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Hollywood Development Plan Focuses on Subways to Cut Traffic

The iconic Hollywood Hills, made famous for their open spaces surrounding the well-known Hollywood sign, would be preserved through the year 2040 while streets below become more heavily developed under a new plan for the Los Angeles neighborhood known for its movie studios.

Los Angeles officials are drafting a development strategy for Hollywood that would preserve quiet neighborhoods with multi-million-dollar homes in the sprawling hills while trying to make better use of subway stops near the historic Walk of Fame, studios and businesses such as streaming entertainment provider Netflix. Focusing on mass transit is designed to let the city deal with something else it's famous for: traffic-clogged streets and highways.

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning hopes to replace a community plan dating back three decades with a proposed update. A previous update was overruled four years ago after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge forced the city council to rescind the 2012 Hollywood Community Plan Update and start over. The new plan must undergo an environmental review consistent with California Environmental Quality Act standards.

“We are operating under an outdated plan that is 30 years old,” Leron Gubler, president and chief executive of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said in an email. “Hollywood needs a new plan to protect single-family and hillside residential areas and to concentrate growth within the city center and close to mass transit. It should also address important issues such as transportation, parks and recreational facilities, and historic resources.”

A Hollywood Chamber of Commerce committee plans to review the new draft and make further comments, probably in January, according to Gubler. A 75-day period for residents to submit comments regarding the plan update ends on Jan. 31. The project must then go through other reviews, including by the Planning Commission, before seeking final approval from the Los Angeles City Council.

The proposed plan lays out a direction for future buildings and overall planning in the area and would be in effect through the year 2040 and calls for updated zoning. In some areas, density could be as much as doubled from current standards.

Most of the changes are proposed near transit hubs at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue as well as the Hollywood and Vine Street metro stations, extending south to Sunset Boulevard and east to the 101 Freeway. That area, known as the regional center, is largely considered the core of commerce, activity and identity of Hollywood and it's where most development is allowed.

The new plan would extend the regional center of Hollywood along both sides of Hollywood Boulevard and the north side of Sunset between Gower Street and the freeway. "Additional changes are proposed along major corridors such as Vine Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, and in or near job-producing areas where anticipated increases in housing, population and employment are directed," according to the proposed plan.

By focusing projects in what is already considered the center of the neighborhood, most new development would avoid encroaching on low-density neighborhoods and leave more than 90 percent of the land in Hollywood unchanged, according to the document.

"These include single-family residential neighborhoods, hillside properties, low-scale multi-family neighborhoods, and open space areas, as well as some commercial areas," according to the proposal's website. Development in those areas would continue to regulated by the city's existing general plan as well as any larger policies or programs in the new Hollywood community plan.

The neighborhood has changed significantly since the current Hollywood Community Plan was adopted in 1988. Five stops on the Metro Red Line have opened and the well-known 351,000-square-foot Hollywood & Highland shopping center and Dolby Theatre, at 6801 Hollywood Blvd.

The proposed plan covers 21.8 square miles, extending south of the 134 Freeway, west of the 5 Freeway, north of Melrose Avenue and south of Mulholland Drive.

One of the most notable changes in the current proposal from the 2012 plan is its focus on historic preservation. The proposal includes a Community Plan Implementation Overlay District to help preserve the area's historic resources and buildings such as the Hollywood Bowl, one of the most popular outdoor amphitheaters in the world and a site where legendary bands such as the Beatles have recorded live albums.

The new plan's focus on building density near local transit is a general trend taking place across Los Angeles right now. While Los Angeles' subway system isn't as advanced as other major cities such as New York and Chicago, new lines and stops have been added over the years and more subway stops are scheduled in open.

Gabe Kadosh, vice president of retail services at Colliers International, said building near those stops could help encourage more of the population to leave their cars at home, helping to lessen congestion on Los Angeles' notoriously clogged streets and freeways.

“One of the biggest hurdles with different areas of Los Angeles is our transit, and I think we need to build more near transit,” Kadosh said. There needs to be more residential and more retail closer to transit because people aren’t really taking transit as much as they should be.”

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