2018 - it's a wrap!

You know what they say - time flies when you're busy! The last quarter of 2018 certainly was busy, and productive!

What's been happening?

Seismic Retrofit: Council voted "no" to establishing a pass-thru program (where tenants would have to share in the retrofit costs), and instead, asked staff to look at ways that the City could make the permitting process easier/less expensive for property owners as they move forward on seismic retrofits.

Cannabis: The independent committee members who reviewed hundreds of applications for 36 new adult cannabis business licenses have finished their tallies, and the top eight scoring applicants in each license category are eligible to move forward in the process of securing a business license from the City. Here's a link to the applications of the top scoring applicants.

March 2019 ElectionsOn Tuesday, March 5, 2019, the City of West Hollywood will hold its General Municipal Election whereby its citizens will elect three members to the City Council and vote on two Ballot Measures. Measure B is a referendum of Resolution 18-5104 - The Arts Club, and Measure Y is an ordinance establishing a gross receipts tax on adult-use cannabis products.

What else?

The City celebrated Transgender Awareness Month, Disabilities Awareness Month, and Halloween Carnaval. We also held our annual Don't Drink & Drive press conference with the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station and distributed coasters with transit info to Weho restaurants, bars and clubs.

TG_Awareness_Month.jpg Halloween_Carnaval.jpg Disabilities_awards_w-Louise_Smith.jpg
         (Photo credit Weho/Jon Viscott)                       (Photo credit Weho/Jon Viscott)                     (Photo credit Weho/Jonathan Moore)

On World AIDS Day, we held a candlelight vigil, which started at Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Heights and ended at Council Chambers, to show our solidarity with people living with HIV and to remember all those who died from AIDS-related illness. At the city's annual Paul Andrew Starke Warrior Awards, we recognized a number of talented and caring individuals from organizations that provide healthcare services and support to people living with HIV/AIDS.

World_AIDS_Day.jpg Paul_Andrew_Starke_Warrior_Awards.jpg 
             (Photo credit Weho/Jonathan Moore)                             (Photo credit Weho/Jonathan Moore)


Is there more?

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Public Safety Tips - Cars & Coyotes

As you may be aware, there has been an uptick of vehicle burglaries in our city, and a noticeable increase of coyote sightings in our neighborhoods. I thought I would share these (hopefully) helpful tips.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Fall already?

Summer is behind us, but a number of the issues we discussed may not be!

Like what?

8500 Sunset aka AKA. Council majority voted to uphold the Planning Commission decision, which upheld a Director's decision to not allow AKA to operate like an "extended stay" hotel. The City contends (and I would strongly agree) that the approval for the 8500 Sunset building was for that of a residential building providing permanent housing; i.e., primary place of residence. The project received residential bonuses at the time it was entitled and the units counted towards the City's RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Assessment) numbers and Housing Element. Unfortunately, this may be taken to the next level -- stay tuned.

Electric scooters. Council majority voted to prohibit shared, electric scooter services (think Bird, Lime, etc.) in Weho for the time being. Why? Public safety, lack of infrastructure, illegal use of the public right-of-way... While electric scooters might offer some benefits when it comes to "first and last mile" transportation options, as a walkable city, it's important for Weho to consider, first and foremost, the safety of our pedestrians. FYI, it is still legal to ride an electric scooter in the city (if following local and state laws); it's just not legal for the shared services to operate here.

Water. About a third of our city purchases water from Beverly Hills Water. For years, the City of Beverly Hills has been charging a 25% surcharge to customers outside their city (meaning Weho!). The surcharge amounts to about $400,000 total per year. The City of West Hollywood doesn't think Beverly Hills Water can justify the charge - and in the world of government, that's a no no. I've been attending Beverly Hills Public Works meetings with Weho Deputy City Manager, Oscar Delgado, to advocate for a fair and equitable rate for West Hollywood residents and businesses, and "the City" itself -- note, Weho Park is within the Beverly Hills Water customer area. 

What else?

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Stormy Weather

West Hollywood certainly manages to stay newsworthy! For better or worse...

Why, what happened?

LA Pride was a hot ticket -- but so hot, they needed to turn folks away. While being popular is a good problem to have, WeHo doesn't like to disappoint. So, you can bet there will be some conversations over the next few months with the public and with Council about next year's Pride festival.

Oh, and Stormy Daniels blew into town. Yes, she did -- and she left with a key to the City. My thoughts... a proclamation would have been more than sufficient, but it's done, so time to move on. We've got bigger issues to focus on.

Such as? 

Keeping Families Together. On Saturday, June 30, join nationwide protests against the Trump family separation policy. Meet at "high noon" at the corner of San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevard for the Rally for Humane (and Sane) PoliciesLet's send a clear message to DC that discrimination and inhumane policies are not acceptable and must stop now.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Acceleration of Metro Northern Extension at What Cost to Weho's Residents?

Last Monday night, Council majority voted to adopt a resolution in support of accelerating the Northern Extension of the Metro Crenshaw/LAX line. The resolution sounds innocuous enough – but the devil is in the details.

Here are the details:

  1. This vote will cost us $70-$550 million in addition to the 3% match required by Metro, which is $42-$66 million. The amounts depend on the final alignment (route) of the Northern Extension -- e.g., La Brea, Fairfax, La Cienega or San Vicente – as well as the project delivery scope and schedule.
  2. Regardless of the route of the Northern Extension, the City is committing to expedited environmental review and permitting. This could mean less time for public review and community input.

