Well, as we close out another year with staying at home, vaccinations, variants, and boosters, I'm hopeful that 2022 will start to look a little more like life before shutdowns. And although we may not be out of the woods quite yet, we certainly have learned to adapt. More people are working from home, spending time outdoors, driving less, and connecting with others via platforms like Zoom. In fact, for the last two years, I didn't get my usual winter cold -- probably due to masks indoors and a few less get-togethers. So there is an upside! City Council will continue to meet via teleconference as long as the infection rate is 1.5% or above. While it is nice to meet in-person in Council Chambers, wearing a mask for 6 hours straight is not so pleasant. Please be patient with us as we continue to work through this. One practice I put forward since becoming Mayor is to allow the public to turn on their cameras during public comment so we can see who is talking to us, not just hear them. It is so important for us to maintain that personal connection, whether in Chambers or conducting meetings via Zoom.
This last quarter the City hosted our first State of the Community, celebrated the 23rd Annual Disability Service Awards, the Paul Andrew Starke Warrior Awards, and the 2nd Annual Green City Awards. We also commemorated Veterans Day and Transgender Day of Awareness.
Is there more?
There's more! This last quarter I worked on a number of initiatives that were adopted by Council. Here are some highlights:
Measures to Increase Community Safety on Commercial Streets: directs staff to work with the Public Safety Commission and the business community to develop measures to increase community safety on commercial streets, including but not limited to, developing a commercial public safety camera rebate program and gathering feedback on a Neighborhood Watch model for commercial areas.
Holiday Safety Ambassadors and Entertainment Policing Staffing: directs staff to increase the number of Block by Block Security Ambassadors in the City’s business districts during the holiday season to promote enhanced community safety as more residents and visitors patronize the City’s commercial areas. The item also requested reinstating the Entertainment Policing Team Sergeant and Deputy that were reduced in fiscal year 2020-21 due to COVID-19 budget reductions; however, this part of the item was not adopted by my colleagues.
Registration Requirements for All Rental Units in West Hollywood: directs staff to amend the Municipal Code to require all rental units in West Hollywood to be registered and reregistered upon a new tenancy. This would eliminate the current registration and reregistration exemption for non-rent-stabilized units in West Hollywood. This proposal would have many benefits for renters and the City, including: provide the City with information on the number of rentals in West Hollywood, actual market rate rents, and rental increases; help ensure that the one-year minimum lease requirements are being implemented; help discourage illegal short-term rentals; allow the City to gather more accurate information on vacancies; support the City in providing guidance about tenant protections to all West Hollywood renters, not just those living in rent stabilized units; and help the City provide information regarding emergency preparedness and other important public safety messaging to a broader audience. Thanks to Councilmember Erickson for co-sponsoring.
Streamline Approval of Affordable Housing Projects: directs staff to research options for streamlining the approval of 100% affordable housing projects that are in full compliance with minimum development standards in the City’s latest adopted Zoning Code. The intent is to encourage a more certain and quicker process for low impact affordable housing projects that comply with the base requirements of their respective zoning districts. Thanks to Councilmember Erickson for asking me to co-sponsor.
- Exploration of Alternative and Additional Public Restrooms: this recommendation from the Council Subcommittee on Homelessness (Mayor Pro Tem Shyne and myself) directs staff to explore increased access to public restrooms through additional and alternative facilities.
- Tree Giveaway Program and Monthly Tree Planting: directs staff to establish a tree giveaway program, and, also, plant at least one tree monthly for the next year in order to increase our urban forest and encourage residents to assist in this endeavor.
- City Council Priority-Setting Workshop Sessions: directs staff to organize up to two workshop sessions for the City Council and City Manager that will serve to help the City Council set its goals and priorities for the coming months and, also, focus on team building.
Last but not least...
For information and county updates regarding COVID testing and vaccines, visit LA County's Public Health website: http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.
To access information on resources for residents, tenants and businesses in the City of West Hollywood, visit the City's website here.
To see what our business community is up to this New Year's Eve, click here.
Also, don't forget about #BOOM! This is a live broadcast, alcohol- and drug-free New Year's Eve event. For more info, click here.
Happy new year! Stay safe, stay healthy.