The Sunset Strip: Can It Be Brought Back to Life? And How?

sunset boulevard, online video

What to do about the Sunset Strip?

Members of West Hollywood’s City Council were divided in their discussion last night of the city’s efforts to revitalize that one and a half-mile stretch of asphalt that is known around the world for its rock music history.

The celebration of that era appears to be over however, given the decision in 2015 by the Sunset Strip

Business Improvement District to shut down the Sunset Strip Music Festival, which had incurred more than $1 million in debt. The Strip these days is largely known for the hotels that line both sides of it.

The City Council’s divide was largely over who should decide what can be done to revitalize the Strip – local government or independent business owners. The discussion came at a presentation by City Hall of the status of its “Sunset Strip Experience Framework” (SSX), a list or proposals to revive the Strip while preserving its identity.

Those projects include the installation of the Rocky & Bullwinkle statue on the triangle at the intersection of Sunset and Holloway, construction of the Sunset Spectacular billboard, commissioning a music and cultural heritage study of the Strip, making it more walkable, encouraging more outdoor dining and coffee spaces, and creating designated tour bus stops.

Sunset Spectacular (Tom Wiscombe Architect)

Also under consideration is making changes in zoning for the Sunset Specific Plan that would allow amplified music certain days of the week and make it easier for event operators to promote live music on the Strip. City Hall plans a parking occupancy study that would consider alternatives along the Strip from Doheny to Horn avenues and possible widening of sidewalks in front of restaurants and clubs. The city also is looking into how to streamline the process for getting the permit necessary to film a movie or TV show on the Strip and extending high-speed fiber along the Strip.

City Councilmember John Heilman said he sees a “disconnect” between the guests of the hotels that line the Strip and the other businesses on the Strip. “Every time I go up there it is dead,” he said.

Heilman said the types of businesses that have been opening on the Strip don’t seem welcoming to local people walking the sidewalk. He cited the somewhat closed off plaza in front of the 1 Hotel as an example.

“Some of the things that have been approved – private club here, private club there – why do I need to go to the Sunset Strip?” he said. Heilman had cast the sole vote against a zoning change necessary to build the Arts Club, a branch of the exclusive London club, on Sunset Boulevard. It will be one of five private clubs opening in and adjacent to West Hollywood.

Heilman suggested that the city might want to require developers to make the ground floors of their buildings more open to the public. And he argued that revitalizing the Strip required more than a focus on its history. “I don’t want us to be a historic relic,” he said. “I want us to be thriving…. Like on Santa Monica Boulevard.

A 1964 night view looking at the Sunset Strip from the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Horn Avenue. Texaco Gas is going for 28.9 cents per gallon!

Councilmember John Duran, who has described himself as a Libertarian, said that one issue businesses face is government regulation. He argued that revival of the Sunset Strip has to come from business, not government.

“It’s got to come from the business community, from the Chamber (of Commerce), from the creative businesses that exist, from the entertainment community,” Duran said.

Duran suggested reaching out to producers of music festivals who might want to use the Strip as a venue. He also noted that the energy of the Strip always has ebbed and flowed. “There are cycles and waves of energy, and then there’s a demise.”

Duran said that he and his fellow City Council members will need to stand up to local residents who have complained about noise associated with music and construction on the Strip and the traffic.

“The five of us are going to have to be prepared to show a little background when people get angry about the traffic,” he said.

City staffers have been reaching out to local businesses and organizations for their input in crafting plans to revitalize the Strip. A draft of its framework was introduced to the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Committee, to the West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board, and to the board of the Sunset Strip Business Improvement District.


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Maria
Guest
Maria

Seriously? There is one overriding reason the strip is no longer visited: its relationship (more specifically West Hollywood’s bizarre relationship) to cars. Traffic has been gridlocked. Parking is non existent. Parking tickets are slathered on confused visitors as intended – the signage and rules were designed to trick drivers into getting parking tickets. West Hollywood has killed its golden goose so many times that nobody gives a gander anymore.

Joey
Guest
Joey

The music festivals were so much fun. The Farmers Market was so much fun. We need community events! why not host beer gardens and out door food events hosted by the local restaurants and bars. Pop up art events.

