Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Target Eyesore in Hollywood: Blame the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association

On the corner of Sunset and St. Andrews, directly across from a bustling Home Depot sits the unfinished Hollywood Target. It's an eyesore. It's a fiasco. And the blame for the construction stoppage falls squarely on one group: The La Mirada Neighborhood Association. This highly litigious organization filed the suit, along with a few other neighborhood groups, that resulted in the cessation of work on the Target retail complex as of August 2014. Their issue is that the building was designed to reach a height of 74 feet, in an area where heights are limited to 35 feet. This is one of many suits brought by these self-proclaimed saviors of Hollywood, who are opposed to growth.

Their supporters talk a lot about the rule of law. They say it's not the size of the structure that's the problem — it's that the city council circumvented existing zoning laws to give special permission to Target. To this, I have two things to say:  YES they did. And THANK YOU, City Council. Sometimes, to make progress, you have to push the limits of a law — sometimes even violate it — to get the change you want. I shudder to think where the civil rights movement would be today without the courageous law-breakers who put their lives on the line toward the goal of changing the law.

The name and tag line of one of La Mirada's sister associations fighting for the same cause is "Save Hollywood." What, the ugly, seedy, wonky, run-down Hollywood of my youth? Back then the old 'hood was low-slung and sprawling with no reason to walk the star-paved boulevard other than the sidewalk itself. Look at it now! We are a pedestrian hub anchored by three glorious metro stops! Help me understand what it is about the old Hollywood you are trying to recapture. Was it the prostitutes or the drug dealers? The graffiti? What.

Sure, La Mirada would like you to blame the city council for the work stoppage. They would like you to blame the mayor. And if by "blame" you mean "give credit where credit is due," then in fact, I do blame the mayor. I blame him for backing projects that are taller and not perpetuating the sprawl L.A. is known for. I blame him for bringing retail shops to the sidewalks instead of pushed back behind an expanse of paved parking lot, creating a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape. I blame him for promoting density and making Hollywood more bike-able. I blame him for improving my neighborhood in numerous ways. Shame on you, Mayor Garcetti! I blame you!

But I'm not going to waste my time pointing fingers. I'm going to spend my energy on fighting to get this development finished. I've written to the mayor's office to ask what I can do to help. A petition? A protest? I’ll jump in with both feet. The La Mirada Neighborhood Association may like to think that they are the voice of the neighborhood, but they do not — DO NOT — speak for me. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Four Years Later ...

OK, so it has been a little while since I last posted. Funny now to look back over my last few posts, which add up to a snapshot of a period in my life that was uncertain, scary and dark. I didn't know it at the time, but that last post about the garden was me at a threshold. After that, my world turned upside down. We halted all renovations on the house. My mom had been sick, and a year-and-a-half later she died of a lung condition that was never properly identified. I slid into a deep funk, accompanied by a long period of strenuous soul-searching. I kept trying to spin my situation -- our situation -- as temporary, like the dip in the economy. It would get better. But years go on, and it gets really hard to see what you're living as temporary.

But a couple weird things happened. For one, we survived. While my career fortunes waned, my husband's ascended, and we ended up scraping by with change to spare. We never lost the house or anything else. And all that soul-searching I did? It changed me. It gave me a better understanding of myself than ever before. After 20 years as a desk jockey, I realized I'd hated every job I'd ever had and found a new appreciation for the life I was leading outside of my career. I had little kids and a sick mom and I was there for all of them at a time when they needed me. I reshaped how I lived -- Like, instead of waking up in the morning and saying "What do I have to do to get by?" I said, "This is your ideal world. You have no limitations. What are you going to do today?" And then I did them. And this attitude brought me to do some crazy, interesting, fun, weird, sometimes embarrassing stuff. But that's for a different blog post on a different blog. This is a renovation blog.

So the key thing that happened that is pertinent to our house project is that I started working again. Yes, this was the undoing of a lot of the self-discovery I'd just been through -- but again, different blog. Working again meant moving forward again with the house project.

Or you'd think it would -- but it's been a year-and-a-half since I went back to work and the number of renovations we've done amounts to zero. But that's OK, right? It takes a while to build up resources, to get plans together, to hire people, to get bids, to pick materials, to make decisions and to GO!

So here I am at another threshold (I hope). And if the months to come bring all the changes to this house that I am hoping for, I will be sure to document them here, for your consumption. Feels good to be back!