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.

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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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2016 - it's a wrap!

It's hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close and I am now eight months into my mayoral term. It's been an exciting time!

In November, our very talented city staff and I worked together to host a fabulous 90th Anniversary Celebration of Route30953565126_94113e5a22_o.jpg 66. There was live music, classic cars, a chili tasting provided by Barney's Beanery, soda pop and lots of fun memorabilia! We also recognized long-time resident James Litz for his role in the designation of historic Route 66 on Santa Monica Boulevard in WeHo. James worked with late City Councilmember Sal Guarriello and community member Richard Settle (yes, you've seen him taking pictures at Council meetings for many, many years!) to have the street officially designated and signs set up throughout the city. By the way, check out the cool Pride version of the Route 66 sign that Richard Settle designed back in the day...

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Summer's Over!

Summer’s over… although with this heat wave you wouldn’t know it!

FYI - when temperatures climb above 90 degrees, the City of West Hollywood activates a Cooling Center at Plummer Park. Be sure to check the City’s website. To confirm Cooling Center hours, please call the Center at (323) 848-6530.

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In case you were out-of-town this summer, the City hosted a number of events, including an Eastside Neighborhood Festival (Engage A-lot), the WeHo Pedals Bike Share Launch, Women's Equality Day, National Night Out, Sexual Assault Awareness Kickoff, WeHo Sheriff's Station Open House and Public Safety Awards, to name a few!

While Council's meeting schedule was a bit lighter than usual, it didn't stop us from getting a lot done -- from approving our City's 2016/17 budget to reviewing our Social Services programming.

Several new initiatives I worked on were adopted by Council... 

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Time Flies

Time flies when you're the Mayor!  As you may know, on April 18th I was sworn in as Mayor by West Hollywood Cheerleader, Nick Fox. A tasty reception followed, with the theme, "A Taste of Our Neighborhoods." Thanks to all of the neighborhood restaurants and shops that participated and a big thanks to all of you who attended. 26476699521_39211eff07_z.jpg

Recently I attended the US Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis, where I got to meet hundreds of Mayors from around the country. I sat in on some interesting task force meetings and seminars, and even got to hear from His Holiness the Dalai Lama (oh, and Lady Gaga).

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 #CompassionIsTheWord 

Here's what I've been working on since my last blog post...  

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Happy Anniversary, WeHo!

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. 

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2015 - It's A Wrap!

It's become a tradition that the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s, I tidy up my work files and clean off my desk. However, before I take on this extremely challenging task, I’d like to share some final thoughts on what we’ve accomplished in 2015.

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