As California saw its economy struggle, it was also becoming a more crowded state. At some point late in the last century, people moving to California could no longer assume that they would have more living space and less congestion. Despite stereotypes about suburban sprawl, California’s development since at least the 1980s has followed the “smart growth” model of closely packed residential clusters separated by open space. As a result, California had the densest urbanized areas in the nation by 2010. According to the Census, the Los Angeles and Orange County region had a population density of 6,999.3 per square mile—well ahead of famously dense metro areas such as New York and Chicago. In fact, the Los Angeles and Orange County area was first in density among the 200 largest urban areas in the United States.
This crowding takes its toll. California’s great coastal cities may still be exciting places to live, but they are no longer convenient—at least not by the standards of the 1960s and 1970s, when the freeways were new and not yet clogged. The crowding of coastal California was well under way by 1990, reflected not just in housing costs but also by a major migration within the state to roomier (if hotter) inland counties.
Among the state’s larger counties, those with the highest out-migration rates (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Monterey, and Orange) are all on or near the coast. Large inland counties such as Kern, Riverside, and Placer had double-digit rates of net in-migration. The same factors that drive this eastward movement, such as the desire for more space and affordable homes, might also be driving much of the migration from California to more spacious neighboring states.
Los Angeles has been the home of Universal for nearly 100 years and The Evolution Plan is our commitment to our community, to our neighbors and to our businesses. We have gathered feedback from thousands of members of our community, including our elected officials. And, after taking a hard look at the project, the current real estate market, our business needs and the needs of our surrounding communities, we believe it’s best to ask the City and County to focus on our 20-year plan without any residential development and to retain our backlot for production.
This is the right time in the process to make this decision and it will enable us to concentrate and invest in our core businesses — television and film production, Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park and CityWalk. Planning for our future in a way that is responsive to the community has always been a priority of the Evolution Plan. Today marks the next step in making this important project a reality.
Here’s the unveiling of the HOLLYWOOD COMMUNITY PLAN UPDATE – ALTERNATIVE VISION submitted by the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council Planning Entitlement Review Committee. This is worth careful consideration as we go forward. What do we really want? What’s a good fit for the Hollywood of today and for years to come? Check it out!
Corte Madera, a town of 9,200 people tucked away in the Marin countryside, has rebelled against the Association of Bay Area Governments over California’s housing mandates.
“For us this is about local control,” said Ravasio. “We are a small town. We want to remain a small town, which is why people moved here in the first place. We should be allowed to do that and control growth and grow in a way that makes sense for us. And not have it mandated to us by the state or a regional authority like ABAG. Which is what’s been happening, Which is why we took this step.”
It remains to be seen whether the roar from this mouse echoes throughout the Bay Area and eventually the rest of the state. If it does, it could be the first rebel yell in a new Civil War. Or perhaps it should be called the War of Sacramento Aggression.
(The pattern of Corruption and Incompetence we see in Hollywood’s woes is not new. This article shows how the same philosophy of “elegant density” created one of America’s worst Redevelopment nightmares, and the HCP is a blueprint to bring the same disaster upon Hollywood. – Richard Abrams)
by Alexander von Hoffman, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University.
St. Louis’s Pruitt-Igoe housing project is arguably the most infamous public housing project ever built in the United States. A product of the postwar federal public-housing program, this mammoth high-rise development was completed in 1956.
Only a few years later, disrepair, vandalism, and crime plagued Pruitt-Igoe. The project’s recreational galleries and skip-stop elevators, once heralded as architectural innovations, had become nuisances and danger zones. Large numbers of vacancies indicated that even poor people preferred to live anywhere but Pruitt-Igoe. In 1972, after spending more than $5 million in vain to cure the problems at Pruitt-Igoe, the St. Louis Housing Authority, in a highly publicized event, demolished three of the high-rise buildings. A year later, in concert with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it declared Pruitt-Igoe unsalvageable and razed the remaining buildings.
Pruitt-Igoe has lived on symbolically as an icon of failure. Liberals perceive it as exemplifying the government’s appalling treatment of the poor. Architectural critics cite it as proof of the failure of high-rise public housing for families with children. One critic even asserted that its destruction signaled the end of the modern style of architecture.
Yet for all the criticisms, little is known about why Pruitt-Igoe was designed as a massive high-rise project in the first place. One popular theory blames the Swiss architect, Le Corbusier, and his influential conception of a modernist city of high rises. Another points to segregationist policies aimed at confining African-American residential areas to the inner city. Perhaps the most widely accepted theory holds that the federal Public Housing Administration’s (PHA) restrictive cost guidelines for public-housing construction required the construction of a megalithic high-rise project.
