by Scott Zwartz
January 24, 2016
The ballot initiative to limit the mega-developments in Hollywood [Neighborhood Integrity Initiative – NII – set for March 2017] and the rest of Los Angeles has an unknown history. Following is an insider’s report how back in January 2014, Judge Alan Goodman sold out everyone with his Bait ‘N Switch maneuver. Treachery anywhere is destructive, but when it occurs in the judicial system, it can devastate society.
The forerunner of the NII was Hollywoodians Encouraging Logical Planning’s [HELP] and SaveHywd’s DownSizing – DownZoning Alternative (Ds-Dz Alternative), which was presented to the City in 2011, before the City Council unanimously approved the Update to the Hollywood Community Plan on June 19, 2012. The request was modest. Because Hollywood had experienced a steady population decline between 1990 and 2010 from 214,000 people in 1990 to 198,228 people in 2010, the Hollywood Community Plan was under a legal duty to study one possible future Hollywood where there was no increase in population and where a further population decline was a reasonable possibility. This alternative for a future Hollywood would have focused on improving the quality of life for Hollywoodians and not on making real estate developers wealthier.
People should pay attention to 2 very important words: STUDY and ALTERNATIVE.
HELP’s and SaveHywd’s lawsuit asserted that the City’s duty was to STUDY — not adopt — a future plan for Hollywood where there would be no population increase. That is why HELP and SaveHywd only said that the city had to study the Ds-Dz ALTERNATIVE. The City was free to study other alternatives. Also, the City was free to select the best Alternative for Hollywood’s future. That decision, however, could be legally made only after the public had a chance to discuss the reasonable range of Alternatives based upon accurate facts.
Since Garcetti, who was councilmember for Hollywood CD 13, knew that the public would heavily favor the Ds-Dz Alternative with more parks, less traffic, less crime, more HPOZs (Historic Preservation Overlay Zones), and no more destruction of the old Hollywood, he would not permit the Update study the Ds-Dz Alternative. The public heavily favored a Hollywood preservation along the lines of Old Town Pasadena where historic places would be rehabilitated rather than torn down. Garcetti favored tearing down as much of old Hollywood as possible and replacing it with sterile mega-projects like the Millennium Towers.
The litigation before Judge Goodman was going in favor of the public. The US Census data showed that Hollywood was losing population at a steady rate and there was no factual basis for a population increase. The L.A. General Plan, which is the constitution for LA planning, said that there was no need to have any mixed-use projects in a part of town which did not have a projected increase in population.
HELP and SaveHywd had included enough data in the Administrative Record to make clear that the data supporting Garcetti’s Hollywood Community Plan was bogus. Not only was Hollywood losing population, the part of Hollywood where Garcetti had forced the construction of the Transit Oriented District projects had lost so many people that CD #13 ceased to qualify as a legal council district.
The fact that the US Census showed that these developments had been so harmful to Hollywood that they literally destroyed Garcetti’s own council district 13 highlighted the great harm these TODs were doing to Hollywood. The legal mandate to study the Ds-Dz Alternative was undeniable — until treachery stabbed SaveHywd in the back.
SaveHywd’s junior assistant attorney, Frank Angel who had been as a consultant, told Judge Goodman that it was reasonable for Hollywood’s population to increase from 198,228 people in the year 2010 to 400,000 people in year 2030. That huge population explosion contrary to all facts, but the falsehood supported the wildest dreams of the mega-developers.
