On February 16, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to close off Robertson Boulevard on weekends beginning sometime in April. They did so without any prior outreach to the business community and the abutting residential neighborhoods – no report on logistics from city staff, no review by city commissions, no fully executed budget proposal, no traffic diversion analysis and no thoughtful discussion about the viability or need for such an endeavor.
In essence, our elected policy makers looked at a blank piece of paper and said yes. Their excuse was that it was a pilot program, and if it doesn’t work they’ll stop it. But the trend to “pilot” everything does not exempt the City Council from doing the required due diligence prior to making a decision that can affect residents for any given time. Hasty immediate actions without serious consideration of the consequences should not be the preferred legislative approach by our City Council.
The best approach to good decision making is to hear from the public, assign city staff to prepare a report that outlines all the details, constraints, liabilities and total expenditures of public funds needed to execute a proposal.
When proposing a development project, the Council requires developers to show drawings, initiate traffic studies, hash out design details at various commissions and hold meetings with stakeholders before the project comes before them for final approval. But here the Council negated that process and simply told staff to figure it out after approval. It’s a double standard.
City staff should have been asked by the City Council to do research and outreach in December or January in preparation for the February council meeting. By doing so, the Council would have had a clearer picture of what they were getting themselves – and us – into and would have thereby facilitated an informed decision.
Generally speaking, government runs slow, but for good reason. Initiatives that have the potential to affect the daily lives of citizens must be considered in a deliberate, thoughtful and un-rushed atmosphere and within the confines of public hearings.
Unfortunately, this is not what happened on February 16. What happened was that the West Hollywood City Council banded together in an attempt to secretly support one council member’s long-desired pet project and covertly approved the project. This is not good governing or good leadership.
Whether you think closing Robertson Boulevard is a good idea or not, is irrelevant. As residents, we should not accept allowing our elected officials to run amok and create policies or make decisions that are not well vetted, properly debated, deliberated or freely presented to the community in a transparent matter and in collaboration with stakeholders.
Lately, it seems that democracy is broken at the West Hollywood City Council….and that’s not good, no matter where you live.