There is nothing so American as our parks.


source: Park LaBrea News / Beverly Press

Laurie Goldman, founding president and executive director of Friends of Hollywood Central Park, envisions a day when green space will extend across the freeway. (photo by Jonathan Van Dyke)
Laurie Goldman, founding president and executive director of Friends of Hollywood Central Park, envisions a day when green space will extend across the freeway. (photo by Jonathan Van Dyke)


Hollywood Central Park Nears Milestone

Draft EIR will bring park closer to reality

by Jonathan Van Dyke

Hollywood Central Park will mark a major milestone in the coming months when its draft environmental impact report (DEIR) is released. 

The document will come out at the end of spring or at the beginning of summer, and at that time, the public will see the full extent of years of planning, said Laurie Goldman, founding president and executive director of Friends of Hollywood Central Park.

“We’re going to do all the right things,” she said. “We have community support, maybe not 100 percent, but we have community support, city support and state support. I hope [the DEIR] addresses everything and provides the proper mitigations.”

Hollywood Central Park would be a 38-acre cap park — built over, or “capping”, the Hollywood (101) Freeway — stretching between Bronson Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. It would cost an estimated $1 billion. Proposed amenities for the park would include an amphitheatre, restaurant, café, bike path, sports fields and dog parks — and a lot of open green space, representatives said.

“I can’t look at the freeway now and see a freeway anymore,” Goldman said. “There are the seven bridges over the freeway and we will connect one to the other.”

Seattle built the first freeway cap park in 1976, and there are now 162 in the United States. La Cañada Flintridge has the nearest cap park, the 1.5-acre Memorial Park, where the 210 and 2 freeways meet.

It is unclear, at this point, how the park will be funded. Goldman said it is possible the park will be a private/public partnership. Her nonprofit has been working closely with Caltrans during the EIR process, and she has testimonials from the majority of city, state and national representatives from the area.

“We’ll be starting to raise money as soon as the EIR is out on the street, then I can start figuring out financing,” Goldman said.

She added that the city could consider the area for an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District.

“What that does is it tries to capture the increased property values back into the park,” she said.

Other options will include reaching out to the state and federal governments for grant funding. The proposed park is located in the Hollywood Promise Zone, which will allow it greater access to federal funding.

Officials noted that the proposed park area in East Hollywood is starved for open space, and there is an increasing residential population there. Approximately 180,000 people, 40,000 of whom are children, live within one mile of the proposed park. That area has .005 acres of open space per resident versus .012 in Los Angles as a whole, according to city figures. The average medium income in the area is $23,481.

“[The freeway] really separates the two Hollywoods,” said City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District. “The park will be built in a place that is badly in need of open space and directly accessible to tens of thousands of Hollywood residents. It’s really a neighborhood park and that’s what really draws me.”

O’Farrell said he is looking forward to the DEIR milestone.

“That is a huge, huge step,” he said. “Without it there can be no project. Then we can talk about real allocation of funding to start building the park. They are further ahead than just the concept phase. It’s getting bigger and louder and growing in support.”

Residents in the area are looking forward to having some of their questions answered by the DEIR, especially related to construction and environmental impacts.

“The construction, no matter how you slice it, will be complex and disruptive,” said Bill Zide, president of the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council. “I think there are some great things about it and there are some things to be wary about.”

Joseph Mariani, associate executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, which runs the Hollywood Entertainment District Business Improvement District (BID), said his group has been keeping an eye on the park’s progression.

“It seems like it’s picked up a lot of momentum in the last year and a half,” he said. “A lot of people that we talk to — there is a cry for more open space as Hollywood becomes more residential and with more families moving here.”

Goldman said she is looking forward to moving ahead in the process, and she remains optimistic construction will begin on the park as soon 2016 or 2017.


source: Park LaBrea News / Beverly Press

PR Date: 
Thursday, April 2, 2015