While I’m 100% in favor of public transportation and fully know the benefits (as I learned growing up in Brooklyn New York!), I think it’s irresponsible to commit City efforts, staff, and your money to a project where we don’t know the route of the extension.

Shouldn’t a $616 million commitment have a discussion and not just a consent vote on a meeting agenda?

Read more
Add your reaction Share

2018 - 1st quarter down!

Even though it is April 1st, it's no April Fool's prank! We are already saying goodbye to the 1st quarter of 2018...

What were some highlights?

This quarter, we celebrated the grand opening of the WeHo Dog Parks in West Hollywood Park. The new off-leash dog parks -- one for small dogs and one for large dogs -- are located on either side of the outdoor basketball courts at the north end of West Hollywood Park. They have already proven themselves to be quite popular and I wouldn't be surprised if they are our most utilized public facility yet! 

Me_Dog_Park.jpgPhoto credit Jon Viscott (for WehoCity)

In case you missed it, we also celebrated International Women's Day. The event was sponsored by the City's Russian Advisory Board and featured musical performances, a fantastic fashion show, scintillating speakers, small business presentations, tasty treats and fun for all ages.

Intntl_womans_day.jpgPhoto credit for Oleg Volovik (for WehoCity)

What else?

Read more
Add your reaction Share

2017 -- It's a wrap!

Can you believe it? The holiday season is upon us and 2017 is coming to a close. The new year will be bringing a few big changes to the City of West Hollywood.

As you may know, Californians voted for legalization of adult-use of cannabis in 2016. Cannabis sales and consumption will be legal in Weho come January 2018. For more information, you can visit the City's website by clicking here. Hosted home-sharing will likely be legalized early in the new year, although the final ordinance has not yet been approved by Council. The Community Development Department will also be bringing forward its Public Benefits Framework proposal, which will allow development that does not adhere to our Zoning Codes to be approved in exchange for a benefit that is considered to be of value to the community. I hope that all of you will be part of that discussion when it is brought to Council. Last but not least - the off leash dog parks located in West Hollywood Park should be opening in January. Stay tuned!

Dog_Park.jpg

 

This last quarter of 2017 was quite busy for the City and me! Here are some of the highlights of Q4...

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Homelessness in WeHo

If you would have asked me a few years ago what issues concerned WeHo residents most, I would have said, traffic, parking, overdevelopment… but that’s changed.  As the number of homeless has increased over 20% countywide this past year, the issue of homelessness has hit hard in WeHo. 

Working to find solutions - 

As a member of the City’s Homeless Initiative subcommittee, I, along with Mayor Heilman, am committed to finding solutions. Solutions will require working across our borders. I also serve as Chair of the Westside Cities Council of Government, which allows me to work directly with my peers in Beverly Hills, Culver City, Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Finding a solution to homelessness is a priority for all cities.

What we know - 

The City’s homeless count showed a substantial increase since last year’s count -- 87 to 105 according to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). Although 105 does not seem like a big number in the larger picture, for a city of our geographic size, the number is significant (55 per square mile).

The first step in dealing with any problem is to take a step back – to see exactly what it is that we’re dealing with.  This is why I proposed a Homeless Needs Assessment study.  With the support of my Council colleagues, the study was recently completed, and the findings will help us make smart decisions regarding funding allocations for social services, housing and public safety.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Third Down

Another summer come and gone, and the hot topics for Council this summer were: Short-term rentals (STRs), Recreational Cannibus and Sunset Strip Billboard policy. All of these items will be coming back to Council for more discussion, so stay tuned.

36217178721_1a5a7d1715_m.jpgLast quarter...

In July, I attended the Westside Cities Council of Governments meeting -- it was my first meeting as Chair. In the upcoming months, our workload will focus on homelessness and housing (a regional perspective), as well as the state's forthcoming legalization of recreational cannabis, and LA County Metro Measure M westside projects. 36760398236_2c8a7f9a7f_z.jpg

In August, the City celebrated National Night Out, and as usual, WeHo neighborhoods outdid themselves! The City also hosted Women's Equality Day, the 3rd Annual Cannabis Education Forum and WeHo Pedals Bike Share Anniversary Party and Ride. 

In September, I participated in the 2nd Annual Cities' Summit to Prevent and Combat Homelessness, hosted by Los Angeles County. This summit included presentations from cities, law enforcement, social services providers and the LA County Public Health Department. Homelessness is a high priority issue for me. As a member of the City Council's West Hollywood's Homeless Initiative sub-committee, I, along with the mayor, am working with City staff to address homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, collaborative approach. Homelessness is a complex issue and there are no easy or quick answers. However, please know that we are working diligently with social service providers, the Sheriff's department and Los Angeles County on solutions. Outreach and services are offered Monday through Friday by teams from Ascencia, Step Up on Second, the LA LGBT Center’s Youth Center, A Safe Refuge, Tarzana Treatment Centers, Friends Community Center and the LA LGBT Center’s Mental Health Services. If you are concerned about a community member who is homeless, please call the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative Concern Line at (323) 848-6590. If your concern requires time-sensitive assistance during nights or weekends, please call the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station at (310) 855-8850. If there is an emergency, call 911. 

What we accomplished third quarter 2017...

Read more
Add your reaction Share

And So We Marched!

19221706_10211058109341412_1222528030352129025_o.jpgBetween the Women's March and the LA Pride Resist March, I've certainly gotten to experience some amazing times as a Councilmember for our great "little" city.  

There's nothing more exhilarating than seeing people activated, energized, working together for a common cause -- and making their voices heard. To me, that's what the City of West Hollywood is all about!

And much, much more...

Read more
1 reaction Share