OPINION | I am being driven out of the city I love

What has happened to West Hollywood, the creative, dynamic urban village founded on core values of acceptance and mutual respect that created a strong and supportive community and a safe haven for our diverse population?  That we seem to have moved away from this original vision breaks my heart. I love West Hollywood, but now I am looking to leave the City my father chose for our family. We moved here because my father loved the City’s energy – and its people.  West Hollywood is the City he chose to call home and create a business back in 1984. 

But now, the West Hollywood City Council’s recent actions based on their unfamiliarity with what it takes to run a business and their move to defund the Sheriff are threatening our ability to operate our business, keep our employees safe and survive here. So, I am looking into leaving West Hollywood for an area on Crescent Heights or La Cienega just outside WEHO city limits where I will be close enough to still be convenient for my clients, and can continue to offer the exceptional service, fair prices and extended hours that have allowed my business to thrive.

Most West Hollywood businesses already pay above minimum wage. Yet, the City Council thoughtlessly voted to raise the minimum wage even higher to $17.64 an hour, making it the highest minimum wage rate in the nation.  And just last Tuesday, again, without considering businesses or reaching out to them about their proposal, they increased it even more to $18.66 an hour.  Businesses won’t be able to survive.  If that’s not enough to knock them out, the Council is demanding employers provide two weeks of paid leave.  While this may be noble on paper, the reality is that the Council failed to grasp how their actions would destroy its businesses and leave its residents with higher prices and fewer businesses. 

The Council’s anti-law enforcement philosophies threaten our public safety.  They chose to eliminate two vital deputy sheriff’s positions dedicated to WEHO and depend on unarmed Ambassadors to bicycle along the streets instead of utilizing trained police officers who know how to protect a community. They abandoned our residents and business owners who are increasingly fearful of facing retail theft and violent personal attacks.

We used to be known as “the drycleaners that never closes.” But due to the lack of effort to put public safety first, we have made the difficult decision to change our hours to close at an earlier time of 9:00 PM. Our customers depend on us, and my employees depend on those hours, but their safety is a top priority.

The West Hollywood City Council is out of touch and out of line with what and who they represent in our city. It’s as if they don’t know us and the benefits we provide.

Small businesses employ 80 percent of the people in this community and in the country.  My 45 employees are my business family.  Many have worked for me for years and many of my employees’ sons, wives or siblings work here too.  Their children depend on their jobs.

I’ve lived here for 40 years. My business is where my father taught me how to run a successful dry-cleaning business.  It’s where I pressed my first shirt. It gave my sisters the opportunity to go to college. It’s where we made friends and called home.  Over 40 years we have built wonderful, long-term relationships with our customers as they became part of our lives, and we became part of theirs.  Here in the middle of the crazy expanse of Los Angeles, West Hollywood offered a real sense of community.

Unless we make changes and vote for more business friendly and public safety minded candidates for City Council, we will have more of the same; aggressive, anti-business and anti-community policies that devastate our small, distinct West Hollywood community. 

We all see it; we must be bold enough to admit it.  The once unique and vibrant quality of life inspired us to move here is sadly swiftly declining. It’s too expensive. It’s especially not safe.

The current West Hollywood City Council is now the death blow to my business and to our community.

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Wine Bottle
Wine Bottle
1 month ago

I left. I took my 7+ figures with me. I pay taxes to another city that appreciates people and respects businesses. Occasionally I pass through and see empty stores and think to myself it doesn’t have to be this way. But yet it is. Have fun in WeHo. I can assure you I am not alone in leaving.

ArchK
ArchK
1 month ago

Drycleaners have to close at 9pm but bars can stay open all night?

Edie
Edie
1 month ago

This is the problem with politicians. They are clueless.. and have zero interest in hearing what it takes to run a small business. Their sole intention is to get reelected. And there are more votes from the workers, than from the people who can no longer afford to pay them. I can’t even afford to go out. Last time I had a vegan burger, one beer and fried pickles… it cost $38 with tip. I cannot justify that kind of money for something non spectacular that I can make at home for $10.

Justin
Justin
1 month ago

Your business has always provided great service to me. I’m sad to see you go. The City of West Hollywood is very badly managed indeed.

BinWeHo
BinWeHo
1 month ago

This rant almost seems more like an advertisement for his business and his upcoming move.

DesertBob
DesertBob
1 month ago
Reply to  BinWeHo

Seems so.

TruthOrDare
TruthOrDare
28 days ago
Reply to  BinWeHo

No it is actually a heartfelt sentiment to a city he lives in, works in, and has loved for decades being ruined by bad, clueless politicians and he’s not alone. You both also seem clueless with some added bitterness.

Jja
Jja
1 month ago

Businesses won’t be able to survive…”

And yet many are, in fact, surviving. You are seeking a new locale just outside city limits because of greed.

