Agreeing that the long-stalled Santa Monica Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID) is top priority, West Hollywood’s City Council put the brakes on naming the iconic intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards, considered the heart of the gay entertainment district, during its Monday night meeting.
On a 4-1 vote, the council indefinitely tabled the issue brought before them by the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board (LGAB), which was requesting permission to hold informal and formal meetings to get public input about possible names for the intersection, home of the city’s rainbow crosswalks.
“I think it’s premature to talk about naming the intersection,” Councilmember John Duran said. “We have had discussion now for well over a year about forming a BID along Santa Monica Boulevard. This is probably an item that should be considered in the broad context of the marketing and strategic positioning of what we want the [entire] area to look like.”
Despite a big push in recent months, efforts have stalled to create a BID, which would promote and brand the area and sponsor special events such as sidewalk sales or themed nights. A majority of the businesses located along Santa Monica Boulevard between La Cienega Boulevard and Doheny Drive, and the adjacent side streets, must sign on before a BID can be created. At last report, only 41 percent had signed on.
Questions about the need for a BID and the high fees associated with it have kept many businesses from signing up. Those fees, which range from $375 to $12,000 per year, would be determined by the type of business, square footage, occupancy, gross receipts and alcohol sales. If a BID is formed, all businesses in the area will be assessed a fee, regardless of whether they signed on or not.
In August, the city took control of the BID’s formation away from the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, saying it wanted to have direct oversight of Civitas, the Sacramento-based consulting group handling the legal paperwork for the BID’s formation
Councilmember John Heilman also felt the so-called “Boystown” area as a whole must be considered before the intersection is named.
“We’ve previously given direction for not only forming a BID but to look at mechanisms for recognizing the historic significance of this whole stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard including the intersection and its importance in terms of the LGBT community,” Heilman said. “I think the idea of naming is premature.”
Councilmember Jeffrey Prang suggested LGAB come back with more details, such as categories and criteria to consider and how to gather public input.
“[The intersection] is an important place in West Hollywood,” Prang said. “We’ve rushed to name some things in West Hollywood in the past based on things that were timely. We’re talking about naming something that will be timeless, so it has to be a thoughtful decision.”
Councilmember John D’Amico voted against tabling the matter, but did not offer an explanation.