The Sad and Slow Decline of West Hollywood’s Main Street

8601 Santa Monica Blvd. (85 C Bakery – and office space)

Will Las Lagrimas de Santa Monica (“Saint Monica’s Tears”) will ever stop falling on West Hollywood’s Main Street?

Last month, many businesses on Santa Monica Boulevard put plywood over their windows and doors for fear there would be break-ins and looting following the All Black Lives Matter protest on June 14. Fortunately that protest, which brought more than 20,000 people down Santa Monica Boulevard, was a peaceful one. Within the next few days most business owners removed the plywood.

But some still haven’t opened for business yet because of the COVID-19 pandemic (or they are restaurants and bars that were allowed to open briefly and then ordered again to close.) Others, like Gym Bar, the popular gay sports bar at 8737 Santa Monica Blvd., and Phonomenal, the Vietnamese restaurant at 8542 Santa Monica, and Basecamp Fitness at 8714 Santa Monica, have announced that they are closed permanently because of the financial damage wrought by the pandemic. But the pandemic isn’t the only problem. The dozens of empty retail spaces on Santa Monica Boulevard from Doheny to La Brea once housed other small businesses that faced problems that preceded the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

One of the issues is the “Amazon Effect,” the term that describes people’s growing propensity to shop online rather than visit stores in person. “Among other factors, the Amazon effect is cited as the primary reason for street-based stores’ declining sales, which have often foreshadowed the stores’ eventual closure,” reports Investopedia, the investment website.

Small business owners also are complaining about what they describe as “landlord greed.” Several agreed to speak to WEHOville about their issues with their landlords with the understanding that they wouldn’t be named for fear of retribution. However, Rick Schmutzler, co-owner of Gym Bar, went public about issues with his landlord (Elias Shokrian of Calitex LLC in Beverly Hills) in a post yesterday on Facebook. In addition to the financial impact of COVID-19, Schmutzler said an issue was “a really nasty one, two punch of a landlord who has been really inflexible in working with us.”

There has been a commercial tenant eviction moratorium in place in West Hollywood (it covers the period from March 16 to May 31, after which the business owners have six months to pay their back rent). City Council members John Duran and John Heilman have indicated that might support extending that moratorium. But even with the moratorium, some tenants say that landlords are finding ways to harass them for having delayed their rent payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One landlord has regularly sent someone to inspect her tenant’s shop to look for possible violations of the lease terms. In several other instances, tenants have tried to renew their expiring leases, only to be confronted with rent increases of 25% of more, which they say isn’t feasible given the economic collapse created by the pandemic. Some tenants looking to renew a lease also say they are now told they will have to accept a “triple net” lease, which means they will be responsible for paying not only the rent but also building insurance and trash pickup costs that the landlord used to be responsible for.

Commercial tenants’ issues with landlords aren’t a new thing in West Hollywood. “According to the local small business community, it is difficult to start a new business or sustain a small business in a city like West Hollywood,” said a City Hall report in April 4, 2016, that accompanied a proposal by Council members John D’Amico and Lauren Meister to develop ways to support small businesses. That report said that at that time there were 38 vacant spaces on Santa Monica Boulevard, a 10% vacancy rate.

Saint Monica

“Landlords prefer short-term leases for new tenants (i.e., three to five years). In addition, landlords can insist on cash deposits, letters of credit and personal guarantees up front for security, which can be burdensome for small businesses, particularly when they are required to spend large sums of money to renovate or build out the space.

“When a lease is up, the landlord can require the tenant to pay market rate rents, typically much higher than what they are currently paying, in order to renew the lease. If the tenant has some success in the first lease term, they must be able to afford the much higher renewal rate or could face relocation or closing.”

Jay Luchs, a well-known commercial realtor who works with landlords and tenants, explained in a recent interview with WEHOville that some landlords will suffer if their tenants don’t pay what they owe because those landlords themselves have mortgages to pay. But Luchs acknowledged that landlords who own their buildings outright are in a better place to negotiate a deal with struggling tenants than are landlords who have mortgages to pay.

There are a number of landlords in West Hollywood who don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage on property they have owned forever, which means some have been willing to give struggling tenants a break, and some are content to let a space go empty until they can find a tenant willing to pay what they ask. Monty Overstreet, for example, owns buildings that house bars like Rage and Flaming Saddles in WeHo’s Boystown. Mark Montgomery’s family has owned the land that is the site of Sunset Plaza since 1860. One landlord who has seen a number of commercial tenants go recently is Joanne Nathan who, with others, owns the building on Santa Monica Boulevard at Palm that has housed the now-closed L A Optometrique, an optometry clinic and glasses and frames shop that was opened by Dr. Robert Dirksen in 2014. Dirksen has told WEHOville that Nathan’s management company wasn’t willing to negotiate with him on payment of his rent, which was $10,000 a month. Also closed in that building is the George Patrick menswear store, which opened in December 2019. (According to LoopNet, the 7,990-square-foot space that houses both George Patrick and Optometrique is now for rent with a triple net lease for $40,350 a month). Still open is Yogurt Stop, whose owners say they have had a difficult relationship with Nathan.

