The promise of the 44-acre street level park over the Hollywood Freeway has invigorated the community.
– State Senator Curren Price

Issue 4 | Fall/Winter 2014

Friends of the Hollywood Central Park Board of Directors

FHCP Staff

  • Philip E. Aarons, Chairman
  • Alfred Fraijo, Jr., President
  • George Abou-Daoud, Vice President
  • Jeffrey Briggs, Vice President
  • Brian Folb, Vice President
  • Scott Campbell, Treasurer
  • Christi Van Cleve, Secretary
  • Christopher Barton
  • George Brauckman
  • Douglas Campbell
  • Heather Cochran
  • James Feldman
  • Betty Fraser
  • Craig Fry
  • David Gajda
  • Terri Gerger
  • Aileen Getty
  • Bradley Glenn
  • John Goodwin
  • David Green
  • Phil Hart, PhD
  • Ed V. Hunt
  • Tricia LaBelle
  • Jacob Lipa
  • Jerold B. Neuman
  • Susan Polifronio
  • Sharyn Roman
  • Scott Rynders
  • Nicole Shahenian
  • Sam Smith
  • Thaddeus Hunter Smith
  • Robert Soderstrom
  • Gary Taglyan
  • Todd Warner
    • Laurie Goldman
      Executive Director
    • Alfredo Hernandez
      Program Director

I ♥ Hollywood Central Park

Show your support for your Hollywood Central Park Give us a positive review at: Great Non-Profits

Happy Holidays from FHCP!


spacer.gif In this issue:
HCP Top 10 Reasons

A Message from the President

With David Letterman retiring from television this coming year, I thought it fitting to adopt one of his most enduring “Late Night” staples for this newsletter.


In 2009, when Friends of the Hollywood Central Park became a nonprofit organization it was decided that the organization would have one major fundraising gala each year, For the Love of Hollywood.

The STEM Academy of Hollywood is a Linked Learning high school offering its students career technical educations in Engineering and Medicine.


Executive Director Laurie Goldman sat down with FHCP Board Member Susan Polifronio for a discussion about Hollywood.


HCP Top 10 Reasons

A Message from the President

By Alfred Fraijo Jr.

With David Letterman retiring from television this coming year, I thought it fitting to adopt one of his most enduring “Late Night” staples for this newsletter. So without much further ado (drumroll please), here are the top 10 things we love about the park.

#10. It’s a park!

Thirty-eight acres to be precise. Full of playgrounds, ballfields, dog runs, open space, a community center, small retail facilities, green grass, lush trees, meandering paths, maybe babbling brooks (only time will tell) and much, much more for everyone to enjoy in the heart of Hollywood. All to be built on a concrete cap above a mile-long stretch of the Hollywood Freeway between Hollywood and Santa Monica Boulevards

#9. It will serve one of the most park-starved communities in California.

According to statistics, the City of Los Angeles has 0.012 acres of open space per resident with the majority of parks concentrated in wealthier neighborhoods. But in Hollywood that number drops to 0.005 acres per resident, the lowest mark in not just the city but the entire state. An estimated 180,000 people, including 40,000 children, live within one mile of our park site. Yet their opportunities to enjoy open space today are few and far between. That’s why we are working so hard to change all that.

#8. It will be a buffer from all the noise and pollution.

With the park, the ribbon of concrete known as the Hollywood Freeway will be buried below a mile-long greenbelt. The result will not just be a place to play; the park will effectively cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the effects of climate change, automobile usage, and fuel consumption.

#7. It will create construction jobs.

A lot of construction jobs over the years of work to make the park a reality.

#6. It will create permanent jobs.

All told, the park is projected to create 40,000 direct and indirect jobs. And many of them will go to local residents.

#5. It will improve the health of the community.

We all know our country is suffering from an obesity epidemic as far too many people lead sedentary lifestyles. Access to parks, something sorely lacking in this community, has been shown to increase physical activity and well-being. Hollywood Central Park will promote physical (and mental) health and an active lifestyle. And did I say the park will cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the effects of climate change, automobile usage, and fuel consumption?

