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.
THE CITY-On June 20, Fix The City, Save Hollywood, La Mirada, HELP and Attorneys for the City of Los Angeles once again stepped into Judge Allan Goodman’s Superior Court to deal with the now-defunct Hollywood Community Plan update. More specifically, FTC and its fellow community groups were there to challenge what the City did in response to being ordered by the Court to scrap the flawed plan.
In February of this year the City was soundly defeated by the above coalition of community groups when Judge Goodman ordered the City to rescind its new Hollywood Community Plan.
The City did rescind the new plan and reenact the old plan. However, in the guise of complying with the Judge’s order, the City voted on April 2nd, 2014 to modify the General Plan Framework to make community plan monitoring and reporting discretionary. The City Council even went so far in the Resolution they adopted to deal with the stern admonition from the Court to state that the intent of their action was to “overrule and supersede” the writ and judgment of the Court. The judge was probably being very kind when he said that move was “too clever by half”.
But Judge Goodman did not stop there. He stated that the Resolution the City adopted was demonstrably arbitrary, capricious and without basis in law, that no reasonable person could conclude that adoption of the April 2ndResolution made the General Plan of the City of Los Angeles internally consistent but that the contrary was the case. Further he stated that the City’s actions constitute a misstatement and misapplication of the City Charter, state law and his February 11, 2014 Judgment.
However, one of my favorite quotes was, …see complete article here.
“We want to ensure that no action is taken that would stop people from securing permits for their businesses and developments in accordance with the approved community plan update,” Chamber President Leron Gubler said in a statement.
The opponents of the community plan – which allows taller buildings and higher density development – say the document doesn’t adequately address provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act on traffic, air quality and land use.
Three groups, the La Mirada Neighborhood Association, SaveHollywood.org and Fix the City, filed separate lawsuits in July to block the plan, which the council approved in June…Read more
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 email@example.com
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.
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.
If people read the three lawsuits, they will see the falsity of such charges. (see side bar under Learn More and Share)
Setting aside the legalese, the core problem is corruption although that word does not appear in the lawsuits. Los Angeles in general and Hollywood in particular has been subjected to extensive corruption and incompetence over the last decade. The Hollywood Community Plan was another product of such corruption and incompetence.
The basic fraud of the Hollywood Community Plan is to state that Hollywood has been experiencing dramatic growth and we need to build for 250,000 people in 2030. That claim is completely false, but the City made it in order to deceive people into approving extremely lax zoning rules so that developers could build any project while excluding community input. Had the Hollywood Community Plan told the truth that Hollywood has experienced a 20 year decline in population and there is no fact from which to assume that the downward trend will reverse it, then building for 250,000 residents would be a fool’s goal. Building poorly planned projects is a feature of Crony Capitalism nationwide. When one builds with public funds, the losses are socialized while the profits are skimmed from the front end.
When the Hollywood Community Plan was drafted, one must remember that the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) existed and it was siphoning off hundreds of millions of incremental tax dollars each year and then underwriting these projects, none of which pay one cent in incremental property tax dollars. Thus, it did not matter if the projects harmed Hollywood as long as the developers got paid and the City was on the hook for many of the loans.
Using US Census data, Hollywood’s population will be only 190,000 or fewer people by 2030. That is 60,000 less people than the Hollywood Community Plan envisions for 2030. Had Garcetti’s Hollywood Community Plan told the truth about how much the CRA projects had already harmed Hollywood, people would have seen the corruption and incompetence for themselves. Thus, the Plan lied over and over and over again.
The danger of corruption cannot be understood unless one realizes the role that the CRA played. Because the CRA was diverting millions of incremental property tax dollars into its own coffers, the City was perpetually broke. In 2009, 2010, and 2011 the City would pretend that it had no funds and would declare the need to fire people and cut salaries, but all the while it had hundreds of millions of dollars in its CRA bank accounts and the City Council had the power to use these funds to keep the libraries and parks open, to keep the fire department at full force and to up-grade the fire department. (Saying that the LAFD was deficient is not a criticism of the fire fighters. They were and are victims just like us, only more so.)
Rather than taking money away from the developers by using CRA funds to improve the LAFD’s response times, Garcetti as Council President presented bogus emergency response data to the City Council saying that LAFD was doing so great that they could cut the LAFD budget by $200 Million. As the charts show, the LAFD response times have been deteriorating. Falsified response data gave the Council members “deniability” for the harm that would follow. But, we have to ask ourselves what motivation would the LAFD have to falsify statistics in order to reduce their budget? Just who was it that solicited this false data?
As a result of the response data fraud, the CRA gravy train continued, while Angelenos died. Eli Broad got $52 Million for a parking garage next to his art museum, while some father somewhere died of a heart attack because the paramedics could not reach him in time. More children are without grandmothers; others have been seriously burned. The City Council knows that we cannot point to any particular person and prove that he or she died because the paramedics reached the home in 7 minutes rather than 4 minutes. At least, the City Council hopes that we cannot pin it on them. That type of investigation would require a criminal Grand Jury with subpoena power.