There also have been closures in the building that Nathan and her sister own on Santa Monica Boulevard that once housed Café d’Etoilé, Kock Dog, and the Bumsan Organic Milk Bar. Both Bumsan and Kock Dog had been in business for about a year before closing. Nathan’s Nathan Trust has filed for a permit to turn the Bumsan and Café d’Etoilé space into a restaurant and bar. Nathan recently told WEHOville that Marinate, a restaurant that features pressure-cooked meat, will soon be opening in the Kock Dog space. Nathan said the she and her sister had been willing to reduce rents for those tenants a little bit because of their financial struggles during the pandemic.

The building owned by Elias Shokrian’s Calitex LLC at the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Hancock hasn’t just lost Gym Bar. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffee shop on the corner closed long ago as did the Provo Pizza location. Another tenant at that property also has told WEHOville that the landlord is difficult to deal with. Calitex is headquartered in Beverly Hills and with offices in Irvine, Tex. Shokrian has faced criminal charges for leaving an elevator unfixed for 10 months in a senior apartment complex and has been implicated in the scandal involving former L.A. County Assessor John Noguez.

What, if anything, can the City of West Hollywood do about the continuous shuttering of so many local businesses? Few of the items in the 2016 small business proposal by D’Amico and Meister appear to have been implemented. However, the City Council did recently agree to fund a program operated by the Chamber of Commerce that would mediate disputes between landlords and tenants

One suggestion raised by Meister was a tax on vacant properties. San Francisco voters approved such a tax in March. According to SFist.com, a news site that covers San Francisco, “starting in 2021, if a landlord allows a ground-floor retail space to remain vacant more than six months (over 182 days), that landlord will be taxed by the city $250 per linear foot of street frontage per year. That tax doubles in the second year to $500 per foot, and then it’s $1000 per foot every year after that … For example, an empty storefront with 60 feet of street frontage will cost the property owner $15,000 if it sits empty over six months, and $45,000 total if it sits empty for 18 months. After that, it’s costing 60 grand a year as it sits empty, so finding a tenant at any price becomes a much better business decision.”

The 68 photos posted below show the exteriors of many businesses (mostly on the Eastside) that have long had “for lease” signs in their windows and some projects (mostly on the Westside) that have been underway for a long time, with no clear sense of when (or if) they will be completed.

One of reasons for the slow progress of some development projects is the difficulty in getting a project approved in West Hollywood and California in general, given the negative impact on development of the California Environmental Quality Act. While meant to protect the environment, CEQA has become a tool used by opponents of development to slow, if not bring to a halt, some projects. The City of West Hollywood also makes development difficult. In an interview with The Real Deal, Steve Witkoff, a major developer based in New York City and the developer of the Edition hotel on Sunset Boulevard, described West Hollywood as “the toughest barrier to entry market in the country. It’s very difficult to get approvals and entitlements there. I think it’s even tougher than San Francisco.”

8936 Santa Monica Blvd. (Bottega Louie still under construction)

The slow-moving projects include the Melrose Triangle, planned for the 117,000 square foot lot bordered by Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue to the south. The City Council approved the Charles Company project six years ago. The developer now wants to use empty lot primarily for office space, reducing the proposed number of apartments. Its co-founder, Arman Gabae, known professionally as Arman Gabay, now has been indicted on federal bribery charges, which some worry will have an impact on the project’s completion. There also are other empty lots where projects are in the works on Santa Monica Boulevard at Nemo and near Pavilions.

The empty Hamburger Haven building is supposed to be demolished as part of the Robertson Lane project, which also has been six years in the making. Then there’s the Bottega Louie restaurant, which has been in the works since 2016, and the French Market building on Santa Monica at North Laurel, which will be home to an office, restaurant and retail complex that has been in the works since 2015. One prominent but completely empty location is the lot on the southwest corner of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevards, which the City of West Hollywood bought in 2015, declaring then that it didn’t know what it was going to do with it. The city eventually said it would use the land temporarily for a parking lot. But that still hasn’t happened.

