The Citizen Agenda: The Issues West Hollywood Residents Want City Council Candidates to Address

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:

Plummer Park's Great Hall / Long Hall courtyard (Photo by Joel H. Marks / West Hollywood Preservation Alliance)
Plummer Park’s Great Hall / Long Hall courtyard (Photo by Joel H. Marks / West Hollywood Preservation Alliance)

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?

pedestrian crosswalk, santa monica boulevard, west hollywood demonstration, clinton bounds
Demonstrators walked back and forth in the pedestrian crosswalk on Santa Monica Boulevard at Hancock to protest the death Saturday of Clinton Bounds

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?

campaign donation money7) 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?

VGL, varsity gay league, kickball
Kickball

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?

weho traffic congestion, west hollywood traffic11) 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?


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Riley
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Riley

@Rob Bergstein: The brand new “housing stock” on La Brea is far too expensive for anyone in a middle class job to afford. Someone just posted a unit in the Dylan on Airbnb for $4,500 for 11 nights. What do we do about average people who want to move within West Hollywood?

Rob Bergstein
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Rob Bergstein

So, Riley, the new buildings on La Brea, I was on the EPAC & helped move them through the process to get built. The thought behind them was that the units would be either for existing West Hollywood residents who wanted to “move up” to a more luxurious building with full amenities, or ditto for people who wanted to move into the city. The developers, Monarch, said there was a pent up demand for housing like this & as they’ve rented out so quickly, I guess they were right. Don’t forget that 20% of the units in each building are… Read more »

Josh Kurpies
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Josh Kurpies

Thank you WeHoVille for putting this together! Two comments about the list and a few thoughts in reaction to some of the comments: PARKING & PARKING TICEKTS-I think having one question with the premis that residents can’t find parking, followed by another question having the premis our parking ticket penalties are too high is interesting. I’d suggest we set our parking tickets at twice the rate of overnight parking at the highest price parking on the Strip. The violators are taking up possible resident parking spaces. (If we’re going to reduce parking ticket revenue, let’s eliminate the requirement of curbing… Read more »

mike dunn
Guest
mike dunn

All one has to do when considering a light rail line is look at the grid locked traffic on SMB. The only two major north – south streets in West Hollywood are La Brea and Fairfax. Both do not have as heavy passenger loads as SMB. The Purple Line will offer relief for Wilshire Bl. and the Expo Line offers little relief to those traveling thru that corridor except maybe the Santa Monica Freeway. Subways are just to expensive to build and the Purple Line extention is just a delayed completion of the line that was stopped thru legislative action… Read more »

Susan
Guest
Susan

Can we ask the candidates and incumbents to take a pledge to not take money from developers, billboard companies, outside developers so that they don’t have the appearance of being partial. If they do take money from developers, they should recuse themselves from voting for those developments.

mike dunn
Guest
mike dunn

I agree with Susan about campaign contributions. To be absolutely frank, they are nothing but bribes, highest contributor gets the votes on their projects or agendas. Concerning mass transit. I don’t believe the MTA will build another subway line after the purple route is completed. Our only answer is Light Rail down Santa Monica Bl. and we must demand it when the next tax plan is placed on the ballot by the MTA. The San Fernando Valley has very strong representation both on the MTA board and their local councilmen. Not only have they had the Orange Line constructed which… Read more »

Tim
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Tim

So is suggesting that West Hollywood seek to extend/increase public transportation (such as the metro) completely taboo? Why not push to extend the metro through West Hollywood and help to ease the traffic congestion by giving our citizens an alternative to getting in our cars? At some point we are going to have to embrace the reality that every other major metropolitan area has: efficient public transportation improves the areas it serves. No one thinks the subway has ruined New York, the BART has crippled San Franscisco, etc., yet when the idea is raised here, people scream heresy. Is there… Read more »

Guy Privaton (@guyprivaton)
Guest

Whomever contributed 3c… bad idea:

These so called ‘micro units’ would not supply affordable ‘housing’ … it would simply supply a loophole excuse to say that affordable housing was provided. Most people do not consider anything smaller than a studio unit as ‘housing’.

Affordable housing should be directed to the majority of people in weho who happen to live with someone most of the time spent in their adult life. Providing bed’s for (single) professional bar hoppers to lie down drunk in for a good night’s sleep is not providing “affordable housing”.

mike dunn
Guest
mike dunn

Might be a good idea on how to save lives though. Convert some of the parking stalls into “micro units” and rent them out to those who can not make it home. Just swipe your credit card on the door and you have a place to “pass out.”

CmonCops
Guest
CmonCops

I think we’re burying the lede here with three violent incidents on Palm in less than one year and BOA being robbed at gunpoint last night. #13 needs to be #1.

Manny
Guest
Manny

@mike dunn…..Somehow I doubt that bike rider knows anything about a bike lobby or the Bicycle Task Force.

The Bicycle Task Force and the City need to address this dangerous and unsafe nuisance of bikes AND skateboarders on sidewalks (whether there is a bike lane in the vicinity or not)

PEDESTRIANS FIRST

mike dunn
Guest
mike dunn

Almost got ran over while walking down the sidewalk on the south side of Santa Monica Bl. near City Hall the other day by some guy going about 25 mph. I should have stuck my arm out and knocked his dumb ass off his bike. But I suppose the bike lobby would be picketing my house since many believe they have the right of way no matter where they go.

mike dunn
Guest
mike dunn

The anti smoking ordinance in Hawaii is next to a total ban now. You can’t walk down the street and smoke and you can’t smoke on the beach which I love because it used to be a battle finding a clean spot to sun bath on. Jerry Brown during his previous time as governor killed the extension of the Highway 2 Freeway(Glendale Freeway) which would have reduced the traffic on Santa Monica Bl. The Red Cars were already gone but Southern Pacific (Pacific Electric) still ran freight trains down the middle of Santa Monica Bl. well into the ’70’s. The… Read more »

Alison
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Alison

Personally, although I don’ smoke cigs anymore, I am against a blanket No Smoking declaration. Remember, some people still SMOKE medical marijuana for their ailments and that would fall under that kind of ordinance. It really does have medical purpose.

I would like to see AirBnb banned from WeHo.

Rob Bergstein
Guest
Rob Bergstein

This is absolutely incredible!! Hank…..kudos for you for putting this out there & a huge thank you for all the residents who responded. Amazing, just amazing. And of course, belatedly, I have a few additions: 1) Would you consider phasing in a no smoking ordinance (for all new tenancy, landlords could not use it to evict existing tenants) for all residential units within The City? 2) Would you consider empowering the Sheriff’s department to issue on the spot citations for “quality of life” issues such as off leash dogs & excessive noise? 3) How would you address the growing decrease… Read more »

Wesley McDowell
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Wesley McDowell

#11 is interesting. Does anyone really think traffic now going along Santa Monica is going to go all the way down to Wilshire? Would you? Probably not. Santa Monica Blvd is our main street, but we are not some disconnected small town. As a part of the greater LA area we must accept that people will travel along Santa Monica to get where they are going just as we do when we travel in other areas. This isn’t our only congested rush hour street. Just try going along Sunset or Melrose. Interestingly, though, most of these streets flow much better… Read more »