John Heilman is asking his fellow City Council members to join him in asking the City of West Hollywood to do more to recruit women as applicants for positions on the city’s commissions and advisory boards.
A proposal on Monday’s City Council agenda would have the city develop a campaign to alert female residents to openings on city board and commissions and encourage them to apply. Vacancies on those boards and commissions and application forms can be found on the city’s website.
The City of West Hollywood has nine commissions and six advisory boards with a total of 118 members. The Women’s Advisory Board consists entirely of women and the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board’s membership is equally divided with five men and five women
Of the other bodies, the Transportation Commission, the Human Services Commission
The Transgender Advisory Board has the largest percentage of seats filled by women (63%), with women occupying five of the nine. It is followed by the Public Safety Commission, with four (57%) of its seven seats currently filled by women (there is one position vacant) and then the Russian Advisory Board, where five of the nine (56%) seats are filled by women. On the Disabilities Advisory
The Senior Advisory Board’s eight seats are evenly divided between men and women. On the Planning Commission, three of the seven seats (43%) are filled by women. There is one at-large vacancy which might be filled at the Monday Council meeting. Women also fill three, or 43%, of the seven seats on the Public Facilities Commission and the same percentage, and number, of seats on the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission.
Women occupy only two of the seven seats (29%) on the Business License Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission.
The most powerful of the city’s boards and commissions is the Planning Commission. In addition to advising the City Council, the commission reviews projects where developers are requesting a change to the city’s zoning rules or an exception to its General Plan. Its decision to approve or disapprove such requests can be appealed to the City Council. The Historic Preservation Commission, Rent Stabilization Commission and Business Licensing Commission also are decision-making bodies, although their decisions also can be appealed.
A memo to the City Council explaining Heilman’s proposal notes that some of his fellow Council members and members of the Women’ s Advisory Board have expressed concern about the lack of gender balance. “Although all members of the City Council are committed to providing equal opportunities for women to serve on Advisory Boards and Commissions, the Council is frequently faced with a limited number of female applicants,” the memo states. “To address this, the City Clerk should partner with the Communications Department to develop an informational campaign designed to attract more female applicants to the City’s Advisory Boards and Commissions.”
When considering bodies other than the Women’s Advisory Board and the Lesbian and Gay Advisory board, Heilman has appointed the smallest number of women to commissions and boards, with three of his 13 appointments (23%) being women. Only four of Councilmember John Duran’s 13 appointments (31%) have been women. And of those elected at large, only 11 of 30 (37%) have been women.
Mayor John D’Amico and Councilmember Lindsey Horvath each has named women to seven of 12 posts they have filled (58%). Councilmember Lauren Meister has named 7 to the 13 she has filled (54%).
On the City Council’s Monday agenda is an item asking Councilmember Horvath to make her direct appointment to the Senior Advisory Board and Heilman to make a direct appointment to the Business License Commission. Also open for re-appointments or new choices are two at-large seats on the city’s Arts & Cultural Affairs, Business License, Historic Preservation, Human Services, Planning, Public Facilities, Public Safety, Rent Stabilization and Transportation commissions. Four at-large seats on the Disabilities, Russian, Senior, Transgender and Women’s advisory boards also up for re-appointments or new choices.
The City Council will meet Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica. Parking is free in the five-story structure behind the Council chambers with a ticket validated in the lobby.