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After a decade of hard work to establish Hollywood as a premiere attraction and an economic catalyst in Los Angeles, the area is now flourishing and is poised to continue moving forward into the future, according to Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District.
Garcetti discussed the area’s past, present and future at his annual State of Hollywood address on Feb. 10 during a meeting held by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Garcetti, who was first elected to represent the Hollywood area in 2001, said there have been many changes during the past 10 years that have transformed the area, from the Hollywood and Highland Complex and the Kodak Theatre to the Arclight Theatres and the W Hotel and Residences. He added that although the city is facing a dire financial crisis and there may be less money available to assist with redevelopment and other projects, Hollywood will continue to progress if the residents, business entities, and other stakeholders stand behind the commitment to revitalization.
Garcetti said one of the main things that has helped Hollywood achieve its success during the past 10 years is a reduction in crime. He credited the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Division for working to reduce crime, which had gone up 19 percent in Hollywood when he first took office. Today, the crime rate in Hollywood has reached lows that have not been experienced since the 1950s, which has resulted in an influx of tourism in recent years and a new interest within the business community to relocate to the area.
“Back then, there was a sense that people had simply crossed Hollywood off their list,” Garcetti said. “If you closed your eyes and thought of Hollywood a decade ago, that is what you’d see. But if you open your eyes and take a look around now, it’s a completely different picture today. Hollywood is at the top of people’s must-do list.”
Garcetti illustrated the point by identifying some of the new businesses that have opened in the area, including hotels such as The Redbury and attractions such as the Hardrock Café. He also pointed to the upcoming Cirque du Soleil show, “Iris”, which will opening this summer for a 10-year run at the Kodak Theatre.
Garcetti also said there will be tough challenges ahead, including the fact that the city will likely not have money to help fund new projects or to provide some services at libraries and parks. He added, however, that the city council is working on a plan to fix the budget deficit, both through ballot measures that could raise more money, and reforms to pension programs and the Department of Waster and Power.
“It’s an old saying, but I never tire of reminding myself that within every crisis lies opportunity,” Garcetti added. “I am working to make sure the opportunity to reform Los Angeles is not lost as we grapple with this recession. Now is the time when we can, and must, do things better by doing them smarter.”
One program Garcetti plans to foster over the next two years — which will be his final years on the city council because of term limits — is known as Los Angeles Neighborhood Dreams (LAND). The program strives to get members of the community more involved by having them contact Garcetti’s Office through www.cd13.com to identify which projects and programs should be priorities. He added that projects such as the Cahuenga Alley Initiative, which includes making the alleys off Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga Boulevard more pedestrian-friendly, are a good example of things that will improve the neighborhood.
Some of the stakeholders in Hollywood expressed optimism that programs such as LAND will help the area continue to move forward. Leron Gubler, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said he hopes that the revitalization of the Hollywood Walk of Fame can be a priority. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the Walk of Fame, has raised approximately $3 million for improvements, but said it will likely take much more money.
“There are a lot of things that could be done,” Gubler added. “Obviously, the biggest issue is the parking situation, and we would like to see a parking district created in Hollywood. Certainly we are trying to move forward on the Hollywood Freeway Central Park, and the Walk of Fame could certainly use help in funding for repairs.”
Kerry Morrison, the executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, which oversees the Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard Business Improvement Districts (BID), said she hopes Garcetti can help continue the gains made through clean-up efforts and security that has helped make Hollywood more appealing. Morrison said her organization’s efforts in 2011 will focus on maintaining the Sunset Boulevard BID, which will expire at the end of the year if it not renewed, and instituting a program for businesses along Hollywood Boulevard to upgrade their storefronts.
“We have made a lot of improvements along Vine Street and Sunset Boulevard, and are working very hard to keep that going,” Morrison said. “On Hollywood Boulevard, we are encouraging our property owners to clean up their own properties. It is something we can do because the city is not in the position right now to help provide all the money.”
Sharon Romano, CEO of the Hollywood Beautification Team, added that she is concerned about the city continuing to fund projects such as graffiti removal and neighborhood clean ups.
“We have concerns about what kinds of budget cuts will occur and how it will affect us. We can’t lose the gains we have made on the streets,” Romano added. “We need to have some vision about what’s going to happen. Hopefully basic city neighborhood services will stay intact.”
Garcetti added that he believes the LAND program will continue to help shape the Hollywood area, and added that residents and local business people are welcome to submit their vision for the future.
“My hope is that LAND starts a process that fundamentally changes how city hall interacts with the people it serves, and that it changes the way people in the communities work with each other,” Garcetti added. “In the last ten years, we’ve made the state of Hollywood stronger and more vibrant than we’ve seen it since it’s first golden age, and together, we are going to keep the Hollywood dream alive for years to come.”
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