image Architecture & Planning

Micro Neighborhoods Create Big Loyalty

By Kerry Morrison

October 15, 2014

Here at the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance (HPOA), our office is located at the corner of Hollywood & Vine and we are quite comfortable in our little “neck of the BID.”  We know the rhythms of the area, the regular homeless people and the good places to eat.  However, we are responsible for managing the entire Hollywood Entertainment District – the whole stretch from LaBrea to the 101 freeway.  And, we manage the Sunset & Vine BID as well.

The summer before last, we had to move out of our ‘hood temporarily (our 1920’s era building was undergoing a seismic retrofit).  As a result, an inconvenience turned into an opportunity to see Hollywood through a different vantage point.

We moved into offices at WeWork, near the corner of LaBrea and Hollywood. Over the course of the three and one-half months we took up residence there, our eyes were opened to the unique attributes of that part of the BID — a micro-neighborhood that was about two blocks long.

That experience led us to research the concept of micro-neighborhoods – and we came to realize that these spring up almost organically in cities across the country.  People become fiercely loyal to what makes a few blocks unique and special, as compared to neighboring blocks.  We were onto something that could be applied to Hollywood!

Consider this map of San Francisco which identifies over 80 little neighborhoods in San Francisco.  That may be slicing and dicing taken to the extreme.  Perhaps more plausible is an urban blogger’s attempt to identify  26 macro and micro San Francisco neighborhoods  This trend is evident in many of our notable American cities.  BostonChicago.  And certainly New York City is classic in this sense, where even blockfaces can become a micro ‘hood within a micro-neighborhood.

neighborhoods-of-san-francisco

What is the appeal of a micro-neighborhood?

First, big districts lack distinction.  It’s hard to rely upon a ‘one size fits all’ marketing strategy for a district as diverse as Hollywood.  (Think about it:  your reasons for visiting Hollywood & Highland are completely different from a reason you might dine near Sunset & Vine.)  Retailers are looking for the right zone to locate, so as a BID, we can assist by identifying unique areas within Hollywood.

Second, in a micro-neighborhood, side and back streets are rediscovered.  Hollywood Boulevard is the big kahuna here, but there are cool places to check out on Selma, Yucca, Vista del Mar.    By identifying these micro-neighborhoods, we can channel new interest to pockets of the BID.

Third, the micro neighborhood has the potential to unite neighbors.  Stakeholders – defined as customers, businesses, property owners – can become fiercely loyal about what their little neighborhood offers.  Often it takes a visionary to lead the charge in an area – to help define the vision, and steer their neighbors toward decisions that embrace the vision.   We saw this occur in Hollywood with the origins of the first micro-neighborhood, the Cahuenga Corridor.  Property owners David Gajda and Jose Malagon articulated an early vision for that area when they purchased their property at the corner of Selma and Cahuenga in the mid-90’s.

Through our Only in Hollywood blogs, we plan to explore what is unique about the various micro-neighborhoods that are beginning to organically come together in Hollywood.  Bye-bye one size fits all.

This blog is part of a series entitled “Exploring the Micro-Neighborhoods and Macro Trends” which stems from the presentation given by HPOA staff at the 2014 All Property Owners Meeting.  For the complete series, click here.

Kerry Morrison is executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.  She serves as a Mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and blogs at www.onlyinhollywood.org.

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