At a regular Rent Stabilization Commission Meeting on Thursday, April 13, 2023, former commissioner Richard Maggio said goodbye after serving the commission for 27 years. Maggio is the longest running commissioner with 33 years of service in the City of West Hollywood. He also served as commissioner for the Business License and Public Facilities Commissions in the past three decades.
Business License Commissioners Danny Hang and Catherine Eng both spoke during the public comments portion to thank Maggio for his service.
“This commission does very important work,” said Hang. “You guys deliberate and make decisions that impact everyday renters and residents like myself…I wanted to thank Commissioner Maggio for his incredible service to the city of West Hollywood and many, many years of expert deliberation and I’m sure plenty of renters have much to thank you for your service sir.”
“I’m also here to say, both congratulations and thank you to Commissioner Richard Maggio who, as we all know, has been the longest serving commissioner in the City of West Hollywood,” said Commissioner Eng. “I was appointed about nine months ago, and when I was appointed, I went to commissioner Maggio to ask his advice and blessings for all of his guidance. I’m very thankful for all the advice you’ve given me and all that you’ve taught me. I think most of us know that you are the De Facto historian of our city and anytime I ever have any questions about issues or history, I’m always coming to you. Thank you for your service. Congratulations and we’ll see what happens next.”
Maggio was allowed a moment to address the commission with a farewell speech at the start of the meeting:
“In Act Two of Romeo and Juliet, there is a line that says, ‘parting is such a sweet sorrow,'” he said in his statement. “In that scene Romeo and Juliet could hardly pull themselves away from each other. My feelings are the same. I’m left with many sweet memories of my time here. It’s just of course, another way of saying goodbye as a lighthearted flourish. It’s another way of acknowledging the pleasure, the experience of our relationship… this phrase combines two thoughts of pleasure and pain. I guess you can call that an oxymoron. It is just not possible to explain what an honor to have served as a commissioner for 33 years, 27 years here on Rent Stabilization. Rent stabilization is a great invention, I think. It is how people feel safe and secure and supported–especially our senior population. Other than food and water, there is nothing more important than a roof over your head and we in West Hollywood, along with Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Monica, East Palo Alto, have measured to that commitment. To be part of this team has been great honor. And I would do it all over again. It has ignited my passion. I has given me an inner fulfillment of purpose…”
Maggio thanked each Commissioner for serving at his side. He acknowledged and thanked the legal counsel and the Commission Manager, as well as members of City Staff.
He received a standing ovation from the commission dais, and each member took turns expressing their gratitude and shared about what it was like to work with him.
“I just want to thank you for all your years,” said Commissioner Josh Kurpies. “On behalf of the residents of the city, all the good things you’ve done, all the policies you have either protected or implemented over the years, thank you very much.”
“You are so important to this city and its evolution,” said Vice-chair Karen A. Ayres. “The city was founded largely on the need for rent stabilization. Back then it was called rent control. You were on the ground floor on building policy and identifying the needs and helping to craft the RSO that we know today. You contribution has been invaluable to all the renters of this city, but also the landlords that have guidelines that they can follow that are pretty clear. Your contributions are wide-ranging and thank you for your service.”
Commission Chair Agassi Topchian dittoed his gratitude and acknowledged Maggio’s legacy in the ordinances we see today. He also spoke of a friendship that has developed over the years even if they didn’t always agree on some of the item discussions. “You are a true public servant,” he said. “You care about elderly people, you care about disabled people, families, kids, about animals, pets, trees, and you have a large heart and I’m proud to serve with you all these years…”
Commissioner Zekiah Wright wanted to be the last person to speak. Write remembered texting Maggio at the start of their first meeting saying that they were nervous. “Good” he replied sarcastically and that was the start of a friendship between the two commissioners.
“I really cherish you, not just as a friend, but as a commissioner,” said Wright. “There have been times when I’ve had questions…and you have been very kind about responding, always with a little sarcasm, but always with love. I appreciate that outside of these chambers, you’re just a good person, an honest person and you are so sincere. I remember throughout my campaign; you would text me that you lit a candle for me while you were at service…I’m going to miss serving next to you.”
Wright also shared a personal memory about always watching Maggio walk down San Vicente Boulevard to Melrose Avenue after each meeting to visit a tree dedicated to his mother and how he’d always blow the tree a kiss.
Maggio said earlier in the meeting that he wasn’t going anywhere and that the only way he’d be removed from the City of West Hollywood is if someone dialed 911.