West Hollywood City Councilmember John D’Amico launched a verbal attack on fellow Councilmember John Heilman last night during a discussion of a proposal to improve residential and commercial building access for those with disabilities.
The proposal, brought forth by Mayor Lindsey Horvath, would have the city waive fees for building owners who submit proposals for voluntarily upgrading their buildings to make them comply with federal and city accessibility standards. It also would provide technical assistance to those owners.
During discussion of the proposal, D’Amico and Councilmember Lauren Meister asked that the city also look at the possibility of offering low-interest loans to building owners to bring their properties into compliance with various regulations. D’Amico said that the city had as many as 15,000 housing units that are more than 30 years old, many of which haven’t been brought up to modern standards. Horvath and Heilman, however, didn’t agree to include that in the original proposal.
That spurred D’Amico to claim the Council wasn’t taking the action necessary to really improve the city’s existing housing stock. “Our actual affordable housing stock is falling apart,” he said. D’Amico then focused his attack on Heilman, with whom he has long had a contentious relationship.
“You once again stopped any progress on fixing our affordable units,” D’Amico said. “But shame on you. That’s a shameful thing that you continue to do. And I have zero respect for you in this matter… these people, these residents of our city who live in affordable housing deserve better than the kind of pandering and outright disrespect you have for them. …Yes you got affordable housing and rent control passed in 1984. Well p.s., you lost an election in March because you didn’t want to do anything about affordable housing.”
Councilmember John Duran was clearly disturbed by D’Amico’s remarks and said that he wasn’t addressing the subject at hand. “This item is about accessibility. It has nothing to do with infrastructure repair,” Duran said.
“I don’t mind when you disagree with Councilmember Heilman, but when you say something like that Councilmember D’Amico, it has nothing to do with what we’re discussing, it just makes good headlines in WEHOville, and its not productive.”
Despite the contentious disagreement the Council passed the original Horvath proposal in a unanimous vote.