Abbe Land, West Hollywood’s second-longest serving City Council member, will not seek re-election in March.
“I love this city, and I’m incredibly proud of the job that we’ve been done,” Land told WEHOville. But, she noted, she has a job running a national non-profit organization that requires a lot of travel and attention. Land is executive director and CEO of the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention among LGBT young people. “I’ve had to travel more than before,” she said. “I have had to miss things here and there.”
While Land said she won’t seek re-election, she remains committed to her work as a Council member until her term expires. “I’m here until March, and we have a lot of work to do,” she said.
Land has served on the City Council for 22 years, a tenure exceeded only by Councilmember John Heilman, who was elected to the Council 30 years ago when the city was first incorporated.
Land’s decision, and Councilmember Jeffrey Prang’s likely victory in his race for L.A. County Assessor, mean an unprecedented four of the five City Council seats may be up re-election. A victory by Prang in the Assessor’s race (while he maintains a slight lead, several hundred thousand mail-in and provisional ballots are still being counted), means the Council will have to name someone to fill the remaining two years of his term or call a special election for June. Given its current political and personal divisions, political observers believe it’s unlikely the Council will be able to agree on someone to fill the remainder of Prang’s term. That means John Duran will be the only incumbent whose seat is not up for re-election next year.
Land has lived in West Hollywood since 1979. She was first elected to the Council in 1986 to fill a vacancy left when Mayor Valerie Terrigno resigned after being convicted on federal charges of embezzling money from a non-profit organization. Land’s victory over Gene LaPietra, the gay owner of Circus Disco, meant an end to the brief gay majority on the Council, which had existed since the city’s incorporation in 1984.
Land won with the support of the Coalition for Economic Survival, the group that organized the campaign to incorporate West Hollywood in an effort to protect the community’s residents from the relaxation of county rent control rules by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She was an active member in the CES campaign that brought together rent control advocates, seniors and gay rights advocates to vote to form a city from what was then an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County. CES Executive Director Larry Gross recalls the evening when he sitting in his office in the early evening with some of his staff members and decided to answer an after-hours telephone call. On the other end of the call was the young Land, who asked Gross how she could help.
The end of the gay majority on the Council disturbed some gay community activists, although it was clear from Land’s landslide victory (62 percent of the votes) that she had the support of the city’s gay residents. While heterosexual herself, she became an outspoken supporter of LGBT causes and in 2012 was named executive director and CEO of the Trevor Project. In a humorous tribute to her support of LGBT issues (and a play on a derogatory term that many gay people have embraced), Land was once recognized at a public meeting by Sheila Kuehl, the lesbian former state senator who recently was elected to the 3rd District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, as a “flaming heterosexual.”
Before winning a seat on the City Council, Land served for one year on the West Hollywood Planning Commission. She left the Council in 1997 and returned in 2003, beating incumbent Councilmember Steve Martin. In 2006, Land ran for the 42nd District state Assembly seat, losing to Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Feuer. Land has served as the city’s mayor, a largely symbolic role, five times.
On the Council, Land is seen as a close ally of Heilman, which often puts her on the opposite side of issues from Mayor John D’Amico and sometimes Councilmember John Duran. Her tenure and that of Heilman were part of the inspiration for a successful citizen campaign last year to limit Council members to no more than three four-year terms in office. Those limits were not retroactive.
Land and Heilman have been criticized for taking campaign finance support from developers based outside West Hollywood who need the city’s approval of their WeHo projects. That support, however, goes to all incumbent Council members. Heilman and Land are the only Council members who have pushed to bar the managers of City Council members’ political campaigns from lobbying the Council on behalf of their business clients. Other Council members have rejected their efforts.
Among her major accomplishments on the Council, Land has cited her support for rent control and her efforts to create the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which builds and rehabilitates affordable housing for seniors, families and people living with disabilities.
Land also has focused on environmental issues, initiating the city’s Green Building ordinance, one of the first in the country. That ordinance requires developers of new properties to meet certain environmental standards.
Land was instrumental in creating the city’s Women’s and Disability Advisory Boards. She was also active in the development of the city’s domestic violence prevention program for same-sex couples.
Land also has been outspoken on national issues. In 1996 she led an effort that resulted in West Hollywood becoming the first city in California to ban the sale of Saturday Night Specials handguns, which eventually were banned statewide. She has been an advocate for women’s reproductive rights, working to have West Hollywood in 1993 become the nation’s first “pro-choice” city in the nation. In 2004 she led a West Hollywood delegation to the March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C.
