Opinion: The Issues City Council Candidates Should Be Ready to Address for the November Election

Waiting for tbe Council members to arrive.

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of Carelton Cronin’s two-part essay on how to approach the Nov. 3, 2020, City Council election. The first installment can be found by clicking here.

Both pieces offer advice to local residents on how to decide who to support. However, this one is more focused on the candidates for office, asking questions and noting issues they must address.

Challenges that provide opportunities for the dedicated member of the Council:

Housing – affordable or not, pressures outside the city boundaries, and some within, will soon present us with the need to make decisions which only Solomon could make previously.  The world is aging, many countries (including USA) experiencing population declines. More seniors in WeHo?  Fewer in next generations to pay for their keep.

Vacancy tax has been proposed in several cities to pressure people to use or sell their  vacant houses.

Effect of SB50 and other bills to increase density. Workers with good paying jobs want to live closer to their work.

Residential development – are we in a housing bubble?  Right now only the relatively wealthy can afford to buy in WeHo.  Increasingly, traditional families, a growing part of our demographic,  require smaller  dwellings.  Big, box houses will be less attractive to them. The aging LGBTQ community must consider aging issues and how to stay in WEHO.

Commercial/mixed use development. Like it or not, we are a resort town.  Our industry is entertainment, nifty hotels, clubs and restaurants.  These elements must eventually be more integrated into the city’s life, rather than apart as single entities.  How about Il Picclino on the ground floor of a retail/apartment building?  Or a neighborhood pharmacy, bakery, barber???

More city owned apartments -??

What will our demographic look like in ten years?  I think we will have to become a far less elite town in order to prosper and survive the changes being forced upon us by global warning, as it changes the entire world. Changing demographics means changing demands and needs.

Employee housing is an issue being grappled with in a number of other resort cities.  How to keep good people in a really tight, expensive housing market.  The Chamber of Commerce needs to get more involved in this.

Traffic – elements beyond our control send thousands of cars and trucks through our city as it sits on a few of the major transit streets.  Can we redesign our streets in a way to reduce the traffic impact?  Cul de sacs and other restrictive measures to also protect pedestrian movement?  It is a regional problem due mostly to a very thin transit system not yet designed to carry the potential number of riders in the county.

Infrastructure – we inherited an aging utility network which has caused the city to expend lots simply to keep up with the repairs and replacements.  Owning our streetlights is one step toward better control.  Utility corridors under some of our busiest avenues are of particular concern because their maintenance impacts residential and commercial buildings as well as traffic.

Green building rules greatly enhance new construction throughout the city. Solar roofs will increase in number and efficiency. Grey water systems can be established for individual blocks.  (Side note – the brochure used when Green Building rules first appeared featured me on the cover. I was unaware that the photo was taken until I was shown the brochure.) We have to be careful that the rules don’t stifle construction.

Transportation – It will take a generation before there is a truly viable transit system in Los Angeles County.  West Hollywood’s City Line and other small transit enterprises will have to increase in service for residents and visitors when restrictive traffic measures are installed.

Crime – the Neighborhood Watch program needs a big boost from homeowner groups.  More people on the streets, though assaults seem to take place at all hours and just about anywhere.  Cops on bikes have been a great way to patrol residential streets.  But, as long as criminal elements continue to think of West Hollywood as a candy store, easy pickings, we’ll have to deal more closely with crime and its effects.

 Our City Council – Only a truly engaged person would take on this full-time-part-time job.  In my mind it’s almost a monastic calling, a venture far into the wilds of process – which is what government is anyhow.  Feeling that way about it, I’d certainly press anyone desiring the work to tell me just what he or she wants to do, expects to do and how he or she would engage others.  Whose work on the present Council do you like? Dislike?  Which of the above issues I offer for discussion would you handle first, would you prioritize?  Lots of questions expecting real, hard answers.

Homelessness – A national problem with local consequences and no easy answers as long as lawmakers refuse to take firm measures and even change laws regarding the handling of the mentally ill on the streets.  West Hollywood is a welcoming city for these people, but just how far can we go in caring for them?

Term Limits – this is the lazy citizen’s way out. Voters should do the heavy lifting and exercise their franchise – you know, the right to vote, the privilege to vote, the item I and a few millions others risked our lives to protect.  Term limits are limits imposed on people who should be allowed to continue their good work. Bad actors should lose at the polls, not because time has run out.   First of, of course, any elected official should have had to run the gauntlet of public scrutiny through severe questioning and monitoring.  Remember, “all politics is local,” and if we do a good job electing the right people, well, it might just flow out to our county, state and national governments.  It’s supposed to work that way.

There are other challenges to be sure.  Let’s hear from the hopeful candidates about items they pose individually.  This city has some great talent in terms of discussing the bumps in our municipal road.  Let’s hear from these people. 

It’s a duty and a privilege to be able to express one’s opinion and desires at the polling station.  There are some changes in how we get to that place in California.  A little effort this time could bring out a more inclusive vote and raise the turnout to more than a piddly 20%.  My jumpmaster at Fort Benning in 1951 was really fixated on the reasons he was training us for war: “To protect all our freedoms, especially the right to freely cast a vote.”  Not a complicated view of America, is it?  VOTE

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2 years ago

Term limits are certainly controversial, and a complicated subject. I have mixed feelings about the issue. But voters passed measure C, and I can’t see why this would be a subject that would come up in the 2020 election. It is now law, so no matter how candidates feel about it, it is going to be there, unless someone wants to get a measure on the ballot to overturn them. One of the major complaints is that entrenched CouncilMembers with connections to developers and other big donations have the advantage. It took years for someone like Lauren Meister to get… Read more »

Leslie K
Leslie K
2 years ago

Such a thoughtful and as usual, well-written, piece, Carl.

Rick Watts
Rick Watts
2 years ago

Well said, Carleton. The only thing I’d add is the need to get a better handle on holding accountable businesses that profit from the problems they facilitate while externalizing into the public the costs. I’m thinking of bars and “smoke shops” that sell the meth pipes that are helping fuel the epidemic of addition that has so contributed to many other problems including but not limited to crime, homelessness, STDs & other threats to economic vitality, public health & order that in turn impact the public budget—and taxpayer pocketbooks.

2 years ago
Reply to  Rick Watts

Exactly Rick, the business owners have created an epidemic that exponentially creates a continuing threat to the public on numerous levels all the while being underwritten by the city by accident or accidentally on purpose. The city public servants are either oblivions to or overwhelmed by the consequences or in some case may tangentially profit from it. This is a serious dynamic. Do we open the eyes and demand more responsibility from those in place or roll the dice on unknowns that offer glowing promises? Plans to address these issues should be visible on paper by candidates, the sooner the… Read more »

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