John Altschul Announces Resignation from Planning Commission After 24 Years of Service

John Altschul

In a move that shocked many on Thursday night, longtime West Hollywood Planning Commissioner John Altschul announced his resignation from the Commission. His final meeting will be on Dec. 3.

After 24 years on Planning Commission, Altschul said he was stepping down for health reasons.

“It appears that this coming year, I’m going to need the next in a series of surgeries on my vision. So, I’m going to take this opportunity to step down after 24 years with much gratitude and much appreciation for the opportunity to have served,” Altschul said at the start of Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting.

First appointed in 1996 by Councilmember John Heilman and later appointed by Councilmember John D’Amico, the 84-year-old Altschul has come to be viewed as the city’s elder statesman largely because of the leadership, diplomacy and patience he possesses. He has the ear of city leaders, community activists, business leaders and developers that is required of an effective statesman.

“I’ve enjoyed tremendously meeting the members of the community, the wonderful members of the staff, participating in this quite interesting and challenging subject matter and learning perhaps a whole new language and a whole new set of skills. It’s been fantastic and I much appreciate it,” Altschul said. “Thank you.”

His fellow commissioners were stunned, calling him a dear friend as well as a mentor and saying they have learned so much by working with him.

“You’ve been such a mentor and a West Hollywood institution,” said Commissioner Adam Bass. “This city is better for your service.”

Meanwhile Commissioner John Erickson, who will soon be joining the City Council, said Altschul was a “beacon of intelligence” and a joy to know.

“You are an icon,” said Erickson. “You have fought the good fight and you still do it. You show up every meeting. We can all learn a thing or two from you . . . In many ways, you are the best of us.”

Several commissioners applauded Altschul’s institutional knowledge, commending the way he explained the history of a situation or why the Commission voted a certain way years earlier.

“I’ve always considered you our alte kaker here on Planning Commission,” said Commissioner Lynn Hoopingarner. “At a very minimum, your institutional knowledge will be greatly missed.”  

Commissioner Sue Buckner said she appreciated the friendship the two have developing while serving together.

“I’m going to look to you because we’ve become friends as well,” said Buckner. “I wish you well. I respect your decision. I understand it, but I’m going to be sad to see you go.”

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michaelZ
michaelZ
11 days ago

Such sad news…..Wonderful John Altschul,
a friend and the voice of reason…..
We will all miss him…..

hifi5000
hifi5000
11 days ago

Sorry to hear this man is leaving.My question is where is the next person, male or female,willing to devote much time to a planning commission job that can be thankless at times.Mr. Altschul set the example that,I hope,someone will follow and keep West Hollywood the best any city can be.

David Cooley
David Cooley
12 days ago

Thank you John for making us proud of what West Hollywood has become because of your vision. So proud to say I had the opportunity to work with you on several of my projects. You are in inspiration to our city. Take time now and enjoy and rest and come in and say hello. Thank you for your hard work and vision 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏♥️♥️♥️♥️

Sheila Lightfoot
Sheila Lightfoot
13 days ago

Many who are familiar with my tenure on the Planning Commission might be shocked to know that Mr. Altschul and I became friends through that time. Although we came down on opposite sides on many (most) votes, I relied upon him to answer procedural questions and sometimes tested my interpretation of the code in complicated situations on him. I knew if he could find a hole in it, he would. He also regularly offered “constructive criticism” in private. I think, perhaps to my surprise more than his, it made me a better commissioner. For that, along with the personal friendship… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
13 days ago

It seems like it is the end of an era. Before his long service on the Planning Commission, John was a member of the Public Safety Commission, where is balance and intelligence kept that commission focused and effective. John brought that skill set to the planning commission. It is often forgotten that Altschul bucked staff on several memorable projects, including the Avalon on the Eastside which resulted in a major reduction in the size of that project. He certainly risked the wrath of John Heilman when he came out in favor of preserving “Tara”, the historic building on Laurel that… Read more »

Jay
Jay
14 days ago

Commissioner John Altschul-

Your 24-year service to West Hollywood is noted, appreciated, inspirational, and will be remembered. Godspeed.

Manny
Manny
14 days ago

John Altschul’s work on the Planning Commission made a tremendous impact. Wise, stern, compassionate and focused, he has helped make West Hollywood better……and the only one who could settle down a misbehaving Jeanne Dobrin. Now that’s special!

Larry Block
Larry Block
14 days ago

They used to call you the Pope of West Hollywood but that title might go to John Heilman after his retirement. Lots of changing of the old guard and room for the new.. Thank you for your friendship for 35 years, but more than that thank you for your work and service on behalf of West Hollywood.

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