A move to rename the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and put it on the road to becoming a commission left City Council poised to rethink the roles of the city’s many commissions and advisory boards.
After a lengthy discussion at their meeting Monday night, Council voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution that would change the name of the board. The motion also directed staff to return at a later date with an ordinance for consideration which would create an LGBTQ+ Commission which would go into effect when the current terms end on February 28, 2023.
The LGAB was created in 1989, and the latest move to shed the dated name in favor of something more inclusive began last December.
The board itself chose “LGBTQ+ Advisory Board” as their new name.
At the same time, a proposal to upgrade the group from an advisory board to a commission started taking shape.
West Hollywood has nine commissions and six advisory boards. The commissions are more prestigious and powerful, with specific decision-making responsibilities that are codified in the city code, and varying levels of quasi-judicial authority.
As a commission, the LGAB would be handed some of that authority — for instance, in reviewing contracts. Advisory boardmembers routinely say their groups are toothless and their purpose is muddled because City Council glosses over their work and ignores their recommendations.
While the Councilmembers all supported the name change, some were more hesitant to greenlight the promotion to commission, and they showed mixed feelings about the rollout. Councilmember Lindsey Horvath’s opposition to the upgrade was strongest. She insisted that handing additional power to a particular demographic could open a Pandora’s box, with other demographics demanding equal treatment.
If the LGAB could transition into a commission, Horvath wondered, then what was the point of having advisory boards?
Co-chairperson Jackie Steele was livid with Horvath over what she claimed was the city’s neglect of the queer community.
“To say ‘Why do we have boards and commissions? Why even do this?’ Lindsey Horvath, I am so shocked, I’m appalled, I am absolutely disgusted,” Steele said. “Not just at that, your physical reaction, your physical, emotional reaction! This is an LGBTQ+ advancement conversation. You didn’t even know we had a policy subcommittee. Yet you’re talking about what this board can or can’t do, does or doesn’t do, you clearly don’t know the work we’ve done or the roadblocks that we hit. The bottom line is if you’re going to be an ally, you do it by making sure you create space for people.”
Horvath responded diplomatically.
“I’m glad we have representation,” she said. “If the distinction between advisory boards and commissions creates inequity, then I want to eliminate that entirely.”