NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS - After sitting on the back burner for years, it looks like the Hollywood Community Plan Update is finally moving forward. While there was intense public interest in the Update when it came before the City Planning Commission back in 2021, after the CPC recommended approval, it seemed to fade into limbo. But recently City Planning has added a number of documents to the council file. The last day to act is apparently May 12, 2023, and it could by heard by the Planning & Land Use Management Committee as early as April 25.
City Planning says the Hollywood Community Plan Update provides all the things that the area needs to accommodate necessary growth, provide adequate housing and protect the area's numerous historic resources. Critics have raised concerns about the further loss of rent-stabilized housing, potential impacts to the environment and threats to Hollywood’s historic resources. Two of the three Councilmembers that represent the area have submitted letters that are generally supportive of the Update, but they also request a number of changes.
Councilmember Nithya Raman would like to see changes to the Community Plan Implementation Overlay (CPIO). She believes more tenant protections are necessary and wants to require one-to-one replacement of rent-stabilized replacement units that are demolished for new projects. She also wants the Plan to reflect recently adopted policies protecting the Santa Monica Mountains.
Councilmember Yaroslavsky also wants additional tenant protections, adding stronger affordability requirements and increasing the term of affordability covenants from 55 to 99 years. She also believes the Plan needs to grant more flexibility for commercial tenants along Melrose.
There are others who are more critical of the Update and see a number of serious problems with the latest version. Among the concerns local groups have raised are:
Significant Increases in Base Zoning
The Update provides significant increases in base zoning in a number of areas. This is a concern because offering developers the opportunity to build bigger incentivizes the demolition of existing structures, including rent-stabilized housing and historic resources. Also, City Planning’s strategy for building affordable housing relies largely on offering additional density in exchange for the inclusion of affordable units in residential projects. If the Update increases base density, developers can build bigger without having to provide any affordable units.
Removal of Protections for Historic Buildings
Hollywood is home to numerous historic buildings. Some of them have been designated historic by the City, but many have not. The text of the Plan outlines existing protections for these resources and offers further protections to safeguard the area’s heritage. But a new ordinance, included in Exhibit I, involves the repeal ALL of the existing protections and incentives. Critics believe this must be addressed before the Update is adopted.
Traffic/Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The framework provided by the Update would allow significant new growth in Hollywood and surrounding areas but claims there will be no significant impacts with regard to traffic or greenhouse gas emissions. The argument is that the area is a transit hub and increasing density will encourage people to ditch their cars and take public transit. Unfortunately, the City has been making this claim for years, and the numbers show that the opposite has been happening. Thousands of new units have been built near transit hubs over the last decade, with easy access to bus and rail, but even before the pandemic ridership was declining. Between 2014 and 2019 Metro ridership dropped about 20%. Similar declines have been seen on the City’s DASH lines. Based on the data, there’s no reason to believe the Update will do anything to reverse these trends.
If you'd like to review the documents that have been posted so far, here's the link to the council file.
And you can post comments by going to the Public Comment Portal.
If you live in the Hollywood Community Plan area, you can also contact your councilmember to give them feedback.
Councilmember Nithya Raman
Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky
Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez
The Hollywood Community Plan Update will be the framework for new development in Hollywood and surrounding areas for at least the next decade. It's important that stakeholders' voices are heard before it's adopted.
(Casey Maddren is President of United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles (UN4LA [www.un4la.com]), and a CityWatch contributor.)