over 40 years, cannot handle the needs of the city’s existing and projected population and commuters. In the case of the DEIR, there is no analysis to demonstrate that local services and infrastructure in
Furthermore, there is no proposal in the DEIR or the draft Community Plan itself to monitor local infrastructure conditions, including changing demographics and user demand, as well as the effectiveness of the updated Plan's infrastructure-related policies and programs. The proposed plan also fails to identify any threatened infrastructure systems in
To put it bluntly, this is a plan that will dramatically reduce the quality of life in
2. Conflicts with the General Plan: The city’s outdated but still official and legally required General Plan
is "growth neutral." According to the 1996 General Plan Framework Element,
To exceed local densities in
3. Census Data: The update of the Hollywood Community Plan is based on outdated census data.
The two plans are not only inconsistent with each other, but neither is current because the new 2010 census data is now available and should be used for monitoring, reviewing, and updating all components of a city’s General Plan.
4. Population Decline: Fourth, if the new 2010 census data had been used for the Hollywood Community Plan’s DEIR, it would demonstrate that
5. Framework Turned on its Head: The Hollywood Community Plan's implementation program of up-zoning and up-planning is being proposing to encourage growth to promote secondary Framework planning goals, such as transit use. This is an approach which turn LA's growth neutral General Plan Framework Element on its head. It also conflicts with Los Angeles City Charter Sections 556 and 558, which require consistency with the intent and purposes of the General Plan. The role of transit is to serve the public's growing need for mobility, while the update’s call to increase density in Hollywood as a planning tool to boost transit use absolutely conflicts with the intent and purposes of the General Plan.
6. The General Plan should be up dated prior to Community Plans: Sixth, to properly plan
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
America's Dirtiest Cities
Can clean be overrated? America's dirtiest cities happen to include some very popular tourist destinations.
By Katrina Brown Hunt
No. 1 New Orleans
Photo by: iStock
How do you define a city’s soul? For a lot of travelers, it’s in the dirt.
Atlanta ad exec Patrick Scullin, for instance, loves Baltimore—but not because it’s particularly pristine. “Yes, there’s litter, smokers, and graffiti,” he says, “but that’s just life going on. The air sometimes offends, but a cool breeze off the harbor can ease all worries. It’s a gem of a city.”
While such sentiments don’t appear in tourist brochures, that glorious grit has landed Baltimore in the Top 10 dirtiest cities, as chosen by Travel + Leisure readers in the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey. Of course, visitors gauge “dirty” in a variety of ways: litter, air pollution, even the taste of local tap water.
This year’s American State Litter Scorecard, published by advocacy group the American Society for Public Administration, put both Nevada and Louisiana in the bottom five—echoing the assessment of T+L readers who ranked Las Vegas and New Orleans among America’s dirtiest cities.
No. 1 New Orleans
Can you imagine the cleanup required after Mardi Gras? Both tourists and Mother Nature have sometimes been hard on the Crescent City, which readers voted the dirtiest in America. But that doesn’t stop the good times from rolling on. Voters embraced the city’s fun-loving spirit, ranking New Orleans first for its nightlife and eclectic people-watching.
No. 2 Philadelphia
The City of Brotherly Love was voted the fourth dirtiest city last year and just narrowly avoided the top slot for sloppy this time around. The locals may not be helping with those first impressions—they ranked near the bottom of the style category, as well as in the bottom five for being environmentally aware.
No. 3 Los Angeles
That infamous rep for smog is tough to shake: the City of Angels, which is No. 3 for the second year in a row, continues to do poorly in national air-quality tests. AFC voters also put traffic-clogged Los Angeles in last place for being pedestrian-friendly and in the bottom three for overall quality of life.
No. 4 Memphis
Nothing is tidy about barbecue or the blues, two of Memphis’s biggest tourist draws. This city on the banks of The Big Muddy has more to work on than dirtiness; it came in last place in the AFC for being environmentally friendly, as well as for feeling safe.
No. 5 New York City
Last year’s dirtiest city is looking a little fresher these days. But AFC voters seem to champion New York because of its less-than-sterile vibe, and not in spite of it. There’s world-class culture, cool neighborhoods, and diverse locals. Just be prepared to pay for it: NYC ranked as the most expensive city in the nation.
