The New South Wales government has proposed a new Metropolitan Strategy for the Sydney area which would significantly weaken the urban containment policy (also called urban consolidation, smart growth, livability, growth management, densification, etc.) that has driven if house prices to among the highest in the affluent New World (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) relative to household incomes. Continue reading
Manhattan Institute For Policy Research Study names density from “smart growth” as a leading cause of net population loss in Los Angeles.
The Density Factor
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.
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.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ann I. Jones on July 23, 2012 ruled that the Los Angeles City Council’s approval of a planned 20-story retail and residential tower at Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street in Hollywood was illegal.
Jones slammed the Los Angeles City Planning Department and City Council, ruling that the City had violated the public’s constitutional due process rights in a process which “negated . . . meaningful public participation.”
Discussing a pattern of misconduct by City Planning staff, Jones found that “effective public participation was wholly derailed by the process adopted by the City in this case.”
Community group La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association of Hollywood, plaintiff in the lawsuit, also obtained emails between consultants for the project developer, 6104 Hollywood, LLC, and City staff. Jones noted that the contents of those emails were further evidence of “impropriety in the process.”
According to attorney Robert P. Silverstein, who won the lawsuit on behalf of the neighborhood association, the emails revealed back-channel communications between the City and developer’s consultants and collusion to suppress information from public review.
Something has been lost from our discussion of cities: the human element. The goal of urban planners should not be to fulfill their own grandiose visions of megacities on a hill, but to meet the needs of the people living in them, particularly those people suffering from overcrowding, environmental misery, and social inequality.
Ultimately, dispersion — both city to suburb and megacity to small city — holds out some intriguing solutions to current urban problems. The idea took hold during the initial golden age of industrial growth — the English 19th century — when suburban “garden cities” were established around London’s borders. The great early 20th-century visionary Ebenezer Howard saw this as a means to create a “new civilization” superior to the crowded, dirty, and congested cities of his day.
Despite all the “back to the city” hype of the past decade, more than 80 percent of new metropolitan growth in the United States since 2000 has been in suburbs.
Read today’s article in the Los Angeles Times. Lawyer and Hollywood “neighbor”, David Ambroz attempts to reduce our valid concerns over the Hollywood Community Plan as a heckler’s veto. All we are asking for is a little courage and integrity to come forth from the City’s leaders. And now we’re asking that same intense involvement of our Hollywood neighbors, the ones who want to spare Hollywood’s streets the massive insult of more gridlock and density that will overwhelm our emergency response services and infrastructure. If that’s called the heckler’s veto, so be it. Hey, Hollywood neighbors: Please attend this Tuesday’s City Council meeting and let’s show them what a heckler’s veto really looks like. Call your council office Monday afternoon for parking at City Hall (don’t know their number? Call 3-1-1 and get patched in!)
The heat is on and the City Council has finally agreed to add it to their agenda this Tuesday. Please make a special point of being there. Bring your neighbors and friends. The City Council needs to see that there are more than just hillside residents concerned over this dangerously flawed plan. This Just In: Agenda for the Tuesday hearing.
Please take a look at this article – Hollywood Community Plan: Boon or Bust? by Aaron Blevins and published today in the Park Labrea News/Beverly Press
The City Planning Department failed to include the downzoning option in the Hollywood Community Plan Update submitted to the City Council for consideration. Here are two documents split in four parts for easy downloading. These documents were submitted by People for Livable Communities (PLC) to be added to the administrative record. They explain why downzoning is the only rational alternative to the project.
To download all four pdf files, Click Here
Mayor Villaraigosa’s promise of “elegant density” is falling flat on its face. The labor union Unite Here Local 11 has drawn attention to troubled sales at the new W Hollywood Residences, and warns buyers and real estate agents of the luxe condos’ sharply declining prices. According to county assessor figures only 29 out of 143 units have sold since the condo/hotel project opened in May 2010.