UPDATE: City staff has asked that the item on tonight’s Council agenda regarding restricting smoking in apartment buildings and some public places be postponed until the Council’s April 20 meeting.
While many city board and commission meetings have been cancelled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, members of the West Hollywood City Council will still be sitting on the dais in the City Council Chambers on Monday.
However, if you want to reduce your risk of getting infected by that lobbyist, lawyer, or neighbor who coughs while declaring the Pledge of Allegiance or spurts out an objection to a public comment, you have another option. You can watch the Council meeting live online or on your television and submit your opinion about what is going on. The online comment submission is one of several moves the city is making in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declaration of a state of emergency, which ordered local governments to reschedule or cancel events including 250 or more people, which West Hollywood has done. The city also has cancelled meetings of board and commissions whose agendas don’t include essential items, and it has created a page on its website to update residents on its actions regarding COVID-19.
The City Council meeting, which physically takes place at the Council Chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., take can be viewed live on several platforms:
- Spectrum Channel 10 (in West Hollywood)
- AT&T U-verse Channel 99 (in Southern California)
- SmartTV Apps: AndroidTV; AppleTV; FireTV, and Rokufor
The City Council agenda can be accessed online about five days before the meeting, and if you’d like to make a comment on an item on the agenda, you can do that online here. Your comment will be read aloud at the meeting when the Council considers the agenda item you are commenting on. However, your comment must be submitted before 8 p.m.
If you aren’t a regular at City Council meetings, the online agenda may seem confusing. At the top you’ll see a “Report of Closed Session Agenda.” That’s a list of items the Council will be discussing privately with the City Attorney, which is permitted under state law when the items involve personnel or legal issues. Residents can show up and comment on the Closed Session Agenda Item but must leave the room before the Council discusses it. In this instance, the Council will be discussing its negotiations with the City of Beverly Hills to acquire the Lion’s Cabin log cabin on Robertson Boulevard.
The next 23 items on the Council’s agenda are part of what’s called the “consent agenda.” That means they are items that aren’t likely to the subject to debate, and the Council can approve all of them in one vote. However, an item can be pulled from the consent agenda for more discussion at the request of any Council member.
One of the consent agenda items is 2W, which would have the Council authorize a “lease to purchase” agreement to acquire from the City of Beverly Hills the lot at 617-621 N. Robertson Blvd. that is the site of the Lions Club log cabin. The item also includes an agreement with the West Hollywood Recovery Center to manage the log cabin, which is where 25 addiction recovery groups have been meeting for years.
Under the six-month lease purchase agreement, West Hollywood will examine the property and determine what will be required to rehabilitate it. The agreement calls for West Hollywood to pay the City of Beverly Hills $5,750,000 for the cabin and the adjacent parking lot (which the city already has leased).
The vote on the consent agenda will be followed by a public hearing on a proposal to rewrite a city ordinance to restrict smoking in apartment buildings and some public places. That proposal is likely to attract a lot of comment from local residents.
The proposal would ban smoking in any enclosed common area of a multifamily dwelling. It also would prohibit smoking in units in multifamily dwellings that are issued a certificate of occupancy or are purchased, leased, or initially occupied by the tenant on or after the effective date of the ordinance (i.e. new units). Excluded from the proposed change are single-family dwellings and duplexes, temporary and special needs housing, and multi-family dwellings where smoking is already prohibited in all units.
After that comes a list of Unfinished Business items, whose four items will include an update on crime in West Hollywood, a proposal that the city provide legal assistance to residents facing eviction, an update on the city’s affordable housing efforts, a proposal to make possible more affordable housing in mixed-use projects in commercial areas and a way to encourage pop-up businesses in vacant storefronts.
Finally, the Council will consider increasing from $25,000 to $75,000 the limit on the size of contracts that the City Manager can authorize without taking them before the Council for approval.