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.

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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.

A Big Lie

Over the behind-the-scenes objections of the honest city planners and with a disregard for the advice of the City Attorney, on June 19th the City Council adopted the corrupt Hollywood Community Plan (HCP).

The HCP is based on two material frauds:

1) Hollywood Must Build for 250,000 ppl in 2030

The Plan insists that in 2005, Hollywood’s population had increase from 210,794 ppl in 2000 to 224,426 ppl. Hollywood’s population was not 224,426 ppl in 2005.  In 2005 Hollywood’s population fell to about 206,000 ppl and by 2010, it had fallen to 198,228 (US 2010 Census). There has been an accelerating exodus from Hollywood starting in 1990, and there are no facts to show that after the decline began, it reversed itself and started to increase only to drop again.

2) The City Studied All Reasonable Alternatives

It did not study the mega-Sizing Alternative of building for 250,000 ppl, the mini-mega-Sizing Alternative of building for 244,000 ppl, the adverse impact of increasing population density beyond 21,000 ppl/sq. mile nor the No Project Alternative. The HCP did not even mention, let alone study, the Down Zoning Alternative which was required due to the fact that Hollywood has been losing population since 1990. In the thousand or so pages of the HCP, the DEIR, the FEIR and the attachments, there is no detailed examination or analysis of anything, only conclusions which support the mega-Sizing desire of Garcetti.

LA City Hall: A Temple to Crimogenics  by Richard Lee Abrams – City Watch 6-26-12

The Hollywood Community Plan Update – a Fiasco in the Making

By Dick Platkin –

Published in CityWatchLA.com –

THE CITY – The Update of the Hollywood Community Plan is not only opposed by every neighborhood council and resident group in Hollywood, but also by city planning professionals like myself.  I was part of the team of Los Angeles city planners who prepared the General Plan Framework in the mid-1990’s, the adopted citywide plan which public officials, like Mayor Villaraigosa and Councilmembers Garcetti and LaBonge, claim the Update implements. (Link)
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.

(Richard Platkin is a veteran planning professional and an occasional contributor to CityWatch. He can be reached at rhplatkin@yahoo.com) -cw

Richard (Dick) H. Platkin, AICP

 

The CRA/LA is Dead, But Corruption is Alive and Well

by Richard Lee Abrams, Published in CityWatchLA.com, Friday, February 3, 2012

Date line: February 1, 2012 Today shall be a wonderful day for all of Los Angeles; in fact the entire state should rejoice.  The vilely corrupt CRA/LA is dead.

Rejoice quickly as corruption is alive.

This morning (Wed 2-1-12) Miki Jackson wanted to show to the City Council a nice poster that she had made to celebrate the death of the CRA/LA, but the city council said, “No, no poster.”  Although Ms. Jackson reminded the city council about the first amendment, they were un-moved.  Speech, of which they disapproved, would not be allowed.

The city attorney advised the city council that the United States Constitution protects free speech and the council could not censor Ms. Jackson’s sign.  Astounded and aghast to learn that there was such a law which allowed a citizen to show a sign, the council finally allowed Ms. Jackson to display her sign.  Is it true that some councilmembers covered their eyes with their hands lest they be blinded by such blasphemy?

On the very day that the Corrupt Redevelopment Agency finally died, the council persisted in its arrogant hubris of trampling people’s fundamental rights.

This impingement on the fundamental right of free speech exemplifies how the council views our basic liberties.  It whimsically ignores them.

Right now councilmember La Bonge is continuing to wage his war against the constitutional right of free travel.  Despite the US Constitution, the California Constitution and state statutes and cases which say it is unlawful to gate a public street so that only a few people have access, LaBonge presses ahead with his efforts to gate various cul de sacs in the Hollywood Hills.  There is Solar Drive, and there is Ledgewood-Mulholland, and there is Deronda Drive.

The City has been sued, CCLA and HELP v City of Los Angeles, Case # BS 130-014, but LaBonge presses onward in his quixotic quest.

Let’s take a peek at the statute Labonge ignores:

Vehicle Code, § 21101.6.  Notwithstanding Section 21101, local authorities may not place gates or other selective devices on any street which deny or restrict the access of certain members of the public to the street, while permitting others unrestricted access to the street.

Some laws are incomprehensible, but this law is clear.  The city may not put a gate across a street and then allow selective access to only some residents.  The City lost a landmark lawsuit on its prior violation of this constitutional right of free travel. See Citizens Against Gated Enclaves v. Whitley Heights Civic Assn. (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 812

Let’s see what LaBonge’s Motions say.  Council Motion # 11-1222:

*  Gates to be installed to effectuate the closure of the area

*  Keys to the gates be provided to all adjoining property owners . . . Council Motion # 10-1039 commits the same transgression.

*  That the gates to be installed to effectuate the closure of the area . . .

*  That keys to the gates to be installed be provided to all adjoining property owners . . .

From reading the vehicle code and from reading LaBonge’s motions, it looks as if LaBonge quoted the language about what is unlawful and made that the basis of his motions.  Although a city may not selectively gate a street, LaBonge does not care and the City Attorney squanders precious resources defending LaBonge’s unconstitutional behavior!  According to the City Attorney, the city ordinances take precedence over state statutes and the state constitution.  No wonder the city council wants to muzzle Nikki Jackson.   I thinks a city council motion can trump the Constitution!

The same arrogant hubris which allowed Garcetti and LaBonge to down size the 2 acre Regional fire station 82 to only ½ acre on the grounds that a full fire station was too expensive and which allowed them to sanction giving $52 Million to Billionaire Eli Broad while not allowing the children in Hollywood to have a community park is the same corrupt approach to governance which tries to silence Miki Jackson and tries to give away public streets to the friends of Tom LaBonge.

While we can all celebrate the death of the CRA/LA, that epitome of crony capitalism, let’s remember, the council is still inherently a lawless body which will do anything it pleases without regard to state law or the constitution.

(Richard Lee Abrams is an attorney in Los Angeles. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com ) –cw

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Tags: City Council, First Amendment, First Amendment Rights, CRA, Tom LaBonge

 

CityWatch

Vol 10 Issue 10

Pub: Feb 3, 2012