Commission delays action on Hollywood Community Plan

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LOS ANGELES — The city Planning Commission will continue its review of the Hollywood Community Plan Update March 18 following several hours of discussion, questions and proposed changes to the plan Feb. 18.

According to City Planner Priya Mehendale, the commission is seeking to update the existing plan while taking into account several issues that Los Angeles faces in 2021, but last week’s meeting ended without a vote.

How do we address climate change, ensure equitable outcomes for all our residents and address rising housing costs and changing economic conditions?” Mehendale said were some of the issues being debated by the commission. “Today’s recommended community plan ties most of the increases in development potential to the provision of onsite affordable housing or onsite public open space. This approach is similar to that of the South L.A. and Southeast L.A. community plans, which were the last two plans that came before this commission.”

According to the commission, the purpose of the plan is to preserve low-density neighborhoods in the Hollywood area, direct anticipated developments to already urbanized portions of the area and identify suitable locations for new development. It would encourage the preservation and maintenance of rental units protected by the rent stabilization ordinance and support projects that offer former low-income tenants of demolished units the right to move into new leases at the previous price.

But Housing Is A Human Right and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation said they believe the plan will increase gentrification, housing inaffordability and the homelessness crisis.

For too many years, L.A. City Hall has bent over backwards to give developers whatever they want and let them decide what our communities look like and who gets housing — and it’s not working,” said Susie Shannon, policy director for Housing Is A Human Right. “In fact, it’s fueling gentrification and the housing affordability and homelessness crisis.

“City leaders must address our homeless crisis by providing city-owned land for homeless housing, mandate a percentage of housing be built for low-income residents and protect the city against predatory developers. Every community plan must have a comprehensive path forward to housing our unhoused and low-income residents.”

According to the commission, the plan’s components are to:

• Direct urban growth around public transit and away from hillside and low-density neighborhoods.

• Improve air quality, combining land use and transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

• Reinforce Hollywood’s role as a hub of media and entertainment jobs.

• Promote transit-oriented development and create less dependence on vehicles.

• Establish new lower height limits for buildings around historic districts.

• Support the Hollywood Central Park over the Hollywood (101) Freeway.

• Protect hillsides from “overdevelopment” and strengthen development regulations for hillside subdivisions.

• Expand historic preservation districts.

• And establish urban design guidelines for new Hollywood developments with a focus on pedestrian-friendly commercial districts.

A representative for Councilman Mitch O’Farrell told the commission Feb. 18 that O’Farrell would like the plan to further evolve before being passed.

Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who represents part of the plan area, said she does not think the plan goes far enough to protect residents.

Council District 4 is committed to advancing tenant protections and expanding affordable housing in Los Angeles, and we believe there are several areas within this plan that can be strengthened to ensure equitable and affordable development in Hollywood,” she said Feb. 17.

Raman wants the plan to:

Develop a more robust set of anti-displacement tools for Hollywood residents.

• Increase public input on hotel projects.

• Require conditional use permits appealable to the City Council.

• Restrict the conversion and demolition of housing for the development of hotels.

• Create more ambitious affordable housing percentages within incentive programs that allow for increased density.

• Increase height limits for projects that demonstrate commitments to affordable housing.

• And go further to preserve the ecosystem in the Santa Monica Mountains.

We understand that this will not be the last opportunity to contribute to the Hollywood Community Plan Update, and we will continue to work with the Department of City Planning and other associated departments to incorporate comments from the City Planning Commission and the public in the coming weeks,” Raman said.

She said she supports the Just Hollywood Coalition’s calls for a more robust plan. The coalition has been urging people to sign a petition in favor of the 4H Plan, to further encourage affordable housing, protect rent stabilization ordinance buildings, create new policies to promote local hiring, protect small businesses, incentivize transit use and encourage new, energy-efficient buildings that will be integrated into Hollywood’s natural environment.

City Planner Linda Lou said the plan addresses the need for building more affordable housing, preserving rent-stabilized units and preserving multi-family residential areas.

Several people expressed concern by calling in to the meeting and posting online that 31% of the total plan area would be zoned for single-family residential housing. Multi-family neighborhoods received 16% of the total plan area.

I was really disturbed to see how much land was dedicated to single-family zoning in this plan,” It has a racist legacy that continues to this day. … I just hope that the plan can be amended to get rid of single-family zoning in the whole plan area.

“This doesn’t mean get rid of single-family housing, you can still have a single-family house, but you can also build duplexes and triplexes and fourplexes and [accessory dwelling units] and small apartment buildings.”

Hollywood resident Brittani Nichols called into the meeting to say: “I encourage you all to adopt stronger anti-displacement protections. …  It’s more important to affordable housing to help prevent more people from falling into houselessness than it is to maximize individual people’s investments and developers’ profits.”

Hollywood resident Nicole Stuart called in to voice her support for the current draft of the Hollywood Community Plan Update.

I’ve lived in Hollywood for 20 years and blocks are being torn down with a fraction of affordable housing, and the neighborhood is going away and they’re pushing small-business owners out, so I really hope you support the current draft,” she said.

The current draft of the plan is opposed by advocacy organizations Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles and Thai Community Development Center, as well as the union Unite Here Local 11, which represents 32,000 workers in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas and convention centers in Southern California and Arizona.

The first Hollywood Community Plan was adopted in 1973, but Hollywood land is currently governed by the plan’s update in 1988. In 2012, the Planning Commission adopted an update, but that plan’s environmental impact report was challenged a couple of years later, and the City Council rescinded the update.

A draft of the plan can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2M6ioJK.

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