AirBnB, the peer-to-peer apartment rental company offering individuals a way to monetize their extra living space and travelers a cheap place to stay—seemed like the perfect answer to the rising cost of living in cities like West Hollywood. The service claims to connect people to a unique traveling experience at any price point, but neighborhoods all over Los Angeles—including Silver Lake—are attempting to ban the rent-sharing company due to a list of greivances ranging from rowdy, inconsiderate guests to violations of rental agreements. Some Angelenos have accused the rental company of running bordellos.
A new flag with rainbow color blocks embedded into the West Hollywood logo was hoisted over City Hall on Thursday, March 6. It’s a compromise concluding months of heated debate over whether permanently flying the rainbow flag at City Hall would be insensitive toward heterosexual WeHo residents, or whether the city was being stripped of its gay identity when the flag was removed in January. Response to the new flag has been favorable, though a new dispute is bubbling with regards to the rainbow logo’s copyright. West Hollywood resident and owner of Block Party, Larry Block, a preeminent advocate of flying the new flag at City Hall, believes the rainbow logo should be in the public domain.
On March 7, Dawn DaLuise—owner of Skin Refinery, a skin care business aiming to serve Hollywood celebrities in the heart of Boystown—was arrested for an alleged murder-for-hire scheme against an esthetician competitor who moved in next door to her business. According to Deputy Peter Gomez of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau, detectives were investigating a different case when they stumbled upon info regarding a solicitation to murder, which led to DaLuise’s arrest.
West Hollywood City Council rejected a proposal made by the city’s Department of Human Services and Rent Stabilization that would allocate $150,000 to expand and improve the city’s own Pride festival by initiating a ‘WeHo Pride’ event. At a Jan. 21 City Council meeting, the council brought forward an item with recommendations to expand L.A. Pride with a ‘West Hollywood Pride’ kick-off at WeHo Park. Staff was directed to come up with a budget for the proposed programming. The WeHo Pride idea was developed after months of discussions, negotiations, open forums and analysis by a subcommittee, Mayor Pro Tempore John D’Amico, Councilmember John Duran and Christopher Street West organizers.
It appears that frustrating and slow-moving traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard will continue throughout West Hollywood. Mayor Pro Tempore John D’Amico and Councilmember John Duran failed to get a pilot test run approved that would place officers along busy Santa Monica intersections to decrease traffic congestion. Their proposal was rejected 3-2 at the Feb. 18 council meeting. The proposal called for the staffing of two officers at nine intersections from 4 to 7 p.m. for a six-month test period. As an alternative, the city’s Community Development Department suggested hiring sheriff’s deputies at overtime pay to staff three Santa Monica Boulevard intersections—Doheny, San Vicente and La Cienega—for a three-month test run.
Strip down to your underwear for a great cause. This Valentines weekend, the city of West Hollywood is set to co-host the 2ndAnnual Cupid’s Undie Run in support of the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Cupid’s Undie Run is a one-mile run where it is not only legal to run around in your unmentionables, but it is highly encouraged. The event will take place onSaturday, February 15, from12 p.m. to 4 p.m.The festivities will start atnoon; the run will begin at2 p.m.The meeting location for the event is The Abbey, 692 N. Robertson Boulevard. The route for the run is the perimeter of West Hollywood Park.
Celebutants and their wealthy associates who choose to travel by helicopter—while the common folk below wait in frustrating bumper-to-bumper traffic—could get a rude awakening and face some annoying detours and delays themselves if they want to rumble and hover above Santa Monica Boulevard. As if West Hollywood city officials didn’t have enough on their plate—things like debating a rainbow flag at City Hall and looking into the preservation of Plummer Park’s historical Great Hall/Long Hall—the city recently issued a press release stating that City Council members applaud the passage of legislation promising to give WeHo residents relief from—above all things—helicopter noise. A 2014 spending package was recently passed on Jan. 15 by the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes a provision directing the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address helicopter noise in Los Angeles County skies. West Hollywood’s Representative, Rep. Adam Schiff, and Senator Dianne Feinstein announced that the omnibus federal funding bill will fund the government for the next year to include a provision about helicopter noise. The bill requires the FAA to initiate regulations addressing helicopter noise and safety issues above Los Angeles within one year.
On Dec. 30 at around 7:30 a.m., an estimated 50 people—West Hollywood residents and members of the Protect Plummer Park group—gathered at West Hollywood's Plummer Park for a faceoff with 10 contractors who were on the grounds to a do a mandatory walk-through before beginning the bidding process to win a demolition contract that would bulldoze the historically significant Great Hall/Long Hall structure. The contractors were joined by city staff members as well as two sheriff’s deputies. Activists marched around the park grounds holding signage that read “Protect West Hollywood History, Save Plummer Park.” They also chanted “Save the hall from the wrecking ball!”