We become upset when gang bangers drive by and indiscriminately shoot from car windows killing an innocent child or teenager or mother or father. There is no moral difference between reducing the ability of the emergency responders to reach people than randomly shooting at a crowd of people. The gang banger often does not know whom he killed nor does he care. The same was true for the Garcetti City Council. They did not care who died or was maimed as a result of their reckless and wanton behavior — just as long as they evade responsibility and the developers got their loot.
Unexpectedly, the citizens fought back and abolished the corrupt CRA’s (DoD 2-1-2012) and now more citizens are fighting back again by suing the City over the fraudulent Hollywood Community Plan.
The Hollywood Community Plan wanted to bring 60,000 more residents to Hollywood while degrading fire protection, while hamstringing paramedics, while leaving the LAPD under-sized with antiquated equipment, and while traffic became worse. There was no plan how to handle the extra stress on our water mains or how to provide water for 60,000 more people except to tell Hollywoodians to stop watering their lawns.
The people in the Hollywood Hills and the people in the Hollywood Flats are fighting to make certain some toddler does not die after falling into a swimming pool, so that some 70 year old woman doesn’t needlessly die of a heart attack, and so that scores of people do not lose their homes to fires because there are not enough fire trucks or firemen. It may be dramatic, but it is true. We are fighting for our lives and the lives of our loved ones against the corruption which has turned City Hall into a Temple of Crimogenics.
That is why there are three lawsuits against Garcetti’s Hollywood Community Plan.
Three lawsuits from separate groups are seeking a re-evaluation of the environmental impacts of the Hollywood Community Plan Update, which serves as a guide for future growth and development in the community. One filed by SaveHollywood.org on Wednesday contends the plan violates California Environmental Quality Act and the city violated the Brown Act and the Public Records Act. A lawsuit filed by the La Mirada Homeowners Association of Hollywood on Wednesday alleges the plan violates CEQA and does not adequately consider the effects of traffic, air quality and land use. A third lawsuit filed by Fix the City on July 13, also contends the plan violates CEQA.
Here are pdf links to each legal petition:
George Abrahams — People for Livable Communities and the three other organized groups fighting the Hollywood Community Plan have understood from the beginning that the fight to get the City to respect State Law and even their own laws is a long-term effort. All of us have been working toward the goal of being able to establish the basis of a winning legal challenge to the proposed Plan. The principal focus is the Administrative Record. The Administrative Record is the legal foundation upon which all discussion before a court of law must be based. The period where facts and expert analysis can be introduced is the time from when the Plan is first presented to the public by the City Planning Department to when the City Council votes on the Plan. It is the only time when interested parties can introduce relevant material. All four groups opposing the Plan have been diligently building our case. In alerting the residents of Los Angeles to our effort and raising public awareness about the many faults in the proposed Hollywood Community Plan, we were making it clear to the City Council that their votes on that Plan will have consequences. In this regard we were successful. The PLUM Committee went into closed session to confer with the City Attorney on a matter where “there is significant exposure to litigation, based on ‘existing facts and circumstances’ and the advice of counsel” and ultimately sent the Plan to the City Council “without recommendation”. This was a major admission by the Committee that there were faults in the Plan and that they would face a significant risk of losing in court. When the Plan went to the full Council, it looked for a time that we would be able to make them see reason and send the Plan back to the City Planning Department for correction of the faulty data, a full recirculation of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and a study of the Downzoning Alternative. In the City Council meeting (June 19th), Councilman Alarcon had his doubts about the Plan and questioned the City Attorney and the Planning representatives about it. The Council chose to ignore the warning from the City Attorney and voted to approve the flawed Plan. This was Phase One. However, this does not mean that the fight for a fair and just Hollywood Community Plan is over.
The City has long had a “so sue us” strategy when facing challenges to their abuse of authority, hoping that the people opposed will acquiesce, give up and go away. But fat chance of that. The facts in the administrative record and the law are on our side. So, we go onto Phase Two — we sue them. The case will likely go through both trial court and appeals court before it is settled. The City has to pay all the attorney fees and court costs when it loses a suit. But, until the final decision of the Court is made, the plaintiffs in a case must be able to fund the suit.
We need your help again. Please help us win the case for a Hollywood Community Plan that will fairly serve the interests of both the residents and the businesses in Hollywood. This will also benefit all the residents in Los Angeles who will be affected by the outcome of the suit and harmed if the current Plan is not stopped. Please use the “Donate” button to save Hollywood from excessive density, over-development, skyscrapers and traffic grid-lock.
Hollywood Patch: City Council Approves Hollywood Community Plan Update