New Hollywood Community Plan Released

A new Hollywood Community Plan has been submitted and there are scoping meetings being held across the City of Los Angeles – Click here to see the NEW PLAN. We will post these meetings on the FACEBOOK SITE as well as on this website.

Hollywood Becomes Fraudywood

M FraudywoodIn order to have the City Council approve the Garcetti Hollywood Community Plan on June 19, 2012, the HCP EIR deceitfully inflated Hollywood’s 2005 population by 23,880, claiming to have used SCAG Regional Transportation Plan numbers.

After the three lawsuits were filed and finding that the SCAG 2005 RTP had absolutely no data for Hollywood and finding no SCAG data on Hollywood’s population for any year including 2005 baseline or for the fictitious population of 244,602 ppl in 2030 anywhere in the 70,000 pages of administrative record, concerned citizens made a Government Code, § 6250 request for the SCAG population data on Hollywood.  Guess what? SCAG had NO public data. There never was any official or public population data for the 2005 population of 224,426 ppl.  Thus, it was a material fraud to tell the public that the baseline 2005 population was 224,426 ppl. Continue reading

L.A. Violates Your Due-Process Rights

How residents unearthed 200,000 words of phony findings City Hall used to illegally approve a skyscraper at Hollywood and Gower —

 

By Jill Stewart published: August 30, 2012 —

 

In May 2011, at a final public hearing over whether to approve the tallest skyscraper in Hollywood history, the Department of Planning unveiled 231 pages of surprise “supplemental findings” backing the developer’s plan.

The 200,000-word, book-length document gave the L.A. City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee an added boldness. Its chairman, City Councilman Ed Reyes, refused to let a member of the public rebut the developer, Hanover Company. Then the committee quickly approved the Hollywood/Gower Project.

Reyes should have let the man speak.

An environmental attorney from the Silverstein Law Firm, Daniel Wright knew the Department of Planning hadn’t written the 231-page “supplemental findings.” Doug Haines, a representative of the firm’s client, the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association of Hollywood, had discovered that the developer wrote the entire tome.

Wright had minutes earlier warned the land-use committee that the key study repeatedly referred to in the “findings” — the parking study claiming that the development would need 30 percent less parking than the city generally requires — wasn’t even included in the 200,000 words and was never seen by the public.

The Hirsch/Green Parking Study, it turned out, was merely an “exhibit” attached to a letter from the developer’s lobbying firm, in a pile of papers submitted at the hearing itself. Later, emails showed that city planners likely never read the study: Just before the hearing, planner Jim Tokunaga couldn’t open the developer’s attachment.

The land-use committee, known as PLUM, approved the skyscraper, along with the developer’s request for reduced parking, in parking-challenged Hollywood.

“We were asking city officials, ‘Where is the parking study that’s being voted on? Where is it?’ ” Wright says. “But no member of the public could see it — until it was posted the next day on the City Council website.”

Later, the City Council rubber-stamped the committee’s approval without allowing public comment — ending a supposedly public process in which the public was prevented from considering and debating the key issues.

The legal wrongdoing by City Hall resulted in an uncommon finding in July by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones: that the City Council and city had violated the “due process” rights of the Hollywood community. (Jones also found that L.A. violated the California Environmental Quality Act.)

“We alleged the city engaged in misconduct, lied to members of the public and suppressed information in an effort to conceal critical material from the public,” explains Robert P. Silverstein, the lead attorney. “So we won on our constitutional challenge — which is extremely rare.”

On Aug. 13, Jones affirmed her initial ruling, rejecting objections filed by the developer and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. She ordered not just a redo of the areas obfuscated by city officials, such as parking shortages, but also an entirely new Environmental Impact Report.

R.J. Comer, attorney for the project’s investors, said they are considering all options. The City Attorney’s office had no comment.

But Wright responds, “They’re so caught with their hands in the cookie jar, we do not see an appeal.”

