On the Agenda: Residential Parking, Poverty, Infrastructure and WeHo 2050

Editor’s Note: The following is the speech John Heilman made last night at the West Hollywood City Council meeting after his installation as Mayor.

Thank you all. I wanted to share few remarks as well.

I first want to thank the people of West Hollywood for re-electing me in March and giving me the incredible opportunity to serve our fantastic community.
Secondly, I want to thank my colleagues for choosing me to serve as mayor in this upcoming year.

Much of what we get to do here as a City Council is already predetermined. We have a lot of programs that are already operating, and it’s our job to make sure that they continue. But I wanted to talk about some of the things that we will be working on and maybe lay out a few new initiatives for the upcoming year.

First and foremost, we must do everything we can to oppose and resist the reactionary policies that are coming out of Washington, D.C. These are policies that would eliminate healthcare for the most vulnerable people in our community, many of them living with HIV and AIDS, many of them with other serious pre-existing conditions, policies which would defund reproductive health care, policies which would undermine the gains of the LGBT community, especially the scant protections that are available for the transgender community.

west hollywood city council
John Heilman

We must oppose and resist all of those policies coming out of Washington that target people of different religions, and different races and different ethnicities. We must oppose and resist everything that’s coming out of Washington that would attack our immigrant population. We certainly must oppose all of the belligerent activities in Washington that are alienating our allies and provoking our enemies and creating a climate of instability in the world.

But we must do more than simply resist and oppose. We must serve as a strong counter example in the city of West Hollywood. We must remain a city that promotes equality, that promotes human rights. We must continue to be a leader in the fight for LGBT rights. We must continue to be a leader in the fight for equality for women and girls. We must continue to fight to ensure that reproductive health care is available to all. We must continue to be committed to providing social services and affordable housing for those in need in our community. We must continue to be a community that demonstrates our commitment through our funding process.

We also need to continue to be a successful community, a successful financially viable community, by working closely with our business community to ensure that we have the resources to provide the services for everyone in our community.

So, we do need to continue our efforts, and I want to thank the outgoing mayor for her work in leading the charge against some of the administration’s policies. But some of the things that we’re going to be working on this year are continuations of initiatives that were launched in the past. We need to continue our work. As you’ve already seen, the construction is underway on our West Hollywood Park Master Plan, the construction of our new recreation facility, our new pools, our expanded park land.

We need to continue our efforts to bring MetroRail to West Hollywood and I want to publicly thank our colleague Lindsey Horvath for her tremendous advocacy on behalf of our city. We must continue to work to address the problem of homelessness and the public safety issues surrounding homelessness, and I want to thank Lauren Meister for her work on our homeless subcommittee, and I’m hoping that we can continue on that track in the upcoming year.

We have to continue our work to try to reduce HIV transmission to zero. I want to thank my colleagues John D’Amico and John Duran for their work on that. We need to ensure that everyone who is infected is in treatment. We need to insure that those who are at risk are on PrEP and are using safe sex practices.

We’re also going to be continuing to work on other issues that have been launched in the last couple of years. We’ve just begun discussing earthquake retrofitting. That’s going to be a discussion that will occupy a significant portion of our time. We began our discussion of the regulation of adult use of cannabis, and that’s going to take some time and effort on our part and on the part of our boards and commissions.

We’re already working on the issue of signage and how we insure that we protect our residents while promoting creative signage and also insuring that we get a share of the tremendous revenue that’s coming from the new signs, particularly up on Sunset.

But I do want to launch four new initiative for the upcoming year. We’ve done a good job of looking at parking, particularly in the commercial areas, and figuring out how we address parking shortages there. We haven’t done such a good job of addressing the parking shortages in existing residential neighborhoods. And we hear about those any time there is a development. People all come out to talk about how there is already no parking in their neighborhood. So, that’s something that I’m going to bring forward with our Transportation Department, a serious plan for addressing the parking shortages in our existing residential neighborhoods.

Second, and I talked about this during the campaign, I want to launch a pilot project that addresses the issue of poverty in West Hollywood. We’re a very affluent community. We’re fortunate that we have thriving businesses and most of our residents are doing reasonably well. But about 15% of our population lives below the poverty line. That’s about 5,400 people in the city of West Hollywood. Many of them seniors, a significant number of them immigrants.

We need to look at how we can ease the burden of poverty and, if possible, bring people out of poverty by looking at innovative programs. So, what I want us to do is target a small group of individuals and see what actually works, what assistance the city can provide that will assist those who are living on the edge in West Hollywood.

Third, I want to look at our infrastructure and ask our staff to develop a longer term infrastructure plan for the city of West Hollywood. Infrastructure isn’t always the sexiest thing, but we all need water, we all need pipes, we need sewers, we need roads and we’ve done a good job I think, overall, of maintaining our streets, our roads, our sidewalks, our curbs. But there’s a marathon on infrastructure that we’re going to need in the future.

At some point our Sheriff’s station will need to be replaced. At some point, we’ll need a City Hall that is a permanent place for our city. At some point, the fire station on the eastside is going to have to be replaced. And we’ve seen that there’s significant problems with the water pipes running to West Hollywood. Now, those are operated by LA DWP, but we need to partner with other agencies and make sure that there is a long range plan to insure that we have the infrastructure that we need as a successful community.

And finally, I want us to look a little bit at an initiative that I started, I think it was around 1999. At that point, we launched an initiative called West Hollywood 2020, and we looked at what would we need for West Hollywood in 2020. Well, we’re almost there. And I want us to look at West Hollywood 2050, engage the community, our residents, our business people, our staff and envision what is West Hollywood going to look like in 2050.

