Nine of the 11 candidates in the March 5 race for West Hollywood City Council participated in a forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce tonight that was relatively staid until the end, when a young friend of Gemmel Moore loudly berated them for not addressing the deaths of Moore and another black man in the Laurel Avenue apartment of Ed Buck, the white political campaign donor.
Jerome Kitchen, who has identified himself as a friend of the 26-year-old Moore, stood up from his seat in the City Council Chambers along with other young black men and interrupted Chamber President Genevieve Morrill’s closing remarks by loudly questioning why none of the candidates had addressed the deaths. Moore was found dead in Buck’s apartment on July 27, 2017, in what the coroner’s office has ruled was an accidental drug overdose. Timothy Dean, 55, was found dead in Buck’s apartment on Jan. 7. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has barred the coroner from disclosing the cause of death while it is under investigation. But Buck’s lawyer, Seymour Amster, said that Dean was a friend of Buck’s who was under the influence when he visited his apartment that night. The deaths have been the subject of several rallies outside Buck’s apartment building and have been covered by media across the world because of Buck’s reputation as a political donor, the implication that drugs were involved and evidence that Buck has paid young black men for sex.
Morrill shouted down Kitchen, who then walked with his friends into the lobby of the Council Chambers where he was interviewed by a news film crew. At that point, a young white man who had been attending the forum stepped into the lobby and began verbally attacking Kitchen, calling him a “monkey” and using the “n word.” As the shouting escalated, a security officer escorted the young white man out of the lobby.
The two-and-a-half hour forum, moderated by NBC4 News reporter Robert Kovacik, covered a variety of issues including ways to revitalize the Sunset Strip, supporting local businesses, the city’s shortage of affordable housing, homelessness, the routing of and ways to pay for Metro’s Crenshaw line extension, public safety and the development of cannabis businesses. The questions were developed by the Chamber with input from its members and community members. Some questions were put forth by members of tonight’s audience.
Several of the challengers took similar positions on issues, one of which was the lack of affordable housing in West Hollywood. The city, which has strong regulations governing rent increases for apartments in buildings built before July 1, 1979, requires developers of new projects with 10 or more units to make 20% of them affordable. However it also offers developers another option — to donate money to a housing trust fund which the city can use to support construction of housing by non-profit groups such as the West Hollywood Community Housing Corp.
Candidate Sepi Shyne called out the City of Santa Monica for requiring that developers of buildings of a certain size ensure that 30% of the units are affordable. Shyne said West Hollywood should increase its percentage requirement. Brendan Hood, another challenger in the race, stood out as a strong supporter of building more housing in West Hollywood as a way to address the rise in housing costs and the shortage of housing units. Another advocate for more affordable housing was candidate Duke Mason, who also argued for construction of more housing, and particularly mixed-use housing, which would consist of buildings that also include commercial space. Mason also said he supported construction of so-called “micro units,” which are small studio apartments that typically rent for less than a one-bedroom.
Shyne and Hood also said they supported permitting construction of more dense buildings along transit corridors. A proposal by State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, to dramatically increase the density of projects near subway stops and major bus stops was defeated in the state legislature and was opposed by West Hollywood City Council members John D’Amico and Lauren Meister, in part because it would have taken away some of a city’s ability to regulate its own development.
Meister, however, acknowledged that the city faces an affordable housing problem. “We have become the city of haves and have nots,” she said, noting the construction in recent years of a large number of expensive apartments, “luxury housing that isn’t even filled.” Meister said the city needs to do more to encourage moderately priced development and should look at the zoning code to see if changes need to be made.
Marquita Thomas, another challenger, who has lived in West Hollywood for 23 years and is in a rent-stabilized apartment, said another issue is making sure those older buildings are well maintained.
Duke Mason argued that construction of more housing is crucial to dealing with the issue of homelessness. When asked what they proposed for the empty former Walgreens lot on the southwest corner of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevards, Mason recommended housing for the homeless.
Councilmember Lindsey Horvath said the city needs to consult with community members as to how to use that property. But she noted that it could be used for affordable housing and as a place where social services can be provided to those in need.
Brendan Hood recommended it be used for an assisted living facility or a building that facilitates aging in place by seniors. Shawn Davis Mooney said it would be a good location for a non-profit continuing care facility. Meister suggested it could be the site for housing for moderate-income or low-income people managed by a non-profit group, with retail and other commercial businesses included on the Santa Monica Boulevard side.
Thomas said that since the city already meets it annual state goal for affordable housing, she would like to see the land used as a parking lot, which is the temporary use the city is planning while it considers other options. D’Amico noted that parking could be built under a building on the lot.