An examination of what really happened in St. Louis, however, reveals that the essential concept of Pruitt-Igoe arose from the desperation of civic leaders to save their city by rebuilding it, a bricks-and-mortar type mayor who sang “I’ll take Manhattan,” and an ambitious young architect with no place to go but up.
As they surveyed their city at the end of World War II, St. Louis’s business and political leaders had reason to be anxious. The city was one of only four in the United States to have lost population in the 1930s. In 1947 the City Plan Commission devised a comprehensive physical plan to bring people back to St. Louis. The plan designated the DeSoto-Carr neighborhood, the eventual site of Pruitt-Igoe, as “extremely obsolete” and provided detailed site plans for its reconstruction. The commission proposed clearing the area and constructing “two- or three-story row type apartment buildings” and a large public park.
The election of Joseph Darst as mayor transformed these plans. Elected in 1949, Darst typified the new breed of big-city mayors who came to power in the postwar period. These mayors distanced themselves from the old-style political bosses and looked for support from downtown business interests. They campaigned for the revival of their aging cities and promoted large-scale physical building programs that included highways, airports, and especially downtown and neighborhood redevelopment. Darst, in particular, considered the low-rise projects built by his predecessors to be ugly. Instead, he greatly admired the new high-rise public housing projects that New York mayor William O’Dwyer had shown him on a visit to that city.
Under pressure from Darst to move forward, in January 1950 the St. Louis Housing Authority revived the City Plan Commission’s redevelopment scheme for the DeSoto-Carr neighborhood. Meanwhile architects George Hellmuth and Minoru Yamasaki — who had been hired at Darst’s insistence — persuaded the authority to adopt modernist-style high-rise designs for public housing. The first of these was Cochran Gardens, which later won architectural awards. This was followed by a much larger-scale plan for Pruitt-Igoe which, when completed, contained 2,870 dwelling units in 33 eleven-story buildings.
These structures were no anomaly. Instead, the Pruitt-Igoe project was the product of a larger vision of St. Louis government and business leaders who wanted to rebuild their city into a Manhattan on the Mississippi. Other redevelopment schemes of the time, for example, placed middle- and high-income residents in buildings that actually rivaled Pruitt-Igoe in height and scale.
There is, moreover, no evidence that redevelopment plans intended to make an all-black, all-poor enclave at DeSoto Carr, which had been a poor area housing both whites and blacks before it was razed. An early scheme would have produced a majority of middle-income black residents. The final plan designated the Igoe apartments for whites and the Pruitt apartments for blacks. Whites were unwilling to move in, however, so the entire Pruitt-Igoe project soon had only black residents.
Nor is there any truth in claims that PHA cost limits forced the authority to increase the project’s scale. On the contrary, building contractors inflated their bids to the point that public-housing construction costs in St. Louis were 60 percent above the national average. When the PHA would not raise its unit cost ceilings to accommodate the contractor bids, the city responded by raising densities, reducing room sizes, and removing amenities.
Ultimately, the massive, destructive, and expensive effort at re-development that produced Pruitt-Igoe failed to stem or even notice-ably slow the city’s decline. From 1950 to 1970, the city’s population fell by 234,000 people, and its share of the St. Louis metropolitan area’s population plummeted from 51 percent to 26 percent. This sad fact adds what may be the largest failure to the formidable list of failures associated with Pruitt-Igoe: even if it had been built as proposed, Pruitt-Igoe, the child of a grandiose vision that failed, probably would have failed anyway.
[bold type added to article by SaveHollywood.Org]
Author was Alexander von Hoffman is an urban historian. This piece is excerpted from his working paper, “Why They Built Pruitt-Igoe.” For information on how to order the paper, visit the Taubman Center Publications Page.
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 email@example.com) -cw
The update to the Hollywood community plan is posing a real dilemma for neighborhood councils. Long used to dealing with liquor licenses and individual projects in their areas, this update deals with the entire community plan area and many Neighborhood Councils are stuck within their self-imposed boundaries while others are not. The issue will be whether to approach the plan update from their individual boundaries or examine the plan holistically to determine the impact up zoning will have on the entire area. An extra added challenge is that what happens in Hollywood doesn’t stay in the Hollywood! The impacts of this plan for better or for worse will not be contained within the Hollywood boundary.
If these neighborhood councils follow the charter, there will be no dilemma. The charter is very clear in that it gives to neighborhood councils the responsibility to monitor city services. However there is already friction between neighborhood councils primarily in the hills and those in the flats. This is unfortunate because city infrastructure is not separated that way. When a water pipe breaks on Hollywood Boulevard, there is a good likelihood that it will affect service in upper Beachwood Canyon as well as Melrose Avenue. If you need an ambulance up on Outpost and the roads down below are clogged with commuters or partygoers, the fact that your streets are passable may be of little consequence if the ambulance is delayed.
