Letter to the Editor: Out with the Old, in with the New

A 28-year resident of West Hollywood shares her concerns about the city's demolition of a historic building.

What is going on in West Hollywood is truly gobsmacking. The city seems to be bent on demolishing the historic and overbuilding the new without thought or respect and very little input from its citizens.

It may not be true, but it always feels as if we are given two minutes to speak at council meetings only because it is required by law. There is always an explanation from our leaders that projects will include low-income and/or senior housing, which is a good thing.

But does it have to be at the expense of us average-income folk, some of whom are teetering on the brink of no income in this economy?  

Is over-building the manner in which the city intends to pay for the $100,000,000 (that's one hundred million dollars folks) cost of the and alone?

This is comparatively a tiny community both in square mileage and in population. It seems that we should be able to take care of all of our citizens—from the homeless all the way up to the well-to-do—and protect and preserve our heritage, if we begin to reuse and refurbish what we already possess.  

Let's save the Fickett Library as a reminder of a simpler, cleaner time. Let's save Great Hall/Long Hall as a reminder of the first Great Depression. We are not, nor will we ever be, a big, slick, sleek, city. We are a 1.9-square-mile suburb with some mixed use.

We could be a model of how a small community can get along with a diverse population if we learn to take care of what we have and spend our money wisely.       

—S.J. Harker, 28-year resident of West Hollywood area and executive assistant to progressive political activist Stanley K. Sheinbaum.

West Hollywood Patch accepts Letters to the Editor from residents. Please e-mail yours to Local Editor Danielle Jacoby.

