WeHo small businesses hunker down as omicron spreads and costs rise

Larry-
Would you consider posting this as an udate to the article to make it clear that it was not an op-ed piece?

Dear WehoVille Readers,
Iwould like to make it clear that Idid not write nor submit this article. I was interviewed but it was a press release drafted and submitted by a firm on behalf of the Pandemic Recovery Coalition, a 501 c 6 organization with a board of trustees supported by and working for a large number of businesses and residents in West Hollywood. It is not an opinion piece but a gathering of facts presented that reflect the reality that exists in West Hollywood.
That said, I would like to share some thoughts about this article herein:

One only need to look around to understand this reality. Flight cancellations, government travel restrictions and fears of COVID have resulted in a significant decline in travel and tourism to West Hollywood. With less people coming here, our local businesses also take a hit. Compounding this is the fear of contracting COVID among our local residents, keeping them close to home and away from restaurants, shops and anywhere where people gather. These businesses are also suffering from shutdowns resulting from workers contracting COVID. These points are irrefutable and the impacts are significant. Less customers means less revenue. Business shutdowns mean less revenue. More irrefutable facts. Businesses have fixed costs including rent, equipment leases, business insurance and health insurance. These costs must be paid, regardless of the revenue stream. One more irrefutable fact. So, with the significant decline in revenue streams and the financial obligations of fixed costs, where does the money come from to pay huge increases in labor costs AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME?
Drawing an analogy, assume your personal income declines by 40% (and I hope and pray you never experience this) How many of you would be able to cover your rent or mortgage payments? For how long? And what about your health insurance, auto insurance, etc.? It is no different. And if at the same time your landlord increased your rent by 30% (as our council has proposed with this minimum wage increase at this time), what would you do then? Without the income, you simply could not cover these costs for very long.
The Pandemic Recovery Coalition and our business community has repeatedly made it clear that we are NOT opposed to an increase in the minimum wage. In fact, we understand and support the need for an increase in livable workforce wages. We are very fortunate to live in a community where our businesses value and practice social awareness and social responsibility, perhaps more so than any other city in America. But just as you would not be able to afford to pay your rent and cover your costs if you were hit with a sudden and sustained cut in your income, our businesses cannot. WE HAVE NEVER EXPRESSED OPPOSITION TO AN INCREASE IN MINIMUM WAGE. WE HAVE ONLY ASKED FOR CONSIDERATION OF TIMING AND IMPLEMENTATION TO ALLOW BUSINESSES TO WEATHER THE STORM THAT THE PANDEMIC HAS BROUGHT UPON US. If they close, jobs simply disappear and that is a lose-lose for everyone.

Just as science matters in the ongoing debates about masks and vaccinations, facts and reality matter here. The fears of COVID and the reactions of our residents and travelers are all around you, plain to see. More people staying at home means less people out frequenting businesses. Pretty simple to understand.

Washington DC shows us the perils of a divided nation unwilling to discuss, compromise or even consider another point of view. But I truly believe that we are better than this. West Hollywood citizens have a level of compassion, empathy, awareness and intelligence unlike anywhere else. We are capable of critical thinking. We care. We understand the importance of supporting one another. And in this, we should be able to conquer the divides and agree on workable solutions to achieve the objectives we all seek. That is all we are asking for here.
Respectfully,
Keith Kaplan

By the Pandemic Recovery Coalition

Citing restaurant closures and significant reductions in dining traffic due to ongoing fears from COVID-19 variants omicron and delta, West Hollywood restaurants and small businesses continue to struggle to keep their doors open and serve customers. These concerns, demonstrated in the temporary closure of at least nine West Hollywood restaurants and clubs during the past two weeks, highlight the uncertain public health and business climate that exists in the small, 1.9 square-mile city known for its creativity, diversity and support for social justice.

Business community leaders and hundreds of owners and employees highlighted this uncertainty in at least two City Council meetings in October/November 2021 – uneasiness that was all but ignored by the West Hollywood City Council. In spite of near-unanimous concerns to these anti-business proposals and ignoring fears that the worst of COVID-19 remains, the five-member City Council unanimously approved measures that not only raise the cost of business but also, and more importantly, hurt West Hollywood residents.

“During the last two weeks, at least nine West Hollywood restaurants and clubs have closed their doors due to fears of omicron transmission,” said Keith Kaplan, head of the Pandemic Recovery Coalition. “These temporary business shutdowns foreshadow the reduced hours, staffing reductions and restaurant closures that will almost certainly occur in 2022 because of anti-business policies passed by the West Hollywood City Council.”

Earlier this year, hundreds of West Hollywood businesses voiced significant concern over City Council actions surrounding proposals to implement the nation’s highest minimum wage — a proposal that includes not only the nation’s highest minimum wage but also other “add-ons,” including over a month of employee time off, significantly increases the cost of doing business and do not benefit those workers who most need increased wages. Additionally, businesses expressed concerns for cuts in policing when crime is on the uptick with smash-and-grabs robberies and muggings, which the City Council also ignored, stating they were not happening in West Hollywood and were unfounded fears of our businesses and residents.