Silverstein persuaded Jones to enter into evidence disturbing emails showing city officials readying the developer’s “findings” in support of the project as the city’s own.

Environmental attorneys consulted by the L.A. Weekly say they cannot recall such a courtroom slap-down. Although this was a lower court, only a few appellate cases have been reported involving municipalities guilty of violating due process.

Attorney Noel Weiss, who has won suits against L.A., says, “It’s because they are running a kangaroo court. The City Council and its PLUM committee don’t read the planning documents before them, which often aren’t written by the planners they pay. It’s lawless, and nobody has been shutting it down. Judge Jones is stepping on a lot of powerful toes by being so courageous against big L.A. powers. I very much admire her for doing it. ”

Although one Hollywood neighborhood council dominated by business interests backs the high-rise, the other four Hollywood-area neighborhood councils do not. Many residents are angry that it would tower 270 feet over a low-slung historic community. The first three stories were to be parking, topped by 17 stories of condos or high-end rentals — squeezed onto a cramped lot whose zoning restrictions prohibit skyscrapers.

Labor lawyer David Bell, president of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, argues that while the City Council granted the developer many “entitlements” — zone changes and billboard ads to help provide a more robust bottom line — the council was simultaneously degrading a protected skyline that has made the Hollywood Hills and its landmark sign among the most recognized sights anywhere.

“This isn’t Tarzana or Century City,” Bell says. “Hollywood is a global cultural asset that belongs to the community and world, being trampled upon for 176 luxury apartments. It isn’t right.”

The most controversial “entitlement” allowed investors to provide far less parking than required. (The developer claims, among possible mitigations, that the well-to-do residents will choose to use buses and subways.) Another “entitlement” lets the developer embed a huge billboard into the building’s side, visible from great distances and, Haines says, taller than the W Hotel nearby.

Maybe the ghost of Hollywood historic preservationist Robert Nudelman, who abhorred City Councilman Eric Garcetti’s dream of skyscrapers and billboards in Hollywood, caught wind of what was unfolding. One day, Haines, who greatly admired Nudelman, noticed in the public record an odd term — “supplemental findings” — mentioned in a letter from the developer’s consultant written to City Hall.

“I called city planner Jae Kim and said, ‘Hey, this isn’t supposed to be a game of hide-and-seek. Where are these supplemental findings?'”

As it emerged at trial, Kim then provided Haines with the “findings,” assuring him three times that City Planning had no intention of submitting the developers’ submission to the council committee.

But Haines was uneasy. He pored over the 200,000 words, and then he and attorney Wright attended the committee hearing. Then they watched, stunned, as Jae Kim himself delivered the findings as the city’s own.

La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association’s legal team showed in court that Kim’s superior, senior planner Jim Tokunaga, exchanged emails with Kim before the hearing, explaining that they would do a quick edit of the developer’s work. The new version was 20 pages shorter, with some sections tweaked.

Key city officials have refused to comment on who (or what) compelled Kim and Tokunaga to proceed. And no city officials involved would comment on why the Hirsch/Green Parking Study was kept secret from the public and added to the city website only after the skyscraper was approved.

City planner Michael LoGrande, Kim’s and Tokunaga’s boss, refused to comment, saying the project still faces litigation. Ken Bernstein, a principal city planner, returned the Weekly‘s call to LoGrande but did not know any details. Kim and Tokunaga did not return calls seeking comment.

Garcetti’s office, which led the cheers for the Hollywood/Gower skyscraper and wants more high-rise towers in Hollywood, said it did not know the Department of Planning had claimed the fat “supplemental findings” from the developer as its own. Julie Wong, a top aide to Garcetti, said she didn’t know if LoGrande had launched an investigation and was surprised to learn that LoGrande was not commenting.

City Attorney’s spokesman Frank Mateljan could not comment as to whether those involved in violating the due process of the Hollywood community will be investigated.

However, former city planning commissioner Mike Woo, who stepped down in mid-July, said an investigation would not be unheard of.