Although SaveHywd fired Frank Angel for stabbing it in the back in the front of Judge Goodman, Judge Goodman nonetheless sided with Frank Angel and Judge Goodman then excluded the Ds-Dz ALTERNATIVE from his Feb 11, 2012, Judgment and Writ. 2014-2-14 SaveHyd’s Letter firing Angel Law
Judge Goodman also let the City completely of the hook to ever again revise the Hollywood Community Plan. When Judge Goodman reinstated the 1988 Hollywood Community Plan, he ignored the fact that the Commerce Section of the 1988 Plan had expired in 2010. Thus, there were no rules or limitations of any kind on Hollywood development. When you want to double the size of Hollywood from 198,228 people in the year 2010 to 400,000 people in the year 2030, it is nice to have a judge who removes all limitations on development. 2014-2-11 Goodman Judgment & Writ
While the 2014-1-15 J. Goodman Decision had pointed out that the 2012 Hollywood Community Plan Update was intentionally based on “Fatally Flawed Data and Wishful Thinking,” his follow-up February 11, 2014 Judgment and Writ allowed the City to proceed to Manhattanized Hollywood towards the 400,000 people, a population increase which Frank Angel had said was reasonable. The 2014-2-11 Goodman Judgment & Writ expressly made the City’s even issuing an update to the Hollywood Community Plan discretionary. [2014-2-11 Goodman Judgment & Writ page 7 lines 23-26]
As a result of Judge Goodman’s Bait ‘N Switch between his January 15, 2014 Decision and his February 11, 2014 Judgment and Writ, Hollywoodians were deprived of any forum where they could discuss the merits of super-densification versus giving priority to the Quality of Life issues. Thanks to Judge Goodman, Hollywood has been flooded with an absurdly high number of mega-projects — all of which are justified by the fatally false data and wishful thinking which Judge Goodman had initially criticized in his January 15 2012 Decision. While the January 15, 2014 Decision implied that the City had to stop using faulty data to approve projects, his actual February 11, 2014 Judgment and Writ, which is the controlling document, gave the City the green light to Manhattanize Hollywood as much as Mayor Garcetti and the developers want.
The extent to which Judge Goodman knew that information which Frank Angel had improperly submitted to the court during January and February 2014 was based on materially false declarations under penalty of perjury is not clear.
The myths and nonsense which Mayor Garcetti and the developers use to justify these projects have pushed any discussion of “development” into fantasy land.
In 2015, Judge Chalfant found that the City’s transportation data was so grossly out of line with CalTrans mandates that he rejected The Millennium Towers just north of the Pantages Theater. 2015-4-30 Chalfant Decision re Millennium
The City ignores Judge Chalfant for its current mega-projects such as The Palladium despite the fact that they would have similarly devastating impacts on traffic congestion. The Mega-Crossroads Project at 6665 Sunset, for example, is following The Millennium’s approach to disregard CalTrans in favor of bogus traffic data generated by City Hall. This project proposes to add an additional 10 Linear Miles of new housing units within one square block area, while claiming no significant environmental impact. If all the Crossroads new housing units were single family homes sitting side by side, they would stretch in unbroken line from Highland and Sunset to three miles past City Hall in DTLA. HELP’s 2015-11-23 Comments on Crossroads Project
Also, almost all these new residents will own cars and they will drive cars daily. Why do you think Mobility Plan 2035 removed the bike lanes from Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards? Even the developers realized that removing travel lanes would immediately make their projects into traffic nightmares.
These other developers can thumb their nose at Judge Chalfant because he was ruling on only the Millennium Project, while Judge Goodman ruled on the entire Hollywood Community Plan. Logic tells everyone, however, that Judge Chalfant has it correct — CalTrans is the “responsible agency” when it comes to the traffic studies for impact on the Hollywood Freeway. Judge Goodman, on the other hand, is allowing the City to operate on the basis of the 1988 Hollywood Community Plan with CalTrans data that is over 30 years old.
With the Assistance of Benedict Arnolds, Judge Goodman Allows the City
To Withhold the new Hollywood Community Plan Update
In September 2014, however, SaveHywd’s and HELP’s real attorney brought a motion before Judge Goodman to have the City issue a Notice of Preparation [NOP] for a new Update for The Hollywood Community Plan. While Judge Goodman had given the City discretion to never update the Hollywood Community Plan, the City had made several statements that it was in fact in the process of updating the Hollywood Community Plan. Since the City was using its discretion to update the Plan, the law now requires the City to issue a new NOP. The NOP from 2005 was a decade out of date.
Although Frank Angel again sabotaged SaveHywd by interfering in the September 18, 2014 hearing, Judge Goodman point outed that Frank Angel no longer represented SaveHywd but rather he represented a corporation which was not a party to the litigation. Nonetheless, Judge Goodman ruled on September 24, 2014 that the City does not have to issue a new NOP on an Update to the Hollywood Community Plan. In other words, the public may no make in-put on any update to the Hollywood Community Plan. In other words, the developers are free to Manhattanize Hollywood without worrying about anything. It is now two (2) full years after Judge Goodman’s January 15, 2014 Decision and the city has not released an Update to the Hollywood Community Plan. [Update: The new NOP was finally issued 4-29-2016 — but it was based on false population data. http://bit.ly/1ORlvzr May 19, 2016, CityWatch, Fraudywood: Hollywood’s Community Plan Redux … and We Don’t Mean that in a Good Way,]
In order to see how far Judge Goodman went to prevent the public from having any input, let’s look at the law which Judge Goodman asserted allowed the City rely on the 2005 NOP. According to CEQA Guidelines Sec. 15162(b), a new NOP is required when there are substantial changes.
