Must be 6:30 a.m. The morning rush of pickup trucks arrives, big ol’ Ford F-150s and Dodge Rams with huge, knobby tires, chrome-plated adornments, and manly sounding engines, the usual choice of workers in the building trades. They arrive seemingly all within a few minutes as though they convoyed here together from some far-off home base. They are big enough to take up more than a “normal” parking space and all find a spot somewhere on the block, one side or the other.
Of course, they cannot begin work before 8:00 a.m. according to ordinances, so they socialize, dip into their immense lunch pails ahead of time and relax, waiting for the okay to get to work at the job site nearby. It’s all quite ritualistic and, by now, all too familiar. In the time of COVID, it is also a welcome diversion — at least until the backup alarms start to sound their boring accompaniment to the Bobcat’s minuet.
For at least the past seven years construction or renovation of residential buildings on the 8700 block of Dorrington has provided its residents with enough dust, noise and inconvenience to believe that such action is to be a permanent element of life in our little section of West Hollywood. In fact, since two of the fussier residents pulled up stakes and moved away, I understand that no one bothers to call Code Enforcement, as we have acquired a certain immunity to all the activity. Or, have we? We are in a holding pattern, waiting for at least two more construction projects on this street. One will be in the former David Jones building, a three-story edifice at the corner of Robertson. The other one, long awaited, will be the final removal of one of the last remaining cottages built for the railroad workers some 90 years ago. Just now we neighbors are watching the place in hopes of keeping out squatters. When we were not watching, a homeless man moved in, cleaned the place, hung curtains and changed the locks and called it home. The owner was uncommonly charitable and allowed the man a month in which to find other digs.
I’m writing this little piece because it illustrates one of the unknown constants of our town. In two words: What’s up? Everybody knows change is inevitable, not just in the residential areas but throughout the city, and questions about the future should be up front when interviewing candidates for the City Council election. I am the first to admit that I have not kept up with the most current conversations about what is called “development,” and I know that we are supposed to have a 25-year plan and a General Plan — but I believe that they have been altered enough to now be rather redundant — or, at least, in severe flux.
Why not? Our tax base is under siege by the strictures of rules we must follow to avoid acquiring and spreading the COVID-19 virus. I do not know what portion of city staff have been affected, work from home, etc. I believe that some have been furloughed as a cost cutting measure and, once again, rules regarding parking and parking permits are in force so some revenue is returning. Yet, we still are suffering the fate of all resort cities when visitors and tourists no longer stay at our nifty hotels, eat at our renowned restaurants, nor play at our clubs. It seems the only stable activity is “development.”
Recent announcements of commercial development and the scattered yet constant residential development are part of the calendar of change. As “everything changes,” does this mean that, after 36 years on the City Council, the remaining pioneer member, John Heilman has reached retirement age? With the inclusion of more “conventional” families, are we to look forward to a different dimension of concern on the Council? Will John Duran’s giddy dance through life take him off to other venues? Will we have tough questions to throw at the many candidates? So many candidates that one can say: “change is in the air.” Let’s find out what your favorite candidate thinks about these questions, about change.