Paul August 22, 2011 at 06:21 PM
I agree fully with the author of this article. The idiots that have been elected are destroying what once was a small unique area gays called home. It is being over built with these HUGE structure. Sometimes I wish an earthquake would come along and break them all down but them of coarse people would die and and I would not want that to happen. I'm just saying these boobs we have as council members don't care about anything except there own egos. Some of the council members don't even reside in West Hollywood. The ONLY one would has the best interest of our citizens is the newest addition elected in March. The rest are crap and gotta go!
Insider August 22, 2011 at 06:45 PM
"... It seems that we should be able to take care of all of our citizens—from the homeless all the way up to the well-to-do—..." Please elaborate ... define "care."
Matt Baume August 22, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Is "a reminder of the first Great Depression" really the best possible use of that land? I mean, think about all of the things that could go there -- playground, school, farmer's market, museum, art, community garden, social services, etc. A "reminder of the Great Depression" and "a reminder of a cleaner, simpler time" sound nice, but are they worth it at the cost of so many other civic amenities? If you refuse to let anything change, that means that nothing can ever improve.
Brian August 22, 2011 at 09:55 PM
I hate to tell the author, but West Hollywood is a slick city. Once you see a few other cities like where I live, San Francisco. I am a former resident that got forced out when rent control got dismantled. I miss the little livable town that I came to in 1989. It is truly not the same city. The developers seem to be unstoppable. West Hollywood has way too much money from all the parking tickets and taxes on businesses so don't you worry about the price tag. West Hollywood also doesn't need anymore low income housing. I think that is a bunch of BS to sell buildings. So live there until they price you out too or better yet create a new gay ghetto or has the internet killed that too.
Stephanie August 22, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Dear Matt, The park has a playground, a pre-school and a farmer's market...and that is precisely what the citizens of the neighborhood would like the city to do...make the historic WPA era, Spanish Colonial Revival Building (which already has a small theatre in it) into a museum instead of tearing it down because they are adding a measly 69 parking spaces underground and they did not plan on supporting the building. They are decimating Historic Fiesta Hall (see artist renderings on WeHo site) and putting in an ultra modern, space-ship type theatre fascade in a small neighborhood full of restored craftsman homes and other Spanish revival structures. Great Hall/Long Hall was part of FDR's project to put people back to work. The city saved Irv's burger stand but are destroying historic buildings! Think of what we COULD build with $41Million dollars!
Stephanie August 22, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Brian - The park in question is on the east side of the little city and is still a quaint neighborhood. This is precisely what I am talking about. The huge slick buildings they have erected on San Vicente are absurd. The new library($63M) is gargantuan. We are trying to preserve the charm of Plummer Park and Fiesta Hall. Take a look on line at what they have planned for Fiesta Hall. Plummer Park Phase I on the city's site. We would like them to use the money for something other than destroying the charm and history of Plummer Park. One of the stated goals is that they want to "honor the history of Plummer Park and the memorials" Are they joking???? All that will be left of the original park is the sign and a plaque or two!
joninla August 23, 2011 at 06:28 AM
I enjoyed your naive belief that your participation (or anyone given their 2 minutes to speak). It reflects both the genuineness of character, and like the library you hope to save, it reminds me of how unaware of how corrupt the City of West Hollywood is. There are so many levels and layers from proposed actions, panning meetings, notices posted, statements made by elected officials and the actual final fished product. There is reason and room for raising genuine concerns at every level .... except the final one - after the project is fished, done and the Ceremony honoring the Council's "bravery, hard work and self sacrifice" they put in to be there to accept the honor I have recently been following the various projects/issues here on the Patch. Each one has people posting opinions, many of which (to some degree) feel as I do, that the City is totally corrupt and the whole Council should be removed and a formal independent investigation conducted and criminal action (as found) should be brought against the members charged. In the meantime .... The City Continues to Declare itself concerned with rent control, low income housing, progressive elder care and GLBT leadership. All of which is just the means of keeping the City Council's actual actions and intentions (self serving monetary) far from being questioned. It's an old trick of politics being over exploited and hopefully people will stay interested to make some kind of change.
Spencer A. Monroe August 23, 2011 at 06:54 AM
