Finally, the land war goes mainstream.
L.A. Film School spokesman Antoine Ibrahim spilled to the Times this morning that the school is thinking about erecting another building at the corner of Selma and Ivar Avenues, an intersection that also serves as the hub of the community-cherished Hollywood Farmers Market every Sunday.
We'll keep this brief, because it's pretty much just more of the same thing we've been trying to tell everybody since the whole fiasco began in December, on the pretense that the Film School just needed simple access to a second parking lot --
This is so not about parking. Ibrahim, at the time, told us point blank:
"... Given the chance, we'd start holding events and open up our equipment room -- which is closed on Sundays because of the market. It's about more than parking, but we never wanted to say that, because that's the legal argument."
Still, the Times now claims Hollywood Councilman Eric Garcetti's office was "surprised" to receive the news of possible new Film School construction at a meeting with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce two weeks ago (yes, they've kept it quite since then):
"That was the first we heard about it. We were shocked," said Yussef Robb, who works for Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti. In December, Garcetti -- whose district includes the site -- stepped in to help the two parties negotiate a dispute over access to the school's parking garage.
Here's how well that "negotiation" went: Garcetti took to a "Which Way, L.A.?" radio broadcast on December 17 and announced that the school and the market had come to an agreement. By the next day, the school announced it wasn't actually planning on signing, because -- according to Planning Commissioner Michael Woo -- the city was "not able to come up with language which would satisfy the Film School."
We'll quote on-air Garcetti once again, just to show you how good this guy has gotten at acting like nothing's wrong:
"It was music to my ears," he said. "I was happy to play a role, to bring those sides together, and now we're just going to work on some of the final language in the next 24 hours."
And that, dear Angelenos, is why Garcetti will make a mighty fine mayoral candidate come 2013.
In brief, from where we're standing: The Film School owns the land. Understandably, it's going to do what it wants with that land -- and Garcetti was never one to let down a big-money developer. But he also can't bear the thought of all those veggie-loving Sunday marketgoers being mad at him for moving their urban garden.
There's not room on this block for the two of them. And, to be honest, we have no idea who'll win the tug-of-war. What we do know: Garcetti will stop at nothing to maintain a united, happy front.
(Want the rant in full? Curl up with some hot cocoa, pretend you're in a cozy New York snowstorm like the L.A. City Council loves to do and give it a good hard read: "L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti And Hollywood's 'Elegant Density' -- A Love Story.")
But enough reminiscing. Today, in regard to the new "classroom," Ibrahim brushes the whole development off like it's irrelevant:
Antoine Ibrahim, a spokesman for the film school, said plans for the building are still theoretical and have nothing to do with the school's current request that the market move to provide unhindered access to that garage. "But we're trying to be as open as possible," Ibrahim said.
At least someone's being open.
But wouldn't a classroom at the corner of Selma and Ivar need street access, too? And could this have anything to do with possible expanded activity at Ivar Theatre (located on that very corner) that Ibrahim revealed to us in December? Flashback to "Hollywood Farmers Market Dispute Mushrooms Into Land-Use War":
Moreover, the school plans to develop the Ivar Theatre, just north of the disputed block -- yet another stretch that's now blocked on Sundays by the market. Says Ibrahim, "On Sundays, we don't have access to the front of our theater."
So far, he says, "We haven't even begun to complain yet about our access to Ivar Theatre."
Today, it's really the final Times quote from Garcetti's office that baffles us: "We got involved because we want the farmers market right where it is. We're pretty optimistic that things will be the same."
During this 90-day negotiation period, the initial swell of anger in support of the market has conveniently died down. The once-rowdy "Protect Hollywood Farmers Market" Facebook page has been quiet for almost a month. Gabrielle Frankel was the lone activist to give us a concerned call today, asking what fresh Film School construction might mean for her cause.
Though we couldn't get through to Garcetti's office this afternoon, Frankell reported that Marcel Porras, the councilman's legislative deputy, told her this morning that "they would have some people call me next week to talk about my various concerns."
We've also contacted the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the L.A. Film School -- hoping for some word by Monday on what the new classroom's construction and operation needs might be, spacially.
One thing's for sure: This elbow-knocking density will be anything but elegant.