Southern California Planning Congress
Event Summary – July 2014
Hollywood Central Park:
A Freeway Cap Park Bridging
Our guest speaker for the evening was Laurie L. Goldman, Executive Director and Founding President of Friends of the Hollywood Central Park (FHP). Ms. Goldman presented the development concept and working model of the proposal to cap the US-101 Hollywood Freeway within the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles to create a 40-acre public park.
Bob Fazio, SCPC’s Vice President of Programs, introduced the speaker and project, giving some background on its origins in the days when the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA\LA) was still active.
Ms. Goldman then provided a history of the project and its design concept, which she reviewed through the aid of a physical model. When implemented, the project will provide 40 acres of new parkland within the Hollywood community. Seattle’s urban park over the I-5 freeway near its downtown opened in 1976, and the Hollywood Park concept came to life the following year.
The CRA conducted the first feasibility study for the Hollywood Central Park in 2007, and in 2009, Friends of the Hollywood Park (FHP) was created. The New York High Line linear park was created soon after on the West Side of Manhattan on an abandoned railroad viaduct, opening in 2009 and then extended in 2011.
The local area in Hollywood is park poor. With a population of 187,000 inhabitants, including approximately 40,000 children, the creation of new open space is needed and will raise the low amount of park acreage per capita. Federal funding for the environmental impact report has been pursued through the offices of both former City of Los Angeles Mayor Villaragosa and current Mayor Garcetti. Construction cost has initially been estimated at close to $1 billion.
A major challenges in developing the park is its presence over a State-owned (Caltrans) facility. FHP has worked out a coordination plan where one representative from Caltrans funnels all communication, to avoid a complicated coordination scheme where multiple Caltrans divisions are communicating in parallel with the project team but not with each other. The County of Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has become the assumed funding clearinghouse for many State and Federal funding streams, but this project is unique and an atypical government-funded major infrastructure project in the area.
An additional challenge for the project is City zoning designations. If an “open space” designation were to be used for the park, certain complementary uses that would make the park functional would be prohibited. Special zoning for this project is being pursued to allow all planned elements.
FHP is also buying land along the edges of the park to enable development of affordable housing projects to increase much-needed new residential uses that would be complemented by the nearby park and ensure that low- and moderate-income residents would not be displaced by the project and its impact on property values.
We look forward to seeing this project develop. It will provide much-needed park land in Hollywood and a viable community gathering place.