#4. It will be a new destination for the millions of visitors to Hollywood and Los Angeles.

Tourists from all over the world come to Los Angeles and Hollywood, in particular, every day. After checking out the sights on Hollywood Boulevard, don’t you think a stroll through the park will be just the refresher they need before hitting the next attraction? I do. And there are examples across the country where people do just that. Look at New York City, where The High Line and Central Park are two of the city’s biggest attractions, or Chicago, where Millennium Park lures many tourists to the lakefront, even during the winter.

#3. It will connect a community separated by concrete and cars.

The opening of the Hollywood Freeway achieved many positive things, but one of the more unfortunate consequences of its development more than 60 years ago was that it separated a diverse community and dense neighborhood. The park will reunite those long-separated neighbors and make the community whole once more.

#2. It will reduce crime and promote community pride.

Hollywood Central Park will greatly improve the livability of Hollywood by transforming this stretch of freeway into a lively, beautiful, sustainable place with the promotion of healthier lifestyles, safe communities, environmental justice, and long-term economic security at its core. The result will be a sustainable community that furthers equity, strengthens the economy, protects the environmental, and provides a healthy quality of life. To put it another way, all boats will rise.

And #1. It’s a park!

Alfred Fraijo Jr. is president of the Friends of Hollywood Central Park Board of Directors.

For The Love of Hollywood Gala 2015

Gala Co-Chairs George Abou-Daoud and Thaddeus Hunter Smith and Laurie Goldman, Executive Director

In 2009, when Friends of the Hollywood Central Park became a nonprofit organization it was decided that the organization would have one major fundraising gala each year, For the Love of Hollywood. We chose that name because the Board was vested in creating the Hollywood Central Park for the love of Hollywood!

Throughout the years Gala has grown in numbers and in revenue. On January 8, 2015, Friends of the Hollywood Central Park will be hosting its sixth Gala event at the famous Hollywood Palladium…and this Gala has broken all records for attendees, nearly 700 and revenue, more than $260,000!

To what do we owe this great success? We attribute our success to the passion and enthusiasm the Hollywood Central Park inspires and to the unyielding belief that the Park will be built in the not too distant future. Our success is unmistakable in the hearts and minds of our countless volunteers from the Board of Directors to Hollywood stakeholders to businesses large and small and to the relentless Gala Committee, each of whom have stepped up to support the Park and are tireless in their efforts to bring much needed open green space to Hollywood.

Perhaps our success is best described by our Gala Presenting Sponsors, Michael Sullivan, LAcarGUY/Toyota of Hollywood and Adam Tartakovsky, Palladium Residences:

"LAcarGUY and Toyota of Hollywood are thrilled to be a part of this amazing park endeavor. Building something of this magnitude is never an easy feat and we know it will make such a strong impact for city kids to have a safe place to play at, let alone the job creation and sense of community it will bring. Really proud to be a part of it."
Michael Sullivan – LAcarGUY/Toyota of Hollywood

“Without question, the Hollywood Central Park will be the most positively impactful project to transform the face of Hollywood in the 21st century”
Adam Tartakovsky – Palladium Residences

We are thrilled to have Michael and Adam as our FRIENDS. We are grateful for their support and their commitment to Hollywood and to the Park…they have truly made a positive impact on the future of Hollywood Central Park.

An expression of gratitude also to our distinguished honorees, the 2015 Real Stars of Hollywood, Council Member Mitch O’Farrell, Director of Planning Michael LoGrande, Executive Director of Youth Policy Institute Dixon Slingerland and Executive Director of ULI-Los Angeles who have helped to shape our progress and transform a dream into a reality.

In 2009, we chose to name our new nonprofit organization Friends of the Hollywood Central Park because we knew that creating the Hollywood Central Park would be dependent on the initiative and dedication of all stakeholders … our friends.