All of the candidates said they supported an extension of the L.A. Metro Crenshaw line through West Hollywood, although Meister said she is concerned about supporting the project until the details are ironed out. “ I do feel that we need to know what we’re getting into,” she said. “What’s the alignment? Above ground or underground? We cannot just rubber stamp what Metro throws our way.”
All but one of the candidates supported extending the Crenshaw line along La Cienega Boulevard, one of five options Metro is considered, noting that it is a more commercial corridor than San Vicente Boulevard. Mooney said he supported running the line up Fairfax Avenue because it also is a commercial corridor.
Cannabis was called out by several incumbents and challengers as an important new area of business for West Hollywood, which recently released the names of applicants for a total of 40 cannabis licenses covering retail, medical use, lounges and delivery.
But Horvath, Meister, Hood and Mason also said the city should do more to support existing local businesses, which have seen a lot of turnover in recent years because of increasing rents and competition from online services like Amazon. Mason said he wants to create a small business advisory board that would work to streamline the business permit process and reduce city fees and regulations. Meister said the city should offer free WiFi and reduce parking requirements to make it easier for small businesses to open in West Hollywood, particularly those looking to occupy office space.
Shawn Davis Mooney recommended investing more in the city’s tourism industry, with a focus on the Sunset Strip. Revitalizing that famous corridor has been a priority of Mayor John Duran.
“Travel and tourism are the engines of West Hollywood’s economy,” said Marquita Thomas.
Challengers Eric Jon Schmidt and Jack Cline did not participate in the forum. Schmidt had said earlier that he objected to it because it was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, which advocates for the interests of local businesses. It is not clear why Cline, who lives with Schmidt, did not attend.
The City Council election is on March 5.
Let’s get real. The bottom line why the Ed Buck horror show has not been investigated and no charges were filed because Buck gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to many Democrat politicians including John Duran and John D’Amico. The WEHO “John’s” can’t claim ignorance over Buck’s fetish and MO. Their association with Buck was over long periods of time. Buck was standing next to Duran when he had his tirade against a woman candidate. They were hanging out together and who knows if Buck was just acting alone in his deadly scene on Laurel Avenue. WEHO is a small… Read more »
(NOTE: In the interest of transparency I am disclosing that I’m a paid staffer for Sepi Shyne’s campaign.) When the news broke about the death of Mr. Dean, Sepi immediately called for Sheriff Villanueva and DA Lacey to open a homicide investigation and urged Sheriff Villanueva to retain Captain Aloma as acting captain in West Hollywood until such time as the investigation is concluded. Sepi stands with the friends and families of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean and their calls for justice, and we asked Sepi’s supporters to join the vigils held outside of Buck’s residence in the early weeks… Read more »
I am very concerned about this Ed Buck issue and why it is being overed look what happens is a African American take white men to his house and they are found dead of a drug over dose not one but 2 and the first one had s journal about what goes on in Ed Buck apt and no one finds it strange enough to arrest him. And then to the white guy who went into the lobby and start calling my son JEROME a monkey should of been arrested for racial comments but no this is what Hollywood stands… Read more »
Jerome is your son? He did good! I mean, you don’t need me to tell you that. But I was at the meeting and was so glad that he stood up at the end to question why no one was talking about Ed Buck. It was like the elephant in the room, and Jerome had the courage to stand up and demand accountability. It’s a tragedy and an outrage that it’s being swept under the rug. Again.
I would point out that Lauren Mesiter was the first candidate to mention that we need to do something to protect our existing stock of affordable housing; the rent controlled units that make up the bulk of the City’s housing stock. This theme was picked up by Marquita Thomas. The rest of the candidates really never even mentioned the challenges that long term tenants in rent controlled buildings face on a daily basis. While I thought all of the candidates made thoughtful comments, it seemed odd that only two candidates even mentioned the need to preserve rent controlled housing and… Read more »
That isn’t my recollection Steve. I recall (going down the line) Lindsey Horvath, James Duke Mason, John D’Amico and Sepy Shyne all specifically discussing the importance of rent control and preserving existing housing, especially John D’Amico in one of is answers about 1/3 of the way through the forum making that very point. While I don’t remember specifically a comment from Brendan Hood on the issue, I was so impressed by his answers and the depth at which he seemed to understand the issues (considering I haven’t ever seen him participate in city activities until this point) that it would… Read more »
They all spoke of their support of rent control but they did not speak to the issue of how to preserve existing rent controlled housing. Instead most of the new candidates spoke about the need to increase density and heights without being aware that the State legislature has done this for all municipalities. Neither there seem to be a connection between raising density and incentivizing the demolition of rent controlled units. I heard very little about the every day pressures many long term tenants face to keep their units. Having said that, overall the level of discussion from all of… Read more »
I would agree with Steve Martin’s observations. I’d also add that the new candidates showed very little interest for the issues that affect current residents on a daily basis….and Brendon Hood simply reads from the Senator Scott Weiner playbook. A perspective that is reckless and short sighted.
