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
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.