Well they've cancelled the City's Historical Preservation Committee Meeting which was to be held tomorrow. Coincidence or purposeful? Either way disappointing. Residents need some answers and our government needs to be accountable. It appears that the City is violating their own policy by destroying historic property. Residents need to request an audit immediately. 43 Million on a 1 acre site? Residents would be better off if our City preserved historical building and heritage trees and spent some of the funds to protect citizens by increasing police in areas where there has been evidence of hate crimes, and stopping the blatant gambling that goes on in many areas in West Hollywood, especially the parks. Spencer Allan Monroe
Spencer A. Monroe August 23, 2011 at 07:05 AM
Spencer A. Monroe August 23, 2011 at 07:22 AM
News article link: BROWN SAYS HE'S CLOSING 70 STATE PARKS http://www.scpr.org/news/2011/05/13/26696/brown-says-hes-closing-70-state-parks/
Lynn Russell August 23, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Brian, could you please show me how WH is a slick city? Maybe slick operators but in my humble opinion we have a schizophrenic city with the rug being constantly pulled out from under espoused significant enterprises like Historic Preservation. The HPC operates as a pass through on the way to endless development. The Commission in its design and its members show very little spine and many are uninformed as to the over reaching concept of HP and how if fits in WITH the concept of growth to create and enduring community.
Lynn Russell August 23, 2011 at 06:15 PM
You have painted a plausible picture. At last Monday's Council Meeting one resident commented regarding the official naming/signage for SM Blvd. between La Cienega and Doheny. She suggested "Party Town" or "Peter Pan Town" instead of Boy's Town because she felt that people here should grow up and start acting like responsible adults instead of party, party, party imbibing alcohol, drugs, irresponsible sexual behavior and winding up as jokes and statistics. People outside comment that the reason no one sees what is happening to the entire town is that they have tunnel vision tuned in to 24/7 partying, entertainment, parades, festivals, self congratulatory awards ceremonies on and on. The illusion of all all the partying and entertainment keeps one's eye off the ball...the big picture until the wrecking ball arrives at your door in one form or another. The other part of the illusion is the collection of "do good" concepts by a slight of hand that folks don't really notice as it just creeps up on you in the night, rather like watching moss grow. I enjoy parties and entertainment as much as the next person but get a grip on reality folks.
Lynn Russell August 23, 2011 at 06:18 PM
Soon they will not only need to cancel the meeting but the commission itself because there will be nothing left to preserve.
Paul August 23, 2011 at 06:50 PM
Boys town is party central on the weekend! Tweek end warriors! Fast forward 10 years and these same people will be pushing up daisies. Drug and alcohol abuse continues to plague the gay community.
joninla August 23, 2011 at 10:25 PM
I can not say for sure that I have the exact structure that is being implemented, but the "problem" with the City, it planning, decisions and spending goes way beyond this one issue about the old library. ONE POINT OF FACT: Economists almost NEVER agree on anything. However virtually ALL ECONOMIST (left, right, liberal even waco) AGREE THAT RENT CONTROL (from a purely Economic Study - without giving any weight to the 'intent' to help people becoming homeless if rents get too high) DOES NOT WORK TO HELP AND IN FACT HURTS BOTH THE NEEDED PEOPLE TRYING TO GET BY, AS WELL AS THE REST OF THE CITY/COMMUNITY Imposing any kind of "price control" on Rents (or any other item that is sold at a market price) will: 1. Decrease the number of apartment units available since property owners will convert rentals to condos because they can not derive a reasonable profit from their investment in an income producing property. 2. Begin a constantly worsening situation as Service, Repairs, Maintenance and Upgrades provided by the landlord are continually cut due to the artificial price imposed and not reflecting the local market prices. 3. NO NEW CONSTRUCTION OF LOW INCOME OR OTHER HOUSING. WEST HOLLYWOOD HAS CREATED "THE PROBLEM" WHICH THEY THEN USE AS THE RATIONAL FOR THEIR ACTIONS: WE MUST IMPOSE RESTRICTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS ON ALL NEW PROJECTS TO INCLUDE LOW INCOME HOUSING. The real reason, including low income units, get's the sate to guarantee the developers loans.
Lynn Russell August 23, 2011 at 10:34 PM
Joninla, could you kindly proof read your comments so we know exactly what you are saying and don't have to guess?
joninla August 23, 2011 at 10:35 PM
"BOYS TOWN" - I am a gay man who thinks it is totally offensive to even consider nicknaming West Hollywood "Boys Town", let alone making it an official designation. HOWEVER - as for the constant opinions 'attacking' the character and value of the people (the gay men who like to party in west hollywood) is NOT a valid or pertinent issue. It is a very visible issue (one I have not even considered partaking in for more than 15 plus years) but the City Of West Hollywood has approx 35,000 residents. The party goers hanging out the windows of the gay bars and making drunken displays of themselves are, for the most part, NOT RESIDENTS OF THE CITY - But COME INTO WEST HOLLYWOOD TO PARTY (and the City collects enormous 'sin tax' revenues for all such nightlife - weather the economy is booming or is on the brink of a great depression as we now are teetering on). The "resident of West Hollywood who do party and hang out drunk on the Blvd" are a TOTALLY INSIGNIFICANT NUMBER COMPARED TO THE 35,000 RESIDENTS OF THE CITY WHO DO NOT 'PARTY' IN ANY FORM. Using 'the gay party boys' as the scape goat is very easy, but it is not relevant to any political discussions or 'cause' for the Corrupt Council being able to continue without anyone trying to get some kind of reasonable change to the 'crazy' spending plans ($16 million for the ROBO PARKING GARAGE BEHIND CITY HALL!!) Blaming 'party boys' is just another ploy to distract from the Council's Actions.