In addition to the plans mentioned above for the Café d’Etoilé, Bumsan, and Kock Dog spaces, there are plans underway for some of the other empty storefronts pictured below. RollState is planning to open a small studio in the former LASC retail space where people can use foam rollers for exercise. Aeon Botanika at 8448 Santa Monica Blvd. has obtained its cannabis sales license but has yet to announce an opening date. There are plans to open at some point Herb, a cannabis cafe, at 7740 Santa Monica Blvd. The owner of Pleasure Chest, the adult toy store, has begun the redevelopment of the building at 7715 Santa Monica Blvd. that will house its Pleasure Med cannabis business. Curtis Thopmson’s recently closed 665, a shop at 8722 Santa Monica Blvd. for those with a fetish for leather, is being remodeled and will open soon under a new name.

But dozens of spaces on Santa Monica Boulevard that once housed beauty salons, bakeries, art galleries, clothing stores, and coffee shops remain plastered with lease signs that have been up since way before the pandemic began. Saint Monica of Hippo, for whom the City of Santa Monica (and thus the boulevard) is named, is said to have wept every night for her troublesome son Augustine, a wayward and lazy boy who eventually came around. There may be reason to hope that West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard also will find itself again. As Mehmet Murat Ildan, the Turkish playwright and novelist, said: “An empty street sucks your fullness; a full street fills your emptiness!”

West Hollywood’s Vacant Santa Monica Boulevard


97 Comments
  1. I love wehoville. You are one of the few news organization that practices true journalism! This was an excellent article. Just the facts m’am. And I am free to form my own opinion. My opinion is that commercial landlords in this city think they are the only ones allowed to make money. They make me sick.

  2. The city is considering taxes on vacant properties yet approvals and entitlements are tougher to get the in San Francisco.Can’t have it both ways boys!

      1. do you know how long it takes to open a new restaurant or coffee shop in Weho? no wonder the spaces sit vacant for so long, no one wants to go through the trouble!

  3. As a longtime resident of WeHo I’m very disappointed in our local government. Projects taking 5+ years to get started, sky high rents. And they keep building.

    1. I agree. They have become a huge disappointment. Seem more concerned with lining their pockets from wealthy developers, than with keeping weho the great city it used to be, California has gone down the tubes that last decade. I cannot wait to leave,

  4. In November we are going to be asked to exempt commercial properties from Prop. 13. If we vote to pass this ballot measure, are we punishing greedy landlords or are we sticking it to our local businesses who will ultimately pay the bill? I don’t expect the City Council will want to engage in any sort of politically incorrect analysis of how this will impact our community. In all of the thought provoking comments, I notice that the voice of the WeHo Chamber of Commerce is missing in action. So does the Chamber stand with our local businesses?

  5. With a city that prides itself on being cutting edge in future projects, architecture, economic development and also a strong advocate of Historic Preservation, apparently they have yet to discover and/or implement the idea of MAIN STREET AMERICA.

    https://www.mainstreet.org/about-us

    Now, let’s see which council member is going to jump on this idea and claim they were privately studying the concept all along. Common sense is the basis for Main Street America in terms of community and economics however one would also need knowledgeable folks in the Planning Department to understand and be hip to the concept as well. Lots of highly paid people consistently confused. Main Street West Hollywood could have been accomplished even without Main Street America.

    1. Sadly, thanks to globalization like WAL MART the only place you can find MAIN STREET USA is at Disneyland! And they were criticized for idealizing something that now only exists in this Disney format !

      1. Yes, Wal Mart and Amazon have made a dent but there are many, many “Main Streets” across the country that are patronized because of strong relationships with the customers and ability to offer an thoughtful, interesting selection of merchandise. They are also well cared for and don’t look like the end to end dump of SMB with filthy sidewalks and landlords that don’t feel the need or responsibility to keep their buildings looking respectable because they assume they are sitting on real estate gold mines that may materialize some time in the future.

        Be a location folks will want to patronize.
        You won’t easily find personalized customer service on line.

      2. I was going to comment the weho is falling into the walmartization. Even worse now is Amazon. Wish people would stop buying everything from there, They will own the world someday.

  6. Hoping for the day in Weho where the block between Laurel and Edinburgh is more the norm throughout Santa Monica Blvd. Candle Delirium, Bijou Beauty, Laurel Hardware, Laurel Pet Hospital as neighboring businesses have a nice vibe as well as street aesthetics. Once you past Fairfax, it’s just a bit depressing. Completing (or more like even getting started) on these long drawn out projects like French Market, Bottega Louie & the empty Weho owned lot will be a great start to freshening up SM Blvd.

