A selection of correspondence received for this week’s City Council meeting.
Dear Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and City Council members,
This is a meeting late — as it is commenting on something on the last meeting’s consent calendar. But I wanted to voice my support for the increase in City Council member pay (starting after the Nov. election), which was approved at the last council meeting.
Our city is committed to fair pay for workers and offers relatively generous compensation for city staff (compared to other cities, I believe). We have the highest minimum wage in the country. This is important both as a matter of equity and justice and to attract talented staff. In light of these values, I have long been disappointed that the pay for City Council members is so paltry. I have seen all of you devote extremely long hours to your sometimes thankless work — appearing at numerous city events and sitting through marathon meetings. And I know you read volumes of communication from residents like me, and enormous agenda packets. I am sure I only have a small sense of the time your public service entails.
Being a city councilmember is a job — even if it is one where you are chosen by election — and it deserves fair compensation. Living in our city is exceptionally expensive. If we want public service to be open to those who aren’t wealthy — and thus to represent those who most need a voice in a seat of power — this important work must be fairly compensated.
With our very large city budget, even with the pay raise, this is a very modest sum.
Thank you all for your extremely hard work for our city. You deserve a raise. (Though I know two of you are not running for re-election and will not even receive much or any of it.) And future council members deserve fair compensation.
Sincerely, Karen O’Keefe
Lauding plans for the Laurel House
Dear Mayor Meister and Council Members,
I was so pleased to see Item 4.B. on your agenda for this evening. As a resident and arts advocate, I fully support the recommendation of the Council’s Laurel House Subcommittee as proposed in the staff report.
Laurel House is a treasure and as many in the community have supported its use as an arts and community center, the idea of gallery space and artist residencies seem to be an ideal fit for the property. The idea of enhancing the outdoor space with sculpture garden and small stage infrastructure will be a great bonus. For those who raise concerns about noise levels for the neighborhood, that can easily be ameliorated with appropriate programming. Rather than amplified music and sound, a focus could be on acoustic music and mic-less theatre, as is currently done in Kings Road Park. And one of the most critical ideas is to provide artist studio space through a transformation of the garage. The need for studio and rehearsal space was heard again and again throughout the cultural planning process of a few years ago.
For those who would prefer to see more housing on this site, it should be noted that more housing could potentially create more impact on the project site and neighborhood by needing to utilize more of the outdoor space for other residential amenities such as parking. The community has stated that it wants to retain the ”park” portion of the property for its peacefulness and tranquility and, indeed, it is a wonderful place to relax, walk the dog, or have a quiet lunch or coffee break.
The idea of artist residencies would keep the property lightly activated, while also offering benefits to the community. Those selected for residencies could be required to provide classes, workshops, art works, performances or other types of community engagement. The artists will be there for a period of time and then move on. Resident artist space could
Other issues that have been raised as concerns are community gatherings and parking. Large gatherings would likely be associated with an opening of an exhibition or a performance. Those numbers can be managed with RSVPs. Parking can be coordinated with shuttles from the City’s parking structures or lots.
The item recommended by the Council’s Laurel House Subcommittee is, in keeping with the City’s history, innovative and creative. I would urge Council to support the recommendations presented in Item 4.B.
Prevent fires at historic buildings … and preserve the Laurel House
Dear Mayor Meister and Council Members -.
With the recent fires in two noteworthy buildings along Santa Monica Boulevard – the Spanish colonial retail building at 8001-8003 SMB at Laurel and the Coast Playhouse across from City Hall – we ask that ongoing heightened public security and safety measures be considered an important aspect of future cultural and historic projects. Horrible things seem to come in 3’s so let’s be sure that the now boarded up facade of the historic French Marketplace is spared any similar burn.
Now to the related topic on hand: the long-gestating adaptive reuse of the officially recognized local cultural resource –Laurel House at 1343 N. Laurel Avenue. The WHPA’s statement for the July 25, 2022, Historic Preservation Commission hearing still holds – “Preservation advocates are particularly interested in making sure that the character-defining features of the property –the features that helped bring about the original local cultural resource designation in 1994 –are protected and preserved as this community project proceeds.”
We look forward to the city enlisting the professional expertise of an architectural design firm to devise further plans for Laurel House and its adjoining buildings. We offer these additional suggestions related to Option #2 which Council is considering at its October 3 hearing on Agenda Item 4.B.:
The staff report indicates that the first floor of Laurel House is now slated for an “art gallery and community gathering space,” but Attachment A (Second Page) also indicated a “museum (history of house or film industry)” and Attachment B (Page 98) also mentioned a museum. Since it appears from submitted plans that there will be 5 gallery rooms on the first floor, please consider one of these rooms to be dedicated not only to the history of the house or film industry but also to the HISTORY of WEST HOLLYWOOD.
*The Council Subcommittee on Laurel House “directed staff to study the feasibility of relocating the city archives into the carriage house and incorporating a reading room into this space.” We suggest that consideration also be given to making office space available for use by cultural and historic nonprofit organizations in this historic carriage house or even on the first floor of Laurel House.
*And following up on the HPC’s advice to begin a “naming discussion,” we would like to specifically suggest at this time the new name of ELSIE WEISMAN HOUSE.
The WHPA looks forward to continued involvement in this community project and thanks you for considering its suggestions.
WHPA Board of Directors
Judson Feder, Susana Miller, Roy Oldenkamp, Victor Omelczenko, and Jon Ponder
West Hollywood Preservation Alliance 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Non-Profit Organization
Pine needles point to fire danger
Hello -My name is Benito Chávez Gamboa.
I have lived at The Courtyards of West Hollywood, 950 N Kings Rd, West Hollywood, CA 90069, for twenty-nine years. My condominium faces north, overlooking Kings Road Park.
Unfortunately, there are many large trees on the south side of the park that have many branches, some with dry leaves or pine needles, that hang over far into The Courtyards property.
The most urgent issue is fire danger to our ten buildings that can be set ablaze by the aforementioned branches, leaves, and pine needles if there is a fire. Please have the trees trimmed, pruned, and/or topped as soon as possible to not have them overhang into The Courtyards property.
I hope that Scott Smith, WeHo Urban Forest & Landscape Maintenance Superintendent, is able to remedy this situation.
You can contact Nick, Property Manager, email@example.com, (323) 656-2296 to coordinate. Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.