Awesome Weho
Guest
Awesome Weho

LOL. Whoever came up with a Rocky & Bullwinkle statue, or erecting a special billboard doesn’t know the first thing about urban revitalization. Tourists and locals would visit the Strip if there was anything interesting to do up there. But there’s nothing. How about tax breaks to some up and coming chefs to open restaurants? Why are all the good, news ones downtown? The ones on Santa Monica are all mediocre. Live music is the foundational aspect of the Strip, but don’t waste money and resources on street concerts. They’re a security and logistical nightmare. Partner with a club or… Read more »

Brad
Guest
Brad

This is so accurate. City Council should hire you!! Seriously.

Joan Henehan
Guest
Joan Henehan

Encourage Strip’s businesses to create more “Selfie Spots” and publish the map in several languages (online and on paper.) This will draw more tourist foot traffic and then, it’s up to business to give those tourists the food, beverage and merchandise to buy when they’re on The Strip! Also, where are logo’d SUNSET STRIP merch goods?

Art Scotti
Guest
Art Scotti

Exactly! I had a visitor from NYS and we NEVER found anything labelled West Hollywood at the Grove, Farmer’s Market, or the local WeHo stores–no postcards, no mugs, nothing!

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

or the love of God, no more amplified music. The Norma Triangle Neighborhood is being blasted with sound coming from both the strip the neighboring hotels and the Boulevard. ‘ –
I cannot agree with this anymore. I live near this area and the architect that “designed” the 1 hotel make a friggin pitched roof so the “ambient” music just pounds down all night like until dawn, the city does nothing. It keeps getting worse. I’ve had many endless nights and I know I’m nit the only one.

Alan Strasburg
Guest
Alan Strasburg

Wow, just wow. John Duran says that he and his colleagues on the council need to stand up to the residents, presumably the people he represents in that democratically elected legislative body, when they complain of noise and traffic. Does anyone else read that in English and find it shocking and offensive? The imperiousness of that body on that lofty and pompous dais knows no limits.

Michael Grace
Guest
Michael Grace

I totally agree. If you look at them, the West Hollywood City Council, there is nothing more ordinary than that body. To claim this is a creative city then do something creative and dump Duran and Heilman in the next election.

Art Scotti
Guest
Art Scotti

What do you expect from Duran? How is he still THERE???

F1J
Guest
F1J

For the love of God, no more amplified music. The Norma Triangle Neighborhood is being blasted with sound coming from both the strip the neighboring hotels and the Boulevard. Until they can get a handle on the current situation they don’t need to add more problems. And I agree with Duran. Government should not be dictating leave it up to the local businesses and the free market well do it’s magic. Just make sure there’s enough parking and safety on the strip all it takes is one really successful business for others to be drawn to the area.

Philip Mershon
Guest
Philip Mershon

The first part of your comment is about the amplified music plaguing your neighborhood which, I would imagine is horrible to have to deal with and, I sympathize with you. But the second part is being against business being twarted by Government regulations. You do realize that those unregulated businesses are what is the cause of the reduction of quality of life in your neighborhood.

WeHoMikey
Guest
WeHoMikey

“ Duran said that he and his fellow City Council members will need to stand up to local residents who have complained about noise associated with music and construction on the Strip and the traffic.“

Reminds me more of Nixon and his Imperial Presidency rather than “Government By The People”

C.R.
Guest
C.R.

If the people want a thriving Sunset Strip, that’s part of the deal. There’s two things which make businesses not thrive in WeHo compared to other parts of the city, those being high rents and NIMBYs. Businesses are less likely to take chances on WeHo when they could be under water in 2 or 3 months. And NIMBYs make it as tough as possible on top of that. The only thing that thrives now on Santa Monica Boulevard west of Fairfax is bars and clubs. Add about 5 more bars to the Strip area within a few doors of each… Read more »

Jon Ponder
Admin

In the Strip’s heyday, it generated tens of millions of dollars in gambling — which would be hundreds of millions today. It was illegal then. But card games are legal in California, and opening casinos on the Strip could be a way to get hotel guests to spend their evenings on the Strip instead of going out in Beverly Hills and Hollywood. https://www.wehoville.com/2018/07/11/sunset-strip-gamblers-playground-future-return-past/

Woody McBreairty
Guest
Woody McBreairty

I agree. I remember years ago when then Councilman Steve Schulte tried his best to turn West Hollywood into a gambling town but his measure failed. He even distributed VHS tapes instead of brochures, trying to convince the voters to approve. Would have been interesting, & probably a good idea. The Strip necessarily needs to be an adult destination, that exudes excitement & energy & visual appeal. Presently there is none of those. The Strip’s history is what’s left. The newer hotels do nothing to enhance the Strip that I can see. “The Edition” for example, has no visual or… Read more »