    1. I agree with you, but we could use some more neighbourhood eateries. The best thing for our little area would be for the old French Market to become a food hall. i would also like to see the city have some incentives to locals who open local businesses – let say you live off of Santa Monica and your cafe or whatever is on Santa Monica

  7. GREEDY LANDLORDS. West Hollywood Boystown grew out of a dilapidated state in the late 70s early 80s . It was built up through the decades since by gay clubs, stores , gay owned homes and apartment buildings BY the gay community. The people who live and work in the gay mecca and Weho City Hall MUST legislate far more stringent laws and protections for commercial AND multi family real estate. West Hollywood’s not so distant past left a legacy in history of the gay community which suffered tremendous loss during the AIDS Epidemic. WeHo survived and eventually thrived again by coming together as a small town that took care of one another. This pandemic we are weathering, in this extraordinary time is a pivotal and enormous test of its community that requires everyone to re-examine whether profit wins over community and home. Wealthy real estate developers mentioned in the article will no doubt pounce on every opportunity to change the landscape of West Hollywood to their liking and at their price. If this happens the beautiful gay mecca we all feel safe and included in will cease to exist in years to come.

  8. The city is obviously buying up everything. Because they want to build a new city hall. The current one is just too small. I remember hearing that about a couple years ago.

    The sad fact of this entire story is we are dependent on five useless self promoting political hacks. Half the City council meetings are spent grand standing, remembering someone who is dead, handing out plaques and then congratulating each other on what they’ve done lately. Especially Mayor Lindsey Horvath who would attend a Frog Jumping Contest in Cucamonga so she could spend hours tweeting about it!

    1. There is a sense of omnipotence on our City Council. They listen politely and do what they think is best and usually in the interest of big money developers and special interests who fund their campaigns and pet charities. The apathy and distain for lower and middle income residents and small business owners is a tragedy. That is the main reason I am running for City Council. I care deeply about our community and want to work for our residents and small business owners. We need a City Council that works for the People, For a Change. marco4weho.com

  9. Now is the time for our local government to step up with creative solutions and disaster relief for our “brick and mortar” small businesses before we lose them all, and West Hollywood becomes a ghost town. First off, let’s determine what a small business is by the square footage and current sales, which are very little vs. forcing them to show financials when we don’t ask their landlords to show their financials.

    We need a Small Business Recovery Task Force and a minimum 6-month Moratorium to stay rents and evictions on our small businesses with a deferred payment schedule for at least a year. Some rent is better than no rent, and a lengthy moratorium might bring landlords to the negotiating table. It’s time for everyone, landlord, tenants and the City to come together and share the burden of this heart wrenching pandemic.

    The City has a massive reserve of over $130 million, money in the bank that prefers to leave there for a rainy day. Well, the storm is raging, and it’s a monsoon out there. We also have a AAA bond rating and tremendous borrowing power, which the City used a few months ago to secure and additional $13.5 million for West Hollywood Park. Let’s use these assets and resources to create a Municipal Fund for small business loans, $20 million would be a good start.

    I sincerely believe that the incumbents and most of our City Council are entirely out of touch with the needs and struggles of WeHo residents, workers, and small business owners.

    It is a time for outreach and empathy, not elitism. We need a City Council that works for the people, the residents and small business owners, not developers, and big money special interest groups.

    1. The city council appears to operate in their own 1.9 square mile echo chamber unaware of the macro-micro conditions of the world. The principles of logic, reason and ethics are either unknown to some and/or compromised for personal gain. This type of character, or lack of, in no way serve civic responsibility and integrity. Using a city council position as a catalyst for personal financial gain and/or political position is simply wrong. Likewise one cannot pick and choose how they want to apply those principles.

      Aspirants for future city council positions need to question the authenticity of their own credentials as to how they will benefit the interests of the entire city, not special interest groups however noble they may appear. The public scrutiny for candidates in the upcoming election will hopefully be intense. As I write this comment, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer is emphatically endorsing many of these same ideas because they are timeless and imperative. Interview conducted with Adrienne Alpert, worth reviewing on ABC as they covered a range of critical subjects.

  10. Correct me if I’m wrong. I am under the impression that the City has purchased the property on the north side of the Boulevard across from City Hall, site of Joeys Cafe, Magnolia Cleaners and Crossroads. I know the City bought the Coast Playhouse some time ago and Basix is still closed (is the City negotiating to buy it?). Is the City acquiring the entire block? To let it sit empty for years like the City’s lot at Crescent Heights? Or?

  11. Thank you, Community, for your continued support during these harrowing times; we are incredibly grateful. All we want is employ our staff and keep our doors open.

    Many of you have come to us saying “thank you” for being open, but we say THANK YOU for all your love. xoxo Be safe and stay healthy.

    1. Hi Yogurt Stop Ladies (YSL?)-

      I apologize for not knowing your names yet! I referenced you in reply to one of Larry’s comments and just wanted to thank you directly for being good neighbors and also compliment you on your friendly staff!

