Rendering of massive Paramount Pictures' "Hollywood Project"

Why Is Los Angeles City Council Playing Games with Paramount Pictures Redevelopment?

In Archive by Patrick Range McDonald

Today, the Los Angeles City Council again postponed a public hearing and vote on the controversial Paramount Pictures redevelopment project, making for another troubling trend of City Hall politicians playing games and bending rules so citizens don’t know which end is up — and can’t easily fight back.

“The City Council has been bouncing development projects around the system more and more,” says Coalition to Preserve L.A.’s government relations coordinator Miki Jackson, who’s been attending planning- and land-use-related meetings at City Hall for months. “The development approval process has been getting more confusing and convoluted, and it’s getting more difficult for citizens to understand what’s happening.”

Jackson added, “The whole system is like a shell game — and the City Council members are like the con men moving the walnuts.”

Larchmont neighborhood residents have been strongly resisting a proposed redevelopment known as the “Hollywood Project” at the Paramount Pictures campus at 5555 Melrose Avenue. The movie studio has been asking the City Council for profitable, spot-zoning favors such as a General Plan amendment and zone change — and wants to build a 15-story tower that’s wildly out of character for the surrounding, low-slung, residential community.

Since residents are actively pushing back, the City Council appears to be playing games in ways that help Paramount Pictures and City Hall politicians move the controversial Hollywood Project towards final approval.

First, the City Council’s powerful Planning and Land-Use Management (PLUM) Committee cancelled a public hearing for the Paramount Pictures project on August 28 — screwing up citizens’ plans to go to City Hall and give on-the-record testimony on why the development is flawed.

Days later, on September 8, PLUM pulled another questionable tactic by waiving consideration of the Paramount Pictures project, effectively fast-tracking City Hall approval for the development.

But when Larchmont residents started to aggressively oppose the project, City Council shifted gears yet again and postponed a public hearing today.

Recently, the City Council executed similar shady moves when ultimately approving profitable spot-zoning favors for the controversial Martin Expo Town Center mega-project for the gridlocked Westside.

Such underhanded tactics by the City Council is why more and more neighborhood activists have been supporting the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which seeks to reform L.A.’s broken and rigged planning and land-use system that favors wealthy developers over ordinary citizens.

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