“West Hollywood businesses, by and large, support increasing the minimum wage and have advocated for social justice reforms,” added Genevieve Morrill, president and CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. “The WeHo Chamber recently launched a 501c3 Foundation to support minority entrepreneurs. Sadly, because of the City Council’s action, West Hollywood will become more expensive – a place where only corporations can open a business and where only the elite can shop and dine. Long-time residents, particularly senior citizens on fixed incomes, can no longer participate in civic life and, frankly, no longer feel safe.”

“To save as our business, we had to raise our prices, reduce employee hours, layoff staff, and invest in automation. We have already taken these steps to survive and save as many jobs as possible. Labor is the largest expense for restaurants,” concluded WalterSchild, owner of Rosaline restaurant. “What’s worse, the City Council ignored business pleas that the worst of COVID was not behind us — facts borne out by the rapid spread in the number of omicron cases.”

West Hollywood businesses, particularly the city’s small family-owned businesses, including BIPOC, LGBTQ and minority-owned, already endure high and/or past-due rents because of COVID. They have all suffered under government-imposed COVID-19 shutdowns. Ignoring these on-going struggles, the West Hollywood City Council recently approved the highest minimum wage in the country, a law that goes into effect on January 1, 2022, and will further exacerbate anti-business conditions in West Hollywood.

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ALan
ALan
8 days ago

It isn’t the prices or Covid fears that keep most people from shopping in WeHo. Bad parking is much more of a deterrent, let me tell you. When I have to go to WeHo for something, I’m filled with dread. It’s the impossible parking. But sure, blame a living wage.

Randy
Randy
11 days ago

Who wrote this??? This is an editorial. The readers deserve to know who is writing an editorial. Thank you.

Rob
Rob
11 days ago

As a resident of this city, the council is going after the businesses that support this city with the hotel ordinance.. Why are they getting involved with how many rooms or square footage they are required to clean.. You also then do a minimum wage increase (which I agree with) but let the businesses decide on how to run the operation, I want to see how many of the hotel housekeepers actually live in the city of West Hollywood? City Council, please look at the City’s agenda and not of the Local 11 agenda, We have higher crime, empty store… Read more »

:dpb
:dpb
13 days ago

I agree 100 percent and have been saying the same things for the past year. West Hollywood’s downfall will be this short sited, anti-business and anti-facts city council. They are a disgrace.

#FlushBiden2021
#FlushBiden2021
13 days ago

West Hollywood, like California, has a lot of negatives when it comes to opening a business. Taxes and regulations of deranged political hacks, from the SHE to the State, are endless. So it’s not worth it. Plus, you had the lunacy of 40-year-old Mayor Lindsey Horvath, who developers own, doing everything to close down small businesses. Like you could go to Target, but you couldn’t go to a small market because of the dreadful policies of 2021 SHE – Shyne, Horvath, and Erickson. As for Covid and looney Biden, it has been a disaster. In Europe, many political sides, from… Read more »

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
13 days ago

Donald Trump and you alt-right goons are the *actual* losers.

Happy 2022
Happy 2022
12 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Who are the winners? All the businesses that close because of the inept dreadful political hacks running West Hollywood like Lindsay Horvath?

West
West
12 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Yet true leaders for progressive causes are now uniting across the partisan divide for medical freedom— despite the Ministry of Information’s insistence that we don’t exist.

#HappyInsurectionDay
#HappyInsurectionDay
11 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Trump’s fun, the SHE are glum!

WehoFan
WehoFan
11 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Get a new fetish.

WehoFan
WehoFan
13 days ago

The city council is corrupt. Weho deserves better.

alex
alex
13 days ago

The opportunity for WeHo is to partner with neighboring cities on initiatives. This policy on minimum wages would have been an ideal opportunity to reach out and come up with a united plan with surrounding cities. Why should WeHo minimum wages be higher that Beverly Hills?

No jab for job
No jab for job
14 days ago

Our small businesses were forced to segregate customers & staff, coerced to serve as enforcers for the State’s unethical mandates, and roll out this papers please nightmare scenario we all live under now.

Rudi Logan
Rudi Logan
13 days ago
Reply to  No jab for job

Could you try that again in English, please?

West
West
12 days ago
Reply to  Rudi Logan

Is voluntary informed consent a foreign language to you too?

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
11 days ago
Reply to  West

Get vaccinated.

WehoFan
WehoFan
9 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Lol.

C.R.
C.R.
14 days ago

LOL. And the droning perpetual whining about raising the minimum wage rolls on from people who need to thank their lucky stars they lasted this long without it happening…..MOVE ON.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
14 days ago

Please put Op-Ed in the headline.

Randy
Randy
11 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Yes, please. And categorize it as such, on the site. And reveal the person’s name. This has happened on this site, for months and months now.

JF1
JF1
14 days ago

Yup. This current council is the worst. We need to VOTE THEM OUT. They have their own agenda and have no interest in addressing the concerns of the residents that put them in their seats. They are in their positions because we put them their to carry out the will of the people – not enforce their own will.

Alex
Alex
14 days ago

Ugh. Just tell me the 9 businesses that are closed.
I’m so tired of all the opinion pieces.
Give me unbiased info and stop with the agendas.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
14 days ago
Reply to  Alex

Totally agree.

TomSmart
TomSmart
14 days ago
Reply to  Alex

EXACTLY!!!

Mat
Mat
13 days ago
Reply to  Alex

Marinate is one of them.

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