      Keep up the good work and hope one day your landlord realizes how lucky she is to have you,
      Jay

  12. A point of clarity the rent for Joanne Nathan’s property at the corner of Santa Monica and Hancock is not $40,000. The rent on that optometry store is about $10,000 and the rent on the Sean Patrick shop was about $3500-4K. LoopNet is inaccurate as reported. And if rents sound ridiculous don’t just blame the landlord, Blame property taxes, — and the county assessor – on an assessed property of 5million dollars The landlord is paying about $6000 a month in property taxes. Maybe the government is taking too much money out of the landlords pocket.

  13. To the mayor. Please stop spending your day retweeting political bias and promoting protests that are upsetting our residents and SMB businesses. Instead invite a forum on how to make good business decisions. I know the economy is not your strong point, but there are some very clever people who live and work here that are totally frustrated with watching the slow demise of our neighborhoods character.
    I’m sorry, but frankly WeHo is currently a disaster waiting to happen on your watch. Let’s use Covid as a great opportunity to re-evaluate everything that’s going wrong before we become a ghost town and your tax base crashes.

  14. QUESTION? WAKE UP LOOK AROUND THE WORLD>

    When I ttied to rent a store many years ago, the three places I wanted to rent they decided to not rent and try to get more and more money.

    So do they oweners get to deduct the money they don’t received for an empty place?

    Why can’t the owners can a brea on taxers if they lowers rent 50% for pandemice or emergencies (Fires, Earthquake)?

    The owners get money and maybe the business might be able to make it through. the year? It’s greed driving the rental and business closing.

    Now let’s rip down these places and build?

    I have worked at two corporations that helped the employees in 2008/2009 with the mortgage issues.

    Of course our company does just as well in all climates for obvious reasons.

    How much money does one really need? I retired at 50 to enjoy my college teenagers and travel. I could have stayed but IU didn’t need more zeros in my life I needed to show my ids the world and teach them about different cultures. thats me.

    So greed motivates the landlords? give them tax breaks by reducing or not taking rent (aorry governments deal with it and $500 a month for a mental healt patient is not enough but she herself Thanks Healthcare)

    CLOSE down sant monica and let the restaurants serve in the street at night. Lie VIETNAM has always done. New York, Pasadena

    close down Santa Monica or Melrose Place A few times during the week

    So many ideas yet no one thinks of the obvious my looking at the world.

    VIETNAM—NOT MUCH COVID-CLOSED. but hey all the restaraunts open? ?NEW ZEALAND.
    \

  15. This article is self contradictory. It makes no sense to say that retail shopping is on a general decline but Weho landlords are greedy. The only good property is a leased one. Clearly some landlords feel their Weho spaces are worth more than their current or former tenants we’re paying. If they are right, then new business will come in and give the City a lift from the old, outdated crap that kept us in the 20th century. If they are wrong, landlords will have to drop the rents again and a different profile of business will ensue. Nobody profits vacant shops.

    1. If we had a normal property market you would be correct.

      High equity (from ever-rising prices) + preferential tax treatment has given owners/landlords the flexibility to wait as long as is necessary — often years — to find a tenant that will pay their price.

      The only check on their pricing power is increasing the supply of property in general, not just in West Hollywood but throughout LA.

      But we keep allowing owners/landlords to dominate our local and state politics. And until that changes we’ll remain stuck in this doom loop, where main streets look blighted even a strong economy (RIP to that) and dilapidated apartment buildings with $2k+ rents are the norm.

  16. Great article Hank.

    68 vacant units on SMB alone, and we are only at the beginning of the financial downfall. This could increase to over 100 by this time next year.

    Landlords should be required (ENFORCED) to keep their street level area cleaned. Yes tax them for extended period if vacant.

    Slow development – a great deal of this issue is the responsibility of our city, slow building and safety response, too many regulations.

    I look forward to your next article on the vacancy on Sunset Blvd.

  17. I agree that some on the West Hollywood Student Government and those who seek to join that sophomoric clique are too focused on battling global issues and grandstanding in their complicity on criminal vandalism, among other things, to focus on the day-to-day quality of life issues of real residents. What have the boondoggles to Paris, Vienna and other destinations actually brought back to West Hollywood? What do the incestuous award-granting “policy” boards do other than burnish the credentials of candidates for other offices? What good is a grand stair case in an over-developed park if there are no residents who can afford to live here and use it. The management of West Hollywood has been bungled by incompetence coupled with greed and a lack of focus. Some will blame Covid, but the genesis of policy imbalance traces back years. West Hollywood has become a playground for foolish policymakers, greedy developers, and the lawyers who represent them who have collectively caused the crash. Rapid rises are often followed by equally rapid declines. Smart growth should have been the plan but new shiny things seduced the young city instead.

