After 3 years, what we learned: our final HCS report!

coverToday we release our cumulative report, presenting findings and lessons learned from our three-year research and engagement project in Hollywood. The Hollywood Community Studio (HCS) originated in 2008 as a community-based effort to better connect the City of L.A’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to the residents and businesses that had been–and continue to be–affected by redevelopment projects and policies started in the late 80’s. Since there had been no systematic effort asking stakeholders what they thought about the neighborhood change brought on by redevelopment projects, policies, and complementary development activities over the last two decades, HCS sought to document local opinions and experiences to better guide future investment in the community.

Between 2008 and 2011, we surveyed over 1000 residents and workers, and over 200 small businesses in the Hollywood redevelopment project area. The majority of the Hollywood community felt the neighborhood was improving, and felt especially positive about Hollywood’s walkability, public transportation infrastructure, and diverse shopping options. However, residents are also concerned about the distribution of resources, saying more attention needs to be paid to the East Hollywood neighborhood versus the major Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard Corridors in Central Hollywood. Residents, workers, and small business owners were open to being engaged in the future planning and development of Hollywood, but we found that the community’s ethnic diversity will require these efforts pay attention to the language and cultural needs of its ethnic residential populations, including, among others, Latinos, Armenians, and Thais.

We hope this final HCS report serves not only as a conversation starter that speaks to Hollywood the neighborhood, but also informs other public and private efforts involved in the future development of Hollywood. In the wake of the dissolution of the Community Redevelopment Agency and amidst current conversations about creating a new economic development approach in the City of Los Angeles, it would be wise to embed strong civic engagement approaches that involve the community more deliberately in the development and planning of neighborhoods.

Thanks to the Hollywood residents, small business owners, workers, and service providers who took the time to respond to our surveys, participate in focus groups, serve as case studies, and take part in our other activities. Special thanks to our community partners Thai CDC, Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, and LA Voice. We couldn’t have done it without you! To learn more about our findings and community engagement findings, download the final report here. Jump in!

A Snapshot of Small Business in Central Hollywood East

The results of the HCS Small Business Survey in Central Hollywood East are in! This section of Central Hollywood is a sort of reverse-“L”-shaped area along the 101 Freeway between Hollywood Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, and includes the bustling intersection at Santa Monica and Western.

Only a small section of Hollywood Boulevard, to the east of the freeway, is included in this year’s study area, and it is more or less separate from the touristy section of the strip. Rather than catering to tourists and others seeking the “Hollywood” experience, small businesses in Central Hollywood East are predominantly resident-serving. Thanks to the dedication and charm of our talented intern team, we surveyed 55 businesses with 20 or fewer employees that, among others, included hair salons, auto repair shops, party supply stores, tailors, cell phone stores, restaurants, and medical marijuana dispensaries. Overwhelmingly, small business owners believe that cleaner sidewalks and streets would help improve the neighborhood around their businesses. They noted an improvement in public transportation, but are concerned about rising rent and–as always in Hollywood–access to parking. It’s worth noting that business owners in the area are incredibly savvy: almost 60% speak English plus at least one other language with their customers, and 45% speak multiple languages with their employees. To learn more, download the report, and see what else we’ve been up to in the neighborhood, please visit our Publications page.



We asked, and you told us: the results of the HCS Central Hollywood East neighborhood survey are in!

When people hear the word “Hollywood,” few would picture a neighborhood–much less a neighborhood where a fairly established and incredibly diverse array of people actually live. To most of the world, Hollywood is the movies, it’s the hills, it’s the boulevard dotted with stars. But we know that Hollywood is also a complex and fascinating neighborhood filled with residents who have opinions about where they live, and it is a neighborhood that has undergone a considerable amount of change recently with the introduction of the Red Line subway and a great deal of new development in the area.