What kind of changes will there be in terms of transportation? We’ve seen some changes already, but perhaps by then we’ll have a viable MetroRail running to West Hollywood. We need to look at how businesses will operate. Many people are working at home. Many new businesses are starting, so we need to look at that. We need to look at the LGBT community. Are we going to continue to want a safe place or are we going to be fully assimilated or are we going to have mixed opinions as we do now? How will our immigrant community change?

The current immigrant community, many of them are getting older and some of them are going to pass. Is that going to be replaced by a new wave of immigrants coming to West Hollywood? What will be the needs of families and younger people? People today who are in their 20s or 30s, in 2050, they’re going to be the next generation of seniors. What issues will they have and how do we prepare people who are younger today for the workplace and for the future that they will face?

What will our main street, Santa Monica Boulevard, look like, particularly the center section of Santa Monica Boulevard? So, I want us to really begin that process. That’s going to take several years, but I want us to launch that initiative this year to begin the planning process for 2050.

So, I’m going to close because we do some agenda items tonight. I want to end by thanking some people that I didn’t get a chance to thank right after the election.

I want to thanks the amazing volunteers and campaign staff that I had who dedicated so much time to helping me get re-elected. I want to thank the organizations that supported me. I was fortunate to have the endorsement of the L.A. County Democratic Party, the West Hollywood-Beverly Hills Democratic Party, the Stonewall Democratic Club, the Miracle Mile Democratic Club, Equality California, the tenants organization, CES, which has supported me in every election, the county Federation of Labor, our local employees union, AFSC WeHoME, the L.A. County Peace Officers, the Sheriff’s Union endorsed me, the Beverly Hills Board of Realtors, Hollywood NOW, Planned Parenthood and the League of Conservation Voters. I really appreciate the support. I know I listed a lot of Democratic organizations, and I know a few Republicans supported me too, and I thank them as well.

I want to thank the other elected officials who endorsed me. Of course some of my colleagues endorsed me, Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, our former councilmember, County Assessor Jeff Prang, our County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

But most of all I want to thank the people of West Hollywood for giving me this tremendous opportunity to serve the community. It is such an honor. And I want to thank my colleagues for again bestowing this title on me for this year. We have a lot of issues to address in the city of West Hollywood.

I know some people always want to harken back to a past which they think was idyllic. But I was there in the past and West Hollywood 1984 was not as good as West Hollywood 2017. We have made a tremendous move forward, and I look forward to our future, and I look forward to working with everyone here and my great colleagues to help lead us into the future in this upcoming year.

Thank you again for being here. Thank you.

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5 years ago

What’s funny to me is how triggered the Wealthy White Privileged Gays of WeHo get when anybody dares not to bow down and worship their cult leaders, Mssrs Heilman and Duran.

Since their lap of luxury, by-and-for-rich-white-folks policies have priced out the next generation of struggling young gays, it’s no wonder folks have stopped caring to vote them out. Younger gays are moving Downtown and to the Valley, replaced more and more by straight couples, leaving the graying gays of WeHo to have their fun. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Jimmy Palmieri
Jimmy Palmieri
5 years ago

What I find to be funny, is that the very people who sit and yammer on in the comment section of Wehoville , about how our council gets nothing done, does the wrong thing, etc etc, are people that do nothing for this very community . It is clear they are the minority, and have nothing else to do with their time but take out personal vendettas against councilmembers who have helped shape this city into the thriving , successful city that it is. YES SUCCESSFUL, which is why property values have surged. If you want change, writing biting comments… Read more »

5 years ago

Interesting how this Republican Term Limits idea isn’t quite working out in West Hollywood. Voters in Weho have prevailed against that idea by electing long serving incumbents.

So it doesn’t seem like voters in Weho are interested in replacing the Council they want…..and as it gets closer to when term limits take affect, it’s very possible that it may be repealed by voters.

Shawn Thompson
5 years ago

The light of democracy grew a bit dimmer last night in our little town of West Hollywood. As the Mayor (who isnt directed elected) Mr Heilman horded his power for another spin around lets take what #weho was built on and sell it away. Rent control, Urban Village, A Place young gays could come and live in. And our Mayor Pro Mr Duran who didn’t have the gall to try and be the mayor when it was his time because of his grindr hire hitting the fan, moved to the co-pilot seat again. The billboard companies, real estate developers, and… Read more »

5 years ago

An epic and visionary speech.

5 years ago

Angry Gay Pope – it’s called democracy. Voters like the governance of the city, so they re-elect Heilman. Why do you have a problem with this concept?

angry gay pope
5 years ago

Preparing Weho for 2050? Why do I suspect Heilman will STILL be on the throne in that year? He has been in power since 1984. Why is our fair city governed like it is a banana republic? Or perhaps like it is Boss Hogg’s domain from the old Dukes of Hazzard show?

A.C. Neighbor
A.C. Neighbor
5 years ago

John, why does this sound like a campaign speech? You talk about parking. Please, no more auto-garages that discriminate against people with small cars and pickups. How about sticking to our requirements for parking spaces in new buildings. Deals like ‘The Crown’ across from Gelson’s, which requires that the residents in the affordable units not have cars, because there aren’t enough parking spaces for ‘them’. If the city adhered to some of its existing regulations pertaining to say – inclusionary housing, instead of the many deals that allow exceptions for developers here and there, our citi’s problems would not be… Read more »

Donald E Azars
Donald E Azars
5 years ago

John has “been there” since the beginning of our independence from LA, becoming a self governing/caring community. Many of his points are strong. I do note the LACK of mentioning concerns of residents however. Parking problems have NOT been addressed when waiver after waiver is granted to property developers. The “need” for a new City Hall pales by comparison to many other points he makes. That’s an old campaign to create a monumental City Hall which voters denied. Since he or any member of the City Council are Mayor for a limited time, perhaps it’s time to revisit that structure… Read more »

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