According to Locals, a Makeover is a Must
The epicenter of the entertainment industry, Hollywood Boulevard has been one of Los Angeles’ biggest tourist attractions for over a hundred years. It’s glamorous Walk of Fame, particularly near the intersection with Vine Street, is iconic and has been the focus of many sensational events and occasions throughout the years.
As dazzling as Hollywood may be to tourists, though, Angelinos have had many complaints about the famed street’s architecture and organization over the years, so much so that the location has undergone several aesthetic transformations during the past few decades.
Now, Los Angeles City Council and specifically Hollywood District representative Mitch O’Farrell has been pushing for a complete overhaul of the area. This renovation would incorporate several changes to the street’s layout, but it would principally offer increased sidewalk space for an improved pedestrian experience.
Hollywood’s Walk of Fame is notoriously crowded. One can hardly appreciate the Stars for all the people walking over them. By widening the sidewalk, people will be able to admire the monuments with comfort, but also walk down the street without having to dodge so many bodies.
Of course, the drawback to a larger sidewalk is decreased road space. Traffic is bad enough in Los Angeles as it is, and some fear that with a wider sidewalk, a narrower street would terribly back up the cars along Hollywood Boulevard. Perhaps this is yet another initiative on LA’s behalf to latently promote public transportation or deincentivize independent driving.
That being said, California (and Los Angeles in particular) enters into 2020 with some bold environmental plans. The Golden State has daring ambitions to go carbon neutral well ahead of the rest of the nation and to drastically decrease its emissions in the coming years. The state has targeted an increased use of electric cars as a paramount means of attaining these goals, but obviously, more action is needed if they truly desire to reach their hefty objectives.
Environmental Considerations Should be at the Center of the Planning
Thus, the renovation of Hollywood Boulevard should be seen as an opportunity to make the neighborhood a more eco-friendly urban environment. Unfortunately, not much has been said about this so far. The prospective designs for the updated area—spearheaded by Gensler and Studio-MLA architecture firms—do involve more open air space and trees, though.
This is a good start, but the redesign could also seek ways to incorporate solar panels, increased vegetation, and carbon absorbing surfaces into the landscape. A sleek style certainly does wonders for the street’s aesthetic, but that does not mean that the renovation cannot be functional and progressive at the same time.
Furthermore, there is also a political question as to weather or not refurbishing Hollywood Boulevard at all is the best use of Los Angeles’ taxpayer dollars. Other neighborhoods in the community—South Central, Downtown, or Skid Row for examples—have far worse infrastructure and definitely require more immediate attention.
Likewise, LA’s public transportation system has been highly criticized for decades. If the local government is seeking an urban planning initiative, perhaps it could try refining the city’s metro system for greater accessibility and use.
The obvious argument against all of this is that brushing up the Walk of Fame will increase activity in one of the city’s central commercial hubs. This will help the local economy, eventually earning the city greater funds that it can redistribute to some of LA’s more desperate regions or issues.
It is a strange rewriting of the trickle-down-economics plan that was seldom more than political speech fodder. Nevertheless, Los Angeles already has $4 million in seed money for the project, while some believe that such funds are better placed directly towards more pressing and important causes.
Although the Walk of Fame redevelopment plan has been talked about for months, it is still only in its infancy. It has a long way to go, but hopefully, those in charge of it will not overlook environmental and social justice opportunities when they consider the project’s architectural, political, and ethical implications.
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