According to Los Angeles City Councilmember Eric Garcetti, District 13, the state of Hollywood is “unstoppable.”
During his 11th State of Hollywood speech on Jan. 26 at the Taglyan Cultural Center, Garcetti began by discussing the state of Hollywood in 2000, when drugs and prostitution afflicted some areas and some residents were pushing for Hollywood to secede from Los Angeles.
“That’s how bad it was,” he said. “This city, in general, felt down on its luck. …If this was the heart of the city, we were in need of a triple-bypass.”
However, Hollywood has since rebounded, offering transportation and entertainment options that were previously unavailable, Garcetti said. He credited that turn-around to those in the audience, “the greatest ensemble of cast ever assembled.”
“Yet, as we leave here today, we know that our momentum is threatened by an economy that is broken at every level — local, statewide, national, global,” Garcetti said. “But Hollywood can rise to the challenge, because you can rise to the challenge.”
He cited crime statistics as an example of Hollywood’s rejuvenation. Since 2001, homicides have dropped 47 percent, robberies are down 58 percent and grand theft auto has been reduced by 70 percent, Garcetti said.
“Overall, in the decade we’ve worked together, violent crime in Hollywood is down 66 percent,” he said. “Hollywood is as safe as it has been since the 1950s.”
Garcetti said Hollywood is “bucking conventional wisdom” by keeping crime down as the economy recovers. However, maintaining public safety will require the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget to remain intact, something for which Garcetti said he will continue to fight.
“I know we need to make tough choices, but this is non-negotiable,” he added.
The former city council president also honored the LAPD officers and Hollywood Business Improvement District officers who managed the Dec. 9 incident at Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street, where a gunman began randomly shooting at cars. Several were on hand and received a standing ovation.
Garcetti said Hollywood is also bucking economic development trends as well. As testaments to that statement, he referenced Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ new building, Cirque du Soleil’s performances at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, record tourism, efforts to protect the Hollywood Farmer’s Market and the addition of Zipcar, which city officials hope will reduce congestion.
“We’ve already felt a ripple effect,” he said.
Garcetti also mentioned the second phase of the Kaiser Permanente project on Sunset Boulevard and the ground-breaking of Emerson College, which is scheduled for March.
He praised Hollywood’s creativity, especially as it was applied to the Cahuenga Corridor and the Hollywood Central Park, which may eventually be created over the Hollywood (101) Freeway.
“Our creative spirit is why, when there are 1,000 things that stand in our way, in a city that we know as a government there are 500 ways to kill something, we find 500 ways to get it done,” Garcetti said.
He lamented the loss of Hollywood’s Community Redevelopment Agency, though he admitted that redevelopment agencies in California do “overreach sometimes.” However, Hollywood will be able to rise to the challenge in the post-CRA era, Garcetti said.
“Here in Hollywood, if dreams were predicated on set funding sources, not too many productions would ever get off the ground,” he said. “[But] we showed the best partnership between public and private sectors — so much so that we ushered in a second Golden Age here in Hollywood.”
Garcetti also pitched the Hollywood Community Plan, which he said would protect neighborhoods, reduce congestion and create jobs. He said the plan aims to rein in the “ad hoc land use” that has occurred since the last plan update in 1988.
“I think all of us would agree: If you decided to freeze Hollywood in one year and say that makes a model to build on, it would not be 1988,” Garcetti added.
He said the 23-year-old plan does not account for new transportation options and increased tourism. The city council, though, will allow ample time for debate regarding the plan, Garcetti said.
“We’ve had more than 150 meetings, but this is where it gets serious,” he said. “And we’ll make the changes that we need to.”
Garcetti said the city is looking to further assist its businesses. He said he has drafted legislation to survey businesses on how the city can better help them.
“We’re going to do this every year,” Garcetti added. “We’re going to make sure businesses have the voice that they deserve.”
He said he is looking to eliminate the city’s gross receipts tax, which is something Los Angeles cannot continue to afford. Garcetti attributed the loss of approximately 90 car dealerships in L.A. to the gross receipts tax.
“This is a tax that taxes businesses even when they lose money,” he added.
Additionally, Garcetti said he would like to keep an open dialogue with the film and entertainment industry; end homelessness in Hollywood; maintain security cameras in the area; keep the Hollywood Walk of Fame clear; and clear out the congestion caused by tour busses on Hollywood Boulevard.
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