Opinion: New Initiative Acknowledges Qualities of WeHo’s Eastside

It’s an exciting time for West Hollywood’s Eastside. The last 10 years have brought unprecedented civic investment and development into the area, and while the growth hasn’t been without controversy and challenge, it has been welcomed by most. The Eastside has historically been perceived as a less desirable and “forgotten” part of the city, and to a degree, this perception still persists. Despite previous years of effort, safety issues remain and neighborhoods struggle with unacceptable rates of crime and an aging housing stock and infrastructure. Recently, residents like myself on the far eastside have been alarmed at the increasing rate of illegal incidents and have demanded action from our city officials. Neighborhood Watch meetings are ongoing, organized by Roxanne McBryde and Tod Hallman, who each deserve thanks for the tough work they’ve done as Neighborhood Watch co-captains.

Shawn Mimbs
Shawn Mimbs

Our city officials have listened and are in agreement. I have worked in close collaboration with city council members John Heilman and John Duran to craft a comprehensive initiative with a particular focus on public safety and beautification. The city’s full resources are available to help achieve this initiative’s goal of permanently securing and improving the Eastside.

Specifically, this item on Monday’s City Council agenda requests the city’s staff to consider deployment of sheriff’s deputies in the area at an increased rate, installing of residential sidewalk street lighting, re-implementing a lighting and security grant program for property owners, installing a traffic light at Fountain and Formosa avenues, placing of security cameras and information kiosks at Eastside parks and other high traffic areas and an overall beautifying of the area, including the enhancement of Lexington Avenue. Not included but suggested by Mayor Lauren Meister is creating a system of “block captains,” which would give residents on each street a point-person to whom they can communicate their concerns.

One of the most dramatic changes being considered is the re-branding of two important Eastside neighborhoods. The city already has the Sunset Strip, Sunset Boulevard’s rock and roll district, and the Design District. The neighborhood surrounding Plummer Park, the Eastside’s largest public space, could be designated the “Plummer Park District.” Also, the area bordered by Greenacre Avenue to the west, La Brea Avenue to the east, Fountain Avenue to the north and Santa Monica Boulevard to the south could be designated the “Formosa District,” in honor of the iconic Formosa Café, a local hotspot since 1925. Promoted through the use of street banners, signs and new residential development marketing campaigns, the new Formosa and Plummer Park district designations would be a first for the Eastside and would create a stronger sense of identity and pride for its residents, business owners and visitors.

Above all, however, the safety of every resident must remain our first priority throughout the city. Our LGBT population continues to be the target of intolerance, hate and violence. Understandably, we place special emphasis on helping others. Social services are committed to providing for marginalized LGBT youth, the sick and homeless and those fighting addiction. Our charitable support must continue, because it saves lives. Societal injustice is fought within each of these kind acts and for many, it is a matter of life or death. In turn, our funding requires a measure of continued responsibility and cooperation from those receiving it. We demand respect and deference for our laws and our residents, our homes and our property. With the most efficient of programs, charity is not incompatible with the maintenance of safe, clean and secure neighborhoods.

Adequate lighting, increased policing, area branding and street beautifying are essential and tangible improvements, and they are requested. Equally as powerful, however, is the unshakable spirit and foundation of our community—the belief that all of its residents are a touchstone of value. We believe that each of us has something significant and unique to offer one another, and in doing so, we enrich the lives of all. When these acts of goodwill are totaled, the appraisal of our community is that it is a deeply enriched one, welcoming and safe to all. It is a community generous though demanding of each of us. Therefore, the efforts of our local government must reflect the desires of its people: that each of us have a chance to live safely and securely with the opportunity for prosperity and happiness regardless of location or proximity, of stature or affluence. This is the derivation of our strength. It is why thousands of people across many decades have set out to West Hollywood to make it their home — our home.

Today, 32 years after our founding, we are still creating our city. We recognize that there are problems and challenges on the Eastside, and at times our progressive City Council seems to move painfully slow. Still, we get things done. The passage of this well-thought and vitally important initiative is a much-needed investment into our community. We are a confident city, and we are a daring city and the challenges that exist throughout our community are challenges filled with opportunity. While our opinions on how our city might head into the future may differ from council member to businesswoman, from renter to homeowner, we all share a common bond and closeness of goals, a hope that together we can create a more beautiful place to live, ultimately open to all, that each of us might be proud to have built ourselves.

Shawn Mimbs is a resident of West Hollywood’s Eastside and recently served as a member of WeHo’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board. He is an investment trader.

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Steve Martin
Steve Martin
6 years ago

As an Eastside homeowner and member of the City’s Eastside Working Group, I applaud the long over due focus on problems that have festered for many years on this side of town. But none of these issues are new. But given that a City Council election is less than three months away, the sudden interest by Council members Heilman and Duran seem a bit cynical.

PT
PT
6 years ago

How many studios located from Martel to Fairfax ? A couple dozens of Russian stores, doctor’s offices, 2 go-go bars, porno theater, 2 liquor stores. And this is a Bohemian District ?

Mike Dolan
Mike Dolan
6 years ago

The Eastside has such a rich and rewarding vibe that has sustained. First known for agriculture production then the entertainment industry was and remains the theme of the eastside. Long before incorporation, in the 1920’s, a strong, savvy and creative group, led by a woman built Pickfair Studios and United Artists. Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin… set the tenor for West Hollywood in the naming of a district here on the eastside. Oprah (OWN), now at the same studio, now recognized as The Lot. Quixote Studio, Paladin Group and Cine Lighting, offers legendary production support the entertainment industry. Music,… Read more »

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
6 years ago

As a longtime East Sider I welcome this initiative and am supportive of its goals. The security ambassador program has definitely helped some but more needs to be done. I would humbly suggest to Shawn Mimbs that in his close collaboration with Mr Heilman and Mr Duran in regard to public safety and beautification not all resources have been made available by the city. The historic buildings at the center of Plummer Park have been intentionally left to rot for many years while the city has not even performed basic maintenance it would require from any property owner. The absence… Read more »

PT
PT
6 years ago

The neighborhood from Fairfax to Plummer Park (Fuller) and from Fountain to Willoughby, the Eastside’s largest public space, could be designated as “Russian Village” many years ago. We have Little Ethiopia, Armenia, Tokio, Thai town and many others ethnic districts.
Why not “Russian Village” ?

Steve
Steve
6 years ago

Excellent portrayal of the continued evolution of the Eastside. Thank you for articulating the postive changes resulting in much improved quality of life. Nice contrast when so often all we hear about is the negative from those who are afraid of change.

I’ve lived on the east side for 15 years and while problems still persist, I’m proud to call Formosa Avenue my home.
Special thanks to Tod and Roxanne for their continue work.

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