Gone Hollywood; How the Hollywood Plan Threatens the Miracle Mile

A Message from Jim O’Sullivan, President of the MMRA:

Like many of you, we lost power at my house during the two wind events last week. I say “wind event” rather than wind storm because occasional wind gusts do not equate to a full-fledged storm. I have no idea what exactly caused these particular power outages ­– but I’m sure it has something to do with our aging and neglected infrastructure in Los Angeles. Our sidewalks are being buckled by untrimmed trees, our streets are an obstacle course of potholes, our aging water mains have become time bombs, hit and run accidents go uninvestigated for lack of properly trained traffic investigators, and budget cuts have slowed the response times of paramedics – the critical systems that support the quality of our lives are in a free fall.

Why would those of us who don’t live in Hollywood get involved in criticizing and/or opposing the recent update of the Hollywood Community Plan? The answer is: infrastructure. Because what happens in Hollywood doesn’t stay in Hollywood. Mayor Villaraigosa calls the super-sized developments recently proposed for Hollywood “elegant density,” but the residents call the plan the “Mahattanization” of Hollywood and find very little elegance in a plan that calls for adding an additional 50,000 residents without addressing the strain it will impose on the already collapsing infrastructure.

The new Hollywood Community Plan does not allocate funds to pay for fire and police services, water main and sewer maintenance, street and sidewalk repair, tree trimming, and the like. The City will have to borrow from Peter to maintain Paul, so to speak. In lieu of sensible long-term budgeting and planning the City will continue to deal with our infrastructure needs on a crisis basis: deferring routine maintenance and repairs in the Miracle Mile and every other community in Los Angeles to deal with the problems of the hour.

High-density-mixed-use-development-along-mass-transit-corridors is the new mantra of city planners and private developers. Build it big, the bigger the better; don’t sweat the details, it will work out somehow. The residents in the Miracle Mile are all for development, more jobs, reduced carbon footprints, subway extensions, and bike lanes, too – but we also like good old fashioned infrastructure. Infrastructure is the foundation of our city and it is folly to renovate, remodel, or expand a structure with a sinking foundation.

Like Hollywood Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard is a mass transit corridor. In the years to come, the Miracle Mile will have two subway stations and the city planners and private developers already have visions of yet another Manhattan dancing in their eyes. They will want to do to the Miracle Mile what they are doing to Hollywood and, once again, they don’t seem inclined to let the lack of funding for proper infrastructure impede their goals.

Many of us love the real Manhattan (I do), but the real thing has a public transit system that actually takes you where you want to go and its famous density is a result of being an island. Manhattan is also a very expensive city with an ever-shrinking middle class being squeezed out by the high cost of living. Development and gentrification in Hollywood has already driven away thousands of working class Latino families. (LA Weekly; Hollywood’s Urban Cleansing.)

All this brings me back to the so-called “wind events” which seem to constantly knock out our power in the Miracle Mile. Councilman LaBonge has told me he will find out what happened and I know he will, but that won’t solve a basic question I have, which is: Where does all the money go?

Los Angeles has a $7 billion budget (which doesn’t include the Department of Water and Power, LAX, or the Port of L.A.), so what are they spending that $7 billion on and why do they keep wanting to increase our fees and taxes? Something very wrong is going on here and before the City turns Los Angeles into Manhattan they need to explain how they are going to fix our infrastructure – or, in other words, how they will keep the lights on at my house.

 – from the March 2013 edition of the Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter

MMRA Position on Bike Lanes on 6th Street:

Save Our Parking!

Preferential Parking District 78
Threatened with Elimination of 6th Street Parking

In July 2012 a tragic accident occurred at the intersection of 6th Street and Hauser Boulevard. A vehicle traveling westbound on 6th Street collided with a eastbound vehicle attempting to make a left-hand turn onto Hauser. The collision forced the westbound vehicle off the road and into a pedestrian, a 74-year-old-woman, who died as a result of her injuries. The intersection of 6th and Hauser has a long history of being one of the most dangerous in our neighborhood. We commend Council Member LaBonge’s quick action in introducing a motion calling for the Department of Transportation to make recommendations for implementing traffic calming measures at 6th and Hauser in order to address safety issues. The motion was referred to the council’s transportation committee which passed the resolution and the city council followed suit on August 15th, 2012.

The MMRA fully supports traffic calming measures, but in the same motion Council Member LaBonge also requested that the Department of Transportation consider adding dedicated bike lanes on 6th Street that would cause the loss of a traffic lane in each direction as well as the elimination of preferential parking spaces. Preferential Parking District 78, like most of the Miracle Mile, includes many older apartment buildings with scarce or no off-street parking. Eliminating permitted parking on 6th Street will make an already bad parking situation much worse. It will force residents to seek parking spots on adjacent blocks creating a domino effect that would adversely impact on-street parking throughout the Miracle Mile.

Installing bike lanes on such a heavily trafficked street defies common sense. There are other less congested streets in the Miracle Mile that are better suited for bike lanes – streets that would be far safer for cyclists. Losing two traffic lanes on 6th will doubly impact the Miracle Mile when the Bus Rapid Transit [BRT] rush hour–bus only curb lane restrictions go into effect. The city estimates that BRT will divert 30% of Wilshire Boulevard traffic onto 3rd, 6th and 8th streets. Removing two lanes from 6th will clog our neighborhood with commuters searching for alternate routes.

The Miracle Mile Residential Association opposes bike lanes on 6th Street. We believe there are practical solutions to calm traffic on 6th Street that will preserve valuable on-street parking.

from the February 2013 edition of the Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter