Opinion: Out and Proud – a Plan for Recovery in West Hollywood

The greatest challenge facing our community is economic recovery.

We must find ways to rescue West Hollywood’s hospitality industry and maintain our identity as a vibrant cultural mecca or morph into a bedroom community with hotels turning into condominiums and residential dwellings. The once iconic sunset strip could forever dim and become like the Wilshire Corridor’s Condo Canyon.

Why are we allowing our rainbow crosswalks to fade away, and the Pride Parade to become a distant memory in the shadow of a $200 million behemoth indoor recreation center and shuttered West Hollywood Park?

The park and “indoor” recreation center will not save West Hollywood. It is more likely to become an economic albatross with significant new annual staffing and operating costs adding $5 million to $10 million per year according to staff reports.

While career politicians and political climbers might have been adequate stewards of a thriving pre-COVID economy, clearly, they do not have the skill set to rebuild our devastated one. Consider the recent, inept Council agenda item from John Heilman proposing that the “City work with the film industry to confirm best practices for filming at hotels” and asking “the city to work with the West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board to create a “staycation” campaign.”

After nearly 40 years on City Council and insolated in his million-dollar perch atop La Cienega Boulevard, Mr. Heilman is so out of touch that he doesn’t realize there is no location filming during a pandemic or comprehend why anyone would want to take a staycation in a ghost town.

Great cities are born of dreamers and transformed by innovators and business leaders who invest time and money to attract customers. Politicians come and go, and some just don’t know when to quit, regardless of reputation or relevance.

Economic recovery is the most critical issue and the greatest challenge facing our community. The survival of West Hollywood, as we know it, depends on how we meet this challenge as we see the fallout from the loss of tourism. West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board, the official marketing organization for the city, reported 3.59 million visitors had stopped in West Hollywood, spending $1.73 billion in the fiscal year 2017-2018, according to a study by Destination Analysts.

Nearly one-third of West Hollywood’s annual operating budget is funded by “TOT” Transit Occupancy Taxes from our hotels. Without this almost $40 million, our city faces the loss of funding for social and essential services.

“WEST HOLLYWOOD OUT AND PROUD” A PLAN FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Pride takes the lead in our plan to “Bring Back West Hollywood” and bring visitors back to our hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, and brick-and-mortar retail businesses.

  1. Official designation of Pride Square as a main tourist destination
  2. Formation of an emergency economic recovery task force
  3. Expansion of al fresco dining and open-air festival experiences

OFFICIAL DESIGNATION of PRIDE SQUARE

Officially designate “Pride Square” as the name of the entertainment district commonly referred to as “Boystown.” For decades there has been a conversation about an official and more inclusive designation. This will garner national publicity, and there is no better time for West Hollywood to celebrate and share our Pride with visitors from all over the world.

  • Repaint and add more rainbow crosswalks
  • Create a West Hollywood Pride Walk of Fame with our Rainbow Key Award recipients and program events that are a celebration of Pride, equality, and LGBTQ culture and contributions.

EMERGENCY ECONOMIC RECOVERY TASK FORCE

Organize a broad coalition of restaurant, club, and bar owners, hotel operators, marketing professionals, the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Visit West Hollywood, and other stakeholders to develop a strategic plan to promote “new ways to celebrate the West Hollywood experience.”

  • Pride Square and The Sunset Strip as primary areas of focus
  • Facilitate safe reopening of businesses.
  • Expedite permitting and approval process for outdoor dining and retail use.

(While Lisa Vanderpump and David Cooley may raise the ire of some, they are masters in marketing with global outreach and name recognition. Let’s invite them to weigh in as well as Cecconi’s, Catch, Danny Meyer from Shack Shake, Craig’s, the Den, the Viper Room, the Rainbow, Slate House, and all others.)

EXPAND AL FRESCO DINING and OPEN-AIR FESTIVAL EXPERIENCES

  • Expand dining into adjacent rights-of-way as a means to adhere to social distancing requirements.
  • Explore potential options in addition to the use of parklets and parking lots to the closure of travel lanes and full street segments to allow for outdoor dining and retail use.

(As an example, the Palm Springs City Council recently weighed options and ultimately approved a full closure of an 8-block stretch of Palm Canyon Drive downtown to allow businesses to expand their outdoor dining space and serve more customers.

As reported by a local news channel, Council members concluded, a.) It will be so much safer not to have vehicles going through the areas where people are dining out in the street, b.) As more businesses move outdoors, street closures will help keep sidewalks from becoming overcrowded and enable social distancing. c.) The additional foot traffic will also bring more business to retailers.)

