West Hollywood: Built to Last, Designed for Change

Last night, I returned from San Francisco, where I attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors 83rd annual meeting. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is the current president of the organization, and the theme of his presidency has been Cities 3.0. As one might expect of a conference in the Bay Area, sponsors of the event included Salesforce, Google, Waze, Uber, Lyft and Zipcar. And Sal Khan of Khan Academy and Brian Chesky of Airbnb were two of the Plenary Session speakers.

But it was the Technology and Innovation Task Force that made the conference theme resonate with me. Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, explained her theory on the meaning of Cities 3.0. She remarked that the 1.0 era for cities featured leaders using whatever means they had available – from carrier pigeons to space shuttles – to accomplish their mission. The 2.0 era focused on the role of social media in facilitating conversations within a new digital space. But for Smith, 3.0 cities foster true connection and meaningful engagement to build community. A 3.0 city calls upon the ingenuity of its citizenry, and provides a platform for good ideas to emerge and for creative problem-solving to take shape.

Mayor Lindsey Horvath
Mayor Lindsey Horvath

I was pleasantly surprised at the direction the conversation went. Too often discussions of innovation – particularly in local government – are focused on comparing tools rather than evaluating impact. As Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti noted, cities can spend a great deal of time creating a signature app that addresses their constituents’ every concern, but their efforts will be futile if no one uses it. Meeting people where they are at – within the community and in a digital space – must be the goal of municipal innovation. And making government more accessible and in tune with what people need must be the focus of local leaders.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was on the Technology & Innovation Task Force panel as well. He talked about cities being “built to last” as the old paradigm – that the strength and success of a community used to be measured by its ability to withstand trying times. He challenged mayors to move away from that way of thinking and to adopt a new paradigm that encourages and embraces innovation, in which strong cities are actually “designed for change.” This made a lot of sense to me in thinking about where West Hollywood has yet to grow.

After 30 years of cityhood, West Hollywood has more than proven our ability to last. With an $80 million + annual budget, $100 million in reserves and a triple-A bond rating, the city is fiscally secure because of sound financial leadership. Our streets are free of potholes, our trash is collected on time, and more and more people everyday look to call West Hollywood their home. We have been resilient in providing human services for diverse constituencies, even in the face of the Great Recession. No longer are onlookers questioning whether we can make it; they are asking how we do it so that they can learn from our example. As mayor, I am proud that West Hollywood continues to set the bar high.

In thinking about what West Hollywood needs to do to become a 3.0 city – to become a city that is designed for change – I am reminded of a quote from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the Conference: “If we’re going to re-stitch the fraying fabric of our communities, we are all going to have to step up and get engaged.” This means making room for more and different voices to be part of the conversation, and changing the way City Hall operates to meet the needs of an evolving community. The recently eliminated Council deputy program is just one example of a change at City Hall that was long overdue to better serve the people of West Hollywood. I expect the Ethics Task Force to bring forward suggestions for additional reform that will increase engagement and trust in City Hall as well.

At the conference, Mayor Garcetti talked about the open data platform that his administration created to share valuable information with Angelenos looking to solve the problems they see in their communities. I would like to see West Hollywood move in that direction too. I believe some of the best answers for our city’s 21st century problems will come from outside of City Hall. To ensure those answers are heard, it is the responsibility of our government to empower the community with information; to be receptive, flexible, and open to new ideas; and to create a platform that directly and meaningfully engages people in their city.

President Obama contrasted the dysfunction of federal politics with the effectiveness of local government by saying, “Mayors understand when there’s a conflict between ideology and reality, you opt for reality.” The reality for West Hollywood is that our success as a city has brought about new challenges. Affordability, sustainability, and livability are real issues facing our city, and we all need to work together to find real solutions to these problems. I welcome your input, ideas, and feedback – regardless of whether you voted for me in the past or would like to in the future. I want our Creative City to be one that’s designed for change and includes more and different voices; I ask for your help in making that our new reality.

Lindsey Horvath is the mayor of West Hollywood.

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Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
6 years ago

Could these be the words of a politician who understands that she works for us? Here in West Hollywood? I hope that’s the case, it’s too rare on the imperial council.

Pinya
Pinya
6 years ago

More when 50 percent population of our city don’t belong to LBGT community. But the city
council don’t pay attention to us. Russian festival is worst every year. We have a lot of boards, but most of members are Boytown residents. Russian Advisory Board are not leaders of our community. City spend a lot of attention and money for westside and do almost
nothing about eastside. This is a reason of inactivity residents on election.

mylena christina
6 years ago

citizens need to collaborate and tilt together to catch the wind! great job lindsay for being visionary and keeping weho on the crest of the wave!

Bernadette Parinello
Bernadette Parinello
6 years ago

& just imagine if everyone had voted for Mayor Horvath last time where we as a city would be???! (without damicco, rex, deputy gate, etc, etc, etc)

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
6 years ago

Mayor Horvath is right that listening to the voices outside of City Hall is a major component of real leadership. Elected officials, at all levels, often forget that we elect them to represent us, not tell us what to do. No one ever has all the answers and the point is to do your best to draw upon the collective wisdom of the community to point the way to the future. Mayor Horvath’s comments are wonderfully refreshing.

Conrad
Conrad
6 years ago

@ John McCormick: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – JFK

Bernadette Parinello
Bernadette Parinello
6 years ago

Mayor Horvath is certainly hitting it out of the park & I am so thrilled to have voted for her last time around & this time around too because more then anything she has a heart that she’s guided by & an openness & respect virtually nobody else does besides being super duper smart and really truely just as nice as can be . NOW…. Just imagine if everyone in weho had been smart enough to vote for Mayor Horvath LAST time around as I did. We wouldn’t have been subjected to the disgusting destructive policies of Damicco nor the… Read more »

Lynn Russell
Lynn Russell
6 years ago

Mayor Lindsey Horvath appears to have a gift and dedication for the responsibilities she sought and has admirably taken on. Her type of clear leadership and disposition are rare qualities which could and should inspire others.

Recently I had the privilege of serving on a board with this type of individual and was always amazed at the grasp and ease with which she cut through difficult issues to find solutions always managing a high level of positive demeanor. Even when she disagreed with you the respect was acknowledged and nothing was ever personal.

We are lucky to have you Lindsey.

fine7760
6 years ago

Lindsey has indeed been a surprise. She really has acted professional and is well informed on the issues before the council. Unfortunately in one year we will be blessed with a Mayor who has proved being on the council to be well over her head and as predicted by many not the most qualified candidate during the election.

Chris Roth
Chris Roth
6 years ago

Keep it up Mayor, I for one think that you are off on the right foot. With all that you have to do just to get acclimated in your new role, you continue to show leadership by listening to the citizens of the city. You inspire me. I have never lived in a city where the Mayor shows up at a neighborhood watch meeting passing out her card inviting us to call her personally with problems or questions. I will be getting more involved helping any way I can.

JJ
JJ
6 years ago

@ Jim Nasium..that was too funny! =)

Patty O'Furniture
Patty O'Furniture
6 years ago

Lindsey has been hitting it out of the park politically. Hopefully, she’ll listen to the residents and not just the developers and special interests. I’m curious to see who she’ll appoint to the planning commission.

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