2019 State of Hollywood

2019 State of Hollywood

Thank you Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, as well as the sponsors and supporters, who are making today’s luncheon possible.

I love and appreciate having this annual opportunity to take stock of what we’ve done and what we’ll do in the year ahead. This event is important to me professionally and personally as it falls during the same week I moved to Hollywood in 1982, exactly 37 years ago!

For Hollywood, 2018 was a year of significant change for the Chamber; after 26 years Leron Gubler retired and we have a new leader in Rana Ghadban. Welcome Rana and congratulations! We look forward to working with you!

The Hollywood Entertainment District BID also saw the departure of Kerry Morrison after 22 years. We now welcome Kris Larson as the BID’s new director. Congratulations Kris!

Kerry and Leron represented steady, strong leadership for Hollywood at a pivotal time in our recent history. I had the great privilege of working with them in collaboration for well over ten years, five and a half of them as a city councilmember. What I learned will continue to be invaluable - and I probably speak for many in this room when I say that. In fact, this dynamic duo made such a lasting impact, we marked the occasion at two Hollywood intersections with street signs in their honor! Hollywood and Sycamore for Leron, and Selma and Vine for Kerry.

But – these aren’t the only recent changes. There’s much more to discuss – but I’ll get to the “heart” of these changes in a few minutes!

2018 was busy!

  • We installed our 2nd Hollywood scramble crosswalk at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine with the cast of the Broadway hit musical “On Your Feet” at the Pantages Theatre who joined us for the dedication!

 

  • Completed and dedicated a new streetscape on Hollywood between Gower and Western; improvements that include a new pedestrian activated traffic signal.

  • Completed a 2nd streetscape on Selma between Highland and Cahuenga that also includes a new pedestrian activated traffic signal so kids at Hollywood High can cross safely at Hawthorn.

  • I hope you’re not tired of new traffic signals because there’s more! We installed one at McCadden Place and Hollywood Blvd., eliminating the last remaining “unsignalized" crosswalk on the Walk of Fame. This is an outgrowth of working with Beth Marlis who chaired the Chamber Board and my commitment to make this happen.

Pedestrian safety continues to be my number-one traffic priority and with thousands of students from the Musicians Institute and Hollywood High School, and everyone else, stopping cars completely is the best way to reduce the city’s hit-and-run epidemic!

We are also focusing on making it a better experience for bus riders with an improvement project at 14 bus stops along Highland Avenue, Sunset Boulevard, and Vine Street. The improvements also include upgrades in lighting and bus shelters.

And “finding” your way around Hollywood just got easier! After years of coordinating efforts, our “wayfinding” sign program is under way. Years in the making, these signs are a wonderful tool that identifies the Hollywood “brand” while helping people find parking and public amenities.

Art in the public rights of way are important too. Last year we supported the installation of murals at Hollywood High, the Hollywood Recreation Center Pool, Project Angel Food, and a utility box art project in the Hollywood Entertainment District.

A little further to the east in Hollywood, you’ve also seen change. We teamed up with my colleague David Ryu and installed a signalized crosswalk at Rodney Drive and Hollywood Boulevard, and made other infrastructure improvements to make the crossing safer for pedestrians.

Along Vermont where we previously installed four landscaped medians heading south from Hollywood Boulevard, we were able to fund the installation of two more medians, one at Santa Monica Boulevard and the other at Melrose Avenue, along the Vermont Avenue corridor.

We partnered with Los Angeles Community College and our Department of Transportation last year on a first for the city: inaugurating the BLUE-LA car-sharing company. The all-electric vehicle ride sharing program provides a mobility network for people who occasionally need a car but do not necessarily need to own one.

We also partnered with LACC on hosting my 3rd Community Conference, bringing residents together to access neighborhood serving departments and institutions. We also lent our support for their “hiring spree,” an event that connects members of the community to employers, provides workshops on resume writing, and foundational job readiness tools.

At Barnsdall Art Park, we’re renovating Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Residence A,” The carriage house built as part of the Hollyhock House project in 1921. The renovation is expected to cost $3-million dollar and is currently underway. The structure sat dilapidated, exposed to the elements, and has been falling apart for the better part of 20 years. Because of our overall focus at the Barnsdall historic site, and with other restoration projects in the pipeline, part of the complex has become eligible for UNESCO World Heritage consideration. We’ll keep you posted on our progress in that regard.

2018 was a pretty good year for public safety as our crime stats in the Hollywood Entertainment District area overall moved in the right direction. Violent crime, burglaries, and theft from motor vehicles are all down significantly.

The Hollywood LAPD is busy. There were 425 felony arrests and 51 guns were recovered last year; a huge number in comparison to other units. I want to thank the men and women of the LAPD for making us safer!

Here is some great public safety news for 2019: The Hollywood LAPD will be increasing its daytime footbeat on the boulevard between Orange Drive and Cahuenga Boulevard with a team of eight officers, led by a Sergeant working six days per week during daytime hours. As part of this focus, there will be an outreach component to businesses and stakeholders along this specified route. As we know in this room, relationships matter and there is a high value in partnerships between police and local stakeholders in every neighborhood.

