Re: Greg Goldin's article on Hollywood revitalization [“Mall-ywood,” December 1824]. The purpose of economic development should be to create wealth for those who don't have it. That means focusing on economic-development projects that create significant numbers of living-wage (or better) jobs, and that — through fees and sales tax — increase the city's revenue. The Hollywood and Highland project, while certainly not the only model for progressive economic development, does meet both of these goals. It creates over 2,000 living-wage jobs and creates revenue for the city.
While other cities, such as Burbank and Universal City, have effectively capitalized on the Hollywood name, we believe it's time for the real Hollywood to reap some of the benefits that should come from worldwide name recognition. We have chosen to focus a lot of our economic-development resources on doing just this, through “incremental” improvements to the area (decent, affordable housing, the business-improvement district, the façade-improvement program), as well as by attracting major new investment such as the TrizecHahn project.
As economic-development strategies go, taking advantage of an enormous tourist market (an estimated 9 million visitors come to Hollywood each year) is indeed progressive. Tourism is not an industry that can get up and move away, and it taxes the discretionary income of visitors. The other critical elements of this development are the creation of living-wage jobs and the recognition of the collective-bargaining rights of the workers at the Holiday Inn. To the people who work there every day, these are real and important gains. To the people who live in our district, access to living-wage jobs in this age of welfare “reform” is an absolute necessity. Statistics show that more than 80 percent of all new jobs in California do not pay a living wage. This accomplishment is anything but “trivial”!
As beautiful as the restoration of the Egyptian Theater is (a project our office raised funds to complete after the 1994 earthquake), and as important as it is to the revitalization of Hollywood, it can never meet the need for living-wage jobs in our district. Nor can it generate the kind of revenue that a Hollywood and Highland can. There is room for both of these projects to thrive in Hollywood. It isn't an either/or proposition.
When my office takes on economic-development projects, we ask ourselves, “Does it create decent jobs? Does it create wealth for the city? Does it contribute to the overall revitalization of Hollywood? Are local residents and businesses involved in the creation of these projects?” In the case of the Hollywood and Highland project, the answer to all these questions is yes.
Councilwoman, 13th City Council District
Greg Goldin really missed the mark in his article on the Hollywood and Highland project. First, he got his facts all wrong, especially on the living-wage issue. The agreement between TrizecHahn and the city goes far beyond the existing Living Wage Ordinance, which requires city contractors, lessees and subsidy recipients to pay their workers at least $7.39 per hour plus benefits. The TrizecHahn agreement helps achieve living-wage jobs and health benefits for the entire development, including the retail businesses and restaurants that aren't technically covered by the ordinance. Indeed, the agreement with TrizecHahn is multifaceted and groundbreaking in a number of ways — all of which Goldin neglected to mention.
It is an insult to call this historic agreement — involving the projected creation of 2,400 quality jobs in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city — a “pittance.” We estimate that this agreement will put over 9 million additional dollars per year into the pockets of low-income people in the Hollywood area. In these days of “trickle-down” and welfare elimination, that is no small sum.
As a participant in the months of negotiations leading up to the TrizecHahn living-wage agreement, I was awestruck by the tenacity, vision and commitment shown by Jackie Goldberg. She is an elected official who believes passionately in alleviating poverty and ä empowering her community. She struck a hard bargain in the TrizecHahn project, one that I believe we can be proud of, and one that is hopefully going to contribute to the true revitalization of Hollywood.
Director, L.A. Living Wage Coalition
There are some historical errors in Greg Goldin's “Mall-ywood” article. MGM never had a studio in Hollywood. Metro Pictures had a studio on Vine south of Santa Monica, which it sold to Buster Keaton after the merger, when it relocated to the Goldwyn (now Sony) lot in Culver City. Prior to the merger, Louis B. Mayer had been renting space at the Selig Zoo Studio in Lincoln Heights.
The studio at Sunset and Western was built by William Fox, and even after the company built a new, modern studio in West Los Angeles, the Hollywood studio was used for B-movies and, later, TV shows until it was torn down in 1972.
Also, even after Warner Bros. bought the Burbank-based First National Studios in 1928, it continued to make films both at its Hollywood studio and at the Vitagraph Studio in East Hollywood, having bought that company in 1925; it's not the site of ABC Studios. Warner sold its Hollywood plant to Paramount, which set up the experimental TV broadcasting facilities that would become KTLA.
WE'VE GOT MAIL
Ella Taylor's review of You've Got Mail [“Return to Sender,” December 1824] was smart, informed, thoughtful and historical. Each of these qualities is rare. Together, they form quite an exceptional bundle. Thank you.
Awesome, wonderful review of You've Got Mail. Nora Ephron is a peddler whose sole interest in human beings is figuring out how she can turn them into profit in her tawdry remake machines. Thanks so much for helping a few more people see that.
Why does Ella Taylor feel compelled to sharpen her critic claws on Parker Posey's hide? While I realize that there are a few people who can't take more than five minutes of Ms. Posey, the rest of us cannot help but look. Ms. Taylor believes the actress repeats herself in her films. Gee, they've given that little Academy statue to Nicholson many times for doing the same thing.
By the way, I am not a New York transplant who pathologically thinks Ms. Posey can do no wrong.
–Robert C. Flores
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