In December 2020 Councilmembers Sepi Shyne and Lauren Meister brought forward item 5B. This item directed staff to come up with a plan that would help small businesses in West Hollywood. A budget of $250,000 was set aside that would help grant up to $5,000 to 50 businesses each.
At this past City Council meeting on May 3rd the Small Business Grant program was discontinued. There was $235,000 left in the fund. Only three West Hollywood businesses qualified. All the remaining funds were moved to support additional Outzones. A careful look at the above item 5b as presented should note the lack of Outreach to the “stakeholders” concerning the Robertson Outzone. There was no public process.
At the time of the debate the City Manager Paul Arevalo noted that $5,000 would not save any of these businesses but was a token of support. The council debated the criteria for grant program but really did not understand how the PPP and EIDL loans helped our business community and disqualified most of the applicants. The criteria was so intense that only three businesses received grants and there was $235,000 out of $250,000 left in the program.
The majority of applicants were ineligible for funding because they had previously
received government relief funds from the Federal, State or County governments.
It’s important to note that this Small Business Grant Process was not successful because the criteria was too broad and there is a lack of understanding among the city council of the resources available to many small business owners.
The City Council should consider permanent Public Safety measures to support the business community. The success of all our businesses, big and small are derived from customers and residents and tourists who feel comfortable to eat, shop, and play in West Hollywood. To protect and to serve our businesses we need a city council that understands the needs of our small businesses and is willing to listen.