Several business owners in the 8800 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, unhappy with the implementation and execution of West Hollywood’s new sidewalk cleaning program, have engaged a contractor to clean the sidewalks in front of their businesses.
That contractor in recent days has cleaned the sidewalk in front of Z Pizza, Fiesta Cantina, Chi Chi LaRue’s and Micky’s. Larry Block, whose The Block Party store also is on that block, has engaged the contractor to clean the sidewalk in front of his store on Monday.
Block, in an email to City Manager Paul Arevalo and Helen Collins, manager of the city’s Facilities and Field Services Division, complained about what he described as the city’s slowness in implementing a sidewalk cleaning program that was supposed to have gone into effect on Aug. 1. The West Hollywood City Council raised parking meter rates 33%, to $2 an hour, to pay for the program which includes weekly power washing of sidewalks in some commercial areas and monthly power washing in others.
In his email, Block, who sits on the city’s Public Facilities Commission and has raised the issue there, noted that it was going to cost $1,000 to power wash the 8800 block of Santa Monica Boulevard.
“Our whole block cost about $1000 – the city is wasting money and time and not getting the job done,” Block wrote. “… Boystown businesses begging and pleading, and I tried my best to move the ball, but they took matters into their own hands. I think we should all be able to turn our receipts into the city for reimbursement. What we are doing is something that has been neglected far too long. I tried my best to reach out as a commissioner and with knowledge of city hall but my best efforts were not good enough.”
Block included a photo of in his email that shows a part of the sidewalk cleaned by the private contractor yesterday next to the sidewalk in front of his store. “Maybe you can understand our sense of disgust when you see the photo below – one is a clean sidewalk and one is the city-maintained sidewalk,” he wrote.
Helen Collins, in an interview with WEHOville, said the city has already implemented the sidewalk cleaning program and has been cleaning the 8800 Santa Monica Boulevard block on Monday nights. However Collins acknowledged that the city’s efforts aren’t meeting the expectations of some local businesses. She said that she and the sidewalk cleaner working for the city would meet with owners of businesses on that block to discuss ways they could improve the work.
Collins also noted the complexity of the sidewalk-cleaning program, given that it covers many blocks and that the city had to determine which blocks needed cleaning how often. The city has estimated the program will cost $675,000 a year.
The city did a test of sidewalk power washing this spring, “which included the removal of gum, grime, and deep stains with the use of specialized equipment and cleaning products,” says a memo to the City Council about the test. “Specialized machinery was utilized to deliver extremely high pressure water in a cyclone-like fashion. This new technology allows for the capture, filtering and reuse of the water to minimize waste and provide for a more environmentally friendly process than traditional power washing. Following the thorough cleaning process, a deep penetrating concrete sealer was applied to provide a clean and uniform sidewalk surface.
“The sealed concrete now aids with future cleaning efforts by reducing the need for specialized cleaners and lessens the amount of water needed to achieve acceptable results. Positive results were immediately noticed and have proven to be sustainable throughout the pilot test program.”