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Controversial plan to allow bigger buildings in Hollywood gets OK

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 09:06

 

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday green-lighted controversial new zoning guidelines for Hollywood that could dramatically change the look and feel of the city's most iconic neighborhood, and set new standards for development around other transit hubs.

The new guidelines will make it easier for developers to build more and higher buildings around subway stations and bus stops. Supporters, which include business groups and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, say it is a visionary change that will allow Hollywood to fully realize a decade-long transformation from a seedy haven for drug dealing and prostitution into a smartly planned, cosmopolitan center of homes, jobs, entertainment and public transportation.

But critics, especially those who live in the Hollywood Hills, fear new growth could bring an onslaught of added traffic and spoil their million-dollar views. After the plan passed on a 13-0 vote, critics vowed to sue the city for failing to conduct an adequate environmental review.

City Councilman Eric Garcetti, who represents parts of Hollywood and who championed the plan, insists that the new guidelines don't create growth, only accommodate it. He points out that the neighborhood's zoning rules hadn't been updated since 1988.

"If we could freeze-frame one year in Hollywood," he said, "1988 would not be our most august year."

Garcetti also pointed out that the new guidelines will generally limit development in single-family residential and historical neighborhoods, as well as the Hollywood Hills. They also call for more pedestrian-friendly streets and for new parks to be developed.

But new increases in floor-area ratios, which dictate how large buildings can be relative to their lots, would allow much denser building in downtown Hollywood, especially near Metro Red Line stops.

That strategy is part of an overall city planning vision to concentrate development around transit hubs, a doctrine Villaraigosa calls "elegant density." It explains the boom of downtown condos built over the last decade, and planning officials say it may guide city policy in transit-rich communities like Woodland Hills and the Crenshaw district.

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