JORDAN COCKERAM: Making WeHo a business friendly city again — Part 2

Thanks for sticking around for Part 2 of how I want West Hollywood to be a business friendly city again! I’ve talked about what I would like to do as a city council member to support existing businesses, but what about new businesses?

Thanks to the red tape and the many costs associated with it, West Hollywood is one of the hardest cities to open up a new business in. I’ve spoken to a few different residents about the obstacles they’ve faced trying to open up shop in our city. Two of whom I spoke with in detail about the challenges either they or their clients faced when opening up a business. One resident and business owner, whom I’m going to call Miguel, is an architect and helps his clients create their dream space for their future endeavor.

He has personally gone through the process of applying for permits many times through the city on behalf of his clients. Miguel told me that when he submits the application, paperwork, fees, and anything else required by the city, it goes to the Permit Technician*, and everything from there on is coordinated through email. There is no organization whatsoever. If an email is missed, overlooked, or lost, you’re out of luck. You never know if your email or information was received until you hear back from the city saying they’re ready to move onto the next steps, or that they’re missing something from you. And that’s exactly what happened to Miguel.

For one of his clients, they submitted their plans to city hall, and they were told that everything was turned in and ready to go. About three weeks had gone by when the permit technician emailed Miguel and said the city had never received his plans. Miguel looked through emails in his sent box to see if he had sent them. And in fact, he did. The city had received them and sent over the confirmation, but it wasn’t properly tracked at city hall, and the email with the plans sent by Miguel was either overlooked or buried amongst presumably hundreds of other emails.

Simply put, this is unacceptable. Unacceptable for any city, but especially for a city like West Hollywood, where commercial real estate costs are sky high. Right now, the wait time for permits to get approved by the city (forgetting any permit approvals that are required by the county if your establishment requires a sign-off from department controlled by the county, like health or industrial waste) can be over 4 months. If you’re lucky enough to find a commercial rental for $10,000/month, you’re already spending $40,000 before you can even open and start

making money. How can we expect any small business owner to shoulder that type of burden? There needs to be some organization to hold whomever is accountable – the city or the business owner – for the delays in getting permits approved so our businesses can open.

After talking with Miguel and brainstorming with another business owner named Ted, we came up with the idea for creating a “dashboard” on the city website that would organize all of the required documents and paperwork to apply for permits and getting a business opened. We see these dashboards all of the time, it’s nothing new or groundbreaking. If you have three items you need to turn in for something, say your electrical permit, the dashboard would show a simple checklist listing each item, with a “check mark” and a time stamp when the item has been turned in. After all of the items are turned in, the dashboard would display that all items have been turned in, the date and time they were turned in, and that now it’s the city’s responsibility to move onto the next steps.

Not only would this organize all of the required items needed to apply for a permit, but it also shows who is responsible for next steps, and how quickly they actually get to them. If it turns out that after all items are turned in and the city takes a month to get to them, something needs to be corrected at the city level. Maybe there aren’t enough employees handling permit applications. Maybe the employees at city hall aren’t moving quickly enough. Or maybe business owners really aren’t that great at turning in their required documents in a timely manner, and the delays are largely their fault. I can’t say what the cause is yet, but with a dashboard, we can find out. There will be more transparency and we can hold our city AND our business owners accountable. After all, that’s what government is supposed to do for its citizens – be transparent and be held accountable.

This accountability will help us identify any bottlenecks in the permitting process, it will help us shorten the amount of wait time that new business owners face (or established businesses going through a remodel, a tenant improvement, etc), and it will help dramatically lower the costs associated with opening up a new business. This happens in every city, but we want to attract small business to West Hollywood, and we can do that by helping to expedite the process.

A lot of these delays happened during covid, so let’s use this opportunity to take advantage of doing things from home if that’s what we’re going to. Submit everything online, and only print the final, finished document for the job site. Save time, save money, save resources, save the environment.

