OPINION | City Council pushes extreme policies without community engagement

You can come up with a wacky idea, add it to the weekly municipal consent calendar rather than agendizing it to allow for discussion or debate from stakeholders, then go ahead and implement it and sit back and watch the community crumble.  That’s what it feels like for those of us who call this 1.9 mile city island home.  We are surrounded by other local cities who offer their residents and business owners both economic and public safety. But sadly, our City Council doesn’t seem interested.  And what about the democratic process that has invited community engagement, debate and discussion since we established cityhood in 1984?  We worked hard to create our own destiny, recognizing the importance of our diversity and welcoming participation from every corner.   How have we allowed this city council to repeatedly stifle that debate and discussion by simply moving important policy discussions to consent calendar? javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

Clearly our city leaders have forgotten who they represent. The policies advanced primarily by the SHE alliance (Shyne, Horvath, Erickson) who hold a majority on council have ignored West Hollywood residents and businesses alike, both of whom are deeply concerned with public and economic safety. Instead, these council members have allowed our city to become a testing ground for the policy campaigns of special interest groups.  And as a result of these policies, many enacted on consent, there’s no question that West Hollywood is less safe today, that it’s more expensive to shop, eat, and procure basic services here, and much more difficult to own and operate a small business here compared to other cities. javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

That is why we launched, “WeHo for the People: Because We Love Our City”, a campaign to raise awareness among voters about the need for change in the city council election this fall. The campaign has brought together a unique coalition of nearly 100 residents and businesses who share grave concerns with the aggressive, anti-community policies that are devastating West Hollywood (WeHo), driven by this coalition of City Councilmembers who continually ignore and fail their constituents. 

The City’s out of touch policies are threatening WeHo’s public safety.  The Council voted to defund law enforcement and reduce LA County’s Sheriff’s Department despite a 137% increase in violent crime.   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. 

Out-of-control City policies are also threatening WeHo’s economic safety. The City Council has created policies that make the City much more expensive for residents and visitors by driving up labor costs by 35%, well beyond the neighboring communities surrounding West Hollywood. At the same time they offer little incentive or even the perception of support at a time when the nation is seeing unprecedented inflation following two years of hardship during the pandemic.  Had these increases been regional or on par with our neighboring communities this discussion would be mute.  But with these changes impacting businesses in West Hollywood, it becomes very difficult to maintain a cost structure that allows them to remain competitive with surrounding businesses.     

The same policies are also causing businesses to relocate to other cities or close altogether which has resulted in an alarming number of open storefronts along its most important commercial corridors.  Just since July Subway and Chop Stop closed West Hollywood locations along Santa Monica Blvd as did Cousin’s Maine Lobster. For lease signs have gone up at John Varvatos and Rafi Jewelers.  Holloway Cleaners, a WeHo fixture since 1985 is looking to move out of town.  The Urban blight that is left behind welcomes nefarious activity, the kind that is fueling our increase in crime and further threatening the safety of our residents and businesses. 

We are fortunate to live and work in a community that supports the ideals of social justice. It is unusual to find a business community so in synch with residents on progressive ideologies.  But there is a practical side to public policy, one that must recognize the impacts these policies have on our residents and businesses, particularly given our unique geographical position as a small island surrounded by a region not facing these same policies.  An economic policy enacted here that is not in line with local policies in Los Angeles or Beverly Hills creates an uneven playing field that, rather than improve accessibility for all, actually builds a veritable wall around our city that only the wealthiest or large corporate entities can scale.  What then happens to the young entrepreneurs and LGBT businesses eager to come to West Hollywood to launch their new ideas and thrive in the creative city, a city of unique experiences and independent businesses?  

This election will be the most important municipal election we have faced since establishing cityhood in 1984.  Never in the history of our city has there been more at stake for our businesses and our residents.  We are at the precipice of the cliff that will determine whether we hold to the vision of the dynamic, unique urban village that has made West Hollywood so attractive for residents and visitors from around the world.  

We call upon all WeHo residents, small business owners, and concerned voters to join us in this campaign to tell our leaders they need to serve the people and community they were elected to serve. They must act now to protect the freedoms and restore the vitality, safety and strength and promise that once put WeHo on the map as a state and national leader.

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About Keith Kaplan
Keith Kaplan is a licensed realtor who works with Sotheby’s International Realty and also is president of the Kaplan Group, a firm specializing in marketing, public relations and public policy work for luxury lifestyle products. Kaplan is former chair of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

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Ian
Ian
1 month ago

Bravo Keth Kaplan! Stated in a manner that I personally believe represents the silent majority of this city.
We are not the testing ground for interloping Far Left or Far Right lunatics.
Thank you!