Thank you for being our FRIEND – hope to see you at Gala on the 8th!

Hollywood Central Park Partners with the STEM Academy

(from left to right) Laurie Goldman, Katherine Simon (teacher), Alfredo Hernandez, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, Students: Armen Martirosyan, Masees Honanian, Karla Martinez, Paul Hirsch (Principal), and Amy Espina.

The STEM Academy of Hollywood is a Linked Learning high school offering its students career technical educations in Engineering and Medicine.

Linked Learning schools, like STEM, seek partnerships with local businesses in order to provide students with real world experiences. Kaiser Permanente and Children’s Hospital have supported STEM’s medical students with internships, field trips and guest speakers. Unfortunately, STEM’s engineering students lacked the same real-world experiences the medical students enjoyed, because the school lacked partnerships with engineering firms, that is, until STEM met Laurie Goldman, Alfredo Hernandez and the Friends of Hollywood Central Park.

The FHCP has proven to be true friends of the STEM Academy, fundamentally transforming the way students learn about Engineering. Civil Engineers, Structural Engineers and Geologists are now regular guest speakers at the school. Students participate in internships and fieldtrips that relate directly to what’s being taught in the classroom. This partnership has been transformative, because students are deeply engaged and actively involved in a large- scale project in their own community.

On September 6th, the Friends of Hollywood Central Park held a scoping meeting on campus. Park designers and professionals met with STEM students and the community to share ideas and open up a dialogue about the park’s design. It was an extraordinary opportunity for students to participate in the process.

Recently, four STEM students (featured above) were acknowledged for their work on the project by City Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell. Clearly, a project of this scale will have a huge impact on the community for generations to come, but before ground has even been broken, the park is already having a huge impact on the STEM students, teachers and families participating in the development of their own community!

Getting to Know You: Susan Polifronio

The second in a series of interviews with the FHCP Board of Directors

(from left to right) Susan Polifronio and her dear friend Wendy Cilman

Susan Polifronio

Executive Director Laurie Goldman sat down with FHCP Board Member Susan Polifronio for a discussion about Hollywood:

LG:  In 1979, you started your small business, Counterpoint Records and Books, in Franklin Village and much has changed in your industry throughout the years – to what do you attribute your long-lasting success?  How has your Franklin Village neighborhood changed?

SP: I’ll start with the second part of your question. Our first store was on Hollywood Blvd. during the worst of the Hollywood downturn. It was rather scary so after a year we looked around and found a tiny sublet, 600 sq. ft., on Franklin Ave. The area was peopled mainly by working class actors, writers and musicians and was relatively quiet. There was a small health food store, 2 Dollar Bill’s Jazz club, Captain Cactus and a corner Deli. We rented from a wholesale frame shop in the old Haig’s Market space. I am an RN and, at the time, I was working at County USC Hospital as a research assistant to the head of the Lymphoma/Leukemia ward. I would work at County in the morning and we would open Counterpoint at 1pm, when I got back from work. It was just John, my husband, and I. John built the entire first store with a skill saw out on the sidewalk.

There were many homeless in the area and we would always have an encampment in front of the store. But the area was safe and the people friendly.

From the beginning the store was successful. Hollywood, although shabby, was still the loci for film and entertainment. The bleed to Canada and then other States had not started. People in the Entertainment Industry are bright and curious and interested in music and books. We bought our stock by spending every weekend going to yard sales advertised in the Recycler. I can’t tell you what wonderful finds there were but it was a tremendous way to maximize our inventory on a very small budget.

Prior to the 1994 Earthquake the area was going through a very gradual change as a younger demographic started moving into the vacancies. The really major change was when the Tamarind Theatre, now UCB, moved in. They were highly respected and brought many book and music lovers to our block. Once the Theatre went in the block went through a rapid change with Prizzi’s Piazza 6 months later, then various other restaurants, the Bourgeois Pig Coffee House and the Daily Planet. This change was reflected in a demographic change after the Earthquake when many buildings in Hollywood, including the Villa Carlotta, required extensive repair and reinforcement with many long-time residents choosing to move.

