Several supporters of the demolition appeared to say that Protect Plummer Park, the citizens group that organized to oppose the demolition, does not speak for them.
“I don’t accept other people speaking on my behalf,” said resident Raul Cobain.
“Protect Plummer Park has taken the eastside into a war,” said Mike Dolan, who identified himself as a 28-year resident of West Hollywood.
Cathy Blaivas, one of the people who helped organize the Protect Plummer Park group in 2011, took issue with the use of the word “war.”
“We have a difference of opinion,” Blaivas said. “It’s not a war.”
Eight people spoke during the council’s public comment period to protest the demolition, while four spoke in favor of it. The four speaking in favor were called on to speak during the mandated 20-minute public comment period at the beginning of the council meeting. Only two of those opposed to the demolition were allowed to speak during that period; the others were not allowed to speak until the end of the three-hour council session. Several other opponents of the proposed demolition said they had planned to speak but left before the council meeting ended.
Several opponents of the demolition complained that the council had chosen speakers out of order instead of going by the time each speaker filed the required slip requesting a two-minute slot to address the council.
“I don’t believe there is a silent majority,” said resident Lauren Meister. “There is a majority you’re trying to silence.”
Councilmember John Duran chastised the protesters for accusing Mayor Abbe Land of shuffling the speakers, saying she announced the speakers in the order in which their requests to speak were projected on a computer screen.
“You owe her an apology,” Duran said.
Duran also complained that opponents of the renovation of Plummer Park and the destruction of Great Hall / Long Hall, designated a landmark on the national Historic Register, were vilifying people who support the demolition.
He said the council was well aware of Protect Plummer Park’s position. “We’ve been hearing from the Plummer Park people every two weeks for two years,” he said.
The $41 million makeover of the park was put on hold in 2012 because of opposition from Plummer Park and further jeopardized by a state decision to eliminate so-called local redevelopment authorities from with the City of West Hollywood had hoped to receive funding for the project.
At its last meeting, on Dec. 2, the council responded to a proposal by Councilmember John D’Amico to repair Great Hall / Long Hall and use it for cultural events by voting three to two to demolish it. Only D’Amico and Councilmember Jeffrey Prang opposed that decision.
In other matters, the Council postponed any discussion of a report it had requested in March from Councilmembers Jeffrey Prang and John Heilman on campaign finance reform and campaign ethics because Prang was not present. The report, which the Prang and Heilman submitted two months late, did not address Heilman’s proposal in March to ban managers of council members election campaigns from lobbying the council nor did it address any other issues raised by critics of the council’s campaign finance practices, which include accepting money from city vendors.
The council also agreed to extend on a month to month basis the PickUp Line, a trolley service that provides free transportation on Friday and Saturday nights along Santa Monica Boulevard from Fairfax to Robertson.