Issue: Winter 2023
The Hollywood Partnership's Mission for a cleaner, safer, better Hollywood
Anyone who has visited central Hollywood lately can see that the famed destination’s climb back from the Covid shutdown is still a work in progress. Undaunted however, the Hollywood Partnership—a non-profit organization led by Kathleen Rawson that oversees the public realm in the Hollywood Entertainment BID (Business Improvement District)—is moving forward, launching a multi-service Community Dispatch Center that will provide free assistance for residents and visitors alike.
Slated to open in January 2023, The Hollywood Partnership Community Dispatch Center (HPCDC) will have an “on-the-street” presence at 6562 Hollywood Blvd., a former retail storefront located in the heart of the district. Staffed by a newly-enhanced ambassador program consisting of three teams—Clean Team, Safety Team and Hospitality Team—to implement essential public services above and beyond what the City of Los Angeles provides, including:
—Emptying trash cans or removing waste on the Walk of Fame and other streets throughout the district, providing pressure washing, graffiti removal, and pan and broom services.
—Providing recommendations or directions to a specific location in Hollywood or offering general guidance on how to navigate the district.
—Providing security response or assistance for non-emergency safety issues. Safety Ushers will be available to walk with people while in the district late at night.
Hollywood Partnership Community Trust, an affiliate of the Hollywood Partnership, received a $250,000 grant from LA County’s third district, to establish the HPCDC—a first-of-its-kind facility offering more than just ambassador services. It will also be a collaboration hub where the Hollywood Partnership will work with Urban Alchemy and Hollywood 4WRD, a coalition of local service agencies, to actively connect unhoused and unwell individuals on the street with the services they need. Furthermore, there will be a concerted effort to work with the LAPD Hollywood Division on initiatives to create a safer, more welcoming environment.
According to Rawson, “Hollywood is home to teams of incredible individuals and organizations who are dedicated to this community, focusing their energy on finding solutions for our most challenging issues. We can make more of an impact if we work together.”
To achieve this, Rawson continues, “The Community Dispatch Center will be a central hub where we can work with our public service and law enforcement partners to address and determine solutions around crime, homelessness, addiction and mental health issues.”
Ultimately, the Hollywood Partnership aims to work with businesses and property owners to create a network of privately owned, exterior security cameras around the district that dispatchers will monitor, and the LAPD can use as an investigation tool or to track an emergency in real time.
Rawson is confident, “For the first time in Hollywood, we can utilize our various resources to create a holistic and meaningful approach to make real change in the public realm.”
Most importantly, the HPCDC will be available 24/7 and just a phone call away. Ambassadors will be readily accessible by calling (833) HLYWOOD (459-9663).
There’s little doubt that the core area of Hollywood is changing; where there were only a few hotels, the district now boasts several engaging boutique properties resulting in a total of nearly 3,000 rooms, some with rates as high as $400 a night. Soon, a new high-rise hotel will begin construction at Sunset and Wilcox, and 12 other hotel developments are approved or in the planning process in the district. In 2023, visitors to the area could number nearly 30 million.
Also high on the priority list for The Partnership is advocating for the City of Los Angeles to step up its street maintenance and other city services. When an area creates a business improvement district, property owners are self-assessed an additional amount on their taxes to help enhance and improve the area. What has occurred in Hollywood is basic services such as security, trash removal and tree trimming have become line-item expenses for the BID. Fully 75 percent of the HP budget is devoted to safety, security, and cleaning. Such expenses leave little for staffing, marketing, promotion, or business attraction—additional reasons why the district was created.
Hollywood has always been a bit of a hybrid. Before shopping malls, its famed boulevard was lined with shops that kept busy during daytime while at night as many as fifteen movie theaters kept it humming. Unlike downtown LA which—before the residential building boom—emptied out at night, Hollywood has always had a strong resident base with central area apartment dwellers surrounded by charming neighborhoods.
Through the years, however, this gradually changed as shopping moved to malls, television, celebrity culture, and the traveling public created Hollywood as a tourist destination. While the Hollywood Walk of Fame was created as an attraction to revive the area, its creators at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce didn’t envision the world-wide attention it would attract in succeeding years. The community is still grappling with these changes.
But Hollywood is more than the Walk of Fame and the thousands of visitors who flock to view its stars. With two Metrorail stations, a freeway connecting it to downtown and the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood boosters have long imagined it as a vibrant community with countless possibilities. Yet its resurgence has remained allusive. The Hollywood Partnership’s new leadership under Rawson and her experienced team are up for the challenge.
While central Hollywood still has its issues, it also is a place to live and work and boasts higher office rents than the City of Los Angeles average. The district of 80 square blocks currently has five million square feet of office space, which could double based on projects in the planning process. And jobs mean people.
The district’s population of over 27,600 is growing. Residential development is on the rise with 10,000 new units planned or under construction. Approximately 60 percent of these new developments are within the BID and 15 percent of those units have been identified as “affordable.”
The Hollywood Partnership oversees one of the largest business improvement districts in the city. Its budget comes from property owners who are assessed according to their holdings. As a quasi-public entity, a 25-member board of directors is accountable for its oversight. Board Chair, Katie Ullman Zandona knows Hollywood well. She is the third generation of the Ullman family’s investment in Hollywood. Her father, Steve Ullman, helped get the BID established and her grandfather, George, created Grant Parking.
“The Hollywood Partnership Board of Directors are dedicated to operating the most impactful services possible. The Community Dispatch Center will provide our stakeholders with quick and easy access to enhanced clean, safe, and hospitality services that will dramatically increase the number of eyes and ears we have on the street. This is the next big step for The Partnership, and we look forward to creating a better Hollywood.”
There is no doubt that the Hollywood Partnership is poised for action, especially now that the fully staffed dispatch center will be providing rapid response all day, every day.
During her time in Santa Monica, Rawson expanded DTSM, Inc.’s role and tackled new responsibilities that helped shape Downtown Santa Monica into one of the country’s most dynamic and attractive urban districts and transformed the placemaking organization. She implemented a hospitality and maintenance program that evolved into one of the most extensive programs in the country. Certainly, Hollywood deserves no less.
Rawson’s optimism and enthusiasm for the task at hand is contagious. In a recent report to stakeholders, she wrote: “(Hollywood) feels like magic to me because each individual journey is the embodiment of our district's potential. So many stories and successes are waiting to bloom.”
On the administrative side, Rawson has assembled a new team to bring to fruition the Hollywood Partnership’s vision of a Hollywood: Where Experiences Exceed Expectations.
Steven Welliver, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, supports planning and funding projects, oversees research and economic development functions.
Mackenzie Carter, Vice President of Marketing & Communication, is responsible for developing and executing strategic marketing and communication plans.
All three have extensive experience with urban planning, placemaking as well as being strong communicators. The executive team is assisted by Lorin Lappin, Director of Finance and Business Administration; Anam Syed, Content Marketing Manager; Cole Judge, Research and Economic Development Manager; Samuel Reyes, Operations/Quality Control Manager and Becky Murdoch, Executive Assistant.
Still, change never happens fast enough and through the years Hollywood has experienced its ups and downs: civil unrest, an earthquake, Metrorail construction, 9/11, an economic downturn and lastly, a pandemic. Still—like the mythical phoenix—Hollywood will rise again.
It could be said that “comeback” is a word invented in Hollywood. It’s a new day in Hollywood and the Hollywood Partnership is ready to roll.