    1. Too busy preening and seeking visibility for “their endorsements” of big global issues they fail to understand. An appropriate analogy might be Donald Trump and his Trump Organization and appointed friends as seen by the global leaders thus West Hollywood seen by folks beyond its 1.9 sq. mile echo chamber. Too many similarities. Endlessly advocating for causes but failing to establish solutions without creating perpetual victims. Perpetual victims are easier to manage. Finding fault with so many and too many issues but failing to asses itself through a sharp lense. Craving membership on multiple committees and associations with no ability to make meaningful contributions and actually change a dynamic. There appears to be only one competent member of the city council but it is unrealistic to believe they can operate in the self propelled echo chambers of the other members.

      As Alan Strasburg described, the West Hollywood Student Council and those similarly unqualified aspirants, are less qualified than any student government experienced in school. They appear permanently stuck in the 5th grade with no real tools for logically evaluating issues, lacking tools to craft solutions, too unsophisticated to avoid becoming entangled in the generic schemes of developers and lacking an educated awareness. Celebrations, parades, committees, commissions rarely operating with knowledge and efficiency but reappearing to receive for awards, commendations and advancing self promotional ventures.

      It is sad because there was so much to work with. The grand staircase to nowhere or perhaps the destination was West Opportunityville.

      1. I forgot to mention the mostly imperious attitudes of most of the council and the obscenely overpaid city hall bureaucracy. With rare exception, like that one person on council who does the job she was elected to do, that bureaucracy is unresponsive to real-time, day-to-day issues of life in West Hollywood. Sadly, at least one of the aspirants to the office holds a similarly disqualifying contempt for the humility required of public service.

        1. The imperious attitudes you point out, are especially visible now on Zoom teleconference. They appear to have been invited for tea at 4:00 o’clock, having been preoccupied with their choice of background and or in the case of the current mayor, choosing the wardrobe and visible individuals to congratulate her during her coronation. Likewise exhibiting a the lack of awareness of the potential exponential effects likely resulting from the demonstration she attended at Pan Pacific Park. A look at her twitter accounts tells more than one ever wanted to know about the absence of critical thinking.

          Public service requires humility among other verifiable credentials, as it is not feathering one’s nest at the public expense.

          1. The coronation was another chapter in the farce that has become of the student council. It is nauseating to watch her officious and pompous conduct at meetings–“Madam City Attorney, Madam City Clerk…” She’s clearly trying out for another role, as has been clear from day one. As I said in a previous comment, WeHo is a playground for greed and wannabes. We are being duped by a Democratic party machine that uses WeHo as a lab experiment. People need to wake up to that reality.

    2. About time the residents are waking up and stating the obvious about this city clowncil. Tree trimming? Street paving? Basic local government issues? Not on their agenda.

  18. In a market like WH, it’s not uncommon for the land underneath a building to be more valuable than the structure itself. If an investor has purchased the land and is holding it for future redevelopment or sale, they might not want the property encumbered with a tenant.

  19. Actually that’s all there is now. West Hollywood has 30 variations of pot shops, pot dispensaries, weed cafes, cannabis lounges—AirBnB’s, and pending demolition and New construction notices—that’s all one sees! Theses business and development owners want to tell the city they are deciding who comes and establishes profits. You have greedy owners developers cannabis industry magnates, and then legal maneuvering, lawsuit tactics, changing ownership to to bump up profits or negotiations to be grandfathered in previous ordinances to prevent affordable housing and only include luxury rentals and Airbnb’s renting for $10,000 a month on the Sunset Strip is ridiculous!

    The motto for us residents should be
    “It Doesn’t Pay to Be Poor and Struggling Financially in Weho and If you are, you won’t be living here for much longer Anyway! Only Wealthy visitors celebrities and businesspeople need apply from here on in!”

  20. Random thoughts….What about Gold Coast bar? Revolver looks empty inside. I never see anyone in Tender Greens. Kitchen 24, Fiesta Cantina, Rocco’s along with Salt & Straw are busy. They turned the little parkette in front of Fiesta Cantina to serve drinks. Wells Fargo under the Ramada has not reopened. Sprouts never seems busy. I like Block Party & Yogurt Stop selling things outside.

  21. Just want to thank everybody for supporting the BlockParty shop along w my neighbors who are open. Right now it feels like we are soldiers on the battlefield trying to outlast the plague- There’s also something very raw about coming to the shop each day and putting the tables outside, W mickys revolver flaming closed and no night business. Still yet there is a core West Hollywood customer that we are so grateful to serve. Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Larry-

      As one of your ‘core WeHo customers’ just wanted to say thank you for well representing what makes WeHo so special- a touch of flamboyance and a ton of heart!