I’m not a professional politician, so I don’t bring any political baggage or bias, nor have I curried the favor of special interests by accepting their donations. I owned three restaurants in New York City and developed an internationally acclaimed restaurant company. For the past 15 years, I have successfully managed five apartment communities with 140 rent-stabilized rental apartments in West Hollywood.

With hands-on experience, unbridled enthusiasm, and a skill set as a business leader, I will work hard “for the people, for a change.”

And together, We Will Bring Back West Hollywood! marco4weho.com

0 0 vote
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

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

13 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rob C.
Rob C.
23 days ago

Marco is my landlord and I have to say I lucked out with him. He has always been able to look past the letter of a rule to see what is most expedient and best for his tenants. In the many, many years i’ve known him he has fought for the LGBTQ+ community and has striven to make every community he works with inclusive and fair. Lets promote what makes us unique!

Josh R
Josh R
23 days ago

I agree with Marco that the city should be doing more to promote its unique heritage. And that fresh ideas are going to be required to assist in the city’s economic recovery. I believe that Marco is a person who can not only provide, but will truly cultivate the energy and passion our city will need – I have lived in a building he has managed for over 10 years, and he has never been anything other than kind, attentive, and relentlessly positive in his manner. I would be quite happy to be represented by him on the West Hollywood… Read more »

Neil P.
Neil P.
24 days ago

I couldn’t be happier knowing that FINALLY there’s someone running for City Council who DOESN’T have ANY political baggage or feels any sense of indebtedness to special interest groups or donators. Marco is truly a man of the people and FOR the people. I have been a resident of weho for a LONNNNNNNG time and for the past 11 years as a tenant in one of Marco’s managed buildings. He has always been open, honest, supportive and willing to go the extra mile to make sure problems are resolved quickly and fairly. He is by far the best manager I… Read more »

Jodi
Jodi
24 days ago

Great article! Marco Colantonio has my full support! I love his ideas for the future of West Hollywood. PS I have been a tenant in one of Marco’s building and he is an amazing manager and everyone in the building loves him!

Michael Foley
Michael Foley
24 days ago

The thing I’ve learned about Marco over the last 5 years is that he’s a man of his word. That is why he has my support in the upcoming election. Our City has been sold down the river to the highest bidder and the current crisis has put a spotlight on how little the Council cares about residents and small businesses.

Phillip R
Phillip R
25 days ago

I love this article. You are so right, the City Council has lost its way many many years ago. Corruption is a big problem in West Hollywood. No that the pandemic hit us hard the council members just sit back and let longtime businesses go under without sending them any lifeline. They should be ashamed and resign immediately to make way for people who have a plan and want to save our city. I like what you have outlined and I think this is the right way to get West Hollywood back on track and make our city better than… Read more »

Beth Moody
Beth Moody
25 days ago

I’ve lived in a property Marco has run for 11 years. He’s a good manager and has great ideas to further the Weho community!

Joshua88
Joshua88
25 days ago

“Economic recovery is the most critical issue and the greatest challenge facing our community.”

After we solve the issue of a global pandemic, of course.
News today that a young man in HK was reinfected w/COVID-19 might put a damper on things.
https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-08-24/hong-kong-coronavirus-reinfection

Erin Mitchell
Erin Mitchell
24 days ago
Reply to  Joshua88

I’ve known Marco for 11 years and he’s been the best property manager I’ve ever dealt with. He actually cares about his tenants and the community. He’s also been This is the kind of person we need looking out for West Hollywood Bring the Sunset Strip back. Marco4weho!

Ex-tenant
Ex-tenant
25 days ago

You say you successfully managed but you threatened tenants and we filed a complaint with city hall for your harassments that every member of our building signed to have you removed for being our building manager. Publish the truth .

Tad
Tad
25 days ago

Agree that it’s disgusting the amount of our money spent on Money Pit Park so that egomaniacs can get their name on it. It’s gaudy and completely out of scale for the needs of a 1.8-square-mile community.

Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty
25 days ago

There should be a better way to feature & display the rainbow colors than crosswalks.
From day one, they become dirty & marred with black tire tracks, gum & other ground in dirt & become an eyesore, unappealing at best, nothing that says “Pride”. Drivers or pedestrians don’t even notice them anymore. There must be better ways to publicly exhibit the Pride colors than crosswalks. Maybe those pebble squares around the sidewalk trees could be painted the rainbow colors instead for passersby to enjoy & they could be kept clean & presentable. A thought

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
25 days ago

WH needs to move into the present. The majority of resident don’t support this view.

13
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x