Hollywood High-Rise Plan Has Some Up In Arms

Hollywood, that mythic land where movie drama was invented, suddenly finds itself caught up in its own real-life drama, one involving high-priced real estate and people taking on City Hall.

In this storyline, the issue is whether it is time for a famously spread-out, freeway-centric city’s best known tourist destination to begin looking a little more like New York City by adding a towering skyline and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.

The city Planning Commission recently gave its unanimous blessing to a new Hollywood Community Plan that would allow buildings of 50 stories or more in some areas. The skyscrapers, which planners see someday dotting what they call the Hollywood Corridor, would be linked by a section of subway that runs right underneath the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Planning Commissioner Michael Woo says the proposal is likely to come before the City Council in February or March for the first of several public hearings before a vote is taken.

But in the canyons and along the hillsides that make up much of Hollywood’s more quiet residential areas, the plan is already getting a raucous public hearing from people who live in homes that run the gamut from sprawling mansions to century-old crackerbox apartments.

Several neighborhood associations are banding together, vowing to fight it.

The plan’s opponents worry that bringing skyscrapers to a section of the city that already has seen traffic proliferate with the arrival in recent years of trendy hotels like the W and hot-spot nightclubs like the SkyBar will destroy the ambiance of their neighborhoods as well as compromise safety.

They will become prisoners in their homes, they say, their narrow, winding streets blocked day and night by the cars of outsiders while emergency vehicles are unable to reach them.

“I love living in Hollywood. I love the craziness,’’ said Patti Negri, president of the Hollywood Dell Civic Association. “I don’t care when they close Hollywood and Highland for a premiere or when they close the streets for a show at the Hollywood Bowl. That’s why I live here and I’ll take the little inconvenience that goes with it. That’s part of the deal. But this is not part of the deal.’’

Negri, who has lived for 20 years just up the hill from Hollywood Boulevard and around the corner from the Hollywood Bowl, says this deal would gridlock her neighborhood at all hours, every day, not to mention blocking the neighborhood’s views of the city.

If the City Council ultimately approves the plan it would create a blueprint for future development in 25-square-mile Hollywood, an area that is home to 228,000 people as well as numerous production offices, soundstages and tourist attractions. Any new towers would have to meet the city’s strict seismic standards.

January 08, 2012|John Rogers, Associated Pres