Opinion: West Hollywood Is Not for Sale, It’s Owned by Its Residents

West Hollywood is not for sale!

It is already owned by the residents.

For years, West Hollywood, for the most part, has been owned and operated by developers and businesses. Most of the City Council is nothing more than a facade. There has been no resident oversight. Residents are becoming frustrated for not being heard.

Eric Jon Schmidt

Master plans are changed like underwear in this town. Whenever a developer or business needs a new set of rules, they can count on some City Council members to bend the rules to accommodate their projects even if the changes impact the quality of life of the residents .

The Chamber of Commerce is heavily intertwined in the city’s operation, but only for the benefit of the businesses. The Chamber of Commerce also has a Political Action Committee that serves to finance the campaigns of council members whom they know will bend, twist and swing for them like they do for developers. They find out which candidates are easily influenced by inviting them to an interview at their office before every election. I received an invitation, but I turned it down. I do not believe in taking campaign donations, especially from PAC’s. That does not mean that I am unwilling to work with the business community.

Neither the developers nor the Chamber of Commerce does enough for the residents of West Hollywood, yet they have their hands up the back sides of some of the puppets known as “our” City Council.

The City Council is so concerned about the needs of developers and businesses who finance their campaigns, they have lost touch with us, the residents, and our concerns.

It’s time to end the pay for play, time to open the people’s books for public viewing and time to initiate real transparent campaign finance reform.

Every campaign donor, bundler, political action committee and/or other sources who donate to campaigns should be made public before every election. The exact and individual amount these sources donated should also be made public before every election.

Any council member who accepts campaign donations from any source other than an individual resident of West Hollywood should recuse himself or herself from voting if that source of donations has a matter for consideration before the City Council.

That especially includes developers and members of the Chamber of Commerce.

No one should ever seek or receive special treatment or consideration because of campaign donations. Political action committees and bonation bundlers need to be scrutinized for transparency for every source of their donations.

The businesses have the Chamber of Commerce looking out for them. They know they can count on most members of the City Council to accommodate their requests..

We the residents have no one looking out for us. We need a “Chamber of Residents” to look out for our concerns. The “Chamber of Residents” should be called the “Council of Resident Engagement” or C.O.R.E. The word “Chamber” has been made to sound unapproachable for residents.

The C.O.R.E. (Council of Resident Engagement) would serve as an additional communication conduit between residents and City Council and city management on a wide variety of resident and community concerns and issues. The C.O.R.E. would also serve, with a sub-committee, as an oversight committee for campaign transparency and city departments’ accountability.

The C.O.R.E. should be established and initiated immediately upon the installment of the new 2019 City Council. The city should provide meeting space to C.O.R.E. once a month and additionally as needed as a place for residents to voice their concerns and exchange ideas.

Representatives of C.O.R.E. would be in contact with the City Council and city management on a regular basis and make a monthly public report at City Council meetings.

The C.O.R.E meeting format will be informal, but progressive, productive and proactive with open, civil and respectful communication between residents, moderators and representatives. There will be a moderator and representatives at every meeting. The city should provide funding for a scribe, record keeping person, meeting set-up staff and Sheriff deputy for every meeting. If it is determined that the meetings are be held in the City Council Chambers, They should be televised and recorded on WEHOTV, otherwise audio recorded and become permanent record and property of the city.

They will be similar to a monthly “Town Hall” meeting. The “Committee Members” will be the residents who choose to participate at each meeting. Every resident who wants to be heard will have an opportunity. Those who cannot make it to a meeting will have the opportunity to e mail the C.O.R.E. representatives on an official city e-mail address which would become permanent record and property of the city. E-mails from residents will be introduced for discussion at the meetings.

C.O.R.E. will encourage more resident involvement and give opportunity to speak their minds to other residents instead of a formal setting at a City Council meeting. They will know that their concerns will be conveyed to the City Council and management without the time pressure and formal setting of a council meeting. Residents will be encouraged to attend council meetings, but they will also know that C.O.R.E will speak for them.

Guidelines will be established at the first meeting. The first meeting should be conducted by the city manager to oversee the informal election of the first representatives and to officiate the guidelines as they are established at the first meeting. The guidelines will be decided by the residents who attend the first meeting and can be adjusted as needed by a simple majority vote of attendees.

The first committee representatives will be selected through an informal election at the first meeting officiated by the city clerk and voted on by the residents in attendance and subsequently every six months or as often as decided at the first meeting.

The C.O.R.E should be included as an official department of the city and be included on the city’s website. The monthly meetings will be open to the public and press.

