Newsletter: A makeover for Hollywood Boulevard?

A cyclist makes his way on a wet Hollywood Boulevard.
A cyclist makes his way on a wet Hollywood Boulevard.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Jan. 31, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

On Thursday — a day after San Francisco banned private cars from a central stretch of Market Street — a Los Angeles city councilman unveiled a bold proposal to remake one of L.A.'s most iconic boulevards.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s 90-page concept for remaking the tourist-saturated Hollywood Walk of Fame would be a stark departure from L.A. car culture. Instead of prioritizing drivers, it would aim to create a more welcoming atmosphere for pedestrians, including the millions of tourists who visit each year.

If approved, the proposal would narrow Hollywood Boulevard to a center turn lane and one travel lane in each direction roughly between La Brea Avenue and Vine Street, as my colleagues Laura Nelson and Priscella Vega detail in their story. Eliminating a vehicle travel lane and a parking lane in each direction would mean substantially wider sidewalks, as well as a potential protected lane for bicyclists and scooters.

[Read the story: “L.A. considers bold makeover for Hollywood Boulevard: Fewer cars, bike lanes, wider sidewalks” in the Los Angeles Times]


Depending on whom you ask, O’Farrell’s proposal is either quite radical, or nowhere near radical enough.

As Laura and Priscella write, these types of lane reductions — or “road diets,” as they are often called — have been deeply controversial here in the past. (Back in 2017, critics actually tried to recall another L.A. city councilman from office after officials eliminated more than nine miles of Westside traffic lanes in an attempt to reduce fatal collisions. The recall effort was unsuccessful, but many of the car lanes have since been restored.)

On the other hand, open-streets advocates like Curbed editor Alissa Walker have long advocated for banning cars from this stretch of Hollywood Boulevard entirely in favor of a Times Square-like pedestrianization effort. The stretch of Hollywood Boulevard around the intersection of Highland Boulevard is often blocked off for days at a time for big movie premieres and major events such as the Oscars, so we’ve seen firsthand that Hollywood commuters can survive a closure without the whole city descending into chaos.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how the Market Street closure plays out — and whether it shifts the horizon on what we see as feasible, or even reasonable, transformation in our cities.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

On Thursday, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a global emergency. In California, Riverside County health officials have issued a quarantine order for one of the passengers from Wuhan, China, who was evacuated to an Air Force base after fleeing the coronavirus outbreak overseas. After the passengers were asked to remain at the base under observation, the traveler tried to leave the facility, prompting the Riverside County Public Health Department to issue the quarantine order Thursday. Los Angeles Times


Jane Fonda is bringing her “Fire Drill Friday” climate protests to Los Angeles. The first one will be held Feb. 7 at City Hall. Los Angeles Times

The city of L.A. is planning a memorial for Kobe Byrant and others killed in the helicopter crash Sunday, but that no date has yet been set. Los Angeles Times

Creative Artists Agency is exploring buying Paradigm Talent Agency, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment. Los Angeles Times

That Canter’s pastrami takeout you ordered might be coming from a “ghost” kitchen. About a third of the deli’s orders now are sold to go, and to better serve that growing business, the restaurant has expanded into shared commercial kitchens that extend the reach of Canter’s into Pasadena and West Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

The pastrami is better at Langer's.
The pastrami is better at Langer’s.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Netflix’s “You” has the “seven totems” of L.A. — things you have to see here before you can say you’re from here. That list is a good start. But our writers came up with a list of their own. Los Angeles Times

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A California bill to dramatically increase home building has failed for the third year in a row. After state Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill SB 50 fell three votes short of passing on Wednesday — with nine Los Angeles-area senators either voting no or abstaining — Wiener tried again to advance the bill on Thursday, but the result was the same. Los Angeles Times

Rep. Devin Nunes filed six lawsuits last year against media companies and his political adversaries. Here’s a look at where they are now. Fresno Bee

Also: The attorney representing Nunes in five high-profile defamation lawsuits has a history of using questionable tactics in litigation, including claiming to represent people who did not know him. Fresno Bee

Sen. Bernie Sanders is still sad about the Dodgers moving to L.A. The now-presidential candidate was 16 when his beloved team decamped from Brooklyn. New York Times


The L.A. Archdiocese settled a priest abuse case for $1.9 million. The complaint, filed in September 2018, is the first case settled with a Catholic diocese in the state since the passage of AB 218, a law that expands the time frame for filing child sexual abuse allegations. Los Angeles Times

A man who wouldn’t stop walking in the road with his mules was arrested near Paso Robles: “The 76-year-old, who calls himself ‘Mule,’ is a well-known wanderer and public land activist who travels around California with his mules.” San Luis Obispo Tribune


All of those dry January days have taken a toll on California’s snowpack, but officials say it’s too early to worry about drought conditions. Los Angeles Times


California lost more manufacturing jobs to China than any other state, with the San Francisco Bay Area accounting for more than any other region in the nation due to a long outflow of technology manufacturing. Los Angeles Times

This will be one very political Super Bowl. Here’s what to watch for. San Francisco Chronicle

(A quick refresher for any non-sports fans: The Super Bowl is this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Pacific. The Kansas City Chiefs are playing the San Francisco 49ers. Halftime will be co-headlined by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. And if you have no idea what you are talking about but still want a talking point, here’s a fun one: Along with every imaginable aspect of the game, bets are also being placed on what color of Gatorade will be dumped over the winning coach at the end. Purple is currently the prohibitive favorite.)

And speaking of the Super Bowl, the Monday after will officially be a holiday in Delano, at least for students and faculty. School will be off at all 12 of the schools in Kern County’s second-largest city. Bakersfield Californian

As international visitors head to Tulare, the World Ag Expo has coronavirus contingency plans. Expect extra handwashing stations and informational signage. Visalia Times-Delta

Have a story to share in the San Joaquin Valley? The StoryCorps MobileBooth — an Airstream trailer converted into a mobile recording studio — will be in the Valley next month. Valley Public Radio

Bay Area authors share their book picks for Black History Month, which begins Saturday. San Francisco Chronicle


Los Angeles: sunny, 81. San Diego: sunny, 75. San Francisco: partly sunny, 62. San Jose: sunny, 69. Sacramento: sunny, 66. More weather is here.


California, the department-store state. The most of everything and the best of nothing.

— Raymond Chandler

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.