It’s telling that nowhere in your diatribe do you mention exactly how much you pay your hourly workers. Also, how much vacation time do you give to your full-time hourly workers? None?

Keith Kaplan
1 month ago
Reply to  Jja

I can answer this question having spent a great deal of time talking with Karim and his staff lately.He pays his hourly workers well above minimum wage…and that is why in many cases he has three generations of a family working for him.You are so quick to throw daggers at a business without any knowledge of the realities. And due to safety concerns they are forced to close early, something they certainly did not want to do as film and television productions in particular relied on his later hours. Even you might understand that less hours also means less income… Read more »

Kyle
Kyle
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Kaplan

I do agree that Karim is a great guy & he seems to take good care of his staff. But, I live right down the street- there are no gangs or drive by shootings happening anywhere near there. Seems grossly exaggerated for anyone to say safety is a real concern

Jja
Jja
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Kaplan

He pays his hourly workers well above minimum wage…” And what might that be, exactly?

Also, you neglected to say how much vacation time he gives to his full-time hourly workers.

And safety concerns on that block? Stop it.

WGM
WGM
1 month ago

West Hollywood is an egalitarian fulcrum in name only. It has been commandeered by selfishly motivated special interests who and which have supplanted a long extinct vibe of speciality. WeHo is not special. The business there are not special. The night life is not special. The restaurants are not special. And most of all the people are not special, except in the case of the city council, who are special only in a short yellow bus kind of way.

Last edited 1 month ago by WGM
Valeri
Valeri
1 month ago

Aren’t liberal politicians JUST GREAT??!?!

DesertBob
DesertBob
1 month ago
Reply to  Valeri

You’re not.

Valeri
Valeri
1 month ago
Reply to  DesertBob

You didn’t disagree with me. Thanx

Outraged
Outraged
1 month ago
Reply to  Valeri

If it weren’t for “liberal politics”, you’d be at home, barefoot and pregnant, with no right to vote, no ability to own property, no ability to have your own bank account or credit card, no ability to have your own credit, no protection from marital rape, and no ability to control your own body. A “conservative woman” is a hypocrite and a fool with no sense of history. Read a book, sister. There’s a first time for everything.

TruthOrDare
TruthOrDare
28 days ago
Reply to  Outraged

Lol! What a useless rant! Your call name should be OutragedAndBitter. At least you got the 1st part right. Deploy the straightjacket!!

Michael Cautillo
1 month ago

Karim has written a well thought out, concise op-ed reflecting, precisely, my feelings and the feelings of MANY in this City. Thank you, Karim.

Action Speaks Volumes
Action Speaks Volumes
1 month ago

Rather than complaining, what has this person done to change the equation? Talk is cheap, action speaks volumes!

Olen
Olen
1 month ago

Who needs to go to a dry cleaner at midnight? Also, dry cleaning is a luxury service – let’s not forget that. How many dry cleaners are there in less affluent neighborhoods of the city? Taking that into consideration, let’s move on: Pay up – West Hollywood is setting example for the rest of the country with living wages for employees. The federal minimum wage is an absolute joke. I don’t understand what the problem is. Raise your prices. It’s dry cleaning. Your competitors will have to too. Take a pay cut. How much do you make compared to your… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Olen
Edie
Edie
1 month ago
Reply to  Olen

Since when is $18 an hour a living wage in West Hollywood. One bedroom’s rent for $2,400. A person working 40 hours a week at $18/hour would have to pay 100% of their wages in rent, after taxes. And even then, they’d be short. WEHO CC is just trying to pretend to care about workers, as it’s because of the wealthy developers they have taken money from, that WEHO is no longer affordable to live in. So they are punishing small businesses to cover up for their actions.

Kyle
Kyle
1 month ago
Reply to  Edie

I’ve been going to that dry cleaner for years- Im almost certain that the vast majority of the staff do not live in West Hollywood

ArchK
ArchK
1 month ago
Reply to  Olen

Who needs to go to bars all night? Nobody. It’s just that the bars /nightclubs probably line the pockets of officials more generously. Many get away with code violations while the council turns a blind eye. This includes eating establishments.
WeHo is turning into a trashy culture void neighbourhood where short-termism reigns supreme. Do we really need pot-smoking lounges or more dispenseries? Look at what Cookies is doing to Melrose. Great crowd that attracts.
The vibe of WeHo is really messed up and crime is out of control.

Sage
Sage
1 month ago

If you can’t pay your employees a living wage then you shouldn’t be running a business.

somewehobish
somewehobish
1 month ago
Reply to  Sage

Yes, but when one locality has a higher minimum wage than everything surrounding it, businesses will avoid it. We’re seeing that bearing out now. This is why the minimum wage across the board should be higher — because when it’s localized, it just drives businesses away.

Edie
Edie
1 month ago
Reply to  Sage

$18 an hour isn’t even close to a living wage in weho. They’d have to pay people $30 an hour for it to be a living wage. And even that is too low.

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