West Hollywood certainly manages to stay newsworthy! For better or worse...
Why, what happened?
LA Pride was a hot ticket -- but so hot, they needed to turn folks away. While being popular is a good problem to have, WeHo doesn't like to disappoint. So, you can bet there will be some conversations over the next few months with the public and with Council about next year's Pride festival.
Oh, and Stormy Daniels blew into town. Yes, she did -- and she left with a key to the City. My thoughts... a proclamation would have been more than sufficient, but it's done, so time to move on. We've got bigger issues to focus on.
Keeping Families Together. On Saturday, June 30, join nationwide protests against the Trump family separation policy. Meet at "high noon" at the corner of San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevard for the Rally for Humane (and Sane) Policies. Let's send a clear message to DC that discrimination and inhumane policies are not acceptable and must stop now.
The budget. To quote former Vice President Joe Biden, "Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget and I'll tell you what you value." The City Council adopted the City Manager's recommended Operating Budget and Capital Work Plan for fiscal year 2018-19, with several items to be brought back for further review. It is estimated that revenues for 2018-19 will be in the neighborhood of $135 million. In terms of expenditures, public safety, homelessness, neighborhood livability, capital project management, and organizational development were the main focus. For further discussion - directing more funds into social services and affordable housing (both existing and new). Stay tuned...
Another hotel. With a 4:1 vote, City Council approved the Robertson Lane Project. Yes, I was the 1 "no." Here's why: First, this "9-story" building is 114 feet tall -- that's over double the size of the La Peer Hotel across the street, and almost as tall as the Pacific Design Center Blue Building ("Blue Whale") on San Vicente and Melrose. That's an awfully big building for this location -- and it sets a precedent of bigger, taller buildings for future development in the surrounding area. Second, I was not convinced that the Factory was being preserved to the standards of the State Office of Historic Preservation or the National Registry. Nor did the Environmental Impact Report include an analysis of feasible alternatives that might have retained a larger portion of the Factory building and kept the building in place. The vision for the rehabbed Factory building actually shows that not only is it a building worth keeping, but a building that would be the defining feature of the project. It is the Factory building that shouts loud and proud, "this is WeHo." Third, I believe the staff's analysis of the public benefit greatly undervalued the benefits received by the applicant -- at the expense of our General Plan, our Zoning Code, our historic resources, our existing hotels, and our $160 million public park, which will be impacted by shadow and shade. The public benefit evaluation tool is only as good as its assumptions and if the assumptions favor the developer, so will the public benefit. The capitalization rates ("cap rates"), which determine the value of the project, need to make sense and be in line with the actual value of real estate in our city. The cap rate used for the analysis was not. Further, the public benefit proposed for this project did not begin to cover the value of a 450% increase in height in our CN2 zone, or a 250% increase in height in our CC2 zone, or a 230% increase in Floor Area Ratio (FAR), or the 5 years of blood, sweat and tears of the West Hollywood community to develop a 25-year General Plan.
Shared on-demand electric scooters. Council majority deemed the operations of these types of personal mobility services unlawful and voted NOT to develop a pilot program with shared electric scooter operators. Have your own scooter? No worries -- that's okay! But please make sure you wear a helmet, don't ride on the sidewalk, and park it legally and not on the public right-away!
Council adopted a number of my initiatives this quarter, including:
- Increasing funding for National Night Out events and redesign of Neighborhood Watch signs. Shout-out to Mayor Pro Tem D'Amico for co-sponsoring.
- Directing staff to organize a city-wide yard sale this summer.
- Providing pre-paid postage on all Vote By Mail ballots for the General Municipal Election on March 5, 2019 -- in order to promote greater participation in our local elections.
- Directing staff to develop an Eastside parkway beautification pilot program that includes partnering with property owners to redevelop public parkways. Shout-out to Mayor Pro Tem D'Amico for co-sponsoring.
- Directing staff to amend the current project review process in order to allow review and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report ("DEIR") at a Planning Commission meeting during the DEIR comment period, prior to the public hearing to consider the project entitlements. The goal of this change is to increase transparency of the EIR process and to give the public and the Planning Commission reasonable opportunities to provide input and public comment on proposed new projects in the City. Shout-out to Councilmember Horvath for co-sponsoring.
- Directing staff to investigate innovative parking meter programs and evaluate options to reduce the impacts of increased parking meter rates on residents and visitors. Shout-out to Mayor Pro Tem D'Amico for co-sponsoring.
Events you may have missed...
This quarter we celebrated: Annual West Hollywood Kids Fair, Arbor Day, Women's Advisory Board 25th Anniversary, World Dog Day 2018, Russian Arts and Cultural Festival, the Sunset Trip Launch, 2018 Rainbow Key Awards, One City-One Pride, and much, much more! You can visit the WehoCity Flickr site to see what you missed!
Photo credit Jon Viscott for WehoCity
Please note, due to the July 4th holiday, the next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, July 9th (and not July 2nd). For the latest agenda, visit the WeHoTV page on the City's website.
As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or suggestions!
Don't forget to check the City Calendar for upcoming City meetings and events.