The Millennium Hollywood Project’s Historical Precedent: M. H. Sherman, the Water Board and the Development of the San Fernando Valley

April 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

M. H. Sherman (center) and the Board of DWP/Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library, Security Pacific Collection

M. H. Sherman (center) and the Board of DWP/Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library, Security Pacific Collection

The most striking thing about the Millennium Hollywood Project is not the height of the towers or its sprawling size, but a tidbit that was revealed during a hearing on March 28th, almost as an aside. It seems the head of the Los Angeles Planning Commission, architect William Roschen (of the firm Roschen Van Cleef Architects), is also the project architect for Millennium Hollywood. He recused himself from the meeting–but not, oddly, from his dual role in the creation of Millennium Hollywood.

As it happens, there is a precedent for this circumstance in Los Angeles’ civic history. While doing research for my documentary Under the Hollywood Sign, I learned that one of Hollywoodland’s key developers, Gen. M. H. Sherman, was buying up huge tracts of agricultural land for development in the San Fernando Valley during the same period–the late teens and early 20s. At that point, Sherman–for whom Sherman Way and Sherman Oaks are named–was also serving as Water Commissioner on the board of DWP, thereby controlling the commodity that was essential to the Valley’s transformation. Conflict of interest? Of course! But no one suggested he recuse himself from civic office, and we all know what happened to the farms and orchards that once filled the Valley. By wearing two hats, Sherman enriched both himself and his legacy as a City Father.

Until now, I thought such shenanigans were a thing of the past, yet here we see William Roschen about to benefit from the very project he is in the process of approving. Conflict of interest? You might think so, but at City Hall it’s only business as usual–just as it was a century ago.

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§ One Response to The Millennium Hollywood Project’s Historical Precedent: M. H. Sherman, the Water Board and the Development of the San Fernando Valley

  • Bill M. says:


    The Millennium Skyscraper Projects Plum Hearing has been scheduled for June 4th at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., L.A., 90012, in Room 350.

    More info.:

    Planning and Land Use Management Committee of the LA City Council will
    hear the appeal that has been filed by a number of communities
    opposing Millennium projects.

    Please attend this very important hearing.

    All communities, organizations or individuals who have either
    officially voted and/or expressed opposition to Millennium projects,
    please attend to support your vote of opposition..and to
    support all who have voiced opposition.

    It is time for Opposing organizations, PEOPLE, Communities that will be crippled by these projects, to speak out about the TRUTH and the
    inappropriateness of the Millennium Skyscraper Projects for the area,and the still huge, unresolved problems with these projects.

    Now is the time to show up and speak up for the record.
    There is no guarantee public testimony will be accepted when/if
    Millennium goes to City Council.

    Please help us fill City Hall with people who are passionate about
    their communities and Hollywood’s future.

    For FREE parking in City Hall Building just call your councilmember’s
    office the night before or early that day with make and license number of your car.

    In the meantime, send your comments to Sharon Gin, Legislative
    Assistant, Planning & Land Use Management Committee at:
    Refer to Council Files 13-0593 & 13-0593-S1

    Or call Sharon Gin at 213-978-1074

    E-mail and/or call The Plum Committee with reasons why they must oppose these projects:

    The Hollywood Councilmembers:
    (Millennium is in his district..CD13)

    To reach ALL Councilmembers:
    E-mail …;

    Unlimited Height Skyscrapers, blocking the Capitol Records Building, and The Hollywood Sign from view,with the unprecedented 6:1 FAR (floor area ratio comparable to L.A. Live and Staples Center Density) are not appropriate for Hollywood. They will cripple Hollywood.

    For more information and to sign the on line petition go to:

    Millennium Opposition Information……….

    What’s wrong with Millennium Projects:

    Transactional City Planning in Hollywood | The Planning Report

    This will not happen with Plum Committee hearing scheduled so soon.
    The Plum Committee Hearing should be DELAYED.

    Projects are being rushed through before Mayor elect Garcetti steps
    Decisions are being made by a Plum Chair (Ed Reyes) who is termed out, and by Councilmembers who will be long gone as Millennium projects go on for many years to come.

    Why are the new Councilmembers and new Plum Committee, not part of this important decision,since it is THEY who will be dealing with Millennium for years.

