See ya, 2021!

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?

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Coming Back - 3rd quarter 2021

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:

  1. Establishments where food or drink is served indoors
  2. Health/Fitness facilities; and
  3. 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]

New Initiatives:

This past quarter I worked on a number of initiatives that were adopted by Council. Here are some highlights...

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There is a Season

Weho is going through some changes...

Weho's long-time City Manager, Paul Arevalo, is set to retire in early July and Assistant City Manager, David Wilson, will be taking over the helm (congrats, David!). If you'd like to find out more about Weho's new City Manager, David Wilson, click here. We wish Paul much happiness (and fun) in his post-Weho life!

What else is new?

The City of West Hollywood will host a community conversation about equity and public safety featuring Constance “Connie” Rice, who is a lawyer, author, and public intellectual renowned for fighting systemic injustice and advancing multiracial democracy. The free virtual event will take place on Monday, July 12, 2021 at 6 pm on Zoom Webinar. For more information, click here.

Governor Newsom has signed AB 832, which extends statewide protections and rent relief programs enacted by SB 91 in January 2021. Most significantly, the Act extends the state’s residential eviction moratorium for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 related reasons to September 30, 2021 and expands the State Rent Relief Program. In addition to protection from eviction due to COVID-19-related financial hardship, after June 30, West Hollywood residential tenants will be covered by the County of Los Angeles eviction moratorium through September 30, 2021. For more information, click here.

On June 21, West Hollywood City Council approved Urgency Ordinance No. 21-1156U, which extends the City’s temporary moratorium on commercial evictions through September 30, 2021. For more information, click here.

The City of West Hollywood launched its “Dockless Mobility” pilot program on Thursday, July 1, 2021 with e-scooters and e-bikes from Bird, Lime, and Wheels. For more information, click here. Please note, complaints and concerns may be registered through the City of West Hollywood Official App, by emailing [email protected], or by calling the ABM bike program mobile number at 213-247-7720. We encourage all concerns be sent through these methods, so that our partners can respond quickly and we can keep abreast of persistent issues and/or any problem areas that may arise.

New Initiatives:

This last quarter I worked with my colleagues on a number of initiatives that were adopted by Council. Here are some highlights...

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2021: Things Are Looking Up!

Things are looking up!  

We're getting vaccinated. Businesses are coming back. Zoom meetings are keeping us connected. Recovery plans are in the works. 

What else?

Saturday, April 24, from 9 am - 1 pm. The city will be hosting a Virtual Symposium on Urban Forestry and Biodiversity. This virtual symposium will bring the West Hollywood community together with experts on the natural and built environment to discuss this topic through four lenses: urban flora (tree canopies, biodiverse green spaces), urban fauna (native wildlife), biomimicry (learning lessons from nature), and biophilic and regenerative inspired design (elevating new development). Please mark your calendar -- this is going to be a special event!

New Initiatives:

This last quarter I worked on a number of initiatives that were adopted by Council. Here are some highlights...

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Good riddance, 2020, and hello 2021

As we say goodbye and good riddance to 2020 and I am hopeful that 2021 will be a better year. At least starting on January 20th!

What's been happening lately?

Since my last update, we had an election and two new council members were elected to West Hollywood City Council: Sepi Shyne and John Erickson. In addition, I was elected by my colleagues to the Mayor Pro Tempore position. My councilmember comments can be found here.

Is there more?

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3rd down 2020

Election Day is right around the corner -- Tuesday, November 3rd. But remember, early voting is happening now! Please try to vote EARLY! The City is encouraging residents to vote safely at home and to either mail or drop off their Vote-By-Mail ballot. There are three Vote-By-Mail Drop Boxes in the City. The boxes are located at City Hall, Plummer Park, and the West Hollywood Library. Voters will also have the option of going to any Vote Center in Los Angeles County to cast their vote or to drop off their Vote-By-Mail Ballot as well. Plummer Park-Fiesta Hall will be a Vote Center for this upcoming election beginning October 30th through Election Day, November 3rd. You can also vote in-person on Election Day at the Kimpton La Peer Hotel and the Iranian American Jewish Federation Sapper Hall. Besides this being an important Presidential election, there are also two West Hollywood City Council seats on the line. Please do your homework - candidates have different views about the direction of the city.

As you all know, COVID is still with us, and we need to continue to follow LA County and city guidelines. According to public health officials, the best protection against COVID-19 continues to be:

  • Wash your hands frequently, 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, 
  • Self-isolate if you are sick, 
  • Practice physical distancing, and 
  • Wear a clean face covering when in contact with others from outside your household. 

For more information and county updates, 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

Even though it's October, the summer heat is still with us as well. For tips on Coping with High-Heat Days during Safer At Home Orders, click here. If you have immediate concerns about the impact of hot weather on yourself or a loved one in the City of West Hollywood, the City’s Social Services Division may be able to coordinate assistance for community members who are older adults or are vulnerable to high-heat conditions. Please call (323) 848-6510 for information.

How about some good news?

What follows are some initiatives I sponsored or co-sponsored third quarter of 2020 that were adopted by Council...

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And in other news: Quarterly update #2

These are certainly unprecedented times. While we all had hoped that, by now, we would be over the hump with regard to the COVID-19 health crisis, unfortunately, LA County and 29 other counties in the state are experiencing spikes in cases and hospitalizations.

California governor Gavin Newsom issued revised shutdown orders on July 13, 2020. In response, LA County Public Health issued the following for LA County:

"As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise here and across California, the Los Angeles County Health Officer Order will be modified today to align with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directives to prevent more cases, more serious illnesses, increased hospitalizations and more deaths.

The Order requires the closure of additional indoor operations for certain sectors which promote the mixing of populations beyond households and make adherence to physical distancing with face coverings difficult:

  • Gyms and Fitness Centers
  • Places of Worship
  • Indoor Protests
  • Offices for Non-Critical Infrastructure Sectors as identified at covid19.ca.gov
  • Personal Care Services (including nail salons, massage parlors, and tattoo parlors)
  • Hair Salons and Barbershops
  • Malls

Bars, indoor dining at restaurants, indoor museums, indoor operations at zoos and aquariums, and cardrooms and satellite wagering facilities remain closed in Los Angeles County, and all events and gatherings are prohibited unless specifically allowed by the Order."

In addition:

"School re-openings will be guided by the state and by each school district’s decision on how to best configure learning opportunities during the pandemic, considering the levels of community transmission and what the science tells us about the risks. For those schools that re-open their campuses, they will need to adhere to the public health and safety requirements detailed in the protocol released today."

To date, LA County Public Health has identified 136,129 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County and a total of 3,822 deaths. The City of West Hollywood has had 341 positive cases.

According to public health officials, the best protection against COVID-19 continues to be:

  • Wash your hands frequently,
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands,
  • Self-isolate if you are sick,
  • Practice physical distancing, and
  • Wear a clean face covering when in contact with others from outside your household. 

For more information and county updates, 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

For tips on Coping with High-Heat Days during Safer At Home Orders, click hereIf you have immediate concerns about the impact of hot weather on yourself or a loved one in the City of West Hollywood, the City’s Social Services Division may be able to coordinate assistance for community members who are older adults or are vulnerable to high-heat conditions. Please call (323) 848-6510 for information.

To wrap up, below are some initiatives I brought forward second quarter of 2020 that were adopted by Council...

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COVID-19 Weho Response Update 4/18/20

The most important thing you can do right now is "shelter in place," and keep yourself and your family healthy. If you need assistance, please call Council offices at 323-848-6460, or email me at [email protected]. For information and resources related to Coronavirus, please click here.

LA County "Safer At Home" Order

The Los Angeles County Department of Health has issued a revised  “Safer at Home” emergency order, which is effective through May 15, 2020. Click here for more information.

What do I need to know?

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COVID-19 Weho City Response Update

Wehoans - in an effort to flatten the curve... here's the latest on the City of West Hollywood's response to COVID-19.

The Latest:

Today, April 9, 2020, our City Manager, Paul Arevalo, issued an Executive Order implementing the following:

  • All City Parks and Dogs Parks are closed to the public.
  • Construction Sites shall abide by the following requirements or may be issued a stop work order:
    1. Handwashing facilities or hand sanitizer shall be installed at entrances to construction projects (unless the work is being conducted in an occupied building with operable restrooms in which case sinks are available for handwashing).
    2. Shared tools and equipment shall be regularly sanitized.
    3. Signage shall be posted at entrances to construction projects or common areas where work is occurring in an occupied building to instruct workers of social distancing and sanitation requirements, and  workers who are sick or exhibit symptoms of being ill or those in recent close contact with someone exposed to COVID-19 shall not be present on the work site. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health standards for social distancing shall apply.
    4. Face coverings shall be worn by all persons present at the construction site, and when necessary, OSHA regulations for personal protective equipment for the activity being performed shall be followed.
    5. Workers shall not gather in groups larger than three during breaks and shall maintain a six-foot social distance during such breaks. 
    6. “Choke points” and “high-risk areas” shall be identified where workers are forced to stand together, such as hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, and buses, and they shall be controlled so social distancing is maintained, to the extent practicable.
    7. Interactions when picking up or delivering equipment or materials shall be minimized to allow social distancing. 
    8. The trades shall be staggered as necessary to reduce density and maintain social distancing.
  • Non-essential retail businesses that have supply of goods that are needed to slow the spread of the virus (e.g. face coverings, hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes) may conduct limited retail sidewalk sales of those goods through a revocable (no fee) encroachment permit.
  • Window coverings to board up windows to secure a business during the closure are permitted, provided that the coverings are painted and secured either on the inside or outside of the window.

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What else?

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COVID-19 Response Update

These are difficult times, and we are all feeling the strain. But we will get through this!

Safer At Home

As you may know, the Los Angeles County Department of Health, to combat the spread of COVID-19, has issued a “Safer at Home” emergency order — ordering all residents of Los Angeles County to stay inside their residences, and immediately limit all movement outside of their homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs. 

Residents of Los Angeles County (that includes West Hollywood!) are required to stay inside their homes unless they are engaged in certain “essential activities.” 

The best way to reduce the risk of getting sick, or spreading the virus to others, is to stay at home! In addition...

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