STEVE MARTIN: Has West Hollywood lost its way?

The proposed vacancy tax for commercial and residential properties was before the city Council last Monday. While the Council decided to postpone placing the proposed tax on the ballot, that was not the real story of the evening.

In order to ascertain if there was a modicum of support for the tax, the City hired a consultant, Richard Bernard, to do a bit of community outreach and report back his findings.

Bernard conducted a poll a of 503 high propensity voters, people who have consistently voted in City elections for the last several years and the results were surprising.

Before getting into questions about the proposed vacancy tax, Bernard asked voters a rather basic warm up question: “Is the City of West Hollywood headed in the right direction”?

A whooping 39% of the voters answered with a resounding “No”.

Mind you, this poll is not a WeHoville straw poll, or a poll conducted by the Chamber of Commerce. This was a poll by a respected and detached consultant who felt that this opening question was relevant to his evaluation of the chances of the vacancy tax passing. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4%.

Given that only 46% of the respondents answered that West Hollywood was headed in the right direction, the results are close to a statistical tie.

In some ways it is almost incomprehensible that residents would be that disillusioned with their city. This is a city of good neighbors, lively night life, dog parks, great dining, public amenities and strong social services. Along Santa Monica Boulevard, potholes are as rare as Bigfoot sightings. West Hollywood is a place where people want to live and there is a certain cachet to being part of our community.

What theses stats worse is that Richard Bernard’s report indicated that in June of 2020, fifty eight percent of the high propensity voter sample said the City was going in the right direction, while only 21% had a negative view of the City. What happened in the last two years?

Perhaps the negative polling numbers reflect a certain amount of COVID related fatigue and anger with all forms of government. But it would ignore a string of often half-baked political initiatives emanating from City Hall that have divided the community.

Although the poll did not get into the reasons for voter dissatisfaction, it should be of concern that the numbers reflect serious disillusionment from high propensity voters, the people who actually follow City politics and perhaps even have an official role in the City, such as Board or Commission members. I would think that the City Council may take a break from its non-stop political posturing to ponder the results of the poll. These numbers hardly are a ringing endorsement of our current municipal leadership. When not even half of your residents are happy with the direction of the City, that news should set off alarms.

Unfortunately, I did not see that any of the Council members mention any concern about this statistic.

But at some point, efforts to defund the sheriff, rising crime, mandating the use of pronouns and the delays and cost overruns relating to the West Hollywood Park improvements are taking a toll. I am sure that each of the voters polled who indicated they thought the City was off in a wrong direction, had good reason to give that response.

While City Hall has been quick to dismiss negative public comments expressed at Council meetings and in the press that raise concerns about the direction of the City, there is now empirical evidence that a substantial number of residents, perhaps even half, are exasperated, even angry with the direction or lack of direction of our City.

I hope City Council and staff use this as an opportunity to take stock of the where we are headed. For starters a bit more humility and willingness to listen might go a long way toward getting us back on track.

But if City Council can’t figure it out, the voters will.

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About Steve Martin
Steve Martin is a former West Hollywood City Council member and mayor, former president of the Stonewall Democratic Club and author of West Hollywood's successful term limits initiative, Prop. C.

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Eastside Straight Girl
Eastside Straight Girl
1 month ago

I am soooo ready for the seasoned crew to be reinstated by the voters to get our precious WeHo back on track so we feel safe again to enjoy our city that we love so much! I’m done with these inexperienced crack-pot, ding-dongs that think they know what’s best for us!

Valeri
Valeri
1 month ago

This is what happens when old men don’t run things; place goes to Hellll.

DesertBob
DesertBob
1 month ago

LOL! I love all these “I’ve been here a long time…11 years!” comments. Take it from someone who left there forty years ago, and who thought that the cityhood sham would be an unmitigated disaster:

Time has passed, and the results are in.
It is an unmitigated disaster.

You’re welcome.

Denise Lindgren McCabe

I love living in WeHo and have for over 20 years. The only downside now is the closing of many neighborhood restaurants and stores to make way for huge expensive condos and other venues, making it more like the Las Vegas strip than the small town feel it used to have.

Ernesto Sportello
Ernesto Sportello
1 month ago

This is what happens when development is placed above quality of life, history and the needs of citizens. At the same time adopting far left nonsense measures. Weho lost it’s way long ago.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ernesto Sportello
Burger Lover
Burger Lover
1 month ago

The fact that this is a discussion is a de facto representation that this city has indeed lost its way. Homeless all over the place. Irrational people spouting off bad ideas for homeless gatherings. Crime is not being addressed. And more importantly, people who do not drink the wayward kool-aid (TM) are ostracized and shunned. I remember back in the 90’s when we were ostracized and persecuted and now its seems as if we are the persecutors. My opinion based on what I read and see in the streets. Word to the use: if someone else has a differing opinion… Read more »

chloe ross
2 months ago

Re: The City Attorney. We import our city attorney from a firm who specializes in some type of law. Lots of cities in their corral. And in a city with so many really fine attorneys, why? Isn’t there an attorney to represent just US. On the premises; with the legalities, rules and laws at their fingertips. Concerned and dedicated to West Hollywood? Isn’t it time?

Ryan Gierach
1 month ago
Reply to  chloe ross

Mike has been the City attorney since the city’s inception. He is as imported as John Heilman, or you, Chloe.
You simply won’t find a City attorney who is better at his job or who knows more about West Hollywood.

