EDITOR’S NOTE: The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce held its annual State of the City event Monday night with the theme “City of the Future.” More than 300 local business leaders attended the event, held at the 1 Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. Among the speakers were City Manager Paul Arevalo, Ashley Z. Hand of Citifi and West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico, whose remarks and visual presentation are published below.
On behalf of my colleagues and the entire city staff, I’d like to welcome you to tonight’s State of the City address. Thank you to Genevieve and the entire Chamber of Commerce board and staff.
Two thousand nineteen is the 35th anniversary year of city hood. In the words of Stephen Sondheim, “You’re no longer a kid any more kiddo.” West Hollywood has grown up.
We are a destination, we are a known quantity, we are stylish, we have agency and moxie, and though we’re the same size and have the same number of residents, we have over our short 35 years grown in purpose and reason to exist.
And we continue to be a place of attraction.
Seventy five percent of West Hollywood residents were born outside of the State of California. Our residents move to West Hollywood on purpose to invent the lives they want to live. To create an authenticity that feels right for them.
They count on themselves and us to generate the content of their lives. And for over 100 years we have been delivering. And the people in this room more than anyone know that …and know how to do that– to generate the content of their lives – and our lives too.
Our city has been through some remarkable periods –
The founding moment in 1984 and our baby steps – the late 80’s – a period of five to seven years when we were getting up on our feet – wobbly, stumbling, but on our way. John Heilman was there. The city started by making big proclamations, punching above our weight, proved that invention IS the daughter of necessity. Bonded with the Chamber of Commerce even at that early stage. Gay Camelot was out – the creative city was in. And we were off.
Then we were the NKOTBs – the new kids on the block — the 1990’s — the Sunset strip got Mark Wahlberg in his Calvins and Santa Monica Boulevard got David Cooley in his.
The Russian community emerged with one voice, and we invested in our first big public infrastructure moves,
City Hall. Santa Monica Boulevard. Bigger and bigger investments in social services, affordable housing policy, transit and rent control.
AIDS punched us right in the face. We punched back and proved how resilient we are.
Then came our popular teen years – the 2000’s –
Suddenly the Internet was everywhere and the world started changing faster than we did. The Towers fell, the music business changed, the housing laws changed, the economy crashed, AIDS deaths fell off, the Russian community got smaller.
That was when John Duran joined the city council. We were still the creative city and we were reaching our stride, and we were also wondering where we were heading next in the second decade of this century.
The 2010’s and the WeHo 2.0 years.
And an expansion of ideas: #metoo and marriage rights, trans rights are human rights,landed on City Hall. The deputies were out and internet was in…
Open data and Twitter. Facebook and YouTube and our own app.
New leaders at City Hall, me and Lindsey and Lauren.
Uber and scooters and Grindr and Tinder and Postmates, and cannabis and the green rush, and we went fur free too… and all of us embraced 21st Century technology, and the investment in the city poured in from around the globe.
The last 10 years were a period marked by our expansion from a $60 million per year budget to a $120 million budget. And we project continued growth for the next 20 years. Now we act more like a business and less like a hopeful community-based organization. In 35 short years we went from “please like us” to “we’ve got this.” And we’re still the creative city.
So it’s 2019 – we’re on the cusp of 2020 – the numerical equivalent of perfect vision. And when I peer into 2020 and our years of cityhood ahead … what do I see? I see the period we’re entering as I’ll call it …. the Essential Now – it’s characterized by a digital present that is omni present.
Everything is everything, and it is connected to everyone and everything else and it has already been on Instagram.
And it continues to evolve. And we continue to evolve with it.
I see our future will be a creative one, still committed to radical freedoms and achievable rights, I still see how our businesses make us vital and our residents make us whole.
Yet, It is technology and our ability to control it more than it controls us that will determine the parameters of the Essential Now.
In 2014, Jeffrey Prang and I initiated a citywide innovations and technology catalyst group. The purpose was to open our data to the world and refocus our city government on the people we serve.
Our public face, we thought, needed a digital platform. Our smart city policies have been a giant leap forward; creating new ways for residents to be served, protecting their data, generating new business, saving energy and saving time.
So we’re headed there – a smart city, a healthy city, a progressive city, a city that relies on all of its businesses, cherishes each of its neighborhoods and its residents.
We’ve started installing smart bus stops, a fiber loop, smart traffic technology, cameras for safety, sign boards for public info on top of a new web site and app, a digital interface that is truly resident centered.
And much more.
I’m excited for us and how we have managed to collar the beast and get technology to serve us and our residents and businesses.
And our smart city promise is that your data is safe and your business is safe too.
I’ll close with this…
My favorite part about the being involved with West Hollywood is the fearlessness we have embodied for so many years. It’s not reckless, but it is daring.
There is more newness coming, and our willingness to embrace the technology that supports our businesses is key. We will invest in our residents, and appeal to people from across the globe to keep coming here – it will keep us relevant. The changes of the last 35 years have prepared us for incorporating new sets of ideas just as it has reminded us that the history we rely on is real – and important.