Substantial changes occur with respect to the circumstances under which the project is being undertaken which will require major revisions of the EIR or Negative Declaration due to involvement of new significant environmental effects or a substantial increase in severity of previously identified significant effects. CEQA Guidelines Sec 15162(b)
Judge Goodman’s January 15, 2014 Decision had been based on the fact that the 2010 US Census showed that there were substantial changes with significant environmental effects with respect to the Hollywood Community Plan. Judge Goodman’s January 15, 2014 Decision was in fact “the law of the case,” but he simply ignored it. To follow his own ruling would have required the City to issue a new NOP and then members of the public would be able to submit their comments about what the Update should study and people could add the current demographic data to support their views.
As we see, the last thing Judge Goodman would let happen was for the public to play any role whatsoever in planning Hollywood’s future. Instead, he made certain that no member of the public would have any way to participate in the Draft EIR for the Update — assuming the City ever bothers to write one.
Without an Update to the Hollywood Community Plan, there is no data more recent than information from the 1970’s and the early 1980’s on which the 1988 Hollywood Community Plan was based. As everyone in the development community knows, those days were dramatically different from today’s conditions. Back then, Hollywood’s population was zooming upwards. The 1988 Hollywood Community Plan pre-dates the downturn in Hollywood’s population by at least 2 years. The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, the California Department of Finance, and even Southern California Association of Governments [SCAG] now all agree that there is no significant increase in Los Angeles population, nor is there any basis to anticipate a significant increase. The City’s annual rate of increase has fallen to 7/100’s of 1%. Furthermore, the city is refusing to release the sub-data on Hollywood.
Because of Judge Goodman’s Bait ‘N Switch, there is no legal basis to show that these mega-projects and the multitude of InFill Projects are very harmful to Hollywood. Because Judge Goodman has forced us to rely on statistics and demographic projections which are more than 30 years old, all sorts of mega-projects are being justified — on the basis of myths.
It is a myth that these projects reduce traffic congestion because the residents will use the subway. The exact opposite has been proven to be true. Since the subways and light rail cover between 5% and 10% of the city, virtually everyone who lives in a TOD project owns a car. That means the traffic congestion near these projects is much worse.
The developers and Frank Angel say that due to Hollywood’s anticipated huge population increase, we need to have more Smart Planning and to construct more TODs with their mega-projects. The politicians and developers are promoting the myth that there is a serious housing shortage. Relying on Judge Goodman’s re-institution of the 1988 Hollywood Community Plan, projects have been legitimized as conforming to the 1980’s plan for a Hollywood Commerce Center. Where can citizens point out that when Garcetti tried this Hollywood Commerce Center approach, he literally destroyed his council district 13? Thanks to Judge Goodman, nowhere! He has slammed the door in the public’s face.
If Frank Angel, his Benedict Arnold developer shills had not sold out SaveHywd and HELP, but instead if they had demanded an honest Judgment and Writ based upon Judge Goodman’s January 15th Decision that the City used flawed data and wishful thinking, then we all could have had a meaningful discussion about the future of Hollywood. Rather, on February 11, 2014 Judge Goodman gave the mega-developers everything they wanted — the right to Manhattanize Hollywood up to 400,000 people.
Judge Goodman shut out the voice of the people and allowed only one voice to be heard — that of the mega-developers. By locking citizen participation out of city planning, Judge Goodman set the forces in motion so that people are turning to the ballot box.
Although the public very seldom sees judicial corruption, that does not mean that it does not happen and it does not mean that we all do not suffer. If Judge Goodman had not listened to Frank Angel and his false declarations under penalty of perjury by developer shills from Beachwood Canyon, it is highly likely that developers would not now be free to build towards a Hollywood with 400,000 people within the next 15 years. Even though SaveHywd fired Frank Angel, Judge Goodman made certain that Frank Angel received $250,000.00 in attorney fees from the City and with the help of Justice Paul Turner, Frank Angel and his shills are in line to be rewarded with a few hundred thousand more dollars.
When City Hall is corrupt and when the courts favor their friends and buddies over the rule of law, the citizens have no real alternative except the ballot box. No one thinks that the ballot measure is the preferred way to go, but courts’ machinations have closed all other avenues.