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?

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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!



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

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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.

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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...

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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...

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Passing the Gavel

May 15th marked the end of my 13-month term as Mayor of West Hollywood. What a wonderful experience it has been! I appreciate all of your support and the hard work of my commissioners and board members -- working together to make West Hollywood the best it can be. It's great to be part of this team effort.

What I accomplished… As Mayor, I worked on a number of exciting initiatives, from developing a Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) Program, to raising the bar on design standards, environmental programs and sustainability, to supporting our neighborhood-serving small businesses. I also served on the City's Homeless Initiatives subcommittee and Budget subcommittee. I worked with John Heilman on both committees, and I appreciate his knowledge and experience. When you serve on these types of subcommittees, you learn a lot about how the city works.

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What's Shaking?

We live in a wonderful city and we want our city to be the best it can be!

Those of you who know me know that I am not one to stay quiet when I think that we -- the City -- can do better. That is why I've introduced an item regarding future hotel development for the April 3rd Council meeting. An analysis of the lodging market within the City of West Hollywood was prepared in 2015 and recently presented to Council as a "receive and file." The analysis indicated that approving new hotel projects in West Hollywood would create additional competition that “would cannibalize the market” and impact the City's TOT revenues, and that it would take West Hollywood lodgings until 2026 to return to a stabilized 80% occupancy. Meanwhile, we have 6+ new hotel projects in the pipeline. My item proposes a moratorium on new hotel approvals, an updated market analysis and a policy discussion. Please take a look, and if you have thoughts on this, let me know. I value your opinions.

Council will also be receiving an update related to the planning and programming of LA Pride and reviewing new requests for funding. As you may be aware, this year, in place of a parade, Christopher Street West (producer of the LA Pride event) is requesting approval to produce a march and rally in alignment with Pride marches occurring nationally that weekend. This is an opportunity for you to weigh in.


Also on the agenda for this Monday night is the staff report on the Eastside Community Priorities Plan. It's a roadmap for future development of the east side of our city and I hope that all of you will read it. Gentle reminder -- our city is only 1.9 square miles and east side, center city or west side, we're all one city!

Another important item on the April 3rd agenda is a legislative item to make our residential and commercial buildings safer. The Community Development Department will be presenting a revised draft ordinance to introduce new seismic retrofit provisions for the strengthening of existing buildings. This ordinance will apply to many properties in our city -- so please check it out.

What else is new?

Over the past three months, I worked on a number of initiatives that are near and dear to me. 

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