There are 10 candidates vying for two seats in the March 7 West Hollywood City Council Election. WEHO TIMES has asked each Candidate to answer five questions on hot-button subjects. We will publish one Candidate’s answers daily, beginning February 15th.
1. AFFORDABLE HOUSING EXCLUSIVELY FOR WEST HOLLYWOOD RESIDENTS:
The West Hollywood Community Housing Corp (WHCHC) a “non-profit” that builds and rehabilitates housing for low-income and other disadvantaged people currently manages 437 low to medium income apartment units in West Hollywood serving approximately 600 residents. The wait list, which is “not exclusive” to West Hollywood residents, has over 3500 applicants and is currently “closed”.
Q: Should the City of West Hollywood explore additional options to fund and provide Housing for Seniors, low income and disabled persons who are “exclusively” residents of West Hollywood?
A: “Yes. Providing affordable housing has been an integral part of this city’s history and one of the reasons so many residents decided to call West Hollywood “home” since its founding in 1984. It is one of the reasons that drew me to West Hollywood 25 years ago as well. I believe it should be one of our focuses as a City as we go forward with planning and development. Seniors continue to be an important part of our city’s population as well. Estimates state that up to 30% of the city’s residents are senior citizens and we owe to them to ensure that they are able to remain in this city as long as they wish, which is why I also advocate for aging-in-place opportunities whenever possible. “
“While I do not agree that we should exclude non-residents from wait lists for affordable housing, I do believe we should give priority to our own residents when West Hollywood is providing or subsidizing the housing as described. When possible, we should open up waitlist to non-residents to allow people to join our city. New residents are comprised of immigrants, young professionals, displaced youth as a result of sexual orientation, seniors and the like. We should not completely close our doors to them. They are too important to the diversity and growth of our dynamic urban village. “
2. SALE OF GLASS PIPES & OTHER DRUG PARAPHERNALIA:
We have a ban on the sale of fur in West Hollywood and many people have suggested a ban on the sale of certain types of glass pipes used for smoking Crystal Meth. Others point out “wall to wall” displays of glass pipes and other drug paraphernalia filling every inch of window space in local head shops, even more so since the passage of Prop 64.
Q: Should the City of West Hollywood consider an ordinance to limit the visibility of drug paraphernalia, merchandise, and signage, visible to the street?
A: “Although I recognize that alcohol and drug abuse is an important issue in our community and must be addressed, I do not think it is effective to treat the addiction with such limitations. Additionally, I do not believe the city should be involved in regulating commerce so intensely. This really limits commerce and hurts our small businesses. California voters passed Prop. 64 by a healthy margin and we should expect to see various changes in local stores that support this shift. I also believe limiting visibility is heavy-handed and difficult to enforce. “
3. PARKING METERS:
Some residents bemoan the loss of free parking on Sundays as just another blatant government money grab and merchants contend that meter hours adopted in 2013 have added to the decline of Sunday afternoon shoppers and visitors to retail areas like Boystown and the Sunset Strip. The City Website asserts: Extending parking meter hours will help move more long-term parkers into appropriate spaces in parking structures and lots, keeping meters open for local business customers.
Q: Would you support a rollback of some of the extended meter hours adopted in 2013, specifically amending the hours of enforcement for parking meters in the commercial corridor along Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose East of La Cienega to 12 hours a day, six days a week and waiving parking meter enforcement on Sunday?
A: “I would support waiving enforcement on Sunday. Not only was this a nicety of living and shopping in West Hollywood but it supports our local merchants. One thing this city has is an abundance of money with over $100 million in reserves. We should start spending it wisely and re-examine how we collect it. I do not, however, support a rollback for enforcement to just 12 hours a day. Allowing meters to be free overnight creates an opportunity for cars to be parked overnight who are not necessarily transacted business in West Hollywood since virtually all of our business are closed by 2 AM. My concern would be a rise in crime and a negative impact on the safety and security of our residents. Currently, the city provides visitor parking and other alternative parking locations for overnight parking and this is sufficient. “
4. TWO HOURS FREE PARKING:
Beverly Hills & Santa Monica offer Two Hours of Free Parking in most of their Public Parking Structures.
Q: Should West Hollywood similarly offer the First Two Hours Free in City Parking Structures Including Automated Structures, aka the Robo Garage?
A: “Absolutely, we should offer two hours of free parking in all public parking structures. In other cities like Beverly Hills, the city requires many large parking garages connected to business to offer 2 hours free parking with a validation. Thereafter, the garage or business is free to charge whatever amount the market will bear. Not only does this alleviate parking concerns of residents and visitors, it stimulates the local economy and supports local merchants by making it easier for shoppers to visit these establishments. “
5. WEST HOLLYWOOD PARK:
The completed Phase I of the West Hollywood Park Master Plan for the new West Hollywood Library, Public Meeting Rooms, government access television facilities, and San Vicente Coffee Bar, Parking Structures and expanding 2.5 acres of park and green space at West Hollywood Park cost $64 million, comprised of bonds, donations and allocations from the City’s General Fund. Phase 2 Plans call for sports facilities, a grand staircase, a rooftop terrace, a cafe, a dog park, adult fitness equipment, a recreation center, two swimming pools and other amenities. The price tag is $94.9 million which includes a recently approved budget increase of 4.8 million.
The majority of financing will come from the city issuing long-term bonds, approximately 64 million dollars to cover 67 percent and the second largest funding source of 27 million coming from the city’s General Fund. The city currently has approximately 57 million in the General Fund Budget for projects like the park.
Many in City Government boast that the city has nearly $108 million in Budget Surplus. It is likely that the costs of Phase 2 will overrun and some say perhaps to $150 million, bringing the total cost of West Hollywood Park to around 200 million dollars.
Q: In a city of 36,000 residents, is this expenditure disproportionate and could it potentially jeopardize our reserves and AAA Bond Rating? or Are we too big to fail?
A: “I am in favor of Phase 2 of West Hollywood Park because it is a wise investment in the future of our city, it will improve the quality of life of our residents, it increases green space by 2.5 acres, will provide resources for our citizens to engage in healthy outdoor activities, provides community meeting spaces and two dog parks (one for larger and one for smaller) dogs. I am uncertain whether, if I were a council member at the time this came to a vote, I would have approved the issuance of bonds in such a large amount. This is the only issue I might argue. I would also like to say that, if elected to the council, I would do everything I could to ensure that this project not only comes in within budget but that it comes in UNDER budget if at all possible. There should be monetary incentives built into our agreement with the builders to incentive them to finish on time and within budget and we should be monitoring progress closely and holding contractors responsible if there is any breakdown in workmanship or timing. ”