We don’t need activists as council members, we need people that are advocates for the betterment of the things that make our community unique and a good place to live.
So far, I’m not hearing it.
Hi Steve, Logan Smith, Sepi’s manager here. Sepi mentioned during the lightning round that we need to address loopholes in the current municipal code that appear to allow developers to reduce the number of units on a parcel via only partially demolishing the original structure. With only 30 to 45 seconds per answer, I imagine it is difficult to illuminate every aspect of the housing issues West Hollywood faces! Sepi is a renter in a rent-stabilized apartment and protecting renters has been a central theme of her campaign. This has been re-iterated in messaging and voter communications repeatedly and is… Read more »
The police? There is no police force in West Hollywood. It’s the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Dept. A so-called police force that has been scandalize beyond belief. You see them around. Dining out or parked in some parking lot. There are no motorcycle officers because most are so fat they couldn’t get on a motorcycle. So you have drivers texting, changing lanes without a signal, making U-turns where you can’t make a U-turn and speed down Fountain Avenue and never get a ticket. And the “cops” do nothing. And why are they pushing back on EdBuck? Because Buck was a… Read more »
I agree that it was wrong for the forum not to acknowledge/address the Ed Buck issue in some way. Leaders in the City of West Hollywood should advocate for the safety of everyone who lives, works, or spends their time in WeHo. That includes sex workers. Please keep in mind that this event called for written questions from the audience that these candidates would address. These protesters respectfully participated in the forum up until the very end when they realized their questions would not be answered. It seems to me that their written questions were intentionally omitted. Makes me wonder… Read more »
Can they come up with any reasonable solutions for the out of control homeless and mental illness problem plaguing Weho? I’m a smaller female that walks as main mode of getting to and from work and have already been accosted twice in the past month around the hours of 8/ 9 am in busy areas. In the past year alone, I’ve noticed the sheer number of mentally unstable people roaming Santa Monica Blvd and Sunset and if you speak to the smaller business owners they feel like they cannot do anything to stop it. Last night at 9pm I was… Read more »
EM: Our Country fails at providing adequate mental health care to our residents. The passage of the Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”) was a major step forward for our nation in terms of mental health because it requires all insurers to cover it, but we are still way behind in actually being able to provide quality mental health care to the masses (both in terms of trained mental health professionals and in terms of the infrastructure/places to provide such services). We have countless drug/alcohol addiction centers but where can you go for true mental health issues. While addiction often plays… Read more »
Also, not to be rude, but why must we house the homeless in the middle of Weho – where land is very very expensive. If my taxes are going to pay for it, let’s be smart about it. Build outside of the side where land is more affordable. Crazy that the “affordable” housinf being built in weho costs more than mansions in the rest of the country.
The city owns land. You expect them to purchase land in the city of Los Angeles? You expect them to push all of these people over our border? That is, indeed, the exact definition of NIMBY.
The city owns a huge lot on the corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Blvd. Why can we not build a homeless shelter? Why do we keep pushing these people into other communities? This is a regional problem. And we are not doing our part in this city. Yet people love to complain about it.
Last night’s event is a prime example of why West Hollywood is called White Hollywood everywhere I go in the World. No one had the courage to talk about Ed Buck. Chamber President Genevieve Morrill proved once again that she is clueless about what the Resident’s care about by shouting down a black man with a legitimate concern. I’m glad I wasn’t part of that sh*t show. Mr. Cline could not attend because he was training ER nurses at the hospital regarding new techniques for wound care. He just now got home at 3:00am. He said his work is far… Read more »
Mr. Cline and I will be at the forum moderated by Hank Scott on Feb. 20th.
The event last night was about the upcoming election. How is Ed Buck relevant to that?
I noticed that you and your roommate also did not participate in the question and answer series that Hank had in this publication. Other candidates participated. It seems you only take part in things you think are beneficial to you. That is not a good sign of leadership.
