In December the Los Angeles Department of City Planning (DCP) released a set of proposed updates to planning guidelines for Hollywood, the neighborhood’s first plan update since 1988. Director of City Planning Michael LoGrande told AN that the impetus for the updates was Hollywood’s “drastic need for revitalization.”
The new plan is based on LA’s general city plan and “focuses on how the city grows and how it handles population growth,” said LoGrande. That includes strategies for transportation, housing, open space, and land use. Hollywood’s plan is the first to be updated under the DCP’s community plan program, which seeks to overhaul similar documents in communities across the city.
According to Senior City Planner Kevin Keller, the scheme has been scrutinized by the press and even referred to as “Manhattan coming to Hollywood.” While the plan proposes taller buildings and higher densities around transportation hubs, allowing up to 6:1 floor area ratio (FAR) in certain locations, it does not advocate implementing a dense city plan comparable to that of New York. By focusing development around community-based “regional centers,” existing lower-density and historic neighborhoods can be maintained, Keller noted.
The proposal focuses on mixed-use development and proposes an integrated transportation system that includes bike paths, scenic highways, but prioritizes the pedestrian. “To continue to plan for the automobile as an urban way of life has been a detriment to our current living standards,” said Will Wright, director of Government & Public Relations at the AIA Los Angeles. The proposed Hollywood plan aims to create more attractive streetscapes with pedestrian-friendly streets, expanding neighborhood parks, improving existing public spaces, and creating new ones where possible through strategies like capping highways; a proposal for Hollywood Central Park, for example, would cover about a mile of the Hollywood Freeway (US 101).
Despite critics’ fears of Manhattanization, the project has received broad city support. LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the plan a “comprehensive blueprint that Hollywood desperately needs.” According to LoGrande, the next step in the process for the proposed guidelines is a vote by the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee of the City Council, which is not yet scheduled. However, the DCP does anticipate City Council reviewing the plan in the next few months.
LoGrande said the project has been in development for the past six to seven years with local citizens and architects helping planners understand policy ordinances and design standards. The planning department has also provided a public forum for people to discuss and challenge the department’s thinking. “Los Angeles is learning about urbanism. It doesn’t have to change the culture of the city, it just has to offer an alternative,” said Bill Roschen, principal at LA-based Roschen Van Cleve Architects and chair of the city’s planning commission.
According to LoGrande, the proposed community plan provides the overall framework for zoning in Hollywood, and if passed, it would transform the way the LA thinks about city planning and development. “If we can try out new ideas and new policies and programs and see how they work, we can then look at the plan and adjust as we need to,” said LoGrande.