That’s what I want to do to help make it easier to open a new business in West Hollywood, and that’s what I’m going to do as your city council member.

As always, your feedback, opinions, thoughts, and ideas are welcome! If you’re a business owner, if you’ve ever tried opening up a businesses, or you just have an idea to make this even better, I want to hear from you! Please reach out to me by phone or text at (323) 250-0992, or by email at JC@JordanForWeHo.com.

You can check out my website for more of my plans at JordanForWeHo.com. If you like what I’ve said so far, I’d love to be able to count on your vote in November, and I’d really love it if you told others to do the same!

Thank you!

Jordan

*The Permit Technician is the city employee who is responsible for reviewing all of the plans for every single person, documenting it, and submitting it to the various departments: building, planning, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing.

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About Jordan Cockeram
Jordan Cockeram is a candidate for West Hollywood City Council.

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tina
tina
3 months ago

Ben Savage among others are more qualified and focused on city issues. #VoteExperience #NotActivists

JF1
JF1
3 months ago
Reply to  tina

Lol. Ben Savage qualified? Just how so? Specifics please.

Catherine emmers
Catherine emmers
3 months ago

This is elementary and not well written. It’s like he googles what other cities are doing and he uses them as his ideas. He is not ready for elected office. Every solution is laced with a lgbtq slant. We need fewer activists and more elected officials who want to solve problems

Not a High School Project
Not a High School Project
3 months ago

Jordan, appreciate your effort but this is not a high school project. Please do better research.

Visit WEHO
Visit WEHO
3 months ago

As for international business tourism, of the six or seven million visas issued to visit the United States it is taking up to a year. Thanks to the Biden administration. So that obviously will affect local tourism in Los Angeles and West Hollywood. Welcome to reality. Morning Joe

Larry Block
Admin
3 months ago

While the city permitting process is cumbersome, there already is a ‘dashboard’ or checklist. It’s the first thing the planner will give you. First you submit your plans to plan-check. They give you a checklist right away.. to review and ask for all documents before submit,–you pay you initial permit application fee. It’s a step by step process that is easy to digest This person whom you spoke hardly makes the case for the problem or any solution. All you have to do is go to city hall to the second floor, speak to any planner, enjoy the wall of… Read more »

Jordan Cockeram
3 months ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Hi Larry,

I just spoke to you on the phone about this. I think where we’re not connecting is that I want it to be digital and organized, with time stamps so we can identify exactly when things have been turned in, and who specifically is responsible for next steps. That way we can identify any bottlenecks, and speed up the process.

Larry Block
Admin
3 months ago

I suggest a trip to the 2nd floor of city hall to speak with a planner. There are time and date stamps on every single document from the moment you submit, to the paid for receipt. The checklist has the order of steps to approval from step 1, zone clearance, to step 2, plan check for documents, to step 3 review, to step 4 building and safety sign off.

Jordan Cockeram
3 months ago
Reply to  Larry Block

I want it to be organized, laid out, and easy to find in the digital age that we live in, and especially now that so many people at City Hall are working from home, and so much of our lives these days are done remotely. But I will definitely do that!

JF1
JF1
3 months ago

👍🏻

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
3 months ago

Jordan’s focus on the nuts and bolts of sound municipal governance is a breath of fresh air and clearly shows he wants to do the people’s bidding and not use West Hollywood as a Petri dish for radical ideologies on national and international matters for the interests of outside agitators. I’m paying attention to candidates who engage residents in real time and in thoughtful opinion pieces here. We’ve had enough of campaigning by glossy and environmentally offensive mailers that pollute out mailboxes. Those mailers are too often merely a canvas for platitudes and conclusory statements and, frankly, lies.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Exactly, governance is in the tedious details which is why Lauren Meister stands out as someone willing to get into the weeds. We still have employees working remotely, which does little to expedite the approval process. Jordan demonstrates his mature understanding that government is not all about playing for headlines.

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