West Hollywood Will Consider Addressing Gender Inequity on City Board and Commissions

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.

west hollywood city council
John Heilman

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 and the Rent Stabilization Commission have the fewest female members, with a woman sitting on only one of the seven seats on each commission (14%). 

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 Board five of the nine seats (56%) also are occupied by women.

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.


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Josh Kurpies
Guest
Josh Kurpies

I support any efforts by government to increase participation of its citizenry in the decision making process. Whether the outreach is targeted to a specific gender, race, ethnicity or [fill in the blank], if it results in more people understanding how government works or increases applications and participation in people not currently involved, we will be all the better for it. (opposite to the actions of Trump, Pence & McConnell at federal level who spend a great deal of time and resources on schemes to disenfranchise more and more people from participating in the process)

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

This issue came up a few months ago when Councilmember Lindsay Horvath wanted to make all Board and Commission appointments “at-large”, meaning there would be no direct appointments by the City Council. At that hearing I raised the point the gender equality was probably a more pressing issue. When I was elected to City Council in 1994 I ensured that half of all of my appointments were women. In particular I recruited competent women to sit on the Planning Commission which was historically an exclusive male bastion. While I was consistent with my planning appointment, during the time I was… Read more »

Ham
Guest
Ham

West Hollywood really needs some fresh blood in leadership. Someone who will move it into the future….and away from it’s current bent.

Scott
Guest
Scott

“Mayor John Duran”?

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

Heilman’s proposal is a bit of grandstanding as he has appointed the least amount of women to commissions or boards. Only two council members are below the 50% gender parity goal .. Heilman and Duran.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon Schmidt

There is one way to fix that in November 2020

Michael Grace
Guest
Michael Grace

Maybe Mayor John Duran could appoint a young hot sexually active straight male to balance out what Duran claimed was the celibate tradition of the WEHO City Council which might reflect on commission members. As everyone knows, Duran claims to be the only sexually active council member. Does Duran take a poll? Do any of the other council-members tell Duran off? Duran is not Arnie Hammer, who might fill a lot of fantasies about sexual activism. So in fairness to balance Duran’s pitch about his sexual prowess, can he look for a young hot straight guy to appoint to a… Read more »