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Advocates, Rep. Schiff Meet with Secretary LaHood on Hollywood Cap Park

2:59 PM PDT on March 22, 2012

Advocates for more open space for the park-starved community of Hollywood had a moment to shine yesterday.  Congressman Adam Schiff, members of the Hollywood Central Park Committee and other neighborhood advocates had a meeting with USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss their proposal to place a 44-acre street level park "on top" of the 101 Hollywood Freeway.

One unintended consequence of Los Angeles' spaghetti-bowl of freeways is that many communities end up either divided from other communities or from themselves by giant asphalt walls.  The concept of reconnecting communities by "capping" a freeway with a park is not a new one.  The Freeway Park in Seattle is one popular example, but a cap park also exists locally in La Canada.

The proposed project would cap the 101 Freeway between Hollywood and Santa Monica Boulevards, and create a 44-acre street level park over the capped Freeway.  There's no details for the plan yet, but advocates and the Congressman talk excitedly about baseball and soccer fields, an amphitheatre, and just a place for Hollywood residents and visitors to be outside away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood's congested streets.

“It’s my hope that the Hollywood Central Park will one day have the iconic status of Griffith Park, and become a place for local residents to enjoy as well as a destination for visitors from all over the country," said Schiff after the meeting.

Hollywood is one of the most park poor parts of California with just .005 acres of open space for each resident  For comparison's sake throughout the City of Los Angeles there is  0.12 acres of open space per resident, which is still less than half the .30 acres per resident for San Diego.

As for the results of the meeting, Schiff gives a big thumbs up.  

“Secretary LaHood was deeply interested in Hollywood Central Park and offered to have his team work with our community on planning next steps," Schiff writers.  "This is a very positive development and the result of strong input by the visiting delegation. Secretary LaHood, Assistant Secretary Victor Mendez, and former Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar all provided valuable insights about the strengths of the Hollywood Central Park, and the steps that we are going to need to take in order to successfully start building."

Alfredo Hernandez, a long-time friend to Streetsblog, Friends of Hollywood Central Park, was among those in attendance.  The "Park Czar" as he's known to his friends was similarly upbeat.

"Friends of the Hollywood Central Park is excited to be working with Congressman Adam Schiff," Hernandez writes.  "His leadership in connecting the organization with Secretary LaHood as well as former Representative Jim Oberstar has truly been an inspiration to us all. We look forward to working with Secretary LaHood's top people to make the Hollywood Central Park a reality."   

As news breaks on the planning process, Streetsblog will be there to cover it.

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