      Your mask donation project in the early days of the pandemic spoke volumes and I’m glad I could contribute.

      You, along with the Yogurt Stop ladies, Raffi the jeweler, and Jeff and his terrific team at WeHo Bistro, to name a few, are all beacons of genuine care that I am grateful for!

      Keep fighting the good fight,
      Jay

  22. Hi Hank-

    Thank you for your moving and vivid description of the current (sad) state of affairs on Santa Monica Blvd.

    As a 25-year WeHo resident it has been remarkable to bear witness to the city’s evolution- sometimes cheering, sometimes tearing, as today.

    I hope the powers that be will seriously consider following San Francisco’s brilliant example of progressively taxing empty retail spaces to encourage their more rapid utilization.

    Another commenter suggested pop-ups as prospective tenants; to that I would add artists and artisans who should be allowed to create live/work spaces, as well as small nonprofits.

    Thank you again for shining your spotlight on one of the major issues facing West Hollywood and keep up the good work!

    Your neighbor,
    Jay

    1. Have you been to San Francisco lately? I hope our WEHO never becomes ANYTHING like San Francisco. That place was lovely once, now not so much.

  23. the greed of property owners just never gets addressed in L.A. – the developers control everything and their greed goes unchecked decade after decade

  24. These landlords are going to start facing a new reality that they will not be able to rent these spaces out the outlandish prices they have in the past. I like the idea of the vacancy taxes that will compel these owners to rent. It really pisses me off that the these owners are so rich that they would rather wait years than put a business in the empty space.

  25. What are these landlords thinking!!?? The notion to leave a storefront vacant might have been appealing six months ago,but now with the COVID-19 pandemic upon us,you want a business,no matter how small, to be there and earn you income.

    To leave a storefront vacant because you want more money is insane right now.Landlords need to think outside of the box and start working with the new pop-up shops that are currently the rage.The pop-up might be there for a few months before moving on,but at least you are earning income.With money tight,you need to look for some kind of income and stop wishing for cash to fall out of the sky.

    1. Those Landlords aren’t to worried about having a business up and running since most of the “proposed income” that they can get for comparable rents are write offs on their taxes. It doesn’t matter either way.

  26. I say it’s a good thing West Hollywood is tough for developers, as the best interest of neighborhoods (people) are hardly considered most of the time. The unbridled and unconscionable greed of some of these property owners, who certainly don’t need to add more to their millions of dollars of worth is disgusting bordering on psychopathic.

    1. Most council members are in bed with developers. Just look at their campaign contributions which Wehoville has excellently reported on numerous times. It’s the perks they get from them that we don’t know about that are even scarier.

      1. What everyone fails to realize is that some tenants who have left, have done so because they claim they are unable to pay any rent at all, but some want to save face and say it was the landlord who would not give them a rent reduction. Others have claimed they have had a loss of rent due to Covid-19, and then we have found out later they have reinvented themselves by selling items they were not supposed to be selling and making a lot of money doing so. Are landlords supposed to just accept being screwed over in rent because the tenant is lying?

        1. I’m going to take this opportunity to defend the reputation of Yogurt Stop, as this comment was clearly directed at us. We have been in this space for the past 12 years and have operated with integrity throughout that time. When the economy came to a sudden halt, the landlord did respond to our request for rent abatement with an offer to delay 1 (and only 1) month of rent. We repaid our landlord within 2 months. Despite the landlord’s attempts, she has no access to our finances, so her claim that we are “making a lot of money” and are trying to “screw” her over are not based on any fact. 

          Like other businesses, our sales have been drastically hurt by COVID-19. Thankfully, the City under its emergency measures has allowed us to sell outside and offer personal protective equipment (PPE). Selling these essential items not only helps other local businesses by selling their items but it also helps us to make up for some of the lost sales, allowing us to pay employees and, yes, even pay the landlord monthly rent. 

          We’ve all been hurt by the pandemic, one way or another. We feel sad for the businesses in our community that have had to close and will miss them dearly. Hopefully the vast majority of us will continue to support each other while we get through such a difficult situation. Thank you, Community, for your love and support always.

      2. Mayor Lindsey Horvath, while pretending to be progressive, has taken lots of $$$ from developers as reported. And most from outside of WeHo.

  27. I wonder if some landlords want their spaces to be empty so they look more attractive to developers who will buy them and bulldoze them and turn them into expensive Air BNBs or luxury apartments? No pesky tenants for them to worry about…

  28. Perhaps a savy developer could truck in nearly 1.2 cubic miles of sand to replicate the floating islands in Dubai and we could establish City-Sisterhood. A water feature might even take the place of a subway.
    Isn’t this the Creative City?

