Thursday, February 16, 2012

WHAT HOLLYWOOD REALLY WANTS IN LIEU OF THE PROPOSED UPDATE

WHAT HOLLYWOOD REALLY NEEDS IN LIEU OF THE PROPOSED UPDATE (As published on City Watch)

By Dick Platkin
rhplatkin@yahoo.com, 213-308-6354

The Update of the Hollywood Community Plan is not only opposed by nearly every neighborhood council and resident group in Hollywood, but also by city planning professionals like myself. Community groups, in fact, understand Los Angeles’s legally adopted plans and the planning process better than LA’s elected officials and departmental managers. Local residents know that claims from City Hall that the Hollywood Community Plan Update faithfully implements the General Plan are bogus. They also know that any revival of Hollywood will turn on high quality public infrastructure and services, careful project reviews, reliable code enforcement, and annual monitoring.

Why? Because the Update totally conflicts with LA's General Plan Framework Element (1996), the backbone of the city’s General Plan. The Update is nothing more than the city planning version of the fantasy film, Field of Dreams, in which an Iowa farmer builds a baseball diamond that magically materialized high caliber baseball teams and games.

The officials promoting this "plan" believe that a slew of skyscrapers and 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 efforts to promote such real estate bubbles.

First, Hollywood's public infrastructure and services cannot support these 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, infrastructure decay, congestion, pollution, and unsustainable technology and physical form. Instead, like the Hollywood and Highland shopping center, the new skyscrapers and mega-projects 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 and maintain public amenities, not green light financial speculation in real estate. This ought to be the clear local lesson from the Wall Street financial crisis that began in 2008 and has yet to be resolved.

Instead, Hollywood, like the rest of Los Angeles, desperately needs code enforcement, bans on supergraphics and billboards, undergrounded utility wires, reliable sewers and fresh water systems, good schools, extensive transit and bike lanes, more parks and community centers, repaired streets and sidewalks, community gardens, drought tolerant landscaping, and an urban forest.

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