And – Hollywood Division is adding 31 officers who had previously been on administrative duty to patrol bringing the total number of officers to nearly 200. Crime suppression works and increased visibility from the LAPD in Hollywood at a time when more people live and visit here than ever before is a good thing.

In Hollywood and in the 13th District, we made strides in addressing homelessness. While never turning a blind eye to what I believe is our most important challenge, it is important to mention that last year’s annual homeless count resulted in a 5% reduction in homelessness in the city and a 10% reduction in the 13th district. While that’s nothing to brag about and the numbers will vary year to year, it is nonetheless data that moved in the right direction in 2018. We are in the midst of some successes that speak to this issue:

  • The “Bridge Home” program here has been a real winner! The plan is to place a minimum of one temporary bridge housing facility for formerly homeless individuals in each council district. However, last year, we quietly opened a 60 bed facility for homeless women at the YWCA. Our champion for that project, YWCA executive director and my friend, Faye Washington is here today! – and - our temporary Bridge Housing Project on a city parking lot at Shrader is well under way and slated to open next month; housing 70 homeless individuals at a time with the essential wrap around clinical and case work services they need.   Many of you in this room collaborated closely with my office, setting the groundwork over the course of nearly a year, to build strong support for this project. Special recognition goes to Kerry Morrison and Nicole Shahenian who have been champions in this effort. That will be essential to its success and has broad implications for the success of the entire “bridge home” program across the city. You all are part of something much larger than this one site and I cannot thank you enough for your strong advocacy!

  • In other parts of my District, the first Measure HHH Supportive Housing project in the City of Los Angeles will open soon, with a 2nd one in my district on the project approval track. We also have plans to establish a Safe Parking site. 2019 holds promise for other significant supportive and affordable housing projects that will soon be announced in the 13th District.

Hollywood is still the entertainment capital of the world! Every year I’ve been in office, I’ve carried on Tom LaBonge’s tradition of highlighting the accomplishments of films and television productions made in California that have received Emmy or Oscar nominations. It’s called the “Made in Hollywood Honors” and I am happy to say that since the California state tax incentives took effect, the list of films and television shows being honored has grown exponentially!

That means good paying jobs for thousands of people who work directly or indirectly in the film and television industry. According to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s “2018 Market Report" roughly 24% of people who live in Hollywood are employed in the arts and entertainment industry, with 22% of people identifying as professionals or senior staff.

You never know, with the way the industry is growing, there may be another career waiting for all of us on stage, television, or film! Who’s ready for their close up?

In fact, Netflix will have over 1 million square feet of office space leased in Hollywood and the 13th District in the “Epic” and “Academy Square” projects, now under construction. This means the demand for office and sound stage space will likely increase in Hollywood and Los Angeles, continuing a chain of economic expansion; another wonderful outgrowth of a robust entertainment infrastructure and economy.

Now, if we could just find a host for the Academy Awards!

My “heart” will always be in Hollywood and after careful thought and reflection, last year I decided it was time to beef up our collective efforts at making this a world-class community.

Over the years I’ve described Hollywood’s remarkable history as a “one of a kind” neighborhood known the world over: the talent of local leaders in the business and philanthropic community; the concentration of financial and cultural resources here; the amount of interest and investment this community generates; and how, over the last several decades, you all have put building blocks in place to set the stage for Hollywood to succeed like never before.

But what will success in Hollywood look like?

Safe, clean streets with robust, pedestrian activity in our residential and thriving commercial corridors. Our ability to house people of all income levels who won’t always have to depend on a car to get to work, go shopping, or visit a park.

All of this with the backdrop of iconic historic and modern architecture teaming with space for offices that house the creative class, financial institutions, film and television companies, and - recording studios, along with quality entertainment venues that rival any found across the world.

Success in Hollywood means that long dormant, empty buildings will be brought back to life, bringing the sparkle back to the boulevard worthy of the people who live, work, and invest in our community.

The good news is that thanks to you, we have done so much of this already: Nederlander is expanding into Dolby Theatre; we have companies like Trailer Park; Wework; Pavemint; Live Nation; Neuhouse; Siren Studios and many more small and midsized companies that keep Hollywood buzzing with activity and most importantly, good jobs.

In addition we have the historic Capitol Records, Paramount Pictures, and the nearby NBC Universal, Raleigh Studios, Hollywood Center Studios, Sunset Bronson Studios, Sunset Gower Studios, Occidental Studios and several other smaller companies that provide entertainment content seen the world over. The list goes on and on.

In my view though, we need an additional component at the epicenter of all this activity and change; a professional who is tasked with helping us over that horizon line we’ve been reaching for all these years.

