We asked. You answered.
Dozens of West Hollywood residents responded to a request from WEHOville last week for questions they want to see addressed by candidates in the March 3 election for City Council. What follows is a summary of those questions. Think of them as the public’s agenda in this campaign. We’ve focused below on those questions raised most often or involving issues in the news of late:
1) You haven’t participated in civic life or taken public positions on major city issues in the last few years. So why should we believe you’re willing to devote the time required to adequately represent us on the City Council? And why should we believe you have the background and knowledge of local issues necessary to make important city decisions?
2) What is your position on issues involving the city’s Eastside, including:
a) The disparity between rents (they are rising) and household income (it’s relatively low).
b) The redevelopment of Plummer Park, and particularly whether Great Hall / Long Hall should be rehabilitated and remain in place or moved or demolished.
3) West Hollywood was founded by advocates for rent control who wanted to preserve the city as an affordable place to live. State law has gutted some of the protections provided by city law, and West Hollywood now is an expensive place to rent or own. Now, what can the city do to make West Hollywood a more affordable place to live for the young, the disabled and seniors? Specifically:
a) How can the city help seniors whose landlords evoke the Ellis Act to evict them and then turn their apartment units into lucrative condos, given that the payments those seniors receive on eviction often aren’t sufficient to cover West Hollywood’s high rents for long, and that the waiting list for affordable housing units is so long?
b) Can or should the city shore up the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, which says it is running out of money to build new housing and maintain what it has?
c) Should the city consider permitting construction of so-called “micro-units,” the very small apartments being built in cities such as San Francisco, New York and Boston to provide affordable housing for young people?
4) What should the city do to improve the safety of pedestrians, specifically:
a) Should West Hollywood ban all bicycle riding on sidewalks?
b) Should West Hollywood reduce the number of pedestrian crosswalks on major thoroughfares such as Santa Monica Boulevard?
c) Should the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station more vigorously enforce jaywalking laws, ticketing violators?
d) In additional to installing stoplights synchronized with those at intersections, what else can the city do to improve pedestrian safety, especially during weekend nights in the Westside bar and nightclub area of Santa Monica Boulevard?
5) Should the city extend its free Pickup shuttle all the way to La Brea Avenue, and should it offer it on other than weekend nights?
6) The City Council often is asked to enact exceptions to the existing General Plan and to the existing zoning ordinance for specific developments. If the city is going to waive rules and regulations meant to apply to everyone to help out a specific developer, what should it expect that developer to give back in return?
7) The vast majority of the money that funds City Council campaigns traditionally comes from out-of-town developers, billboard companies and city vendors. As a candidate, and later as a Council member, will you:
a) Publicly set a limit on the amount of money you will take from any specific developer or billboard company, including in that limit money from members of that donor’s immediate family, co-workers, lawyers and lobbyists?
b) Refuse to accept donations from a developer or billboard company that works around the campaign donation limit by donating to a so-called “independent campaign fund” that supports your candidacy?
c) Recuse yourself, if elected, from debating or voting on issues before the Council involving city vendors who have donated to your election campaign?
d) Press city government to require digital filing of campaign donations (now documented on written forms) so that they can more easily be viewed online and can be aggregated into one online database so residents can more easily see who the big donors are?
8) The city is spending more than $10 million an acre to redevelop West Hollywood Park, yet it provides no place for most local sports leagues to play. Does that make sense to you? And if not, what would you propose to address that issue?
9) The City Council approved an “overlay” that sets standards for new houses and reconstructed houses in the West Hollywood West neighborhood, where residents have complained that new houses are out of scale with the neighborhood. Should that overlay be expanded to other neighborhoods such as the Norma Triangle or the Eastside?
10) Parking, or the lack thereof, is a major problem in West Hollywood.
a) Can the city do more to address the difficulty residents have finding parking? And if so, what?
b) In Los Angeles, tbere is a campaign underway to limit the amount of a parking ticket to $25, the reasoning being that tickets are supposed to dissuade people from breaking the law, not provide a source of revenue to the city. Would you support a similar limit in West Hollywood, which gets a significant portion of its revenue from parking tickets?
11) Traffic congestion is a major issue in Los Angeles, and especially in West Hollywood, given that our major east/west arteries are used by commuters passing to and from other areas. Given that situation:
a) What should the city do to improve the flow of rush hour traffic along Santa Monica Boulevard?
b) Should the city make pass-through commuting more difficult in West Hollywood instead of easier, forcing commuters to use Wilshire or Beverly boulevards instead of Santa Monica Boulevard, our Main Street?
c) What can the city do to address the problem of commuters whizzing through residential streets to avoid congestion on the city’s east/west thoroughfares?
12) Given its compact size, and that it’s the most densely developed city west of the Mississippi, there will always be a struggle between the desire for new construction and preservation of historic buildings. How would you, as a Council member, address that inherent conflict? Are there special standards that you think an historic property should meet to be spared the wrecking ball? Are there special standards a proposed development should meet if it requires tearing down an historic building?
13) Beverly Hills, a city of roughly the same population as West Hollywood, has its own police department. Given incidents such as the shooting by deputies at 939 Palm and allegations of anti-gay behavior raised by the L.A. LGBT Center a few years ago, should West Hollywood have its own police department?