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The Pantages Theater and the cylindrically-shaped Capitol Records building are seen behind workers during the construction of the W hotel complex. New zoning laws aim to facilitate development of residential and commercial districts.
New zoning guidelines headed to final approval by the L.A. City Council may open the door for the rapid construction of skyscrapers in Hollywood. But the question remains: Would the new legislation really change the neighborhood's landscape all that much?
The new zoning rules approved earlier this month make it easier for developers to build bigger and taller buildings in certain areas throughout Hollywood, the L.A. Times reports. The new guidelines would also include incentives for building close to public transit hubs, such as Metro stations or bus stops.
These zoning requirements are part of the Hollywood Community Plan, part of the city's comprehensive General Plan that maps out the development of the city as a whole. The Community Plan was last updated in 1988, before there were any Metro stops in the Hollywood area. Now there are five stops, and the plan has changed significantly to encourage pedestrians and the use of public transportation.
It opens the gate for denser development along Hollywood Boulevard and high-rises of office, retail and residential towers next to the iconic Capitol Records building, NBC reports.
The commercial revival of Hollywood has gained speed since the the 1990s when the area exploded with the creation of the Hollywood & Highland Center shopping center and the upscale W Hotel complex, but recently progress has slowed, according to a statement from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Villaraigosa held a press conference in support of the new plan, saying that up until now, land planning has been done in a "piecemeal" fashion.
"Under this new community plan, the growth of Hollywood will be guided by a comprehensive blueprint that cuts red tape, preserves neighborhood character, and accommodates growth around transit corridors,” Villaraigosa said.
The plan changes building height restrictions and alters land use conditions. In some instances, the new plan imposes height restrictions on areas that previously had none; in others, it allows for the construction of larger buildings than ever before.
But some residents are concerned the plan will lead to an overwhelming presence of skyscrapers.
Lucille Saunders, an activist who showed up at Villaraigosa's press conference to support the plan, said she is not happy with the changes at all, Hollywood Patch reports.
“It is the Manhattanization of Hollywood,” Saunders said.
Joel Kotkin, an urban studies fellow at Chapman University, told the L.A. Times that he questions whether adding large projects near bus and rail lines actually increases ridership.
"This is the endless Villaraigosa fantasy that you'll get wealthy people to live near bus stops," Kotkin told the Times.
Less controversial portions of the new Hollywood Community Plan include the creation of urban parks and the expansion of Griffith Park.
So how will this affect the iconic aspects of Hollywood?
Yes, bigger and taller buildings on either side of the Capitol Records building may try to dwarf the landmark's stature, but Hollywood has a long history of commerce and nostalgia existing peacefully side-by-side. Will think new zoning laws or additional high-rise buildings diminish Hollywood's legacy? Are these additions much-needed progress or ugly commercialization?