WeHo City Council Shakes Up Public Safety and Changes Planning Commission

The West Hollywood City Council made appointments to the city’s various commissions and boards last night, with major changes on the Planning Commission and Public Safety Commission, two of WeHo’s most influential advisory boards.

The council voted to name Adam Bass to one of the two at-large positions on the Planning Commission, replacing Donald DeLuccio, who has been on the commission for a number of years. Bass, communications director for L.A City Councilmember Nury Martinez, was nominated by Councilmember Lauren Meister. He won the votes of Meister and council members John D’Amico and Lindsey Horvath. Councilmember John Duran and Mayor John Heilman voted for DeLuccio. At-large member Sue Buckner was reappointed with votes from D’Amico, Duran, Heilman and Meister. The other members of the commission are Stacey Jones (re-appointed by Horvath), David Aghaei (reappointed by Heilman), John Altschul (reappointed by D’Amico) and Rogerio Carvalheiro and Lynn Hoopingarner, recently appointed for the first time by Duran and Meister, respectively.

A more dramatic change came on the Public Safety Commission, where there has been behind the scenes lobbying on behalf of incumbent Ben Coleman and local activist and retailer Larry Block and for Robert Oliver, who is field deputy for L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz. The City Council voted to rename long-time commissioner Ruth Williams and selected Oliver to replace Coleman.

D’Amico nominated Coleman for reappointment. Duran chose Williams and Block. Horvath nominated Oliver. In the vote, Oliver got the support of D’Amico, Heilman, Horvath and Meister. Williams won the votes of all councilmembers but D’Amico, who cast the sole vote for Ben Coleman. Incumbent members who will remain on the commission are Tory Berger (appointed by Meister), Estevan Montemayor (Horvath), Marcy Norton (D’Amico), Desiree Sol (Duran) and Jeffrey Waack (Heilman).

Coleman and Berger have been known for raising sometimes provocative questions about subjects such as cell phone thefts at local bars and what the Sheriff’s Department is doing to stop drug dealing, which is unusual on the Public Safety Commission, whose members generally are uncritical during presentations by the Sheriff’s Station and Fire Department.

Other boards and commissions and their new and reappointed members are as follows:

Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission. At-large members Madeleine Rackley and Todd Williamson were re-appointed last night and Martin Gantman was newly appointed by Lindsey Horvath). Previously re-appointed members are Dallas Dishman (Duran), Candice Illoulian-Beroukhim (Heilman), Catherine Lee (Meister), Dawn Moreno-Freedman (D’Amico).

Business License Commission. Already appointed members are Wesley Bridle (Horvath), James Kazakos (at-large), Sibyl Zaden (at-large), Keith Anthony (Duran), Steven Kay (Heilman), Michael King (Meister), Robert Lo (D’Amico).

Historic Preservation Commission. Yawar Charlie, nominated by John Duran, was reappointed to an at-large seat with votes from all council members except D’Amico and Meister, who voted for former City Council candidate Michael Cautillo. The council unanimously voted to reappoint Gail Ostergren. Other previously appointed members are Cathy Blaivas (Meister), Ed Levin (Horvath), Christopher Winters (Duran) and Kevin Yavari (D’Amico).

Human Services Commission. Already appointed members are Nate Clark (at-large), Sam Borelli (at-large), Elizabeth Anderson (Heilman), Steven Davis (D’Amico), Barbara Meltzer (Horvath), Jimmy Palmieri (Duran) and Patrick Shandrick (Meister).

Public Facilities Commission. Already appointed members are Chris Bowen (Meister), Mike Dolan (Heilman), Manny Rodriguez (Duran), Donna Saur (D’Amico) and Tai Sunnanon (at-large). Adam Bass, a previously appointed at-large member, will leave that position now that he has been appointed to the Planning Commission.

Rent Stabilization Commission. Previous at-large members re-appointed = last night were Rob Bergstein and Josh Kurpies. Previously appointed members are Margaret Buckles (Horvath), Garrett Charity (Duran), David Gregoire (Heilman), Richard Maggio (D’Amico) and Agassi Topchian (Meister). Kurpies won the votes of all council members except D’Amico, who nominated and voted for Amanda Hyde.

Transportation Commission. The council chose Kevin Burton and Cody Alexander as new at-large appointees to replace Richard Bernard, who did not seek reappointment, and Evan  Richter. Alexander is a television producer and Burton is a noted bicycle advocate. Other previously re-appointed members are Misti Cooper (Duran), William Doebler (Meister), David Eichman (Heilman), David Warren (D’Amico) and Dan Wentzel (Horvath).

  1. Congrats to the new appointees and the re-appointed. No one is guaranteed a seat on any board or commission. Nor does anyone “own” a seat for life. Many of us just do the best we can do, and hope our work speaks for itself. I also don’t think that one council member singularly threw anyone under the bus. As we are entitled to vote or not vote for a candidate, elected officials get to vote for who they believe will do the best job. I waited I believe 2 years to be appointed to LGAB many years ago, and nearly 9 years to get on Human Services. I take nothing for granted, and don’t feel as though anyone owes me an appointment.

  2. This is great! I love that new people have been appointed, especially to the planning commission. Much needed

  3. All that shilling for the long term incumbents Larry and look what it created.. You once were for the people. Too bad you sold out and then got stepped over

  4. On the Public Safety commission we now have 2 members who work for the LA City Council members. Despite myself having attended and being involved in Public Safety commission meetings for years on issues from crosswalks to homeless the at-large appointment commission went to Paul Koretz field deputy Robert Oliver. (A great guy but to be honest Ive never seen him in any public safety meeting or discussion). In addition on the Public Safety Commission is Estavan Montemayor who works for LA Councilman David Ryu. Both are/were Lindsey Horvath’s direct appointments to various commissions.

