That’s a good question.
Why are major donors to the re-election campaigns of Donald Trump and Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Joni Ernst of Iowa also financing the re-election campaigns of local West Hollywood City Council members John Heilman and John Duran?
They have given over $300,000 collectively to Trump, Graham, and Ernst, who oppose the right to choose (abortion) and LGBTQ rights and who have put Amy Barrett on the U.S. Supreme Court, which means it may well eliminate same sex marriage.
Have you noticed the slick colored campaign brochures flooding your mailboxes and the cheery TV ads on Spectrum every hour? “We support West Hollywood & We Support John Heilman & John Duran” They are paid for by none other than the Mani Brothers, and developers of Sunset Boulevard and Melrose Avenue, the same people paying for the re-election of Trump, the guy you are likely to be going to the polls to vote out of that office. Yeah, that guy. Then why are we voting for their City Council people of choice?
Usually when you give money, lots of money, like around $100,000, you get something in return. For too many years now In West Hollywood we have gotten something: Unrelieved traffic, noise, rampant overdevelopment, watered down rent control laws, a withered tourism industry and a shattered sales tax base.
The result is that we have driven out renters and seniors, and anyone that’s just fed up. John Duran thinks its great to have Airbnb take over where rent-controlled apartments used to flourish. He thought it was good for the economy. Well, I say it ruins renters’ rights, and ruins hotel income. Seems to me it’s only good for his income. Meanwhile, as the economy goes south, the city wants to increase the local sales tax. We pay more for weed than anywhere in Los Angeles. We sit in our driveway for 15 minutes every morning because there is so much traffic just to get out, then there’s the traffic itself. If you need to park in WeHo, good luck finding one of those overpriced parking spots. No wonder many people drive right past the next construction site and on into Beverly Hills where they can park free.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this city, but not what the corruption is doing to it.
When we started the city, a new large construction project like the Pacific Design Center brought with it traffic mitigation measures, parking, green space, and an amphitheater. It gave back to the community. Even smaller construction on a historic site on Sunset had serious construction and delivery constraints so as to not impact the surrounding neighborhood. Parking was mandated and traffic was always considered.
The Mani Brothers’ developments and other projects like the two apartment towers on La Cienega and Sunset, seem to have just caused increased density and traffic. Traffic just floods into the area without any mitigation. Except for West Hollywood’s share of the property taxes, there seems to have been no real benefit to an area that used to generate sales tax revenue. We seem to have driven much of the sales tax revenue away, and with our policies I think we will continue to lose more and more sales tax revenue.
So, now, in a self-serving manner, we can claim we need this property tax for our main source of revenue. That’s what happens when you start losing your business base and tourism (the base of your sales tax economy) and are on the take from a small group of developers. You start losing your options.
I’d rather go back to the better business model, have a thriving business community, hotels, restaurants, theaters. Let’s make this a more livable climate, stop the over development. And when a worthwhile project comes along, let the developer give back to the community. It’s time developers contribute to a senior housing/affordable housing fund. Let’s not leave it up to them to lease out some “affordable units.” And I don’t think anyone would mind a moratorium on development until we got a good look at what’s really been going on. From a living perspective, much too much building without any real benefit to the community is and has been going on for too long now. And now we know why.
Take the Grift Out of the Council. Vote for some representatives who aren’t bought and paid for by the Trump political machine and their total self interests.
Let’s get back to community politics and what’s good for our community on every level. Not yielding to those donors who are paying to get rid of LGBT and women’s rights on a federal level and buying our local politicians, feigning to care about us while they are wreaking havoc on our local environment and diminishing the laws that have protected renters since our inception (by reducing relocation fees for renters). We need a city that cares about local businesses, local taxes, and an environment that facilitates an economy where you want to come and visit and eat and drink and even live, comfortably again.
Take care of West Hollywood, not big money. Vote for Representatives who have pledged not to take developer or landlord money. I strongly recommend Sepi Shyne and Larry Block for West Hollywood City Council.
Postscript: Given John Heilman’s “known” ethical standards his Aug. 6, 2010, letter reprimanding Target regarding contributions to an anti-LGBT rights candidate, I am appalled he would accept money and in-kind contributions from a donor that is working so fervently in opposition to everything our community is working for, especially without comment!