The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced yesterday that the City of West Hollywood has cancelled their contract with the Chamber for Metro TAP Card Services as of December 30, 2022. “The WeHo Chamber has greatly appreciated serving this community and its visitors as a Commuter Center for 26 years,” reads the announcement. “…We will not have the ability to sell or load TAP Cards after the end of this month.”
WeHo Chamber President and CEO, Genevieve Morrill, points to Agenda Item 5C in a Regular City Council Meeting Packet on September 20, 2021, initiated by Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne and council member John Erickson. The Item titled “Efforts to Further Promote Transparency, Ethics, and Public Trust” direct staff to provide thirty days written notice to the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce discontinuing City Agreement for Services #010223 (Business Outreach) and #009455 (Commuter Center Service), pursuant to the “termination for convenience” clause in both Agreements.
According to the City Staff Report, the reasons for discontinuing the agreements was due to
The Chamber of Commerce’s heavy involvement in the City of West Hollywood, including
significant lobbying and advocacy efforts on behalf of its members on various topics. The assessment was that these lobbying and advocacy efforts can raise conflicts of interest when public dollars are being used to help fund the Chamber. There are times when these efforts conflict with some of the City’s core values or priorities. The City’s contract with the Chamber of Commerce outlines a variety of activities that the Chamber is required to perform, however, the Chamber also performs other activities on behalf of its members, such as advocating for specific policies, which makes it difficult to distinguish which components the City’s funding is paying for.
The report adds that the Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Council (GAC) endorses City Council candidates. The support of certain City Council candidates while the entity is also
receiving City funding that is approved by the same Councilmembers can also have the
appearance of a conflict of interest. For these reasons, it was proposed that the City
no longer provide direct payments to the Chamber of Commerce as a service provider to
the City. As is common in the chamber of commerce industry, the Chamber has revenue from membership dues to fund its more direct and primary service purpose of supporting its member local businesses. Based on staff’s initial research, there are other chambers of
commerce in the greater Los Angeles area that do not receive city funding. Some cities,
such as Culver City, do not provide funding, and others, such as Malibu and Santa
Monica, do not provide any ongoing or regular support to their local chambers of
commerce but do occasionally contribute to specific events or programs. The City of
Beverly Hills does provide direct financial payments to their chamber of commerce.
Commuter Center Agreement for Services.
The Agreement for Services related to Commuter Center Services is an annual contract
in the amount of $19,800 that is provided to the Chamber using Proposition C “local return
funds” from Metro for transit related activities.
To read the Item in full, click on link below:
Morrill stated via email that The Chamber does not believe staff’s assessment paints a fully accurate picture of the Chamber’s value towards the program’s success.
“Having acted as a Commuter Center since 1997, the traffic for Metro fluctuates from month to month and year to year,” She stated. “The recent assessment from City staff of why our contract is being retired is that the Chamber’s Commuter service wasn’t getting much traffic. While 2022 may have been a slow year, society is still slow to get back to public transit due to COVID and all its variants. It’s understandable that the number of customers using the service may be lower than usual, as well as there are certainly many who may no longer live or work in the area. A number of our customers are also international tourists and as we know, travel has been down because of COVID as well. No matter what the reason, we are disappointed that the City has decided to cut a service that is valued by the community and its visitors.”
Metro Tap Cards are available for purchase and loading at the West Hollywood Library, located at 625 N San Vicente Blvd., at Pavilions supermarket, 8969 Santa Monica Blvd., as well as at Ralphs and 7/11 stores in West Hollywood.
For a full list of various METRO TAP card vendors in West Hollywood, visit Taptogo.net.