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Residents On Edge: Will ‘Hollywood Project’ Overwhelm Larchmont?

LOS ANGELES

VOX POP … VOICE OF THE PEOPLE--With a slick website and considerable political clout, Paramount Pictures has been pushing a $700-million plan to modernize its campus at 5555 Melrose Avenue, deemed the “Hollywood Project.” Larchmont residents, though, are justifiably concerned that the massive redo will overwhelm their community. On Thursday, July 14, the city’s planning commission will consider recommended approvals for the project.

In addition to worsening the already traffic-clogged streets around Paramount Pictures, many residents are alarmed by Paramount’s plan to construct a 15-story building along Melrose Avenue and install super-graphic signs touting the studio’s latest blockbusters. The building would tower over the nearby, low-slung, residential neighborhood.

For the project, Paramount Pictures executives seek approvals from the City Council and mayor that include a General Plan amendment and zone change.

In numerous letters to the city’s planning department, residents constantly noted that the 15-story building would destroy neighborhood character.

“A 15-story office building in our neighborhood blocking our view of the hills? Really? Are they nuts? This is not downtown Los Angeles,” wrote resident Teresa August.

She added, “I’m trying to think of a positive here, but am coming up short. It seems all good for Paramount, but all bad for us.”

Resident Kate Corsmeier wrote, “The Paramount lot is beautiful and historically significant, [but] a 15-story building does not blend with the existing buildings, will block views and add to the feeling of an impersonal commercial district rather than a cohesive commercial and residential area.”

Resident Susan Leibowitz noted, “It’s great that Paramount is infusing money [into] the neighborhood. But the building at Gower and Melrose is too tall for our neighborhood. There’s nothing that tall around here. They need to scale it back.”

And Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association president Charles D’Atri wrote:

I have grave concerns about a number of elements contained in the proposal plan… Several of the proposed features, including the 15- and 8-story towers, super signage and proposed new electronic sign district, are inappropriate and completely represent a break with the historical approach to development on this property. Massive 15-story office towers and lively bright electronic signage might be appropriate in a number of areas, however they do not have a place abutting a quiet, residential neighborhood.

Larchmont activists are expected to show up in force at the planning commission hearing at City Hall in room 350 at 8:30 a.m. on July 14, hoping L.A. officials will actively address their concerns. 

Rendering of massive Paramount Pictures’ “Hollywood Project”

But Paramount Pictures executives and employees have long been major campaign contributors to L.A. politicians. Since 2000, according to the city’s Ethics Commission, they have given at least $95,400 to local pols. At City Hall, that’s a sizable sum that doesn’t go unnoticed.

In addition, since 2003, Paramount has spent at least $238,187 on City Hall lobbyists, who then curry favor with City Council members and the mayor.

That’s how things work within LA City Hall’s broken planning and land-use system. Pay huge sums in campaign contributions and lobbying fees, and win big favors in return. 

Enough is enough. We need to reform LA’s broken planning and land-use system, which is what the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative will do. 

(Patrick Range McDonald writes for the Coalition to Preserve LA.)

-cw

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