It is hard to believe that one year ago I was sworn into office as a Councilmember and then as Mayor Pro Tempore. It's been a busy year, soon to get busier! On Monday, April 18th, I will be sworn in as Mayor of the City of West Hollywood and Councilmember John Heilman will be sworn in as Mayor Pro Tempore. I look forward to serving the City in this role and working with my colleagues. Please save the date -- event invitation to be posted soon!
I'm pleased to report that a number of my initiatives were adopted by Council since my last blog post.
- Directed staff to coordinate a homeless needs assessment study, which will provide community-based information on the needs, characteristics, and conditions facing the homeless population in West Hollywood. Mayor Horvath co-sponsored the item.
- Directed the Community Development Department to review measures the City can take to further consider water usage and conservation in the review of non-residential development projects.
- Directed staff to update the Rent Stabilization Ordinance and Zoning Ordinance to provide added protections to displaced West Hollywood residents and to require the replacement of rent stabilized units in new construction. Councilmember Heilman co-sponsored the item.
- Initiated a study on Innovative Housing Types and Policies, directing staff to study the feasibility of various housing types and policies in West Hollywood.
- With Mayor Horvath, provided an update on the City’s proactive measures to prepare for and respond to the impacts of El Niño and direct staff to augment efforts to respond to impacts as they evolve.
The first quarter of 2016 has also included some lively and robust conversations about West Hollywood Park Phase II, the City's game plan to convince Metro to prioritize a north-south rail extension through WeHo, and raising the minimum wage.
Minimum Wage: All Councilmembers were for raising the minimum wage -- although we didn't necessarily agree on how it should be implemented! I, along with Councilmembers D'Amico and Duran, voted to just take a first step: to raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2017 for businesses with 26+ employees and 2018 for businesses with 25 or less employees and non-profits of any size. With the County of LA coming out with a small business initiative in May, and the State of California also planning to raise the minimum wage over the next few years, this policy will continue to be a work in progress. Issues requiring further discussion: tipped employees and "total earnings," health insurance credits and small business support. We also directed staff to conduct outreach among the Russian-speaking business community.
West Hollywood Park: Phase II of the West Hollywood Park project includes plans for additional park open space, development of a new recreation and community center with gymnasium and park support facilities, children’s playground areas, a new aquatic facility, with both a lap pool and a recreational pool, and two dog play areas. I raised concerns about the expense of (and need for) a second swimming pool, the Grand Stair, and "stackers" in the parking garage; however, Council majority voted to keep these elements.
Rail: Mayor Horvath and Councilmembers Duran and Heilman voted to spend an additional $200,000 on consultants (in addition to the $200,000 that was approved in December 2015) "to conduct outreach and to build regional partnerships in support of a Metro rail project that would extend the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line to West Hollywood and connect to the Metro Red Line." I want only the best for West Hollywood and voted against this because I felt the money could be put to better use based on the consultant's track record from the first three months. Metro's Draft Expenditure Plan for the potential ballot measure, released March 2016, currently shows the Crenshaw Northern Extension in the third tier of potential projects, with a 40 to 45 year build-out.
In the meantime, the City of West Hollywood can be focusing on "first-last mile" planning, for instance, by expanding Cityline X and working with the City of LA to bring back the DASH, car-sharing, as well as looking at new technology. I will also continue to advocate for West Hollywood as a member of the Westside Cities Council of Governments ("COG").
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has appointed law enforcement veteran Holly M. Perez as the new Captain of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. Captain Perez brings with her to West Hollywood over 28 years of law enforcement experience. She has risen through the Sheriff’s ranks serving as an Operations Lieutenant, a Service Area Lieutenant and a Recruit Training Staff Sergeant, and she is an International Defensive Tactics instructor. Please join me in welcoming Captain Perez!
On Saturday, April 2nd, between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, please join us for Coffee with the Mayor and Captain Perez at Council Chambers in West Hollywood Park. It's a great opportunity for you to meet and welcome Captain Perez to West Hollywood, ask questions and share your concerns about Public Safety.
The City will also be hosting a community workshop to discuss Public Safety and gather community feedback on Saturday, April 16th, from 9:30 am to 11:30 am at Plummer Park’s Fiesta Hall.
Don't forget to check the City Calendar for upcoming City meetings and events.
As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or suggestions!