I get it.
Homelessness is a complex issue. Housing. Social services. Addiction. Poverty. And criminality.
But the so called “progressives” in this city have the order of priority upside down. It is as if they have turned Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs on its head. If I get elected to council – it’s going to be public safety and security first on homelessness! Followed by addiction, social services and housing on the homelessness issue. In that order! Let me unpack this a bit. In Los Angeles County, on any one night, there are approximately 60,000 – 70,000 homeless people out on the streets.
No one knows the exact number. Every year, thousands of volunteers head out into the night and physically count people under bridges, in alleys, in cars, on the street and then estimate the number of homeless countywide. One night is a snapshot of the problem in that hour on that day. But there is no getting around the fact that it is literally twice the population of West Hollywood. Weho has about 35,000 people.
There are twice as many homeless on the streets in LA every night. Now, let’s talk geography and population. West Hollywood is 1.9 square miles. The County of Los Angeles is 4,752 square miles. So we are .00042 of the available land mass. The County of Los Angeles has about 10,000,000 people. West Hollywood has 35,000 people. Weho is .0035 of LA County population.
Not even 1%. A mere drop in the population and geography buckets. Not even 1% in either category. So, let’s be practical and use some common sense. There is a limited amount of impact that we can have on the homeless population in LA County.
There are 88 cities in LA County. Let’s be realistic and accept that the lion’s share of the work must be done by the big 3 cities in LA County: Los Angeles City (4 million), Long Beach (half a million) and Santa Clarita (quarter of a million). They each have the land, the resources, and the money to significantly impact the homelessness issues in this County. So, what did the current Weho city council decide to do? They voted to open a homeless facility on Santa Monica Blvd – 3 blocks away from the million dollar Kings Road condominiums and the entrance to the historic Boystown district.
Yes. They bought the Holloway Motel next to IHOP and the Veteran’s Memorial (in front of Barney’s Beanery and the Holloway House (formerly Pali House hotel). Now, granted the Holloway Motel was a vermin infested cheap motel that was a residual leftover from the old Route 66 days. It was not a pleasant place to stay compared to all the other 4 and 5 star hotels in WeHo. It is a small two story One star hotel. It had seen better days – that’s for sure.
So, the City of West Hollywood got a $6 million Homekey grant a few months ago to buy it to offer temporary housing and services for the homeless. I mean – it’s only about 20 rooms. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty! Like the boneheaded idea to reduce Fountain Avenue to only 2 lanes from 4 lanes – there are numerous collateral and unintended consequences that will affect us all. Here’s the general outline of the plan: Buy it. Refurbish it. Clean it up. And then temporarily house about 20 homeless people each week for a period of no more than 3 weeks each until they find permanent housing somewhere else in LA county. Simple, huh?
No. The space is supposed to be a day center with storage space for their belongings. Showers, laundry, offices and meeting rooms for peer support. And people are supposed to stay for just a few weeks before they move on. May I inquire – To where? There is not enough available permanent housing for these homeless people currently. That’s the reason they are on the street in the first place. “So, welcome to the Holloway Motel. Store your stuff in that closet over there. Take a shower. Let’s connect you to services. And then 3 weeks later – OK time to go. To where? Who knows? But we need to make room for the next group to be temporarily housed. So, time to pack up and move on”! You see what’s going to happen? Right? The “temporary” is going to be extended for months and months. And assuming someone does get placement outside of West Hollywood, why choose to live in Lancaster or Bell Gardens or Huntington Park – when there is that great spot back in Weho at the Holloway Motel? “Oh, they don’t have any beds for me? No problem. I will set up an encampment by the Fountain at Veteran’s Memorial. I can clean up and bathe in the Fountain until they open up a room. Or maybe in the parking garage of CVS pharmacy? Or Kings Road Park?
Or somewhere on Olive or Hacienda or Kings Road? The 20 rooms will be full. The overflow will end up in the parking lot and the neighborhoods. Instead of solving a problem – you will make it worse for Weho residents. You will create a magnet that will attract MORE homeless into West Hollywood and will do NOTHING to reduce the number of homeless in the City.
You will make a terrible problem – even worse. It’s a bad idea. And the residents who live on Kings Road, Olive, Holloway, Hacienda and Alta Loma should be outraged! Your immediate area is going to take the brunt of this idea that sounds good on paper – but in practical reality – will only exacerbate the problem. No. The City should take the 20 rooms and create permanent senior housing instead.
Or mixed work force housing with affordable units. Give people a sense of pride to live in that triangular spot with views of the Hollywood Hills, Santa Monica Blvd and the entrance to the Rainbow District. It could be so much more. But it’s as if the council said – “we gotta do something! Let’s grab the Holloway Motel. It’s for sale. Put some lipstick on the sow and hope it looks like we did SOMETHING about homelessness”.
You will have done little to nothing. And the people in the neighborhoods will pay the price for your folly. There will be an increase in criminality and neighborhood impacts with this decision. It could have been avoided if a public safety lens had been applied to the analysis. But that requires some common sense and reasoned practicality. Hollywood next door has plenty of available space for development.
Light industrial areas. Locations near subway stops. Locations near existing social services. We can use our available tax dollars to house the homeless individuals found in West Hollywood in nearby locations in Hollywood where there is ample space, resources, and housing to fix this regional problem.
You can find a nexus to use West Hollywood tax dollars in a neighboring jurisdiction when attempting to house the formerly homeless found in Weho. That’s creative thinking. West Hollywood government! Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The indigestion the day after will linger for a long time.
This idea is not supposed to go into effect until 2024. It’s not too late to turn it around! But we are going to have to fight city hall to preserve and protect our neighborhoods. Your nest egg condominium on Kings Road! It IS worth fighting for!