Someone from my office who will focus full time on Hollywood. Hollywood the regional economic driver, Hollywood the entertainment jobs creator, Hollywood the growing residential community, and Hollywood the neighborhood that needs daily guidance to keep the constant dynamics at play and moving in a more certain direction; a direction that I feel is our collective destiny. The vision of success I outlined a moment ago.

That is why over the course of the last several months, we have slowly been rolling out our “HEART of Hollywood” initiative.

“HEART of Hollywood” is not just an idealistic gimmick. It is a work plan for my new director of this initiative. That director is someone most of you know very well; and now I’d like to acknowledge our “HEART of Hollywood” director Dan Halden!

H,   E, A,   R, T.

H – is our “History.” No other community comes close to the rich history in Hollywood. I could give an entire speech about that but I will spare you for now.

E – is for “Economy.” Hollywood is a regional economic driver for Los Angeles County. Its influence goes far beyond the 13th District and the city itself. We must value this distinction and nurture our economy to keep it expanding - and that means jobs.

A – is for the arts and architecture. This community has distinct, quality architecture ranging from Beaux Arts, to Art Deco, to Mid Century Modern, to a new as yet undefined contemporary style exemplified by structures like Technicolor and Emerson College, with more exciting projects on the way. The Walk of Fame is a national historical monument and the "arts" in Hollywood range from our rightful place as the entertainment capital of the world, to live theatre, art galleries, and several museums including the one and only Hollywood Museum.

R – was tough because so many words that begin with R could work here but we chose “Renewal.” Living, thriving neighborhoods are constantly in a state of renewal. In the past, Hollywood hasn’t always fit this description. We had decades of divestment and neglect. We must never allow that to happen again.

T – is “Tradition.” Tradition is what grounds a person, a culture, or an organization. Winning sports teams have tradition.  

Let’s establish a tradition in Hollywood. A tradition of this one of a kind neighborhood that actively values its history, strengthens its economy, has high standards for its historic and new architecture, fortifies its arts and culture, and is in constant renewal in new and creative ways.

This initiative will involve all of us, working together, organized by my office, leveraging all the talent, determination and creativity to stay constantly aligned on our established mutual interests.

To be clear, this is a Director position whose job is to focus solely on our goals for the historic Walk of Fame neighborhoods and a little beyond. Dan will be working closely with many of you to stay in close, in some cases “relentless” contact with various property owners, non-governmental organizations, arts groups, and Fire and Police on some of our bigger picture objectives. He will be lead on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Master Plan, which my office is securing funding for, along with real improvements that will come to the Walk of Fame as part of the overall package. This visioning process, in and of itself, will lead to the kind of exciting change that this community has been longing for.

He will be working closely with my planning director (Craig Bullock) and our new Hollywood Field Deputy where overlap and coordination will be a reality and an opportunity to forge a consistent, clear path toward a Hollywood that we can all be proud of.

My new Hollywood field deputy (Sean Starkey) will focus on all the important issues my office encounters in Hollywood on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I have no doubt Sean will be as busy assisting this community on my behalf as Dan always was.

We have several major moribund properties in Hollywood, many owned by the same, disengaged owners that have plagued this community far too long. That will be an area of focus that we will doggedly pursue.

We have plentiful opportunity sites that can and should bring additional investment from nationally and world renowned companies, and with that investment - jobs.

We have industries; including the medical field, studios, and the gamut of professional trades that I want to see mentor and hire local Hollywood talent directly from traditionally over-looked neighborhoods.

I believe this is a just and moral imperative in a city and state that is known for demonstrating that diversity in all facets of society works and that all too often,  what holds people back is lack of opportunity.

We have additional opportunities to attract quality, mixed income housing at some of the most iconic intersections in the world. Many sites are still blighted by surface parking lots, often times within a short walking distance to a Metro Red Line station.

In 2018 we turned the page on some significant issues. We won frivolous lawsuits on Palladium and Target. Yes folks, the case is closed and the Target store will be completed!

And we re-entitled another already completed project at Sunset & Gordon that has been held in legal limbo for four years. I negotiated 45 units of rent covenanted affordable housing ranging from very low income to workforce, which includes an additional bonus of 15 units that were not required by ordinance. We hope for a quick resolution on the appeal of this approval so we can occupy this building with people who need homes.

We are moving on. We will undoubtedly face challenges in the future but all the while, I will continue on a steady path to make the most of my time in office to ensure that Hollywood takes a big leap forward.

In Hollywood we do big things. In my office we produce.

Hollywood is synonymous with the City of Los Angeles. It has an outsized presence in an oversized city known around the world.

Let us make our presence known as never before.

In this room beats the heart of Hollywood.

We have the plan.

We have the resources.

We have the talent.

We have the determination.

Hollywood is resilient.

We are united.

Together, we will accomplish this.

Let’s make 2019 the pivot year for Hollywood.

We need to give our efforts a little push.

And as we do, our heart will beat strong, with the steady rhythm of an unstoppable army of standard bearers who have stood witness to our potential all these years, finally reaching that horizon line, and stepping onto the other side.

Thank you!

Let’s go Hollywood!  

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