The City of West Hollywood was officially incorporated as an independent City on November 29, 1984. A coalition of LGBT activists, seniors, and renters proposed a Cityhood with progressive policies and strong tenant’s rights protections. Previously an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County, WeHo now celebrates 36 years of municipality.
West Hollywood has become one of the most influential small cities in the nation. No other city of its size has had a greater impact on the national progressive public policy agenda.
Here are some highlights of the past 30+ years in West Hollywood:
- The first West Hollywood City Council established West Hollywood as the first City in the nation to have a majority openly gay governing body. This was a landmark development in LGBT rights in the United States as well as globally.
- The ordinances adopted by the West Hollywood City Council within the first year of Cityhood included landmark legislation such as the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (which, upon its adoption was one of the strictest rent control laws in the country); Ordinance prohibiting discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS; Domestic Partnership Ordinance; and Ordinance prohibiting discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. Today, many of the City’s landmark ordinances have been duplicated and have become mainstream policies nationally and globally.
- In 1985, the City Council established its Social Services program to provide much-needed services to residents. Over its history, the City has provided millions of dollars in grants to fund programs for people in need. These services have included services for seniors; people with HIV and AIDS; members of the LGBT community; people with disabilities; alcohol and drug use recovery programs; support programs for Russian-speaking immigrants; services for people who are homeless; food programs; and health care services for people who are uninsured. Today, the City’s Social Services Division budgets approximately
$5 million per year in funding critical support to programs that impact thousands of people in West Hollywood; City residents live longer and have lower rates of chronic diseases than residents of L.A. County as a whole.
- The onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic had a significant impact on the City of West Hollywood due to the disease’s elevated infection rate among gay men which caused a devastatingly high number of deaths in the City. The City of West Hollywood was one of the first government entities to provide social services grants to local AIDS and HIV organizations. The City sponsored one of the first AIDS awareness campaigns in the country in October 1985 and the City’s response to the AIDS crisis has been recognized as a model for other cities, nationally and globally. Today, 12 percent of households in the City have a person living with HIV/AIDS.
- The City has been one of the most outspoken advocates for the legal rights of LGBT people. In 1985, the City of West Hollywood was one of the first cities in the country to adopt a Domestic Partnership Ordinance. In October 2014, the City marked an exciting milestone as the City Clerk’s office at West Hollywood City Hall filed its 10,000th couple as registered Domestic Partners. The City also created the nation’s first municipal Transgender Task Force in 2001; in 2009 this became the City’s Transgender Advisory Board.
- West Hollywood was one of the first cities in the country to pass a resolution in support of marriage equality, paving the way for same-sex marriage initiatives all over the county. In a monumental moment in U.S. history, the City, in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Register-Recorder Clerk, began to issue marriage licenses and perform civil ceremonies for same-sex couples in June 2008, following the Supreme Court of California ruling on Proposition 8. After a legal stay, in June 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal in Hollingsworth v. Perry and the City of West Hollywood launched a marriage celebration. West Hollywood City Councilmembers and City Officials performed hundreds of civil ceremonies. On June 25, 2015, West Hollywood hosted a community rally at West Hollywood Park attended by thousands of jubilant revelers celebrating the Supreme Court declaring marriage between same sex couples legal.
- Following the election of President Trump in 2016, the West Hollywood City Council affirmed the City of West Hollywood’s commitment as a Sanctuary City and reaffirmed the City’s commitment to its core values, which includes Respect and Support for People.
- In 2017, the West Hollywood City Council approved a Resolution that calls on the U.S. House of Representatives to initiate proceedings for the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. This came as a response to numerous violations of the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, multiple violations of federal law as it relates to the employment of relatives, serious national security concerns resulting from potential interference with federal elections in 2016, and amid investigations of obstruction of justice.
- The City of West Hollywood is one of the first municipalities to form a Transgender Advisory Board, which addresses matters of advocacy on behalf of transgender people in the areas of education, community awareness, and empowerment, and makes recommendations to the West Hollywood City Council. Through its Transgender Advisory Board, the City of West Hollywood regularly co-sponsors programming and recognizes Transgender Awareness Month and Transgender Day of Remembrance each November. For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s Transgender Awareness Month events.
- The city has been a soap box for the Black Lives Matter movement with several marches and demonstrations calling for racial justice taking place on Santa Monica Boulevard in the past year.
The City of West Hollywood is not perfect. A lot has changed in 36 years. However, the city continues to make progress. Recent history was made when West Hollywood residents elected Sepi Shyne as the first openly LGBTQ Iranian woman to hold office in the world.
Happy birthday West Hollywood.