It's become a tradition that the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s, I tidy up my work files and clean off my desk. However, before I take on this extremely challenging task, I’d like to share some final thoughts on what we’ve accomplished in 2015.
First, I’m pleased to report that a number of my initiatives were adopted by Council since my last blog post:
Construction Fence Art Program that requires construction fences on commercial development sites to feature temporary art installations.
Sheriff's Organizational Study that will include an assessment of customer services processes and deployment of Sheriff's deputies, Block by Block Security Ambassadors and volunteers. Thank you Councilmember D’Amico for co-sponsoring.
Community Engagement initiative to explore new technologies and tools to increase engagement and participation in the City's decision-making process.
Rooftop Uses Zone Text Amendment to better address new rooftop activity and uses in commercial zones through a public hearing process.
Tenants Opportunity to Purchase item directing staff to evaluate the legal implications and public interest in developing a program that would provide the tenants of a building the opportunity to purchase that building if the owner decides to sell.
Local Ordinance to Regulate Drones, unmanned aircraft and model aircraft, to protect the safety and welfare of those who live, work and play in the City of West Hollywood. Special thanks to our City Attorney’s office for preparing such a thorough report!
Rail: Council agreed to allocate funds for outreach services to build support for a Metro Rail project that would connect the Metro Red Line and Metro Crenshaw/LAX Northern Extension through West Hollywood. Council directed that the effort be implemented in two phases so that there is an opportunity to evaluate the City's progress before committing additional funds.
Sales Tax: Council approved an item to research placing an initiative on a future ballot to increase the City sales tax rate up to 1% for purposes of funding transit, etc.
Minimum Wage: Both the County of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles plan on raising the minimum wage. West Hollywood City Council will be dealing with a Minimum Wage policy for the city in early 2016.
Land Use Issues:
Regarding the 1028-1030 Kings Rd. appeal, the Council voted unanimously to deny the appeal, but acknowledged residents' concerns and separately directed staff to conduct parking and traffic studies in that neighborhood. Regarding the 8557 West Knoll appeal, Council voted unanimously to overturn the Planning Commission's decision and approve the project. The Council also voted unanimously to continue the 1216 Flores appeal, asking the Applicant to come back with a project more compatible with the neighborhood.
And, West Hollywood wouldn't be West Hollywood without a little controversy...
8650 Melrose - Avenues Bonus and Variance: The Council majority approved this 18,000+ sq. ft. project on the corner of Norwich and Melrose. I was the one “No” vote. As I stated at the public hearing, I did not think the project met the criteria for the Avenues Bonus (such as consistency with the City’s General Plan, compatibility with the character of Melrose Avenue, impacts to existing or anticipated residential or commercial development in the vicinity of the project), nor did it meet the required findings for a Variance (such as exceptional or extraordinary circumstances or conditions applicable to the property involved, which deny the owner privileges enjoyed by other property owners in the vicinity and within the same zoning district). The proposed building is nearly twice the size of what would be typically permitted in a Commercial Neighborhood (CN) zone.
The Center for Early Education - Specific Plan and Expansion: The Council majority voted to approve this project as well. I was the only “No” vote. While I think the Center for Early Education is a wonderful private school, a Specific Plan is not supposed to be granted “for good works.” Our General Plan is supposed to guide the decision, and by granting this Specific Plan, our City lost much-needed housing (including 9 rent-stabilized units) and several neighborhood-serving small businesses.
The City is looking for volunteers for the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.
The City will ring in the New Year with the Third-Annual #BOOM, West Hollywood’s premiere alcohol and drug-free New Year’s event!
Last but not least, a big shout-out to WeHo resident Nir Zilberman and his amazing space (HOME) for Love NO Hate, where he fed and kept warm a number of homeless people during the holidays. Thank you, Nir, for caring.
Plans for 2016?
I’m already working on several items for 2016 – hot topics include housing and supporting small business – stay tuned!
Don't forget to check the City Calendar for upcoming City meetings and events.
To all, a happy new year! Here's to a great 2016!