image Architecture & Planning

Preparing for the Arrival of the Millennials

By Kerry Morrison

June 6, 2014

Recently I had the opportunity to visit two cities to speak at conferences about the topic of homelessness, and how and why BIDs should be involved.  In April, I traveled to British Columbia to attend a conference jointly sponsored by the International Downtown Association and the BIA of British Columbia.   In May, I attended a conference jointly sponsored by the CA Downtown Association with the IDA.  (Pictured above, in San Diego, are Amanda Irvine, South Park BID; Devin Strecker, HPOA; Joe Mariani, HPOA; Jessica Lall, South Park BID; Kerry Morrison, and Carlee Carpio, Alliance Residential.)  But while there, I had the wonderful opportunity to explore the downtown streets of two cities – San Diego and Victoria B.C.  I also relished the opportunity to learn from fellow BID executives in Canada and in Southern CA.  I am going to prepare several blogs to memorialize my conference notes.

At both conferences, we were titillated by speakers who helped us to maneuver beyond the here-and-now of running our BIDs, and consider the trends and movements on the horizon that will shape our downtowns.  Every time I attend a conference like this, I am thankful to my board for letting me leave Hollywood and see the world through a fresh lens.

Chris Beynon is a dynamic speaker from MIG in Berkeley who spoke at both conferences.  He speaks on the topic of placemaking and great streets, and leaves us grateful that we are managing BIDs in downtown city centers, because he makes the case that the suburbs are passé as we enter the era of the Millennial generation.  He challenges us to prepare ourselves to be ready (and relevant) for the 21st century new economy.  Retail must become an experience – we are competing with Amazon who most recently opened a 1,000,000 square foot distribution and fulfillment center in Tracy, and is experimenting with package delivery by drones.    Bookstores are dying out as books are made and printed to order.  The sharing economy, as described in a key Economist article in 2013, is changing the landscape, with shared taxis, shared houses and vacation rentals and shared equipment.

When I listen to people like Chris Beynon paint the picture of the future that Hollywood is preparing for, it strikes me as very 20th century to hear the arguments from naysayers in the hills that traffic congestion will grow more intractable with densification of Hollywood.  We are preparing for the arrival of the Millennials, who do not want to drive cars.  They want to walk, to Uber, to bike, to ride share,  to use public transportation.  Beynon reported that the percentage of 17-year olds who secured a driver’s license dropped from 87 percent in 1990 to 70 percent in 2014.  The annual cost to own a bike is $308; the annual cost to own a car is $8,200.  This new generation would rather put their money into their loft and their entertainment.

In Victoria, Rena Leddy presented the global trends as presented by PUMA, Progressive Urban Management Associates.  Most relevant to Hollywood is the following:

  • The demographic shifts that are shaping consumer behaviors in the 21st century cannot be ignored.  The Millennial generation, also referred to as GenY,  defined as those born between 1977 and 2003, account for 77M of our country’s population.  They are driving all the innovation, are culturally diverse, have a passion for change and voluntarism, and are used to having choices.   Millennials currently comprise 36 percent of the workforce, but by 2020 this will be 50 percent.

Hollywood leaders and planners will do well to look out on the horizon for the opportunities that exist in creating work and living environments that will appeal to the twenty and thirty-somethings of today.  The way they spend their days, their money and their time differ radically from the boomer generation who may be trying to hold back the tides of change.

Kerry Morrison serves as the executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, a position she has held since the inception of the Hollywood Entertainment District BID in 1996.  She has a MPA in Public Administration from USC and is a graduate of Santa Clara University.  She has a passion for ending homelessness, and serves as Mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), serves on the United Way Home for Good Business Leaders Task Force, and on the board for The Center at Blessed Sacrament.  She loves to knit, collects fountain pens and eschews loud music in restaurants.

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