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Hollywood Community Plan, aka Skyscraper Hell, Approved by L.A. Planning Commission at Dodgy Meeting

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Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 5:10 PM

click to enlarge Forty stories? That's nothin'! - ILLUSTRATION BY JACK BALINGIT
Hollywood is about to become a sea of skyscrapers. And our only consolation prize is a goddamned cat park.

Opponents to L.A.'s new "Hollywood Community Plan" never stood a chance. As if it wasn't off-putting enough that today's Planning Commission meeting was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. -- with little to no public notice -- the commission scheduled another hot topic for very same morning: approval of the New West Charter High School near Stoner Park. (Which, like the community plan, passed with flying colors, despite similar protests from nearby residents who don't think their 'hood can handle any more clog.)

By the time the Hollywood Community Plan was finally addressed around noon, a pool of 50-odd naysayers had drained...

... to about half that, according to LA Weekly reporter David Futch.

"This Planning Commission knew they had these two giant issues here today, and this is the game they play," Hollywood resident and psychotherapist Lucille Saunders told Futch as they were waiting around. "City staffers are getting paid, developers are getting paid -- but any citizen who comes here and has taken the day off from their job, they're not getting paid."

Not that there was much hope of changing the commission's mind.

click to enlarge A rendering of the two high-rises set to flank Capitol Records. - LA CURBED
  • LA Curbed
  • A rendering of the two high-rises set to flank Capitol Records.
In the wise/jaded words of Richard Platkin, former L.A. city planner who's now an adjunct professor at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development:

"This is a ceremony. I can tell you the outcome of this meeting: All the recommendations are going to be accepted and passed. These meetings are merely lightning rods for people who come, speak their mind and are ignored. Smart people understand that the only way to get the city to follow their own laws is to sue the city."

Sad, but true. As we touched on yesterday, the Hollywood plan -- once it inevitably gets a stamp of approval from the L.A. City Council -- will allow skyscrapers to reach new heights and residential areas to be densified to the point of suffocation.

Local attorney and activist Richard MacNaughton told us that the population statistics employed by the commission are from the early 2000s, even though newer stats show the city's not equipped for such densification.

Using old numbers is a violation of state law, MacNaughton said. But unless somebody sues City Hall, our elected officials will keep on pushing these community-crushers through, drooling over development dollars and unconcerned with the "Blade Runner" craphole they're leaving in their wake.

You know, for the rest of us to live in.

The Planning Commission's big delay charade today silenced some pretty crucial players to the well-being of Hollywood. Weekly reporter Futch says that LAPD Captain Beatrice Girmala and Los Angeles Fire Battalion Charles Butler showed up to express concern that the plan will jeopardize pubic safety.

However, they had places to be, and weren't able to take the entire day off for one ineffectual public-comment period -- which, by the way, began at freaking 1:30 p.m. (And though the policewoman and fireman work for the city, Futch says they'd only heard about the plan, which will very much affect their lives and jobs, from outside sources.)

Brushing off loony gadflies is easy. But when law enforcement and emergency workers start showing up to beg political appointees to put Angelenos before developers, you start to wonder how City Hall sleeps at night.

Guess we'll stop getting our panties in a bunch now. What's done is done. The commission unanimously passed the Hollywood Community Plan today -- one that's carving the path for various other L.A. community plans just like it. Futch says commissioners made some minor tweaks during their discussion -- such as the, uh, CAT PARK -- but that overall, "they didn't make substantive changes, like whether a 55-story building can go in."

Which, to be clear, it now can. Death knell, indeed.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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