    Ben Coleman who is a VP of the Log Cabin Republicans was targeted for removal by Clinton delegate Montemayor, Horvath’s direct. Lindsey Horvath – the ban-Trumper from the City of West Hollywood was also a Clinton delegate.

    In a strange twist first Lindsey appointed Robert Oliver, field deputy for Paul Koretz to the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board. Then she turned around and voted for him for the Public Safety Commission for the at-large position less than 5 minutes later.

    As a sidetone, Lindsey was the one who told me to submit my application just a short time ago. I was shocked when she called a week ago to say she was not supporting me. But things seemed different as she had stopped returning emails or texts for a couple of months. That something was a falling out with Estavan who would have left the commission if I was appointed.

    Estavan pushed Oliver forward to derail both Coleman’s or my own appointment. Our commissions have become political tools. Many commissioners are chosen for ‘what they can do for me’ instead of ‘what they can do for the community’. The best way to get a job is to go work for an LA City Council member and you will be assured a commission post.

    Josh Kurpes works state senator Richard Bloom. A great guy who now occupies one of the two at-large positions for a ‘political appointment’. Josh was re-appointed to the Rent Stabilization Commission.

    Adam Bass works for LA City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. He was appointed to the at-large on planning. West Hollywood shares a border with Los Angeles and thus there are conflict of interest issues on projects such as 8150 Sunset. Will Adam recuse himself?
    Adam is a great guy but not sure his experience with land use. On this vote Lindsey threw Donald DeLuccio under the bus after 20 years of service on planning. Lindsey had told Donald that he had her support but and then voted the other way in favor of O’Farrel’s field deputy.

    Top spots on city commissions that are suppose to be liaisons to the residents of West Hollywood are being filled by political employees of LA City Council members. Each of our council members has a direct appointment and those direct appointments should not be filled by these type of ‘political appointments.’ How can any of us compete against Paul Koretz or Mitch O’Farrell or Ricard Bloom or David Ryu for an at-large position on our commission.? Horvath’s use of her appointments include other members of boards or commissions from LA chamber of commerce and more. She’s turned commission appointments into an art form very focused around building her relationships in the LA City Council offices.

    We also lost Ruth Cislowski who was a star performer on Human Services. Thanks Ruth, Donald and Ben. It’s good when a city has an ample supply of passionate people to fill these positions. An LA City Council deputy is going to ‘tow the line’ and ‘homogenize’ various initiatives. At-Large commission appointments should be filled with local residents that do not have conflicts of interest in their day jobs. Let me ask again… Who can compete with Paul Koretz, or Mitch OFarrell, or Ricard Bloom, or David Ryu applying pressure to any of our council people to ‘get their deputy the job’ and insure representation for their own re-elections . Its inside double-dealing . Its politics.

    All commissioners used to be at large and that is the fairest way to move forward. We should be looking at ways to improve the equitable fairness of our commissions and boards.

  5. The sanctimonious, arrogant and self-serving five running this city are a strange group when it comes to planning. Duran just wants things to “look pretty” while taking campaign money from any developer who has a check.

    As for the planning commissioners, was Lynn Hoopingarner appointed to the Planning Commission because she produced “Zombie Queen From Outer Space” in 2014? Looked at her background and nothing in planning or architecture or design.

    Buckner is a lawyer; Bass is a media person, Jones is in Branding but has a background in the arts having been connected to a museum in Florida. Rogerio Carvalheiro is an architect and quite qualified. David Aghaeil appears to be a real estate developer with good qualifications, and he did make a local apartment building look much better.

    Why doesn’t the City of WEHO put short biographies of who these people are on their website?

    Meister in years past took the recommendations from the WEHO planning department which needs, not outside help, but a whole new group considering the ugly buildings at La Brea and Santa Monic that reminds one of East Berlin architecture before the wall coming down.

  6. Let’s get real here. It’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Costa Concordia(the Titanic seems so dated). The boat will list and rock and roll, some will get hurt, the captains will get off without charges, and in the end, the ship will be righted by infusions of our excess capital for projects like our mini-pop parks.

    I am not sure what Genius thought putting pink boxes with almost legible blue lettering at a too busy intersection like Vista/Gardner and Santa Monica Blvd. There are many public service announcements decrying the perils of distraction while driving, but leave it to West Hollywood to ‘innovate’ and invent a new one. After being lightly rear-ended by a person who confessed to ‘trying to read the words on the boxes’ as the reason I was hit, I decided to plant myself on an opposing corner, in the shade for 1 hour. During that hour, one serious accident occurred when a left turner was hit by someone ‘looking at the boxes’ for ‘just a second’ and 3 other rear-end incidents happened. I am all for art in the environment, just not in traffic. How about following Chicago’s examples where great modern sculptures are on plazas where they can be safely admired. We could also learn a ton from them regarding how to do ‘bike friendliness’ correctly, with road signs that remind both riders and drivers where bike lanes are and aren’t. Weho has a nasty habit of suddenly ending bike lanes without warning, leaving the riders to make snap decisions in the face of ongoing traffic.

    Public safety? That is an oxymoron in West Hollywood. I only wish the commission was really realigned and given the teeth necessary to change things.

  7. While the Human Services Commission will miss the dedication and hard work of Ruth Cislowski, who helped steer the City’s social services through good times and bad, Nate Clark will bring fresh blood and new perspectives. Ruth, Donald Deluccio and Ben Coleman deserve our thanks for their long years of service and dedication to the City.

  8. In years we don’t have a person who represents Russian community(11%) and Eastside of the city (about 50%) in commissions. Now we have one – Agassi Topchian. It’s real One City (WeHo) – One Pride(LBGT). What about 60% of residents ?

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