LG: Susan, throughout your many many years as both a resident and small business owner, what changes have you seen in Hollywood that are worth celebrating?  What changes have yet to be realized?

SP:  When we moved from Hollywood Blvd. to Franklin Ave., it was the violence surrounding our store that pushed us out. The work of 12 women involved in politics, business and non-profits in Hollywood is one of the most amazing things that happened. These women came up with a plan to resurrect Hollywood and reinvent it . I think their dedication, intelligence and sheer will-power dug Hollywood out of the gritty, seedy, violent place it had become and started Hollywood back into what is turning out to be a real Renaissance. Having Councilman Eric Garcetti as a partner in this endeavor really put Hollywood’s needs in front of the Los Angeles City Council increasing the success. I would like to see Hollywood, as it moves forward not lose its connection to History and it’s accessibility and uniqueness as a small City within Los Angeles. I want to see the architecture in new developments, like the new Emerson College designed by Thom Mayne, be the rule, not the exception. Hollywood should do everything possible to retain and promote the Entertainment and Music Industries while moving into the new technologies.

LG:  As a community of residents and businesses, what can we do to create a common vision for the future of Hollywood?  

SP: I can only answer by reflecting back on something that was very stressful for the Community. When I was President of Hollywood United Neighborhood Council a property on Gower Ave. was sold which eventually became Hollywood’s first supportive housing for the Homeless . This was extremely controversial as it was 2 blocks away from the burgeoning Hollywood business district, a few blocks from the Hollywood Hills and on the route for Children walking to the local elementary school. Many people wanted to turn this into a Homeless mall with services for all Homeless and others wanted to block any project from being built. I was asked by Helmi Hesserich of the CRA to represent the Community in deciding what would be developed, but felt this was too much responsibility for one Community member. I proposed that we get one representative from all the major parties affected and decide as a group what would be built on the property. We included what some called nimby’s, the business community, the faith-based community, etc., and decided what worked best for our Community. We worked amicably and reached consensus on everything from the type of project to the architect. I loved the process and would like to see something of this sort put together to help guide Hollywood into a future that is for those that live here, work here and dream here.

LG:  As a founder of HUNC and its second president , do the residents north of Franklin have more in common with the residents south of Hollywood Blvd. than the rhetoric and hyperbole evident in neighborhood blogs would indicate?  Do you think there are opportunities to get beyond the vitriol and disrespect for the good of the community?

SP: I guess I would just refer to the last question. Of course the voices most often heard are the most passionate, or obdurate. But, as with the supportive housing project on Gower, when everyone feels empowered by the process and that their point of view will be taken into account, most people can meet and agree on a path that is best for the Community. Not everyone will agree but we made sure every point of view was heard and those that only accept when it’s their way are always marginalized.

LG:  What are the essential ingredients in making Hollywood a livable and sustainable community?

SP:  The recognition that Hollywood is, by popular decree, a special and unique place that should not be treated like any ordinary community; a kind of 9th wonder of the World, while we encourage change that integrates the new with the old. So let’s improve the infrastructure, develop our empty spaces by encouraging the best in architecture from architects that learn their craft in Los Angeles but build their best projects elsewhere, look for ways to encourage the best and the brightest to call Hollywood their home and let our signature Entertainment/Music Industries know they have our support. When we look at our town we should be looking at the whole Hollywood and encouraging development that links all of Hollywood as one. We should move easily from the hills to a downtown that is for the Community, not just for tourism. Make people movers practical thereby reducing individual car trips. Create quarterly Community Forums to brainstorm and inform, bring in amenities that are for the residents and we will move forward together. The Hollywood Central Park, in my opinion, is just the kind of project that will unite all residents, workers and visitors. The Park is a metaphor for healing scars and bringing everyone together.