    When writing Councilmembers you may include that.
    That they should Delay, should have delayed, and should have Deferred all decisions to the newly elected Councilmembers.
    This would allow time for an INDEPENDENT TRAFFIC STUDY.
    Request The Plum Committee Recommend City Council DELAY/DEFER any further decisions.

    Millennium and Safety Issues:

    Testimony of Pat McOsker, former President of The LAFD union, about
    Higher Density in Hollywood to The Plum Committee at the April 17, 2012
    Hollywood Community Plan Hearing..

    It is time to for The Plum Committee and City Council to stop ignoring his warnings, as they apply to High Density Skyscrapers in this area of Hollywood as well: 6:50-

    I don’t know if supersizing Hollywood is a good idea or a bad idea..
    I just know it is a DEADLY idea..
    If you don’t do something about the Infrastructure…
    And specifically, I mean, by having enough Firefighters and Paramedics
    to protect that Community.
    You know what’s going on…
    40% of the time we’re not getting there on time right now…
    To save lives, when people are not breathing..
    To keep a fire from burning out of control.
    So you can’t build up the City even more….
    While the Fire Department is staffed the way it is right now..
    Because it’ll be IRRESPONSIBLE.
    It’ll take us even longer to get there.
    More lives will be lost..
    More fires will burn out of control..
    And it’s irresponsible.
    So, you know, there’s supposed to be a Mitigation, people pay fees,
    Developers pay fees…
    Those don’t come back to The Fire Dept.
    You’re not following right now, Your Infrastructure Plan.
    The Mayor just swept the Hydrant Fee clean on The Fire Dept.
    Took Millions of Dollars out of it to Balance the Budget…
    Rather than to put back into that Infrastructure that PROTECTION FOR
    CITIZENS when Developers build.
    Thank you.

    At community meetings with our LAPD and LAFD, many of them have
    expressed their concerns and opposition to the Millennium projects.
    Yet, they say, they cannot come out publicly about it.
    On the heels of the recent Boston Marathon attack there are concerns
    about terrorism, with these being the only towering buildings in the
    area, looming so large, and surrounded by so many residential
    communities, in The Flats and The Hills of Hollywood…
    There are concerns about fire, getting to people in time, and basic
    safety issues.
    Millennium will be building on a fault line.


    Neighborhood Councils:

    Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council
    Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council
    Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council
    Hollywood United Neighborhood Council
    Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council

    Hillside Federation Organizations:

    Argyle Civic Association
    Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association
    Bel Air Knolls Property
    Bel Air Ridge Association
    Bel Air Skycrest Property
    Benedict Canyon Association
    Brentwood Hills Homeowners Assn.
    Brentwood Residents Coalition
    Cahuenga Pass Property Owners
    Canyon Back Alliance
    Crests Neighborhood
    Franklin Ave. / Hwd. Blvd. West
    Franklin Hills Residents
    Greater Wilshire Neighborhood
    Council – Land Use Committee
    Hancock Park Homeowners Association
    Highlands Owners Association
    Hollywood Dell Civic Association
    Hollywood Heights Association
    Hollywoodland Homeowners Association
    Holmby Hills Homeowners
    Kagel Canyon Civic Assn.
    Lake Hollywood Homeowners
    Laurel Canyon Association
    Lookout Mountain Alliance
    Los Feliz Improvement Association
    Mt. Olympus Property Owners
    Mt. Washington Homeowners’ Alliance
    North Beverly – Franklin Canyon Home owners Association
    Nichols Canyon Association
    Oak Forest Canyon Association
    Oaks Homeowners Assn.
    Outpost Estates Homeowners
    Pacific Palisades Residents Assn.
    Residents of Beverly Glen
    Roscomare Valley Association
    Shadow Hills Property Owners
    Sherman Oaks Homeowners
    Studio City Residents Association
    Sunset Hills HOA
    Tarzana Property Owners
    Torreyson-Flynn Association
    Upper Mandeville Canyon
    Whitley Heights Civic Association

    On line petition opposing Millennium Projects:
    749 signers
    Please sign

    On line petition opposing Millennium Projects:
    1,385 signers
    Please Sign and Read and Leave Comments


    Website..Advocacy Issues

    “The Conservancy appreciates that this project does not propose to
    demolish or significantly alter the Capitol Records Tower.
    Yet the project does include new construction directly adjacent to
    it,which could potentially cause adverse impacts to the Landmark.”
    (Capitol Records Building..Historic Cultural Monument #857…
    Millennium Projects will be built on a fault line.)

