“The City of West Hollywood (City) Code Compliance team has been making contact with businesses that installed temporary lighting (i.e. Christmas lights) on City trees without City approval after receiving a complaint and concerns expressed by our City arborists,” reads an email by City of West Hollywood Code Compliance Manager Danny Rivas. “The installation of lighting or any other object on a City tree or in the public right-of-way (i.e. street, sidewalk, etc.) requires City approval and an encroachment permit. However, temporary lighting has not been approved on a permanent basis on City trees in the past because of the dangers and risk they can cause.”
Rivas also pointed outed the city’s recent investment of almost $400k for commercial grade decorative lighting installed in the Rainbow District, with plans in the near future to do the same on the Eastside of the community. “This process involves approval by an electrical engineer and the Los Angeles County Fire Department,” he writes. “The intent of installing commercial grade lighting is to create a bright atmosphere and welcoming feel during the evening hours with colorful illumination displayed in the community that is safe for everyone to enjoy.”
The email is in response to complaints from local restaurant and bars in the LGBT Rainbow District who were given ten days to take down the colorful holiday lights adorning the city trees in patios and OutZones in front of their businesses. The city trees have been lit throughout the year for several years. Business were given notice on Thursday, November 4 that they had till Saturday, November 13 to comply. Businesses affected by the enforcement include Rocco’s WeHo, Micky’s Nightclub, Revolver Video Bar, Gym Sportsbar and Grill, Beaches, and Hi Tops.
Code enforcement says City staff has and will continue to educate businesses on the potential health and safety issues, fire hazards, and liability that exists when non-approved temporary lighting is used for prolonged periods of time or when not installed correctly.
The City of West Hollywood was awarded the most business-friendly city in Los Angeles County by the the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s (LAEDC). The removal of the holiday lights sparked some outrage from the community members who are in favor of the added enhancement to the Rainbow District.
“Why doesn’t the city update their code to allow lights then.. I for one enjoy the festive welcoming lights, said Micheal Anthony. “They definitely compliment the string bulb lights that crisscross SMB… 🔴🟠🟡🟢🔵🟣.”
“That’s so sad. It’s the lights that makes West Hollywood inviting,” said Matthew Borcello. “The lights can be therapeutic, help people be cheery, and can help ease depression in many. Without the lights it’s going to look like just another city.”
“I hope the City of West Hollywood Government does something about this,” posted Christina Mercado Simos. “Those lights welcome all of us. They should stay.”