No. 6 Baltimore
The Inner Harbor is a crowd-pleaser, but AFC voters weren’t impressed by Charm City’s overall cleanliness or its more land-based features. Baltimore came in next-to-last place for its public parks, hotels, and even interesting people.
No. 7 Las Vegas
This is the No. 1 town for wild weekends, so it’s no surprise that Vegas makes it into the Top 10 for dirty disarray. Impressively, Sin City has actually improved its standing by two slots since last year. And if you’re willing to splurge, any semblance of grittiness may disappear: Vegas scored No. 1 for luxury hotels and No. 2 for both luxury shopping and big-name restaurants.
No. 8 Miami
AFC voters loved Miami’s bar scene and its upscale dining, but all that hoopla takes its toll on a person—and on a city. AFC voters ranked the Florida hot spot poorly not only for cleanliness but for safety.
No. 9 Atlanta
Many cities that made the dirtiest Top 10 scored well for having a vivid nightlife, cool neighborhoods, or great live music. Alas, Atlanta couldn’t claim any of those in the survey. At least the city has its quality—and sloppy—barbecue going for it.
No. 10 Houston
This oil town could stand a green makeover, according to AFC voters. Its cleanliness score worsened by four spots since last year. The general vibe left AFC voters wanting, too. They ranked Houston near the bottom for its parks and weather. The city’s collective ego can take great pride in one thing: it topped the AFC charts for its juicy (and no doubt messy) burgers.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
The Mayor recently signed a new ordinance adopted by the Los Angeles City Council to
halt the construction of McMansions on small hillside lots. These elected officials vow
that this ordinance will stop the mansionization process in hillside areas. But will it?
If the Hillside McMansion ordinance is filled with loopholes similar to those of the
Baseline McMansion ordinance enacted several years ago for non-hillside areas, hillside
residents should be very wary. This is because the Baseline ordinance still allowed
McMansions to be constructed -- as long as they were less than about 4,500 square feet.
Since this provision effectively green-lighted nearly all
McMansions, especially in the R1-1 zone, the
Mansionization process has continued unabated in Los
To begin, McMansions are those boxy, massively
oversized, suburban-style spec houses appearing in
older neighborhoods, such as Beverly Grove, where I
They are all two stories and built by house flippers to
the maximum height limit of 33 feet. They are almost always fortified with tall hedges
and walls, painted bright white, and designed with an attached two car garage seldom
used for cars.
There are now two efforts in Council District 5 to finally pull the plug on the
mansionizers. One is an overlay zoning ordinance for Studio City, whose adoption is
stalled. The other is a similar ordinance proposed by the Beverly Wilshire Homes
Association (BWHA) for the Beverly Grove neighborhood. This is an area north of
Wilshire Boulevard, sandwiched between The Grove and Beverly Center shopping centers, which has been targeted by the mansionizers.
The residents of the Beverly Grove area believe it is now time for
Council District 5 to support the BWHA proposal and finally side with
local residents, not the spec builders.
Unless the Baseline McMansion ordinance is tightened up, the entire
character of the Beverly Grove neighborhood, many other parts of
the Council District 5, and eventually all of LA’s older residential neighborhoods
will be permanently transformed by real estate speculators. They will continue to buy
and bulldoze smaller homes, in order to replace them with McMansions that are quickly
placed on the market and then flipped every two years.
Furthermore, during the nearly two years since the Beverly Wilshire proposal was first
presented to Council District 5, many more McMansions have been built despite the real
estate recession. Local residents assume this is because the mansionizers do not depend
on bank financing to quickly get their behemoths to market. Until the code amendments
presented to CD 5 in Studio City and Beverly Grove are adopted, these trends will
continue and will probably get worse. When the dust finally settles, few traditional
Spanish revival and Tudor homes will remain.
As a result, the tipping point for much of Los Angeles is at hand, and this is the time to
act, to share your views with Council District 5. It is better to do something now rather
than point fingers later.
(Dick Platkin is city planning consultant on the board of the Beverly Wilshire Homes
Please send questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org) -cw
Vol 9 Issue 31
Pub: Apr 19, 2011