Don’t kid yourselves gentlemen. It is o.k. to give credit where credit is due to the various West Hollywood City Councils & other appointed & hired of it’s public servants, who have helped guide West Hollywood through it’s prosperous course of the last 30years, but West Hollywood has for far longer been a self-generating & self-sustaining gold mine at least since the 1950s. That’s why we became a city in the first place, the potential was obvious. All we need are part time City Council members to keep approving large development projects to keep the mother lode producing & the… Read more »
Kudos to kab1200. This City is well run, has money in the bank and is still THE place to live, work, dine and play in the Los Angeles area. These councilmembers must be doing something right! Oh, and the majority of voters keep voting them in so it seems that there are more people happy with the likes of Abbe then those that are against.
kab1200, your argument (“people re-elected representative x, so people must think that representative x was doing a good job”) also validates Silvio Berlusconi’s, George W Bush’s and Marion Barry’s job performance and thousands of small town hack politicians who have run their cities into the ground (not that Abbe has done that) and gotten re-elected time and time again. In our tiny city the “informed vote” (voters who regularly read local publications like this and follow all the local issues closely) is most probably less than 2% of residents and you can win a seat with just 7% of residents… Read more »
Yes Rudolf, and only those who give a crap vote, so I think my point is well taken. They would be the informed ones, the rest in this city couldn’t care less to take the time to educate themselves on the candidates, etc. Oh, but they sure as hell will be the first to complain when they don’t like something. Kind of hard to make the analogy you did using Abbe, as it did not really make sense in this case. There are term limits now, so let the games begin.
While I seldom agreed with Abbe Land on development and governance issues, it is hardly fair to brush Abbe and John Heilman as being the only City Council members who were lackeys to developers. But they did start the tend. Back in 1994 Abbe solicited $13,000 in campaign contributions for her first Assembly bid from the House of Blues after voting to let the night club open with a 3,000 person capacity with only sixty on site parking spaces. The uproar resulted in her deciding not to run for re-election. But today John Duran and Jeff Prang are even further… Read more »
Well Steve, she was voted in repeatedly, so I would say most think she was doing a good job. To be honest, I was not a fan of most of your ideas.
So glad we can get someone new on council, After term limits were approved by the #weho voters im pleased to see Abbey let someone else serve the community, before she was forced out
Regarding Abbe Land’s pay: FYI that Land pulled in total compensation of $206,522 from Trevor Project in tax year ended July 31, 2013, equivalent to $99 an hour based on the stated 40-hour work week shown on tax form.
I’m not sure of the value of Land’s pay and perks from city of West Hollywood.
Are Abbey and Heilman brilliant financial planners or did they simply luck out because WeHo inexplicably got the portion of Sunset Boulevard that has the biggest swankiest hotels; the taxes of which account for something like $50-$60 million per year of the city’s budget. Why do you think the city always bends over backwards to get new bigger and better community-busting hotels rushed through the planning process then make it very easy for the hotels to get built. Frankly for all the praise heaped upon the very self-serving and egotistical councilers, monkeys could do that job probably with similar results… Read more »
I love her so much. She married my husband and I in the wonderful summer of love of 2008 before Prop 8. I adore her.
For those that are hoping Heilman will not run again, don’t hold your breath. I read he has already filed his paperwork to run again. He doesn’t know how to bow out gracefully.
While I am glad Ms. Land is not running again, I join in thanking her for her service to our City. I did not agree with her many times, but you can’t deny she did contribute in making WeHo the City it is today.
Abbe will always be my favorite flaming heterosexual! I, for one, can never thank her enough for her years of wisdom & service to the residents, business owners & visitors to West Hollywood. She may be off the Council come Spring, but I know we’ll still have her as an active, engaged resident…..and she’ll always have a place in my heart
Some of you have no idea how good you have it here. Or resent that you do, since it conflicts with preset beliefs. What this does mean is that Heileman and D’Amico are nearly certain winners, particularly if the 4th placer becomes the appointee for Prang’s seat. In the meantime, not sure if the council is even allowed not to fill a vancancy (unless they deadlock 2-2). To buttress my suggestion, first made months ago, that the 4th placer be appointed, I think whoever is appointed, even if a candidate, will resign in March. John D’Amico told me more than… Read more »
Councilwoman Land has served with distinction and passion, and at this time when she’s stepping aside, it’s no time to pick petty little fights, but rather, it is a time to come together and say “Thank you!” for her service. I, for one, am grateful for the incredible City that is West Hollywood, and Abbe Land has been instrumental in creating all of the good we celebrate in West Hollywood, despite any disagreements we may have.