Photos by Paulo Murillo Rainbow flags will continue to fly in the medians of Santa Monica Boulevard, but the rainbow flag that has flown over West Hollywood City Hall for the past seven months has officially been removed. The colorful symbol of the long LGBT movement for equality was removed from the West Hollywood public facility on Jan. 8, upsetting some residents who thought the flag would hang over City Hall permanently. At a City Council meeting on Nov. 18, councilmembers unanimously voted to go back to the tradition of permanently displaying the official United States, California and city flags on public facilities and allowing the rotation of unofficial flags at City Hall in accordance with special events or months dedicated to specific groups. The unanimous vote gives City Manager Paul Arevalo the discretion to choose the unofficial flag that can fly at City Hall. Some see the removal of the rainbow flag as a sign that West Hollywood is being stripped of its gay identity, despite the vote coming from a council where four of five members are gay.
If the West Hollywood Department of Public Works has its way, valet parking regulations are in for some major changes in 2014. A proposal scheduled for a public hearing before City Council on Jan. 21 is calling for changes to the current system in which valet firms and their affiliates pay a fee to reserve metered spaces during the daytime hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and during the nighttime hours of 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. This will likely open up parking spaces to the public, and it may also increase valet parking fees at night. The proposal aims to have valet services pay for specific hours for the use of metered parking spaces with a minimum of four hours a day and a minimum of four consecutive days. The fee will be determined by the parking meter rate and number of hours metered parking is enforced in a designated area.
Alfredo Diaz, co-owner of West Hollywood video bar Revolver, has his heart set against the building of Cooley’s in the heart of WeHo’s Boystown, which he criticizes as a bad idea. Diaz recently filed an appeal against West Hollywood assistant community development director John Keho’s decision to greenlight Abbey founder David Cooley’s ambitious project. The city of West Hollywood approved the construction of the 8,879-square-foot gastropub at 8940 Santa Monica Boulevard, near Robertson Boulevard, at a hearing on Dec. 17. Some critics felt the approval was made too swiftly---however, Keho added conditions to Cooley’s proposal, including that glass noise barriers be added to the back windows overlooking West Hollywood Park so park visitors will not be disturbed by loud noises. Cooley must submit a plan of the landscape for the 3,000-square-foot back patio to make sure greenery will be facing the park, and the request to stay open until 4 a.m. was denied; it will close at 2 a.m. The condition that the city’s valet service be hired for patrons dropping off cars in front of the restaurant was also added.
The West Hollywood City Hall Automated Garage and Community Plaza Project located at 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard is scheduled to begin construction in the beginning of 2014, shortly after City Council awarded a $10.8 million contract to T.B. Pennick & Sons of San Diego at a Dec. 16 council meeting. The project is off to a rocky start after R.J. Daum Construction of Garden Grove, the second lowest bidder at $12.2 million, filed a protest claiming irregularities with the city’s handling of the Pennick bid. Five contractors submitted bids on Nov. 21 that ranged from $10,748,800 to $14,366,368.93. According to Daum’s protest, the Pennick bid failed to submit a non-collusion affidavit stating that Pennick had come up with the bid on its own using a history of previous contracts that were subject to the federal Equal Opportunity requirements. Daum representatives failed to show up for their own hearing before City Council. A representative for Pennick stated that there was a minor irregularity in their bid, but they did not get an unfair advantage. City attorney Mike Jenkins said the Pennick bid was not affected by the late submission of documents.
David Cooley, founder of the world-famous Abbey Bar & Restaurant, invited members of the community and some press to an open reception at the Abbey on Tuesday, Dec. 10, for a first look at the plans and renderings of “Cooley’s,” West Hollywood's future restaurant and bar that promises to deliver a “modern gastropub restaurant and beer garden, blending indoor and outdoor space ... drawing inspiration from the neighboring West Hollywood Park” to Boystown. Cooley's sits at 8936 Santa Monica Boulevard, just around the corner from The Abbey on Robertson. The reception was more of a friendly meet-and-greet public viewing, with an open bar and passed hors-d’oeuvres, without any longwinded speeches or PowerPoint presentations. Cooley was present to shake hands and answer questions about the impressive plans he has for the 10,000-square-foot space where Unicorn Alley book store, Balliamos Dance Studio and Raffi Jewelers once stood, right next door to where the Motherlode bar will continue to operate. “Everyone is giving me positive feedback” Cooley told Frontiers. “It’s exciting after seven months of planning to see the response that the community is giving me.”