In an email, Woo explained that when a judge finds that L.A. acted illegally, “The City Attorney routinely reports back to the decision-making bodies (in this case, the City Planning Commission and the City Council) about the outcome of the lawsuit and recommends a course of action. In theory, this can include the kind of investigation or reprimand” the Weekly queried Woo about.

Silverstein isn’t holding his breath. If the skyscraper is ever built, he says, “Its big billboard should say, ‘Don’t violate our constitutional rights.’ ”

Reach the writer at jstewart@laweekly.com

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Stand With Hollywood Leaders – You CAN Make a Difference!

Many Community Leaders in Hollywood are fighting the City’s attempt to allow big-time developers to build high and wide on the already grid locked major streets you travel on in Hollywood. Developers, politicians, and lobbyists are salivating while plans are made to destroy the heart of the Hollywood we know and love and replace it with a soulless sea of skyscrapers.

In addition to being home to thousands of residents, Hollywood is the main entertainment destination for people in Los Angeles and for tourists from all over the world. However, this hosting burden of being the Entertainment Capitol of the World is immense and no other community in Southern California is equally challenged, except perhaps for Anaheim with its Disneyland venue.

Hollywood’s infrastructure is crumbling, and we don’t have enough services to support it! We don’t have enough resources to respond to the emergency needs of the current population.

Meanwhile, because of the City’s spending sprees, we have gutted the emergency response fund! Our lives and the lives of our visiting guests from near and far are threatened!

Will you stand by silent and allow this? Or, will you support Hollywood’s community leaders as they launch legal challenges to the life-altering changes that the current Hollywood Community Plan will bring?

Fighting costs money!

Don’t stand by while Hollywood is sold to the highest developer bidders. This is your chance to make a difference.

We need your donations! We need them now! Also, if you are willing and able to donate your time and expertise in this fundraising effort, we welcome that, too! You can either visit our website at savehollywood.org or you can send your tax-deductible donation to:

 

SaveHollywood.org
P.O. Box 3943
Los Angeles, CA 90078

Thank you for your interest and support in this very important cause.

The Team of SaveHollywood.org

Click Here to Download the flyer

Let L.A. Be L.A.

by Joel Kotkin – published 7-30-2012 in City-Journal.org
Unrestrained high-density development doesn’t become the City of Angels.

Victor’s Restaurant, a nondescript coffee shop on a Hollywood side street, seems an odd place to meet for a movement challenging many of Los Angeles’s most powerful, well-heeled forces. Yet amid the uniformed service workers, budding actors, and retirees enjoying coffee and French toast, unlikely revolutionaries plot the next major battle over the city’s future. Driving their rebellion is a proposal from the L.A. planning department that would allow greater density in the heart of Hollywood, a scruffy district that includes swaths of classic California bungalows and charming 1930s-era garden apartments. The proposal—which calls for residential towers of 50 stories or more along Hollywood Boulevard, where no building currently tops 20 stories—has been approved unanimously by the city council and will now probably be challenged in court.

Read Full Article

SaveHollywood.org is currently suing the City to prevent it from being destroyed. The facts and the law are on our side but we will have to show it in court. Lawsuits are costly. We need your financial support to save the Hollywood we all love. Now is the time to act. Please take a moment to use the “Donate” button or write a check to SaveHollywood.org to make it a success.

Stockton Officials’ Lousy Decision-Making Led to Bankruptcy

The bad decisions are all too easy to describe. Back when times were better, Stockton embraced a combination of overly generous compensation packages for city employees and excessive debt spending—not only on pension bonds but also on bonds to pay for redevelopment projects, which were supposed to revive the downtown area. Stockton was awash with the revenue that poured into their treasuries during the boom when home prices were so high and squandered tax dollars to embark on ill-conceived development projects, including subsidized stadiums. They predictably failed. The biggest problem for Stockton and other cities such as Mammoth Lakes, which followed Stockton into bankruptcy on Monday, wasn’t the property bubble but what they did with the revenue. The real question is whether officials in other California cities will learn anything about fiscal discipline and stop blaming unforeseen economic consequences for their own bad decisions.

