For an internationally worshiped town, the edifices of Hollywood appear to be a little, well, short. Undoubtedly, tourists who trek from New York City, Tokyo, or Shanghai navigate their way to Hollywood Boulevard and say “That’s it?!?”
The low Hollywood skyline may be getting some vertical enhancements, however, following new zoning guidelines approved this month by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission that make it easier for developers to build bigger and taller buildings in the Hollywood area. The zoning changes are reportedly part of a bigger plan to concentrate Los Angeles development around transit hubs such as Metro and bus stations in Hollywood and offer incentives for building closer to these hubs. As the new guidelines wait for final City Council approval, some residents are protesting the new plans. Community members complain that fifty-story buildings will lead to overwhelming congestion in an already crowded area. Officials claim that taller buildings are necessary due to the area’s projected population growth and that public transportation will thwart off traffic inundation. However, multiple residents have threatened to sue over the accuracy of the city’s population estimates if the plan is approved by City Council and many people assert that there is no guarantee that increased population will result in increased ridership on the trains and buses.
Are big skyscrapers truly necessary in Hollywood or is this a case of developers lobbying for fewer bureaucratic impediments to building? Will towering modern buildings destroy the nostalgic atmosphere established by Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Roosevelt Hotel?
Michael Woo, former city councilman, Hollywood; member, LA City Planning Commission; dean, College of Environmental Design, Cal Poly Pomona
Richard MacNaughton, on the Planning & Land Use Management Committee (PLUM); Hollywood United Neighborhood Council
Richard Close, president, Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association