The iconic Hollywood sign guards the hills over the city, looming in the distance as you drive down Sunset Blvd. or Hollywood Blvd. But some residents fear a new city plan allowing the construction of taller buildings would block the sign from their view.
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed Hollywood's new community plan last Tuesday, which advocates said is needed to accommodate the growth in the area. But local residents and neighborhood councils fear that greater building density will bring even more traffic to the already crowded region and strain outdated city infrastructure.
They plan to take the new plan to court, claiming that its environmental impact review did not include current population numbers from the 2010 Census.
"It indirectly impacts everyone in Hollywood," said Erik Sanjurjo, Vice President of the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council. "Traffic is the number one concern people have."
With the Walk of Fame, Hollywood Bowl, and Grauman's Chinese Theater nearby - all large tourist attractions - traffic in the area is already very congested, especially during events like the Academy Awards or Hollywood Bowl concerts.
The new plan makes it easier to construct taller buildings, in some areas doubling the height allocation. Any projects taller than that must appeal the city and submit the project to local neighborhood councils. The plan also restricts development in historical areas and the residential Hollywood Hills.
Rosemary DeMonte, a member of the Griffith Park Neighborhood Council planning commission, supported parts of the plan that encouraged pedestrian-friendly walkways and storefronts, but said she did not think the city had the resources for greater development.
"They just have to invest in infrastructure first before they can build up the city," Demonte said. She mentioned the needed improvements in water, sewage, road maintenance, and police and fire departments.
The updated plan focuses growth along Red Line stations and Metro bus stops in order to encourage residents to use public transit. But with only three stops in Hollywood, the subway system isn't often used, DeMonte said. Earlier plans to encourage public transit use, like limiting parking spaces near the transit systems, have only worsened traffic and parking.
City officials countered that the plan does not create growth, but allows for inevitable expansion and channels development to the business center of Hollywood.
"This is the logic behind the plan - if people want to build in Hollywood, we need to have a plan in place so that the growth driven by them is done sensibly and responsibly," said Yusef Robb, Deputy Chief of Staff for LA City Councilman Eric Garcetti.
"From our standpoint, we believe that the people of Hollywood want to keep overdevelopment out of residential areas and want to see jobs and sensible business and office creation where they should be - along major corridors like Sunset and Vine," Robb said.
After holding more than 100 community meetings about the plan, city officials decided that enough issues had been addressed to move forward with the plan. While traffic was the most common concern for many neighborhood councils, Robb said that this plan cannot address that or other infrastructure concerns.
"Those things will be determined when the actual project comes," he said.
In opposition to the plan, locals offer their own solutions. The East Hollywood Neighborhood Council submitted a plan that would adjust it for community input, infrastructure, and emergency preparedness. And the Griffith Park Neighborhood Council encouraged the city to explore a study that would use developer's fees to solve traffic and other infrastructure problems.
Hollywood United Neighborhood Council's Sanjurjo expressed his personal disappointment with the plan:
"It's disillusioning, now neighborhood advocates have to fight every project they don't like. Now they have to go to every single project and fight tooth and nail the developers."