    Hollywood Heritage
    Website.. Projects/Preservation Issues:

    For three decades Hollywood Heritage has been an advocate of the
    preservation and protection of Hollywood’s historic resources.
    We support the goal of preserving what is most significant in
    Hollywood,while encouraging responsible new and infill development.

    Our organization has nominated many of the current Historic Cultural
    Monuments, listed the Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment
    District in the National Register of Historic Places at the national
    level of significance, provided technical assistance to developers and
    owners of significant properties, and participated in public policy
    discussions through the formulation of the Community Redevelopment Plan
    of 1986 and subsequent urban design plans, specific plans and in
    property entitlement discussion involving historic resources.

    These efforts have resulted in the rehabilitation of significant
    landmarks and districts in Hollywood.

    Our expertise in this area has led us to the conclusion that the
    Millennium Hollywood project has significant and adverse impacts on a
    number of Hollywood’s historic resources.

    CEQA guidelines define a project as having a significant environmental
    impact when the project causes a substantial adverse change in
    significance of a historical resource as defined in State CEQA Section

    The City of Los Angeles CEQA Thresholds Guide (2006, p. D.3-3) also
    maintains that a project would have a significant impact onhistoric
    resources if the project results in a substantial adverse change in the
    significance of a historic resource by construction that reduces the
    integrity or significance of important resources on the site or in the
    vicinity via alteration of the resource’s immediate surroundings.

    While we appreciate some of the mitigation measures designed to
    preserve the historic Capitol Records and Gogerty Building, we believe
    that the proposed project would substantively alter the context in
    which these buildings gained their significance by compromising the
    immediate surroundings.

    Portions of the project are grossly out of proportion with the
    identified resources, thereby minimizing them and irretrievably
    altering their setting….

    We also find the current version of the Millennium Hollywood Draft EIR
    to be deficient in its assessment that the project would not cause an
    adverse change in significance for the Hollywood Boulevard Commercial
    and Entertainment Historic District.

    The heart of Hollywood is listed in the National Register of Historic
    Places and functions as one of the City of Los Angeles’ major tourist
    destinations and economic engines.

    The Hollywood Boulevard Commercial
    and Entertainment Historic District is a 12 block area of the
    commercial core.

    The district contains 103 of the most important buildings in
    Hollywood,listed at the national level of significance in the National
    Register of Historic Places.

    The development pattern of the 1920s and 1930s was characterized by the
    construction of buildings of generally 12 stories at major
    intersections, flanked by one and two-story retail structures.

    The District was formally designated by the National Park Service on
    behalf of the Secretary of the Interior in 1985.

    At the time, there were over 60 contributors and approximately 40
    non-contributors which all dated from the 1905-1935 period of

    Since its listing, the District has seen significant and positive
    restorations, now having the largest collection of restored historic
    theaters in use in the nation.

    The District can count the beneficial reuse of the Broadway and
    Equitable Buildings, the Hollywood Professional Building, and the Nash
    Building, and many restorations, spurring the renaissance of Hollywood.

    But the District has suffered the loss of several contributors, and has
    seen the addition of overly-large developments such as Hollywood and
    Highland, the W Hotel and Madame Tussaud’s.

    The current Millennium Hollywood project fails to significantly address
    the negative impact created by the mass and height of the proposed
    development in regards to the existing structures in the vicinity.

    This will be the largest tower in the area.

    While creating opportunities to see landmarks such as the Hollywood
    Sign from areas within the development, the project fails to address
    the fact that these new view lines will alter views that have been
    publicly available since the inception of these landmarks.

    In the “Related Projects” section of the DEIR, which compares this
    project with other projects nearby, unapproved, proposed developments
    are used alongside existing structures, allowing the square footage
    increase that this project suggests to be seen as more reasonable.

    However, the structures included on the comparative chart are all less
    than one-third the size of the proposed Millennium tower.

    The only project that is as large is the proposed redevelopment of the
    Paramount Studios Lot.

    At 1,385,700 sq. ft., the Paramount Lot is a much larger property and
    does not have any single building of a comparative height as proposed
    by Millennium.

    The addition of the proposed tower will overwhelm contributing
    properties in the district and the proposed “separation” of new and old
    construction is simply not an adequate mitigation measure.

    If you would like to participate with and/or support the opposition to
    the Millennium projects ..
    Go to
    for more information.

    Thank you.

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