Full article

Rejoice, Rejoice, the Wicked CRA is Dead!

by George Abrahams

For years the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) has been imposing ugly, soulless monstrosities upon our community using a command and control central planning model. They use their power over the objections of the residents.

The court upheld the enactment of Assembly Bill 1X 26, dissolving redevelopment agencies and redirecting their property tax revenues.

Assembly Bill 1X 27 was unconstitutional because it conditioned the ability of redevelopment agencies to conduct new business on agreeing to an annual payment plan based on a portion of property tax revenues allocated to redevelopment agencies.

Angelenos are already on the hook for over $3 BILLION in CRA debt.

The projects over the Subway Stations are huge financial failures:

(1)  Hollywood-Highland lost $454 Million Dollars, that’s almost $ 1/2 Billion.

(2) The W Hotel has most of its condos vacant and hotel rates are in the basement.

(3) Hollywood-Western cannot rent 1/2 of its retail space after 8 years!

Redevelopment Agencies Sitting on $10 to $20 Billion in Reserve Funds
by Bob Blue

As the State and local municipalities continue furloughing employees, closing fire stations “brown outs,” cutting Educational funding, and reducing local services please use your collective influence to prevent any more precious tax dollars being diverted away from critical local services by preventing any legislation that attempts to bring back Redevelopment agencies.

State Controller John Chiang and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer understands the waste and fraud involved in Redevelopment agencies and most importantly the fact that Redevelopment siphons away Property Tax dollars from schools, fire, health, and other local government services and directs these public funds to subsidize wealthy private developers and their private projects that in the long run hurt communities.

BRIEF BACKGROUND:

Here is a link to a good Editorial from the Press Enterprise: http://www.pe.com/opinion/editorials-headlines/20120108-state-redevelopment-ii.ece

As you may know, the California Supreme Court decided to keep a bill that would end Redevelopment in California and throw out another bill that would allow Redevelopment Agencies partially survive. (Throwing out AB1X-27 and upholding AB1X-26). Politically connected developers that benefit financially from this form of Corporate welfare are lobbying the State to save their source of taxpayer handouts.

PROBLEMS WITH REDEVELOPMENT:

Redevelopment takes any increase in property taxes due to valuation increases since the establishment of a Redevelopment regardless of what causes property values to increase. All of that money (the Tax Increment) goes to the Redevelopment agency to fund private projects and their politically connected developers and repay bond indebtedness).

In some areas such as Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles, kept all of the property tax increases since 1959 (over 50 years!). Just imagine how much the property values and taxes increased in 50 years and all of those funds were diverted away from local services for the people of Los Angeles.

And all of the taxpayers in the State have to make up the budget shortfalls.

Allowing Redevelopment agencies to survive, will just make matters worse for all Californians. Our budget and economic problems will drag on if Redevelopment comes back. Instead let’s start the road to economic recovery by returning Property Taxes back to the way the voters originally intended for them to be used.

Please make sure that our State representatives understand this. (See “How You Can Help” link for access info)

CRA Meeting 5-15-2008

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4sXzOKh8yw

CalWatchDog.com
Supreme Court Rebukes Crony Capitalism

http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/01/06/supreme-court-rebukes-crony-capitalism/

CapitolWeekly.net
Redevelopment agencies’ new bill targets Feb. 1 deadline

http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.php?_c=109i7r6n5mw10m9&1=1&xid=109d7v8a6b19gz9&done=.109ercminotrbqw&_credir=1325871311&_c=109i7r6n5mw10m9

California Planning & Development Report
City, County, State Play Hot Potato with Los Angeles RDA | California Planning & Development Report

http://www.cp-dr.com/node/3092

The City Maven
End of Community Redevelopment Agency Could Mean More Money for LAFD

http://www.thecitymaven.com/2012/01/13/end-of-community-redevelopment-agency-could-mean-more-money-for-lafd/