As part of the City of West Hollywood’s 38th Birthday Celebration on Tuesday, November 29, City Manager David Wilson and Assistant City Manager Oscar Delgado spoke to the audience of about 175 residents, city councilmembers, appointed city commissioners, and city staff about the state of the community and presented an update on several capital improvement projects the city has invested in.
Wilson began with some reflections on how city management was thinking when life began to shut down in March 2020. “We knew at that time it was not going to be a short-term pandemic; it was going to mean a long-term impact for the city,” he said. “So we talked about issuing bonds to pay for capital projects and things we had planned. We talked about cutting department budgets 20 percent across the board; we talked about a sales tax initiative to help make up for the revenues we’d be losing. Those are all things the city council at the time and this community supported and helped us to get back and recover a lot quicker than most cities have throughout the nation and throughout the world.”
Wilson acknowledged deficits of $15 Million in both 2020 and 2021 but said the city was fortunate to have a prudent reserve equal to one full year of the operating budget. He also said this year’s expected $144 Million in revenue is the most the city has collected in its 38-year history. That should result in a $30 Million surplus.
“So, how are we going to spend all that money, one may ask?” offered Wilson. One thing is a new safety and well-being strategy that the city embarked on this year. It will also include a five-year plan to address homelessness. As part of that, the city will be partnering with Ascencia Homeless Services out of Glendale, an organization that will dispatch case managers and other street team resources to help people on the ground who are experiencing homelessness and suffering substance abuse.
Delgado then outlined a number of capital improvement projects that are underway or will be breaking ground in the coming months. He spoke of the difficulty the city faced a few years ago in being able to bring ideas and needs to fruition and the two things the city did about it. First, he says, the city created the Urban Design and Architectural Studio Division, or “UDAS,” in 2019. Second, they formed the Property Development Division. Delgado credits both with increasing the city’s capacity to develop projects.
Then, using a number of dynamic slides, he outlined several ambitious projects, including (and now quoting Delgado’s slides):
The Plummer Park Comprehensive Plan
- City staff just relaunched a community-based outreach process in support of a new, comprehensive improvement plan for Plummer Park
- Status: The first community open house event took place in November and next year will be filled with an extensive engagement process.
William S. Hart Park Improvements
- Planned improvements include accessibility, parking, historical features, dog park improvements, lighting, and security, as well as the exploration of additional opportunities for future enhancements.
- Status: Outreach has been completed based on concept design. Now preparing package for City Council consideration.
New City Playhouse Project
- The city has selected a design team and is proceeding with developing final designs for a new, 5,000-square-foot, 99-seat community playhouse and rehearsal space that will serve the performing arts community.
- Status: Staff and consultants will be moving forward with a community engagement process in early 2023.
Holloway Homekey Renovation Project
- The 23-room motel, which closed to the COVID pandemic, will be repurposed as transitional housing with supportive services. The city was awarded a $6 Million Project Homekey grant from the state to assist with acquisition, renovation, and an operating subsidy for five years.
- Status: City is under contract to purchase the property. Scheduled for Planning Commission review in December and City Council in January.
Log Cabin Acquisition & Renovation
- Purchased from Beverly Hills earlier this year, a feasibility study has been completed for the Log Cabin structure. New designs are in development to preserve, renovate, and add to the cabin structure and reshape the parking lot with upgrades for disability requirements.
- Status: Design consultants will be proceeding with additional analysis in the coming months.
Laurel House Rehabilitation & Artist-in-Residence Program
- The City Council has approved a study for the renovation and conversion of the Laurel House into a public space that will include an Artist-in-Residence component with a city archive, a gallery and exhibition space, and studio spaces for public use.
- Status: Staff is preparing an RFP for architectural design and rehabilitation services.
STORIES: The AIDS Monument
- Brought to the city by The Foundation for the AIDS Movement (FAM), this will include a plaza with a donor’s wall, a field of vertical bronze “traces” with narrative text and integrated lighting
- Status: The city is in the process of determining the construction delivery method and budget.
Crescent Heights & Santa Monica Blvd.
- 8120 Santa Monica Boulevard at Crescent Heights is a 40,140-square-foot site comprised of four parcels and is currently vacant.
- Status: The City is completing groundwater mitigation and exploring various development options.
8301 Santa Monica Blvd.
- 8301-8315 Santa Monica Blvd. consists of three parcels that total approximately 21,892 square feet in size. The block is currently developed with one-story commercial development.
- Status: The city purchased the site in early 2020 and is completing environmental remediation on the site and exploring various development options.
Photo by the Author