For too long, decisions have been made with little or no consideration of the residents input and concerns.

Historically, many decisions by West Hollywood City Council are not implemented in a timely manner and in many cases not completed or consistent with the needs of the Community.

This is what the desperately needed purpose of C.O.R.E. is – for residents to finally have a say in how their city is operated and managed in a less rushed and intimidating manner as is the current practice at City Council meetings and to freely exchange ideas with other residents.

It’s time to shift the power from developers, business owners and outside campaign donors to the residents. We, the residents, have had a very small voice in West Hollywood. Our opinions have been virtually ignored by the city. This must end. You are important and your voice should be heard.

The only way to cause change for the better is if we, the residents, make it happen by engaging and working with the City Council and management. Don’t forget, they work for us. They are there because we voted for them. They are our representatives, they should be held accountable to us. If not now, when?

As a professional certified fitness trainer for 20 years, the same basic foundation to make improvements apply here as well. Without a strong C.O.R.E, we have no stability, strength or sustainability to protect and preserve our Village of West Hollywood.

Editor’s Note: WEHOville has invited all candidates in the March 5, 2019, election for City Council to submit up to three op-eds each for publication before the election. This is the third from Eric Jon Schmidt.


8 Comments
  1. This statement is everything I want to hear. I bought my condo here in WeHo 17 years ago, and over these years I’ve been horrified to watch runaway hotel development (and a complicit city council) transform this city’s identity into a shadow of its former self. I know times change, I’m fine with that – but what’s happened here is light years beyond natural change.

  2. Campaign Finance Reform! Zoning Reform! That’s what can stop the run away forced density train paid for by developer funded city council campaigns. Thank god we got term limits so some of our decades old council members will have to let new residents have the chance to serve

  3. This author is apparently not willing or able to engage in an effective process whereby any resident can discuss a situation with a council member or city official. It generally works given a professional and definitive approach. Barking for 2 minutes at the podium is generally a poor approach to dealing with a singular subject matter in virtual isolation. Although there are fragments of truth in the essay, the author, who is highly critical of the bureaucracy, does not understand coherent composition and wants to add another layer. This does not for a council member make.

  4. Yeah, like we need a guy who is on adult apps bragging about the number guys he has banged as our next council member. If you have no idea what that means, try a google search.

    It is time to wake up West Hollywood. Get out and vote. Stop supporting this nonsense.

  5. I don’t disagree with your statements, but seriously, it is all such OLD NEWS and I saw and have watched it for years (probably a decade).
    The people don’t really own the city (or any city). They do have (and looks like we will keep them post Trump) The Right To Vote.
    The City was an unincorporated parcel in The City of L.A and incorporated 8n 1984, into a City.
    The act of creating a municipality from unincorporated land is nothing new, and many small Cities we’re incorporated in the proceedings 15-20 yrs before WeHo.
    The reason was purely a (hidden via legal documents) but each for the Profit, Power, Lack of Oversight for wealthy business (often large family own businesses i.e. not a traded co.).
    I worked for a Law Firm a LONG time ago that did just that for small Cities (many you would not realize – however in the legal intellinhencia “Hawaiian Guardans” was a funny joke of a chosen name.
    In any event, if you think you can stop, limit, control a dime … It would take a massive Investigation propmpted by enough residents (many times more than the average number who turn out to vote – so not a real prospect).
    Good thought, but way to surface without a bit of actual details of how bad it really is, and again, OLD NEWS .

  6. Maybe I need to re-read this a couple of times, but it seems that what is being advocated for is another layer of bureaucracy by another elected committee. As much as I agree that most of West Hollywood “officialdom” seems out of touch and lacking in accountability, there are ways within the current system to rein in the current mess back to a more accountable government.

    First, lobby the council, and not just in those two-minute citizen input sessions the council deigns to provide to residents whilst they cruise Grindr. Make them hold town halls and not just show up to take a podium and get attention. Similarly, like councilmembers, commissioners are our neighbors–engage them, and don’t let them be mere window dressing, as in the case of the public safety commission which (with one exception) merely ratifies and sweetens the LASD contract.

    Second, WEHOville provides a much-needed forum for airing and exposing issues that need more sunlight than is available and buried in legislative minutae. Make noise in the press–just ask Richard Nixon how that goes!

    Third, social media!!!! “nuf said.

    Finally, and most importantly, VOTE! This is a city in which it has historically taken approximately 10% of registered voters to win a council seat. Voter turnout is pathetic. The alignment of municipal elections with state elections will go a long way in correcting this issue. Elections will become far more exciting.

    People have a voice, they just need to exercise it.

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