CNX Wokr
CNX Wokr
1 month ago

West Hollywood needs a comeback and that’s getting rid of Sepi Shyne and John Erickson ASAP. Along with a NO vote on Oliver, Byers, and Wright. And anyone else who supports these greedy ignorant hack woke politicians. They all must go.

Gorge
Gorge
1 month ago
Reply to  CNX Wokr

No on Oliver, Byers, and Wright..vote against progressive hate censorship, and violence!

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago

The current council majority has ushered in a period of divisiveness unlike any in the city’s history. They have sold out to forces beyond our borders that are hell bent on using West Hollywood as their Petri dish for social experiments, residents be damned. We need to vote carefully lest a new majority continue to legislate the decline of our once fair hamlet. It’s a hard no on Zekia “Habitual Victim (in the mold of Shyne)” Wright, Robert “I second the motion” Oliver, and Chelsea “I’ve never voted in WEHO” Byers. Enough with warriors proposing solutions in search of problems.… Read more »

Alex Gerstenzang
Alex Gerstenzang
1 month ago

There are other cities in Southern California doing a lot of Safety best practices that are working for their communities. WeHo tends to ignore what is working in other communities. Presently, WeHo city has hired a Canadian consultant group to solve Public Safety … there are so many experts across the United States and even in communities adjacent to WeHo. Why not reach out to other Californian city leaders versus ignoring their successes. For starters, WeHo might consider a city security camera strategy to help fight crime. The Public Safety Commission might consider putting as a commissioner someone that is… Read more »

Unmitigated Nerve
Unmitigated Nerve
1 month ago

The Consent Calendar is an old trick invariably utilized by those on CC that act without any ethical values…..Erickson, Shyne and the hopefully, soon to be banished Horvath. These folks possess classic, unmitigated nerve and to think of themselves as public servants. It’s all too much.

SeeMe
SeeMe
1 month ago

“Unmitigated nerve” is a nice way of describing what it truly is: narcissistic, anti-social behavior.

LeShawn
LeShawn
1 month ago

Resistance is Futile…
If Shyne is the Borg Queen, does that make Horvath her Locutus?

Jason
Jason
1 month ago
Reply to  LeShawn

She’d look good bald

Gina B
Gina B
1 month ago

SHE has become SHED, because D’Amico has joined the block of loony & misguided city “leadership”. Pity

carleton cronin
1 month ago

Can barely hang on until 11/8! May be impossible to keep DC from going into the trash pit, but we can keep WEDO from the same fate. VOTE!

voting
voting
1 month ago

Thanks for your article. We have a crisis coming up with Sepi Shyne about to be proclaimed mayor. She’s clearly a very confused and troubled person with a long history of taking her anger out on others–and blaming other people for her problems.

Don Jones
Don Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  voting

There’s no guarantee that Sepi Shine will be “proclaimed” mayor. I believe she will need three votes to appointed mayor. You may wish to take this into consideration when voting. I doubt that Steve Martin, John Duran, John Heilman, or Mayor Meister will vote Shine in as mayor as long as they have the three “no” votes.

Gina B
Gina B
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Jones

Pray that it be so. If we think Shyne is a disaster now, wait till she becomes Mayor. I hope she fails to get the votes

SeeMe
SeeMe
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Jones

Don’t ever forget John Heilman (along with Abbe Land) is responsible for the existence of Lindsay Horvath. I do not trust him at all.

Gina B
Gina B
1 month ago
Reply to  SeeMe

I think that both Heilman & Land were/are as devious & power happy as Horvath is, always up to dirty tricks, but they were a little more subtle about it than Horvath, who seems to publicly flaunt her dirty & often vicious political attacks in full public view. When Horvath loses on Nov. 8, does that mean she’ll keep hanging around & trying to engage in West Hollywood’s politics, even though she’s no longer relevant like Heilman & Land do?’ They’re all really a thorn in the side of West Hollywood’s body politic. They just can’t quit us & they… Read more »

Toms
Toms
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Jones

You said it best please look at who the head clowns are backing in this election. It’s even more pathetic

The Agrieved
The Agrieved
1 month ago
Reply to  voting

Another candidate that fits this picture is Marquita Thomas who invariably acts out her personal emotional grievances.

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