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Mr. CityWatch Visits NoHo Arts District

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“Battle for Brooklyn,” A Sports Arena, and the False Promise of “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”

NEIGHBORHOODS IN ACTION COAST TO COAST – Several hundred people from all over Los Angeles showed up this weekend at a Beverly Hills theater to watch “Battle for Brooklyn,” the true story of a massive development (including a sports arena) planned for a New York neighborhood.
The plan was developed with no community input and supported mainly by a community group bought and paid for by project backers.

On a personal note, to the people who attended, especially on Saturday night when you could have been a million other places, I love you!

Though the movie doesn’t end as I wish it did, it’s no less uplifting to see residents stand up to defend their neighborhood, and assert their rights to some measure of self-determination for their community’s fate.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the planned New York development collapsed under its own weight:

● The famous architect was let go.

● The project that ultimately is built will look nothing like what was originally proposed.

● The developer lost his financial interest in the sports team.

● Only the arena (none of the other facilities) is currently under construction.

● Acres of surface parking lots are likely to remain for the foreseeable future.

● Of the 15,000 jobs that were promised, only 114 people were working on the site recently.

● The first apartment building, if and when it’s built, may use prefabricated construction, which will significantly reduce the number of onsite jobs and the project’s economic impact.

On the plus side, when all is said and done, the nearby community likely will see a less massive project that is better integrated into the fabric of existing neighborhoods.

Also, during the same timeframe that these real-life events have played out in Brooklyn, local residents were galvanized to stop the Manhattanization of their community. Their most notable achievement: 86 blocks in one area were rezoned to limit building heights on neighborhood streets to 50 feet and on boulevards to 70 feet.

Residents fought for the downzoning for the same reasons many in Los Angeles object to upzoning, especially in neighborhoods outside of downtown, Hollywood, the Wilshire Corridor and key commercial centers: To avoid the displacement of longtime residents, preserve the character of established, medium-scale neighborhoods, ensure access to sunlight and open sky, save old buildings, and because infrastructure and amenities are insufficient to support the public good.

The “Battle for Brooklyn” is about neighborhoods, community action, a sports arena, and the false promise of “jobs, jobs, jobs.” It’s our fight in Los Angeles, too.

(Cary Brazeman, a CityWatch contributor, is a neighborhood council board member and a member of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at or through -cw

Tags: neighborhoods, Brooklyn, Battle for Brooklyn, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Wilshire Corridor, Los Angeles

Vol 9 Issue 67
Pub: Aug 23, 2011