Hello from West Hollywood's new Mayor!
This quarter was particularly exciting for me as I was sworn in by my former Council colleague, John Heilman, on September 20th as Mayor of the City of West Hollywood. This is my second mayoral term since I was elected in 2015. Congratulations to my colleague Sepi Shyne, who was sworn in as Mayor Pro Tem ("MPT"). I look forward to working with MPT Shyne and all my Council colleagues these next 16 months.
When I was installed as Mayor back in April 2016, I spoke about renewing the community spirit that helped form this great city nearly 37 years ago, which John Heilman and others were a big part of. As a community, we gathered as one after 9/11, we mourned the tragedy of the Pulse Nightclub mass murder, we celebrated marriage equality, and we marched, stood up to, and survived a challenging national political climate. I have lived in this city over 30 years, and over the years, I have witnessed many stages in our city’s maturity – I have seen issues divide our city. I have seen the east side pitted against the west side, businesses pitted against residents, tenants pitted against landlords. But I have to say, that after being elected to council, the drama that seemed to plague every council meeting with a controversial topic… the theatre – and a lot of it was theatre – seemed to dissipate.
Recently, however, we’re seeing a divisiveness that I haven’t seen in a while, and it’s disturbing. It’s disturbing because we are still one small city and one community – a community comprised of people from all walks of life, a community with young people and older people; a community with businesses and workers. All must be valued; none should be discounted. A rainbow flag is not just six colors or 10 colors – if it truly represents our community, then it is an infinite number of colors. Putting people into categories, labeling them, disparaging them, does not serve this community.
I’d like to say that my goal as mayor is to solve our three biggest issues: homelessness, housing affordability, and making our city safer. As mayor, I’d like to strengthen our neighborhoods, encourage economic diversity, and further initiatives to protect our renters and our small businesses. I’d like to make West Hollywood a premier green city by increasing our urban forest and embracing biodiversity. I’d like to find a companion care center close to home for our lost, found, and abandoned animals. And, importantly, I’d like for West Hollywood to be the most prepared and resilient city in the country – for whatever emergency or disaster strikes – whether it be earthquake, drought, pandemic, or recession.
But none of this can happen if we don’t work together and focus on the city’s recovery from this pandemic. None of this can happen, if we don’t focus on keeping people healthy and getting people vaccinated. And none of this can happen if we, as a council, don’t make recovery our number one priority. So, I am bringing forward a proposal requesting that the City Manager arrange several team-building workshops for council, designed to help foster communications among council members, to clarify council’s role, and to identify priorities and common goals. The objective of the workshops will be to transform our new council and our new city manager into an effective, problem-solving team.
You may be wondering why I asked my former colleague, John Heilman, to swear me in as Mayor. As many of you know, John and I did not agree on every issue, and in fact, before I was on council, I was probably one of council’s most vocal critics. But, once we were colleagues, we learned to work together, respect each other, and most importantly, acknowledge that we both cared about the best interests of the city, even when we didn’t agree. So, I appreciate that John was a part of my swearing in because, to me, it symbolized hope… hope that people with different perspectives can work together effectively for the city they love. And, as your mayor, I’m confident this is something that we – council, residents, businesses, staff, and other community members – can achieve in the months to come.
What else is new?
The City of West Hollywood has issued Vaccine Verification Requirements per Emergency Executive Order (EEO 2021-7) and Resolution No. 21-5444. The order seeks to safeguard health and safety throughout West Hollywood with vaccine verification requirements for:
- Patrons and Staff at “Covered Businesses”
- City Facilities and City Contractors
- City Employees and City Officials
Covered Businesses are generally defined as:
- Establishments where food or drink is served indoors
- Health/Fitness facilities; and
- Personal Care Establishments
The timeline for implementation of the City’s Order has been modified to align with LA County requirements, as follows:
- Effective October 7, 2021: Proof of one dose for patrons 18 and older is required and Covered Businesses are required to post vaccine verification signage (at the front entrance for patrons and in a visible location for employees).
- Effective November 4, 2021: Proof of full vaccination for patrons 18 and older is required.
To access some common questions and answers about the order, please visit FAQ Document | Vaccine Verification Requirements Order on the City's website. Covered Businesses are required to post signage/notifications at the front entrances for patrons and in a visible location for employees. If you are a business and have questions regarding vaccination verification requirements, please contact the City’s Code Compliance Division at (323) 848-6516 or at [email protected].
This past quarter I worked on a number of initiatives that were adopted by Council. Here are some highlights...
Planning and Land Use:
Small Business Initiative to Create Affordable Commercial Spaces in New Commercial and Mixed-Use Projects - directs staff to develop a new policy that requires a mandatory, affordable commercial space component in any new commercial or mixed-use development that requests a development agreement, specific plan, or other commercial bonus (mixed-use, public benefits, overlay bonuses, Avenues Bonus, etc.) that would result in additional gross floor area beyond base zoning code allowances. Thank you to Mayor Pro Tem Shyne for co-sponsoring.
Public Benefits Policy Update - directs staff and the City Attorney to return to Council in 60 days with an analysis and review of the Public Benefits Policy. Thank you to Councilmember D'Amico for co-sponsoring.
West Hollywood Homeless Initiative Update and Town Hall - directs staff to organize a town hall to provide a community update on the City’s Homeless Initiative and to give members of the public an opportunity to learn more about the City’s programming and services, ask questions, and provide feedback. This will take place early in 2022. Thank you to MPT Shyne for co-sponsoring.
Initiative to Highlight Pet-Friendly Businesses and Develop "Pet Week" in West Hollywood - directs staff to work with our community partners, such as Visit West Hollywood and the Chamber of Commerce, to develop a webpage that includes information about pet friendly local businesses and to develop an annual “Pet Week”, which will include a social media campaign, community programming, and an event focused on companion animals. Thank you to MPT Shyne for asking me to co-sponsor.
Transparency and Governance:
Amendments to Commission, Advisory Board, and Task Force By-Laws Regarding the Election of Officers - directs staff to amend the Commission, Advisory Board, and Task Force by-laws to require the City Clerk or the City Clerk’s designee to administer the election of the Chair, Vice-Chair, and Co-Chairs in accordance with the process developed by the City Clerk’s Office and to include a new section outlining the “Eligibility Requirements of the Chair”. Thank you to Councilmember Horvath for asking me to co-sponsor.
Last but not least...
The holidays are coming! While we are returning to "business as usual," it is still important to:
- Wash your hands frequently,
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands,
- Self-isolate if you are sick,
- Wear a mask and practice social distancing indoors, particularly when you don't know everyone's vaccination status*,
- Get vaccinated!