    1. Forgot to mention, the Floating Island of West Hollywood would also continue to offer the perfect habitat for Ostriches and Peacocks.

  29. I have worked in WEHO for over 20 years and until the pandemic, I ate at some of the restaurants that have closed and may be closing. It is sad to lose those local restaurants and retailers.

  30. What is being proposed for the old Cafe D’etoile space is not a restaurant with a bar but another night club. Just what we need, more of the same (eye roll) Pretty soon all we’ll have on the boulevard will be bars and pot shops. We don’t have regular restaurants, bakeries, gift stores, a deli, beauty shops, hair stylist – a real mix. And when you lack a real mix of retail, that’s the kiss of death.

  31. Runaway greed on the part of landlords (residential and business), coupled with little to no stewardship or financial help on the part of the city in this surreal gentrification exercise, will gut this place after not much longer. As far as progressivism goes, West Hollywood is all talk.

  32. Take a look at the Twitter/Facebook accounts owned by those City Council-members who use them. That will tell you everything about where their priorities are. They look like they’re auditioning for some other office than our city. They’re Trump-bashing or propping up Planned Parenthood or #BLM. How about they focus on real issues in WeHo for a change? There’s no real indication they’re aware of a problem with the empty storefronts.

    1. Yep. Been seeing this for years. Glad people are now noticing. And are any of them business people? Out of touch with reality. Rethink WeHo!

  33. land owners just sit somewhere and collect checks, they dont actually do anything else productive to the society their properties are located. these landowners should provide a service instead of a rental prospective. BOOMER CAPITALIZE

  34. The “for lease” sign is now the most common thing to see on SMB. There are MANY small businesses that would love to be in this city, but the rent is too damn high. I’m incredibly disappointed that the City can’t even figure out how to make a parking lot out of its land at SMB and Crescent Heights. The City is better off buying more commercial property (like it did with the property across the street from City Hall) and then renting out the space at affordable prices to small businesses. WeHo Park has turned into a very expensive exercise that wasn’t needed. I think most residents want the small businesses back, but if you have to pay $50 for a burger and fries just to cover the rent, what good is that for anyone?

  35. 8252 Santa Monica is not Joey’s Cafe. That is the former Eat Well. Joey’s is at 8301 and is still (as of yesterday afternoon) open.

  36. I notice that PUMP & Tom Tom are still boarded up & wonder if they will ever reopen. I hear Tom Tom was already closed before the pandemic hit. Too bad because they both added a touch of much needed glamor & good taste to the hood. (Obviously Lisa Vanderpump has exquisite taste) Botegga Louie has always been a great big question mark & no one seems to know what’s been going on with it for the last 5 years. If they abandon that project,with it’s wide crossection appeal, it will be a disaster for “Boy’s Town” The only other business on that block that adds a touch of class, including it’s exterior appeal, is Rocco’s. I only hope none of these closed locations turn into pot shops. There are enough of them in West Hollywood now to supply all of Los Angeles.

    1. Hi Woody,
      They canT turn into pot shops because they lie in a buffer zone of the park which extends from approx Pavillion’s to the car wash… ..

  37. Inevitable result of landowner greed and indifferent leadership.

    Council has made it more and more likely that visiting WeHo will result in an expensive ticket, including ridiculous meter hours. Many no longer visit WeHo for that reason, killing foot traffic small businesses rely on.

    Developers get waivers and exemptions left and right, making city zoning and development rules useless.

    Money that could be spent subsidizing tenants is instead wasted on boondoggles like the robotic parking garage and endless WeHo Park renovation.

    When I suggested recently on Gym Bar’s closure post that the city look into ways to tax, cite, or otherwise pressure landlords into not leaving empty storefronts that invite blight, the glib response from a councilman was, “That’s capitalism!” He didn’t care.

    When the new landlord at my old building (920 Westbourne) was illegally trying to evict tenants, I setup a meeting with attorneys at City Hall, gave them a flash drive full of evidence of the landlord’s neglect and criminality. Know what they did? Nothing. The landlord was able to evict those who couldn’t fight back and jacked up rents, pushing out artists, struggling queer kids, and gay elders.

    A shame, but until voters pick dedicated leadership that can think creatively on how to encourage small business and working class tenancy, nothing will change.

  38. Wait until they start building the weho subway. The road construction on the surface will also doom remaining businesses.in the middle and eastern portions of Weho

    1. With lack of vibrant street life, it makes it more likely Metro will take the direct route (La Brea) or middle route (Fairfax), both of which were less costly and quicker due to not having to venture too far west.

Leave a Comment

No profanity, and please focus on the issue rather than attacking other commenters. All comments are moderated and must be focused on the issue, not other commenters.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.