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It took the brutal death of a Hollywood DJ named Jose Manuel Silva Nieves (aka DJ Steez) for the city of Los Angeles to step in and crack down on clubs and club owners.
On the evening of Aug. 22, Nieves was DJ-ing at Cashmere nightclub (recently renamed The Day After) on Hollywood Blvd when a fight broke out. A witness identified by local TV station KTLA as Dinora, said that 20-year-old Nieves stepped into the fight to help a friend. When officers arrived, Nieves was unconscious and he died the next day.
In the last decade, the neighborhood of Hollywood has undergone a dramatic overhaul, and many say it’s the clubs that initially invested in Hollywood 23 years ago who are primarily responsible for bringing the iconic area back from the seedy place it once was.
“The clubs were an asset that sparked changing perceptions about Hollywood,” said Leron Gubler, president and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, to Fox News Latino.
Today, though, violent crime is on the upswing in Hollywood — it has increased by 21 percent this year compared to the same time last year, and intoxicated club goers are thought to be the main culprit.
“We don’t want to paint all club operators with the same brush,” said Captain Pete Zarcone from the Los Angeles Police Department. “There are some [club operators] out there who are good members of the community, and there are some who are purely profit motivated.”
The LAPD is committed to working hand in hand with our city partners to make Hollywood even safer,” he added.
Billions of dollars have gone into renovating and gentrifying Hollywood in the last 10 years — from clubs to many residences, retail stores, hotels and offices within the nearly 20 square miles of greater Hollywood. About 200,000 people reside here – the largest concentration in Los Angeles County – 35 percent of whom are millennials.
Looking to cities such as New York and its famed Times Square as a model for what Hollywood Blvd could be, the area now is rife with daily struggles. From the costumed characters to fighting tour operators and aggressive CD vendors, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a tourist mecca overcrowded with pedestrian traffic and the hawkers who solicit them — and yet the neighborhood is booming with development.
With an influx of boutique hotels, three currently under construction, and the recent openings of hot spots like “Mama’s Shelter,” the French-based chain known for its somewhat modest prices and trendsetting Philippe Starck interiors, the culture of Hollywood is fast changing.
Where there are millennials, there are companies who are looking to employ them, and so Netfix and Viacom are opening in Hollywood in the the coming months.
Despite the apparent fast and furious gentrification, some say Hollywood will always have an edge compared to other areas in Los Angeles. “We have have a lot of old buildings, residents of varied income levels, a plethora of nationalities and cultures,” said Gubler.
“It really is a melting pot and the city of LA is committed to affordable housing and retaining section 8 housing in the neighborhood,” he added. “What’s being build now is designed to target 'middle-income' residents.”
As the area geared up for Halloween and the raucous club goers, Los Angeles City Council member Mitch O’Farrell joined representatives from the LAPD and the Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) this week to issue a warning regarding recent permit violations at some Hollywood nightclub venues, and demanded that all nightlife establishments manage their own safety and security.
“The long list of permit violations at a handful of Hollywood nightclubs is unacceptable,” said O’Farrell. “These violations adversely affect the health, safety and well-being of those who live and work in the area and endanger the lives of their own patrons. Today this community is taking a stand.”