In order to measure residents’ perceptions of change in Hollywood, the Hollywood Community Studio conducts annual surveys of Central Hollywood.  This past summer, HCS, with help from a group of fantastic interns, completed the last of three planned summer survey efforts. This time we focused on what we refer to as “Central Hollywood East,” a sort of reverse-“L”-shaped geography along the 101 freeway between Hollywood Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard.  In this area, 349 residents and workers were asked about their perceptions of change in Hollywood and gave their opinions about how investments in the neighborhood should be directed.

Did you know that nearly 6 in 10 residents have lived in Hollywood more than 5 years, and nearly 4 in 10 have lived here more than 10 years? Would you have guessed that Hollywood residents walk more than they drive? Find out more!  Click to download the 8-page report for viewing on-screen, or visit our Publications page to download a printable version and explore our other reports.  Please let us know what you think, and stay tuned for our upcoming comprehensive report, which will cover our entire 3-year project in Central Hollywood.

A once-in-a-decade opportunity…

Ever wonder why L.A. City Council boundaries twist and turn and zigzag across the Los Angeles landscape with no clear rhyme or reason?  Yeah, so do we.

It turns out every 10 years the people of Los Angeles have an opportunity to shape the fifteen L.A. City Council district boundaries.
If you care about public safety, transportation, city services, and parks in your neighborhood, come tell the Commission about where you live, work, and play.
Fifteen hearings will be held throughout the city, including one in one in Tom LaBonge’s district (CD4) on Wednesday, January 4th and another in Eric Garcetti’s district (CD13) on Monday, January 9th.  Both links include a list of dates, times and addresses for all 15 hearings.

Attend a hearing and let your voice be heard.

It’s December, and you know what that means: time for a year-end update!

Lights on Hollywood Blvd. Photo: Amanda Dague

Dear friends,

December is a natural time of reflection and planning. For us here at the Hollywood Community Studio, this December not only marks the end of 2011, but the end of our original 3-year project in Hollywood. More than anything, we’re grateful for the enthusiastic support we’ve received from individuals and organizations in the Hollywood area, and the incredible participation of so many residents, workers, organizations, and business owners in Hollywood.  It’s been an exciting and engaging experience, to say the least!  Here’s a sprinkling of our activities at HCS:

During 2011, HCS…

  • Finished surveying 79 small businesses in Central Hollywood North and completed the Central Hollywood North small business report, available (along with all of our reports) online at
  • Surveyed a total of 349 residents and workers and 51 small business owners in Central Hollywood East.
  • Continued a series of focus groups and case studies with Hollywood residents.
  • Provided technical mapping assistance and survey administration training as a partner organization of the Youth Policy Institute’s Promise Neighborhoods initiative.

Over the past three years, HCS…

  • Surveyed over 1,000 residents and workers in the Central Hollywood area.
  • Surveyed more than 200 small business owners.
  • Completed asset-mapping exercises throughout the area.
  • Trained and employed 47 undergraduate and graduate interns from local colleges and universities.
  • Monitored community benefits agreements of select Hollywood developments.
  • Piloted the online Development Tracking Tool.
  • Collaborated with many local organizations, including the CRA/LA, the Hollywood FamilySource Center, LA Voice, Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, and Thai CDC.
  • Closed down a street off of Hollywood Boulevard for the 3-day Streets for Feet, a pavement-to-parks demonstration project that sparked interest in similar transformative urban park projects in Hollywood and elsewhere in the city.
  • And more!

However, our work in the community has not been free from fiscal challenges—which is hardly a surprise given these tough economic times. Due to the uncertain status of Community Redevelopment Agencies in California, this fall CRA/LA funding for our project was put on hold.  Recognizing the value of the work of the Hollywood Community Studio in the community, Councilmember Eric Garcetti’s office stepped in to support the completion of the 3-year project.  We are extremely grateful to both the CRA/LA and CD13 for their support of our work, as well as to the countless Hollywood organizations, businesses, and especially residents who have helped make this project possible. Thank you!

We are currently working on the Central Hollywood East resident and small business reports, which tell the story of the results of our surveys in the eastern portion of the HCS study area.  We are also drafting our cumulative report, which covers our entire 3-year project and will include results from our surveys, focus groups, and case studies.  All reports will be released by early February, 2012.