That firm you mentioned? He owns it.

chloe ross
1 month ago
Reply to  Ryan Gierach

No Ryan. He is imported period. John lives in WeHo.

Poor Judgement
Poor Judgement
1 month ago
Reply to  Ryan Gierach

Mike Jenkins went unchallenged until occasions when the city was sued and there have been many. He famously said and repeated in terms of his guidance, we will do what we want and make it up as we go along until the courts say otherwise. The courts have. MJ and Christy Hogan had and still have a lock on West Hollywood. Lauren Langer lacks a demonstrative hand and the newest legal advocate Isaac Rosen gave poor advice at the last Planning Commission hearing because he appeared to not want an interruption in the flow of future ZTA’s so the matter… Read more »

Rudi Logan
Rudi Logan
1 month ago
Reply to  chloe ross

“…a firm who specializes in some type of law…”

You have a firm grasp of the obvious. Don’t they all specialize in some type of law?

JeffP
JeffP
2 months ago

I can tell you why I answered that this city is heading in the wrong direction: When I canvassed to make this a city back in the early ’80s, we had a 50-bed homeless transition shelter on the corner of Santa Monica and La Brea above GinaB just behind the Car Wash. There were 3 locations where the homeless were provided hot meals and outreach services… ALL of which have been shuttered or moved out of the city. The plan that was passed to build West Hollywood Gateway included a plan to offer showers/hygiene within West Hollywood Gateway until the… Read more »

Susie Q
Susie Q
2 months ago

It does seem like city Council has their priorities screwed up lately. Rather than using money to make people feel safe, they spend it on window dressing like fancy lights strung along Santa Monica Blvd., specialized crosswalks that only get dirty, and silly street closures for events that were poorly attended (out on Robertson) And, they listen to out of touch oligarchs who say we don’t have enough money to maintain sheriffs deputies. They spend their time trying to force people to declare their sexual preferences through pronouns. Sounds awfully silly to me! They allegedly line their pockets with money… Read more »

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
2 months ago
Reply to  Susie Q

yep

Eastside Straight Girl
Eastside Straight Girl
2 months ago
Reply to  Susie Q

Everything that you said Susie Q, I totally agree with except for one thing……The Council people that are screwing everything up is the majority, the SHE: Shyne, Horvath, & Erickson that do have an agenda in place to “transform” West Hollywood into such a far left nutty city that we who have been here for a long time, (me 20 years) simply will not be able to recognize it & will want to leave after they are done! I say, enough is enough!

Susie Q
Susie Q
2 months ago

Well, if that is their plan, then they have outsmarted themselves because we won’t leave! We cannot leave! Rents are now so high that we long-timers cannot afford to move! So we will just stay here, be unhappy, and vote them out!

CeeCee
CeeCee
1 month ago
Reply to  Susie Q

Agreed, Susie Q! Us long timers are now going nowhere! I’m not moving until I can afford to buy something, and sadly for me, it won’t be in the “city” I’ve lived in for 25 years.

Wrong Direction Indeed
Wrong Direction Indeed
2 months ago

West Hollywood has not a single well adjusted, balanced individual on the city council. The assortment is forcing the residents to watch a slow speed train wreck composed of THE broken agendas of unhappy people. Not an ounce of introspection, only bizarre self interested and perverted ideas.

Yes!! WRONG DIRECTION INDEED.

chloe ross
1 month ago
Reply to  Susie Q

Susie Q. You spoke my thoughts. The minutiae that obsesses the CC would be amusing if it weren’t a distraction from the real issues. What does it take to run a small, unique city like ours.? A dedicated and perhaps even a full time city council familiar with the basic needs of every small municipality. It’s a formula. Then each city government tailors it to the demographics of the city itself. We are unique; our population is special. Our residents are not the run of the mill and for this our city needs to adjust the direction it takes. But… Read more »

chloe ross
2 months ago

I share your views. And had I been asked to vote…I too would have been a concerned member of the 39%. NOT ALL CHANGE IS A GOOD IDEA.

Joshua88
Joshua88
2 months ago

The vacancy tax is a great idea, especially in the age of 1. housing shortages 2. high prices 3. necessity.

Rahab88
Rahab88
2 months ago
Reply to  Joshua88

And of course, oh so legal. The City Attorney is a fraud. This could never pass constitution muster, much less, H57+LTO.

James Francis
James Francis
2 months ago

Furthermore, they get people on commissions and those appointment commissioners want city council open seats as well as well their friends and election staff looking to inherit a seat! Let’s not forget the Deputy System that was horrible and John Erickson was part of that too. Remember he once worked as a staffer to city council. That is what this city has become or has happened on this city council the last 2 years and the public hasn’t been allowed to publicly engage in 2 years. The city hall is a ghost environment and they don’t want visitors anymore, it’s… Read more »

Eastside Straight Girl
Eastside Straight Girl
2 months ago
Reply to  James Francis

SHEer Cronyism!!!

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
2 months ago
Reply to  James Francis

Yes, it’s that incestuous cabal that has created sophomoric cliques and some unwritten and naive “rule” that candidates for council should have a served on a board of commission. Bullpucky! I want to learn more about candidate Jordan Cockeram who seems not to have been polluted by the toxic insider circle that have &*(#’ed it up in the last two years. He has lived in WeHo sufficiently long enough to know his town and not come in like a bull in a china shop with some radical agenda.

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