HOLLYWOOD’S SOCIAL CONSCIENCE-Who can point to anything significant in Hollywood which merits saving?
At the outset, one has to realize that Hollywood is a tale of two cities: Council District 13, which represents the worst of times, and Council Distict 4 which represents the best of times.
Stephen Box, 2010 candidate for CD 4 councilmember has termed the dividing line between the two Hollywood’s “The Franklin-Dixon Line” (FD Line). Below the Line, we have the renters who tend to be the non-voting poor, and north of the Line, we have the voting wealthy homeowners.
Between 2000 and 2010, the Hollywood south of the FD Line lost population while the Hollywood North of the FD Line gained population. The loss in the southern part, i.e., CD 13, was so great that both Hollywoods had a net loss of population of over 12,500 people. The disaster south of the FD Line overwhelmed the growth to the north. In fact, CD 13 lost so many people that CD #13 ceased to be a legal council district.
You would think that people would notice the literal destruction of the council district. If you thought that, you’d be wrong. A little gerrymandering here and little more over there, and presto, everything is A-OK.
Is it strange that in the poor CD 13 Hollywood south of the FD Line, there’s virtually nothing left to save? The residential character of this part of Hollywood has been under attack since the end of WW II.
Developers were allowed to decimate endless of block of CD 13 Hollywood by sporadically demolishing substantial families homes and building 15 to 30 apartments per lot. The value of an R-1 home as a place to raise children diminishes as a neighborhood tips towards transient renters. Families, especially American families, always flee increased density. The large homes became rooming houses waiting to be sold to some developer, while the family moved to the San Fernando Valley.
Unlike many Eastern cities, where the core residential areas were basically slums, post WW II Hollywood was a vibrant, residential town. People regularly shopped on Hollywood, Sunset, at Sears on Santa Monica, etc. The schools were still good and the neighborhoods were safe.
The post WW II apartmentization of CD 13 Hollywood, however, brought deterioration of the family character of Hollywood. Absent the intentional destruction of Hollywood by real estate speculators and their friends at City Hall, there was no force to compel people to leave Hollywood. Hollywood took a nose dive towards being a seedy slum because the City took special actions to drive out the stable families.
Today, by walking up and down the streets between Sunset and Franklin, people can still discern the vestiges of the destroyed Hollywood. Here and there, one spots an old Hollywood home, with maybe 4 or 5 bedrooms, a nice yard and fruit trees. Older photographs show that Hollywood south of the FD Line were lined with such homes.
By the beginning of the 1970's, Hollywood north of the FD Line was also in serious deterioration. Increasing crime and fear that the blight would soon engulf their neighborhoods caused people to look to relocating rather than renovating. Homes on Gramercy, Canyon, Hobart, Kenmore, were in disrepair and turning into rooming houses similar to what had occurred a couple decades earlier in the CD 13 part of Hollywood. In the Hollywood Hills and Los Feliz, many of the older mansions were suffering the same fate, reminiscent of the 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause.
The facet of the two Hollywoods, which no one wants to mention, is the fear of Black northward migration. The Black population had been moving westward from south LA and now the Black population was gazing to the north. The fear that Black migration along with Newsweek magazine’s labeling the intersection of Hollywood and Western as the most dangerous in the nation resulted in City Hall’s imposing some zoning restrictions, most notably reducing the possible density.
After a few failed attempts to break the new zoning, it was clear to developers that they had been zoned out of Hollywood. Thus, they moved on to destroy other portions of Los Angeles before returning to Hollywood in 2001 with councilmember Garcetti.
Between 1970's and 2014, Hollywood north of the FD Line did increasingly well. The mansions in the Hills were all restored and are now worth several million dollars each. The western portion of Los Feliz obtained HPOZ status, Hollywood Grove HPOZ, with the active help of Councilmember Tom La Bonge. Meanwhile more rot set in south of the FD Line.
The population loss in CD 13 between 2001 an d 2010 was greatest in the census tracts contiguous to the subway stations. As Patrick Range McDonald documented in LA weekly, thousands of families were driven out of Hollywood.
But, what is left to save in CD 13 Hollywood? La Bonge’s CD 4 Hollywood has wonderful homes. That’s because La Bonge supported the Hollywood Grove HPOZ, while Garcetti supported The Millennium and a mess of other mixed-used projects for the transient Millennials.
Right now, Garcetti is even reaching into CD 4 to destroy the Bartlett House, a crime about which CityWatch LA has published 3 or 4 articles.
So, tell me what is left to save and who will save it?
(Richard Lee Abrams is a Hollywood activist and an attorney. He can be reached at: [email protected] )
Vol 12 Issue 101
Pub: Dec 16, 2014