City Manager Paul Arevalo announced his retirement. The City Attorney announced his retirement. The Mayor announced her run for County Supervisor. City Hall has been closed to the public since March 2020.
Last week, Palm Springs City Hall announced their City Hall and other Public Facilities would re-open to the public on this Tuesday June 1st. Beverly Hills City Hall opened for appointments almost one month ago on May 3rd. It sure does not feel like our city leaders are anxious to re-open City Hall and engage the public.
The West Hollywood Library is Open to the Public. The DMV is open to the Public. Gyms, Hair Salons and even the Bars have been given the green light to re-open. Every major building and business in West Hollywood is open for business or has announced their re-opening plans. Yet, West Hollywood City Hall has not made any public announcements and residents are walking up to City Hall to find locked doors and a sign.
Our 20-million dollar plus Robo-garage is not making much money these days. There are parking attendants, but few cars. City staff has access to their offices if needed so parking attendants are staffed even though City Hall is closed.
The Mayor of West Hollywood is also running for County Supervisor. One could see four City Council members enjoying the Abbey’s 30th anniversary party. Many city officials out and about without masks and without social distancing. And yet the City Council banned public gatherings, cancelled the Pride parade, postponed National Night Out and Halloween. There seems to be a double-standard. Its ok to go out to “Out on Robertson” and take off your masks and skip social distancing and dance in a crowd but it’s not ok for City Staff workers to stand behind plexiglass partitions to greet the public.
The newly appointed City Manager David Wilson is also under wraps. David Wilson has been nominated but his contract not yet finalized or approved by the City Council. He can’t lead and the current City Manager is almost out the door. If this was a private business the boss would say “we HAVE to open the doors, pay the rent, get our employees back to work. But City Hall is funded by taxpayer dollars and run by the union heads who have more say than residents.
West Hollywood City Hall is one of the largest employers in the City of West Hollywood. Businesses around City Hall depend on the city employees for business. There are plenty of empty tables at Joey’s Cafe available for breakfast or lunch these days. All one has to do is sit at Joey’s and watch perplexed residents walking up the ramp to City Hall only to find the doors locked and a sign in many languages directing them online.
Numerous residents have told me personally of their problems with a closed City Hall. Calls to City Hall but are met with an answering machine. City staff working from home do not always stay on top of these messages, and residents say that requests take 24 hours or more to receive a call back. Some have called me asking how Flaming Saddles was able to retain a cannabis license inside the buffer zone near West Hollywood Park because they never received any replies from messages and emails. Another woman needing counter help because she got a letter from her landlord and was scared. Many senior and disabled residents prefer counter service. Some do not have smart phones or a computer and have been completely shut off from effective communication for city services.
WeHoME, is the West Hollywood Municipal Employees Union represents almost 200 city employees. It is Local 3339 of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Council member John Erickson used to be the President of the Union Local WeHoMe. And Mayor Horvath is seeking the Union’s support and endorsement for her run for the County Supervisor. Nobody is excited to push the button to the Union heads that it is time for the workers to get back to work.
Let’s face it, Beverly Hills City Hall opened almost a month ago. Their workers face the same conditions. Beverly Halls City manager, or City Council, and their City Hall workers are pro-active back to work. Why is West Hollywood so far behind in its re-opening plans and implementation?
Council member D’Amico spoke up at the last City Council meeting requesting that City Council meetings re-open at the City Council Chambers. This week I reached out to all 5 city council members to ask, “any comment on the City Hall Re-Opening?”
Council member D’Amico replied first : “We will get an update at the next city council meeting and then perhaps July would be the first meeting where the council members gather he said in a text message.
Council member Shyne replied next: “I am relieved that we seem to be at the tail end of the pandemic and starting to go back to a new normal. Reopening City Hall will be one more needed step toward recovery”
Council member Meister replied next: City staff has been carefully working on the re-opening of City Hall and other city facilities. Safety is, of course, our first priority although I know everyone is ready to get back to some normalcy.
Council member Erickson replied: I’d refer you to the City Manager for details as that’s the CM’s job. But what i will say is that we are all eager to get back to a new normal and have City Hall continue to expand its services. Now that we are seeing the State mandates lifting, opening more of the economy up and seeing infection rates plummet and vaccination rates surge, our City Hall teams are ramping up to help our constituents navigate the next phase of the recover and resiliency.
Mayor Horvath replied: The City manager has already stated that the reopening of City Hall begins in June. I am eager to welcome people back to City Hall – both staff and the public – in a safe & thoughtful way to accomplish the work of the city.
Let’s take the next step on the Road to Recovery. It is time to announce that West Hollywood City Hall is Open For Business. Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell them what you think.