Friday, April 30, 2010

Sprawllywood, California

Hugh Hefner is being credited far and wide as a "winner" in the battle against sprawl in Hollywood. It isn't mentioned that he used traditional market forces to do it.

The land parcel on which the sign is located was owned by Howard Hughes, and after his death the land was sold by his estate to land devleopers out of Chicago. The famous and infamous "HOLLYWOOD" sign was under attack from these developers who wanted raze the sign down and build luxury homes. California quickly mobilized, and donations poured in from all sides.

Nearly every studio and network in the area, and many of the big names in the business like Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and of course, Hugh Hefner, donated substantial sums to the conservation group, "The Trust for Public Land", in order to purchase the parcel around the sign. Donations to save the sign came from all 50 states and 10 different countries.

This is a VERY clear example of the land being purchased for its most highly valued use. The stars were able to show the value of the parcel to the developers by delivering the appropriate dollar price within the timeframe they were given. This to me is also a very clear example of the correct way to address problems of "sprawl". Rather than public indignation and outrage (which Hef also dished out in large portions), interested parties can either show that they value the land more highly as a landmark/open space/historic district, or the land would actually have a more highly valued use in development.

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