Small business people in Hollywood who fear that they will be ousted as part of the redevelopment of the community will meet today to strengthen their effort to stay in business.
The meeting is being organized by Doreet Rotman, owner of Snow White Coffee Shop. She calls herself a "minority of one" on the 25-member Hollywood Project Area Committee, the community advisory group formed to help start the Hollywood Redevelopment Project.
"No one else on the committee cares about what is going to happen to small business people, small property owners and residents," Rotman said. "And, yet, we are the ones who stand to lose the most by redevelopment."
Rotman said that her most immediate goal is to encourage other small business tenants, residents and small property owners to seek election to the Project Area Committee. Twelve of the 25 seats will be up for election June 23.
Make 'Voices Heard'
She said that the committee is dominated by big-business people associated with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, an avid supporter of redevelopment. The chamber, she said, would make it too easy for huge new development to replace small-business operators in Hollywood.
"The only way for us to protect our rights is to get on the committee so that our voices will be heard," Rotman said. "If we do not organize, many of us who have struggled to make a living in Hollywood will be bulldozed out of the community."
The meeting will start at 9 a.m. in the sixth-floor conference room at 6753 Hollywood Blvd.
Rotman said that it has been difficult to organize small-business tenants because most are new immigrants from Southeast Asia, Korea and Latin America, speak little English and are not aware of the way government operates in the United States.
Bill Welsh, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and vice chairman of the Hollywood Project Area Committee, said that he, too, would like to see more small-business people on the committee. "If Doreet can get them to participate," he said, "more power to her. We have tried everything from mailers to hand-carried announcements to their places of business with no luck at all."
But he said he doubted if their increased participation would alter substantially the 30-year, $922-million redevelopment effort under way in the area of Santa Monica Boulevard and Western, La Brea and Franklin avenues. The Community Redevelopment Agency plans to upgrade the area with new offices, restaurants and entertainment facilities and to preserve historic buildings.
"The basic difference I have with Doreet and others who share her views is that unless we upgrade Hollywood there is not going to be any good businesses in the community," Welsh said. "She has a very nice business now, but a cancer is growing all around her place. If we do nothing, her business eventually will fail."
Welsh acknowledged that some existing small-business people will be hurt by redevelopment if their locations are sold out from under them and they are not able to relocate in the new developments.
Welsh said he does not expect that to happen to Rotman. "She is a good businesswoman and would be able to relocate in new developments," he said. "But there certainly is the probability that not all of the existing business operators will stay in business. Somebody's is going to get hurt in the redevelopment process."
Welsh said that elections to the Project Area Committee will be held Monday in Hollywood 1st Presbyterian Church, 1760 N. Gower St. Registration of eligible voters will be held at 5 p.m., with the election at 6.