Having health insurance is important to stay healthy and necessary to pay for health care services in case of sickness or injury. The City of West Hollywood is making efforts to engage, educate and help those community members who are eligible to enroll for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The city is offering a number of resources to eligible Californians seeking information and enrollment for health insurance coverage that will become effective Jan. 1, 2014. The city will host dates for enrollment sessions in the coming weeks. Information will be made available via the city’s website, Facebook page and on Twitter (follow @wehocity). Resources include Covered California (coveredca.com), an easy-to-use marketplace where individuals can obtain financial assistance to make coverage more affordable. Covered California’s mission is to increase the number of Californians with health insurance, improve the quality of health care and reduce health care coverage costs. Affordable and high-quality health care includes medical, mental health, substance abuse treatment services and long-term care. For more information, visit coveredca.com or call (800) 300-1505.
November is Transgender Awareness Month. West Hollywood city officials held a press conference on the morning of Nov. 4 to kick-off a series of events dedicated to transgender awareness. West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran spoke at the City Hall lobby, along with Karina Samala and Jaye Johnson, chair and co-chair of West Hollywood’s Transgender Advisory Board. The press conference concluded with the hoisting of the transgender flag on a City Hall flag pole. The flag will be flown for the entire month of November. Upcoming events include the Transgender Wellness & Wellbeing Conference on Sat., Nov. 16, at the National Council of Jewish Women, 543 N. Fairfax Ave., from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Transgender Day of Remembrance on Wed., Nov. 20, 6:30 p.m. in the West Hollywood Library Auto Court, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. An outdoor reception will include speakers from the transgender community, city councilmembers and city officials. Various transgender performers will provide entertainment. The event will conclude with a traditional reading of the names of transgender people who have lost their lives due to hatred and violence (Admission is free for both events.)
According to L.A. Weekly, gay men have much to discuss in WeHo. The magazine’s “Best of L.A. 2013” awards recently recognized West Hollywood’s gay men’s discussion group TRIBE with the title “Best Gay Men’s Discussion Group, 2013,” making it the only city-sponsored program to earn this merit. TRIBE is a unique discussion group that meets the third Thursday of every month, 7:30 p.m. at the West Hollywood Library’s Community Conference Room, for a series of moderated discussions about the gay male experience. It is the only program in WeHo that offers a gathering space for gay men of all ages to meet socially and talk about experiences and challenges they currently face. A facilitator offers a topic and provides an open space to promote a conversation about issues such as love, dating and sex. Topics vary month to month. Meetings are currently co-moderated by community members Mikel Gerle and Brendan Rome.
No other city does Halloween quite like West Hollywood. The city is gearing up to host one of the largest Halloween celebrations in the world, with hundreds of thousands of costumed pleasure-seekers flocking to the heart of WeHo’s Boystown for the 2013 West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval, to be held on Halloween night, Thursday, Oct. 31, from 6-11 p.m. The street costume party will stretch from Doheny Drive to La Cienega Boulevard along Santa Monica. This year’s “One Noir Night in West Hollywood” will bring the city to life with some of the most creative costumes on the planet. Enjoy food, live performances, costume contests and some of the world’s hottest DJs, who are sure to have people dancing on the street. The event is open to everyone, but due to the large crowds and the mature nature of some costumes, children and pets are not recommended.
West Hollywood City Council explored different approaches to support Christopher Street West in the organization's efforts to increase revenue, attendance, relevance and line up of big name celebrity talents for the annual 2013 CSW Pride celebration and parade during a regular city council meeting that took place Monday, Oct. 21. Mayor pro-tempore John D’Amico and councilmember John Duran submitted a list of recommended improvements made with the help of a pride subcommittee. D’Amico hopes the recommendations and thoughts will be circulated throughout CSW and discussed widely at the city’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board community town hall forum scheduled forOct. 30 at 7 p.m.at the West Hollywood Library Community Room. The list provides a two-year timeline for implementation of the requested changes.
The city of West Hollywood has finalized its lineup of entertainment for this year's West Hollywood Carnaval. The city promises a 1950s noir theme for the night in a city where Humphrey Bogart and Lana Turner first became entangled. The city will resurrect a tongue-in-cheek throwback to noir films and give the 2013 West Hollywood Carnival an ambiance that is dark, dangerous and glamorous with a lot of sass. According to a recent city press release, the entertainment lined up for the night is as follows: The Noir City Stage on Santa Monica Boulevard at San Vicente will be emceed by Jeffrey Damnit and include performances by the house band Vaud & The Villains, a staged performance from new LGBT musical Behind Closed Doors and a variety of cabaret and choreography from Halloween Hullabaloo. A performance highlight will include operatic arias from 21-year-old Jonathan Allen of America’s Got Talent.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In recognition, the city is welcoming Dr. Armando E. Giuliano—an internationally renowned expert in the field of breast cancer treatment—who will be giving a lecture on Thursday Oct. 24. He will address the history and changes in the surgical treatment of breast cancer, with a particular focus on his contribution to the elimination of radical lymph node surgery. A complimentary breakfast will be offered at 8:30 a.m., and the keynote address, followed by a Q&A, will begin at 9. The event will be held at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers. Dr. Giuliano is the Executive Vice Chair of Surgery and the Associate Director of Surgical Oncology at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, the Linda and Jim Lippman Chair in Surgical Oncology and Co-Director of the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center—A Project of The Women’s Guild at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He is also a recent recipient of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Clinical Research.
