Several dozen people gathered in the lobby of a condominium building on Cynthia Street this afternoon to celebrate the 98th birthday of Jeanne Dobrin, the “Grand Dame” of West Hollywood.
Dobrin, who is said to have attended more West Hollywood City Council meetings than anyone other than Councilmember John Heilman, a founder of the city, is known for her passion about the city. That passion is sometimes expressed in loud shouts from her seat in the front row of the City Council Chambers that lead the mayor to gavel her into silence. It also has been expressed in actions like the lawsuit Dobrin and resident Allegra Allison brought against the city in 2007 to oppose the “Palm Project,” a five-story retail-residential development at 9001 Santa Monica Blvd. (beside the Pavilions grocery store). Dobrin, joined by Allegra Allison, filed a lawsuit over the project, which the city permitted to be seven feet taller than the zoning code allowed. The developer quickly reduced the height, and the lawsuit was settled.
Dobrin suffered a fall last year that sent her to the hospital and then in and out of extended health care. But she was back at the Aug. 20 City Council meeting, speaking out against a proposal that the City of West Hollywood renew its contract with the scandal-plagued Wells Fargo Bank.
Councilmembers John D’Amico and Lauren Meister were among those attending today’s birthday celebration. Others included L.A. County Assessor (and former WeHo Councilmember Jeffrey Prang) and a wide variety of community members, most of whom have been active in civic affairs. Among them were Manny Rodriguez, Allegra Allison, Michael Zenella, Larry Block, Elyse Eisenberg, Victor Omelczenko, Donald Deluccio, Steve Martin, Richard Maggio and Lynda Castro, the former captain of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. Tracy Bensen, a long time friend of Dobrin, organized the event.