The five of us and all of you. Thirty five years has changed us for the better … and for good.
Spoken like a true amateur. yaaaaaaaaaawn
I’m sorry but this post by the Mayor sounds more along the lines of the Corporation of West Hollywood! Proclaiming Success Rates! The same person who said poor people don’t reside in WEHO. Yes, due to over-gentrification! His colleagues made him aware with co-sponsoring community forums. It’s all about GOOD statistics! WEHO compared to other cities. Having an international hotel destination. Also becoming too expensive along with our 4 zip codes dividing neighborhoods. People are paying >60% of their incomes w/ Roommates It took me 7 years to move 10 blocks northwest from the Eastside to Center City just so… Read more »
Interesting that you have posted my picture here because I am so happy to live in a place where no one ever needs to grow up. It’s all make believe. Where is Tinkerbelle?
This reads how I sell myself to potential clients (sometimes a little whipcream over BS). If that speech was to establish pride in the community, I get it. But until you claim “we’ve got this” you had better really “have this” and deliver. SMB and Sunset are still eyesores through much of the stretch. No cohesion. Dirty, trashy in parts of these areas. Nothing to be that proud of if I can’t even bring my guests down these streets without having to make excuses for how the city looks and its history of failures and corruption. Yes, there are great… Read more »
Now can we jazz up the “WELCOME TO WEST HOLLYWOOD” sign on the more eastern end of Sunset Boulevard? It badly needs updating to say the least. Other than that, it’s so shabby & unkempt that it’d be better to remove it than let it keep getting worse. It’s embarrassing
“Now we act more like a business and less like a hopeful community-based organization. ”
Let’s play Who Said It… WeHo administration or Trump administration? Why would anyone with a soul take any pride in this Profits-over-People horror?
It was an upbeat speech and some might even consider it Pollyanna. It was not meant to discuss the negative things about West Hollywood, I understand that. It reads as though it was written by a tech nerd, which is fine. The City needs to keep up with all the current technology which keeps our City safe, progressive and improves the quality of life for Residents. But, there are a few lines in his speech which concern me. One is, “Now we act more like a business and less like a hopeful community-based organization”. This concerns me and it should… Read more »
Eric- Why does it concern you? Things evolve , according to the climate and culture. I think Weho has become a better city. People aren’t perfect. Human beings are flawed.
It concerns me because I believe in putting public safety and Residential Quality of life issues before business issues. Businesses can take care of themselves with the help of the Chamber of Commerce. Someone needs to look out for Residents, that someone is City Council. Weho has become a better city yes, but there are areas that have been overlooked. If people don’t speak up about them, they get ignored. If you’re job is to represent the City then you are held at a higher standard to do your job than Most other jobs. 37,000 people count on your leadership… Read more »
Agreed. “We have the right and duty to question our leadership”! West Hollywood should be about its (tax-paying!) citizens FIRST, and its businesses (carpet-baggers who live elsewhere and just come here to make a buck) a distant SECOND.
Of course public safety needs to be improved, but the crosswalks, finally were improved, after a pattern of accidents. It took too long, but they were improved. The major ones, such as in front of Gym Bar and Starbucks/24 Hour Fitness, changed to controlled crosswalks. The one at Palm, removed. The two at Ogden and Orange Grove, condensed to one controlled intersection (no flashing yellow lights). Major improvements on Fountain, addressing specific intersections where there have been accidents, mostly from people turning left onto that street. Why can’t you give credit where it is due? As far as his comments… Read more »
I’m sorry Randy, but the crosswalks have not been fixed . There are three on the east side that have not been touched and none of the others are consistent. The west side and the bar district get all the improvements. I do give credit where it is due. They just put round abouts at three intersections in my neighborhood (west side). I am grateful for that. But I will continue to call out when something as important as crosswalks are not safe. I guess it’s my upbringing and being in the Army that gave me good work ethics. A… Read more »
Correct what, exactly? I didn’t say that there was no room for improvement. But the deaths and accidents that occurred seem to have happened at the crosswalks that have been addressed. I’m not saying that the east side should be ignored. There have been a lot of problems on Fountain Avenue, and they’ve addressed many of those dangerous intersections. Once again, the fading of the Russian population: I don’t think he meant that as a good or a bad thing. It was just a statement of fact. The result of an aging segment of the population, and gentrification. Which problem… Read more »
Randy, the Mayor should clarify what he means. He might know what he meant and you might know what he meant. But, when a politician makes such an unclear an broad comment about a whole nationality in his constituency, he/ she need to be very clear and sensitive. He said it in the context of what he thought we’re improvements. There is a crosswalk in front of 7-11, one in front of Warner Brothers studios and one more over there with no improvements. I’m not sure if anyone was killed at any of them, but I have seen many near… Read more »