Again, we are so incredibly grateful for your support.  We’re happy to report that for us, the end of 2011 doesn’t mark a closure, but a point of transition as we open up a new project in Northeast Los Angeles.

Look for NELAb in 2012!

Happy Holidays,

The Hollywood Community Studio team

Check out the Central Hollywood North Small Business Report

The results from our survey of small businesses in the area we refer to as Central Hollywood North is now posted on our publications page – check it out!  The Central Hollywood North area spans from La Brea to west, the 101 Freeway to the east, Selma to the south and Franklin to the north.  This is the second of our three study areas, and is distinguished by the fact that it includes Hollywood Boulevard and the entire Walk of Fame.  Within this geography we surveyed 79 business with 20 employees or fewer, asking about the state of their business, details about their clients and employees, and what they think of Hollywood as a place to do business.

While much of the report reflects the impact of the recession and the economic challenges businesses face, the results of the survey are enlightening and–at times–unexpected.  Our staff was surprised to learn, for example, that French was the fourth most common language spoken by businesses with clients and customers.  To see what the top three are, and to learn more about the state of small businesses in Hollywood, click here!

The surveys are officially in!



As we wrap up summer here at the Studio and bid farewell to our fantastic team of interns, we’re happy to report that we reached our summer survey goals! Over the past two months we collected over 50 small business surveys and 350 resident surveys from the “Central Hollywood East” area. If you were among those who took time to fill share your opinion about the neighborhood, thank you for being a valuable part of this effort.



2011 Survey Update: Getting there!

Approaching our resident survey goal, with the small business survey up next in August

It’s two-thirds of the way through July, and we’re two-thirds of the way towards reaching our resident survey goal: right on track!  Our team of 11 dedicated and friendly summer interns are pounding the pavement most evenings,  gathering important data about resident perceptions of the “Central Hollywood East” study area and learning a lot about the community.  Many have remarked on how dramatically the neighborhood seems to change from one block to the next, and some have noted how interesting it is that one neighbor might adore their neighborhood and plan to live there forever, while the person next door can’t wait to leave.  Our community is very diverse, and far different from the image of Hollywood that dominates the media.  Thanks to everyone who has participated, and for those who plan to open the door when we come knocking!

Tom surveying a resident just north of the Hollywood Forever Cemetary

2011 Summer Survey Training

New Hollywood Talent: Acting out a survey scenario

On Saturday, HCS hosted its third annual summer intern survey training, which featured plenty of information about Hollywood, our research methods, proper survey protocol, and — of course — practice skits.  We are thrilled to be working with a talented and personable group of ten interns this year who represent many area schools, both undergraduate and graduate, and come with a variety of professional experience.

They will be hitting the streets of East Hollywood near the 101 Freeway next week! (Check out a map of our 2011 study area below.) If you live, work, or run a small business in our study area, we may be asking you for your opinions on how Hollywood is changing!

HCS' 2011 study area

Yum! Doomie’s Home Cookin’

[UPDATE: This post originally said that Doomie’s is cash-only, but we were just told that they now accept credit cards. Hooray!]

On our way to explore the assets of East Hollywood last Friday, the HCS crew stopped by Doomie’s Home Cookin’ on Fountain at Vine for a little lunch. What a delicious surprise! It was everyone’s first time, and although we’re not all vegetarians, we all thoroughly enjoyed our vegan Philly cheesesteak and spicy fried chicken sandwiches, and of course the requisite veggie burger. Accompanied by vegan coleslaw and a choice of fries, onion rings or fruit, it was yummy and filling. Other patrons were munching on fried avocado appetizers and vegan red velvet cake, which our server said are some of their most popular items. Vegetarians and omnivores alike should check out this new-ish spot, it won’t disappoint.

The details:

Vegan Cheesesteak Sandwich with Fruit

1253 N Vine St Suite #9 (in a strip mall–not too easy to spot from the street, but easy parking)
Los Angeles, Ca 90038

12PM – 10PM