High winds up in the hills or fires that race up the canyons threatened power services of those living far below. So individual neighborhood councils may on paper experience very little change in this new Hollywood community plan update but they still have to look at basic services and how this new update will affect police, fire, water, power, sewers, streets, libraries, parks, and all of the components of the city’s infrastructure system. I would argue that the Hollywood neighborhood councils have an obligation not only to their residents and businesses but also to the plan areas beyond their boundaries. Already some of Hollywood’s infrastructure services are not self-sufficient and the city cannibalizes resources from other community plan areas to service Hollywood. A recent Case in point is the rescue ambulance removed from Rancho Park and placed in Hollywood for 3 days during Halloween 2011. This effectively left sections of Century City in the West Los Angeles community plan area without a rescue ambulance. Hollywood’s neighborhood councils must monitor city services.
This is the heart of the debate over the Hollywood community plan update. It is not about tall buildings, transit oriented districts, the CRA, or any number of other issues being debated today. They are important issues but the core issue is our infrastructure. Do we have enough? Do we need more? Are serious environmental impacts adequately addressed in this new plan update or is the city taking the field of dreams approach? Build it and they will come! Or not.
Sadly this is the Field of dreams with no good ending. If you read the Statement of Overriding Considerations (SOC) in the Final Environmental Impact Report, you will see that this plan acknowledges that it will cause an increase in Green House Gasses in Hollywood but blames that on commuters traveling through Hollywood and not all the new development this plan endorses. The SOC acknowledges that there could be issues with police, fire and other services and promises to do nexus studies and hire more police and fire should there become a need. Does anyone seriously believe the City has the money to do that? Or to build new facilities if needed? Listing mitigations for serious environmental impacts without funding is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act. The City knows this but typically they take the position that they can do whatever they want and if you don’t like it, sue them! We don’t want to do that. What we want is a government that is responsive to the people and not special interest.
So this is the crux of the of the dilemma Hollywood’s Neighborhood Councils will face. The Charter created them and charged them with bringing government closer to the people and monitoring City services. Will they do that or take the approach – we got ours, you need to get yours? I honestly don’t know. Each Neighborhood Council will have to choose between approving this plan with all its Environmental deficiencies or tell the City to go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan that protects the lives and safety of those that live, work and play in Hollywood.
We are community members united in a mission to Save Hollywood from the new Hollywood Community Plan. The proposed Plan disregards the residents while catering to the profits of developers. The City of LA must create a new Plan that enhances the Quality of Life of the residents of Hollywood.
Written by James O’SullivanTuesday, 24 January 2012 22:16
As the Hollywood Plan Update inches through the planning approval process it should give people all over Los Angeles a preview of what is planned for their neighborhoods, and it ain’t good! Tired of complaints from residents over quality of life issues and having their dream of Manhattan in Los Angeles stymied by people that don’t want to live in Manhattan the Mayor and City Council are going for the planning Kill Shot. Having chipped around the edges with large and small tweaks of the Municipal Code they are rolling the dice on a plan so outrageously flawed that if it is allowed to stand will ruin every neighborhood from San Pedro to Sylmar and all points in between.It is one thing to dream big as long as that dream includes all the elements necessary to promote a quality of life we require and deserve. It is not alright to drop 50 story buildings right up against the Hollywood Hills and not mitigate the environmental impacts the increase density will bring. It is not alright to claim that 5 subway stations make a transportation system that can tolerate up to 50,000 additional residents. It is not alright to admit that this plan will increase Green House Gasses but by building in Hollywood it will preclude others from building elsewhere in the region. It is not alright to claim that the City will provide more police and fire service if necessary when the City is beyond broke and is losing first responders not gaining them. Already on Halloween a Paramedic Ambulance from Rancho Park was positioned in Hollywood for several days leaving the area around Century City without a Paramedic ambulance. Hollywood will only be able to provide adequate police and fire resources by cannibalizing resources from other area’s. Yours will be next.
This Community Plan Update uses flawed data and timelines and provides no funding for mitigations the California Environmental Quality Act requires. If you are wondering how this affects you since you don’t live in Hollywood, your area is probably next for an update. If this plan is unchallenged in the courts and is adopted then when they come to your area you will be up the creek without the proverbial paddle. You probably won’t be legally time barred from filing a lawsuit but for all practical purposes the precedent will have been set.
One group is organizing to file a suit once the Council adopts this plan and the Mayor signs it and others are also seeking council to mount a challenge. None are against development, what they are against is an unresponsive government that thinks it knows best, that would put their way of life and lives at risk.
Stay tuned, they will not go quietly into the night.