Staff presented the West Hollywood City Council with an update on the city’s response to the violent acts against the LGBT community in Russia at the council’s Sept. 16 meeting. According to reports, attacks against LGBT individuals are on the rise after recent anti-LGBT legislation was signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin—prompting the city council to pass unanimously a resolution titled “Condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Legal Attacks on the LGBT Community and New Laws Targeting LGBT Tourists and Winter Olympics Participants” at a council meeting this past Aug. 5. In response to Russia’s refusal to overturn their anti-gay laws—as well as the ongoing violence against Russian LGBT people—the city continues to campaign in support of LGBT organizations and individuals in that country. Actions by the city of West Hollywood include publicizing, criticizing and condemning the discriminatory actions of Russian President Putin, the Russian legislature and the non-governmental groups and individuals who are attacking LGBT people in Russia; providing assistance to LGBT organizations who are working to fight discrimination and advance equality for LGBT people in Russia; and providing assistance to LGBT people who want to leave Russia and obtain asylum in the United States.
Singin’ in the Rain—the 1952 American musical comedy classic starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds—will be screened under the stars on the WeHo Park Stage at 7 p.m. as part of the 12th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair. WeHo Park is offering a night at the movies in the open air, very similar to the screenings held at Hollywood Forever Cemetery—only less creepy.
Lovers of books, live music and art—save the date. The 12th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair is set for Sunday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the West Hollywood Park and West Hollywood Library. The West Hollywood Book Fair is one of the largest in Southern California and is also the most diverse—featuring 13 stages, hundreds of acclaimed authors, artists and exhibitors. Highlights include live musical performances, culinary demonstrations, children’s theater and a long list of workshops for all ages. This year brings new literary collections by Los Angeles-based celebrity author T.C. Boyle, famously known for his extensive assortment of short stories replete with satire and tall tales about timeless themes—from air rage to abortion doctors and mortality, among other topics. Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) will discuss his memoir, The Freidkin Connection. Other names include renowned producer Lynda Obst (Sleepless in Seattle, The Fisher King), novelist Marisa Silver (Mary Coin, The God of War) and McSweeney’s Poet Victoria Chang to name only a few in a long list.
West Hollywood’s 2013 Community Study recently won top honors for Project of the Year from the International Association of Public Participation, an organization seeking to promote the values and best practices associated with involving the public in government and industry decisions that affect their lives. The community study was designed to update the city’s demographics and to inform the funding priorities for more than $4.2 million of social service contracts from the city’s general fund. WeHo’s 2013 Community Study is now available to the public as a hard copy and online. The report reflects the fact that most of WeHo’s diverse residents rate their quality of life as excellent or good, and they highly value the city’s exceptional social services. “The 2013 community study was one of our most intensive community engagement projects to date,” Mayor Abbe Land stated in a press release. “This large-scale needs assessment helps us ensure that we are keeping our commitment to truly serving the diversity of our entire community.”
The city of West Hollywood has spilled the beans. WeHo’s Art on the Outside program is set to debut Love Your Bean—a new art installation from renowned artist Cosimo Cavallaro. Three shiny, large-scale (approximately 5’ x 5’ x 10’) and brightly colored sculptures in the shape of the beloved jelly bean are scheduled to go on display on San Vicente Boulevard in front of the Pacific Design Center on the West Hollywood Park lawn. Cavallaro worked alongside Southern California fabricator Jack Brogan over the course of a year. A jelly bean sculpture was cut out of Precision Board Plus with a chainsaw and then sanded down with 36 grit sandpaper for a smooth finish. A 2-part mold was made out of fiberglass to create two more replicas. The molds were joined together and painted with vibrant acrylic paints for a beautiful jelly bean finish. “I’m happy,” Cavallaro told Frontiers when the beans were first being installed at the park. “This was nine months of labor—it’s a boy!” He added. “Somebody said that it makes her smile. This is just a gesture of love. There is no anger, there is no political message. It’s just about peace and love. It is about beauty and happiness.”