Alison, I agree with your comments about Mr. Schmidt. Eric, you didn’t answer any of the questions in this publication. You boycotted last nights event because it was put on by the chamber, but did you actually listen to the questions that were asked? They were not all skewed towards the business community, and they covered all kinds of issues, including homelessness, traffic, mass transportation, affordable housing, etc.. That was your opportunity to be heard. And for the public to get to know you. If you are serious about running, maybe you should have shown up. But then again, didn’t… Read more »
Not attending was a matter of principle, something often not seen in West Hollywood leadership. I watched the entire debate the next day. I have a statement on my dudesnude profile (for which I am not ashamed) asking the three million viewers to read my website and vote for me only after they agree with my positions on the issues. If you don’t like the naked male body or porn, stop looking at them, but it’s not nice to push your values on others. West Hollywood could be called “The Harper Valley PTA”. There is more going on than meets… Read more »
I have zero problem with porn. I am not a prude. And I certainly don’t care if you have some online. I’m not going to look at it. I’m not pushing my “values” on anyone. I was calling you out on your comments from last year, where you said something to the effect of “you have the election sealed,” based on people you heard from your dude’s new profile. You also listed a number of people who are going to vote for you, which far exceeds those that voted for the highest winning candidate in any of the past elections.… Read more »
A matter of principle? Does that coincide with the judgement and principle of having a potential Dudesnude City Council Member? Good Evening Honorable Councilmember Dudesnude xxxxxx! If anyone thinks the insufferable Duran/Buck episodes have degraded the spirit of West Hollywood and the commenter and author’s expressed vehement distaste for the city council members in general can anyone imagine that scenario? I don’t presume to be capable of diagnosing anything beyond a keen personal sensibility of the prevailing condition but that idea is such a non-starter it is running backwards. Something to be considered by the two candidates here.
Really? I’ve traveled the world and I’ve lived in WeHo 20 years, it’s one of the most diverse cities in the world. And if it’s “White Hollywood” , fine, nothing wrong with being white. Maybe it’s a good marketing ploy for people who are okay with a “white neighborhood” (according to you); it’s nice to know that one supposedly still exits in the world, in L.A. of all places with a huge concentration of Hispanic, Asian, Black, etc. communities where whites aren’t always welcome or feel safe depending on the areas attitudes. The vast majority of “white people” are very… Read more »
If there is an area where W. Hollywood lacks diversity it’s in politics, where there is too heavy of a concentration of Democrats and not enough vocal Independents (often the voice of reason) and Republicans. I’d make this same statement if I lived in a heavily Republican part of Texas, asking for more Independent and Democrat voices in those regions. Real diversity is a balance of political persuasions and that’s something I hope for W. Hollywood. I find that there are good points on all sides and it’s the balance that brings us to a place of health, sanity and… Read more »
Mr. Schmidt, as usual, you bring us nothing but humor, with your lack of ability to provide any comprehensive thoughts, along with your sophomoric view of the community which you claim to champion. But truth be told your just an opportunist.
However, I will agree, the West Hollywood City Council needs diversity, presenting itself as “White Hollywood” and you being white, clearing you would not be adding any benefit or change to the city! I for one would sleep a lot better knowing, you stepped out of the race. Let’s get more diversity in our city government.
You don’t see Republicans on the council, because there are none running (at least, I don’t think any of them are). And people aren’t voting for them. This is a very Democrat, liberal community. Something like 87% of the city voted for Hillary Clinton. I have zero problem with our Council representing who we are as a community, which is mostly progressive liberals. If a Republican wants to try to run, have at it.
You proved my point, the city lacks diversity in politics. I’ve always been an Independent with a left of center stance, I’m not right of center because I believe in border security and I absolutely don’t support late term and at birth abortions (infanticide) that was recently passed in New York and now Virginia wants to follow suit. I’m no longer aligned with Democrat party. It’s been robbed by a globalist agenda that really is taking people’s rights away (forced vaccinations, etc.). It’s a socialist agenda at this point, a dangerous one in my research. I wish it wasn’t the… Read more »
Melisa30, sorry if I proved your point, but it is what is is. Scott Schmidt ran as a Republican a few years ago (the only one I can remember). He failed to be elected. Like most places, the local government will represent the political ideals of those who live there.
I care about West Hollywood, our culture and economy. But after multiple rounds of questions about TRAFFICK (and only Lindsey Horvath alluding to the case in closing..) it was unbearable! I take to task the individuals choosing audience questions. No mention of the public safety crisis around addiction AT LEAST? Let’s do better.
West seegmiller here you loud and clear,think your council person should be able to talk about anything a resident brings forward.some of our best ideas on an array of topics.keep talking west,tom DEMILLE candidate for west Hollywood city council March 5th 2019.
I believe that since they had three sitting council members at the meeting (constituting a quorum) that the meeting had to be held to Brown Act rules as if it were a council meeting. Questions in advance (as if they were agenda items) and addressing only those questions. If you make it to council you will not be able to address anything a resident brings up in public comment. Just agenda items.
If you want to say the Chamber cherry-picked the questions then that’s a different thing.
Not true. A candidate forum is exempt from Brown Act requirements.