Lynn Russell August 23, 2011 at 10:45 PM
I see your point in this particular comment but the city continues to have a VERY EXPENSIVE DOORMAT out for those who come to diminish its value for the residents whether it is via partying or development gone amok. Revenue IS the vehicle that is driving us down the road at the direction of those who have obviously lost their perspective or didn't have any to begin with.
joninla August 23, 2011 at 10:45 PM
West Hollywood is not 'the state of California' nor even part of the 'City Of Los Angeles' ..... and I am personally appauled that the City is continuing its ridiculous spending while the rest of THE WORLD goes broke. What surprises me the most is that NOBODY seems to notice this INCREDIBLE DISPARITY (even The City of Bevery Hills is now having a Budget Crisis) and that there should be some different actions and decisions made by the City that claims to be commited to THE POOR, ELDERLY and MOST NEEDY IN OUR SOCIETY. The revenue from the 'nightlife' and 'parking enforcement' provide the City a guaranteed huge annual budget in good times and bad. How that budget is spent, however, should reflect the NEW AMERICA we all are suddenly living in. The Residents of the City have all suffered in the Economic Crisis in one way or another and in varying degrees. The Residents needs to "maintain" their abilty to remain in the West Hollywood homes should be the focus of the City's Planning - not "WHAT WILL BE BUILT FOR THE NEXT 25 YEARS". There has been a derth of any new or interesting news investigations on TV lately. I don't know why at least one of the Networks doesn't do a story on the BLEEDING ECONOMY EVERYWERE .... Everywhere EXCEPT The City of West Hollywood.
joninla August 23, 2011 at 10:49 PM
(sorry, I had a minor stroke a while ago, and my ability to communicate coherently in writing has been severely impaired. It is now the best I am capable of producing.)
Lynn Russell August 23, 2011 at 11:11 PM
Dear Joninla, very sorry to hear that. I was not attempting to be critical only wanted to not misunderstand your thoughts because you have addressed some important issues that many folks are just waking up to and beginning to connect the dots. This methodology has been continuing for years and it is like a virus at nearly every level feeding on itself and taking the city and its residents with it. Do you ever participate at any city meetings, the General Plan Meetings and/or have you ever expressed these thoughts to any of the council members that may be open to a dialogue?
joninla August 23, 2011 at 11:25 PM
First of all, I've lived in WeHo for 15 or so years with my head in the sand. I only recently looked around and began to question what was going on. I credit the Patch for it ability to really focus so narrowly on West Hollywood issues. I do not participate in any of the meetings - always believing they were ineffective and merely for show. One of the first articles I read here on the Patch quoted John Heilman who said something like "The Residents were given the opportunity to give input, and their input 'WAS RECEIVED'". The perfect word. Absolutely nothing anyone (using their 2 minute time limit) said would go any further than being formally 'received'. Abbe Land has lived next door to me for 15 years or so. I have NEVER ONCE even seen her (I have a dog, and EVERYONE in my 1 block radius knows me and my dog) and is totally out of touch with the problems that are right outside her window. I didn't mean to turn the comments into just 'chatter' .... but the bigger problem keeps prevailing, after just a short period of time reading the articles here on the patch and seeing the repeated UNTRUE, INACCURATE AND CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS made to justify each project (the Hypocrisy gets to me) My actual "drive" to keep pushing the issues, was the noticeable increase in the number of homeless and the effects of the economy on my neighbors and the local small shops, so many of which have closed. I have no personal desire or agenda.
Akilina Ivanofsky August 25, 2011 at 10:12 AM
"Controller John Chiang, the State's chief fiscal officer, has fought to make finances more transparent and accountable to the public, and to weed out waste, fraud and abuse of public money......" To contact John Chiang: website: http://www.sco.ca.gov/eo_contact.html Postal Mail Sacramento P.O. Box 942850 Sacramento, California 94250-5872 (916) 445-2636 Office (916) 322-4404 FAX Los Angeles 777 South Figueroa Street, Suite 4800 Los Angeles, California 90017 (213) 833-6010 Office (213) 833-6011 FAX
joninla August 25, 2011 at 09:53 PM
... And what was the outcome? Have they given up?
Stephanie August 25, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Dear Jon in LA, I am the author of the original letter to the editor. Could I email you directly?
Stephanie August 27, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Chloe R Give me your email I'll write you directly. S.


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