With the March 5 election fast approaching, candidates for West Hollywood City Council shared their thoughts with Patch on the election and issues affecting the community.
West Hollywood Patch: What personal characteristics and experiences set you apart from the other candidates?
Mayor Jeffrey Prang: I clearly have one of the strongest and diverse resumes in terms of providing a professional approach to governance. I have been an administrator for over 20 years in local, county and state government including three and a half years as a senior administrator in Pico Rivera. I have a unique and diverse yet professional resume that has well-prepared me to deal with the complex issues that we face in West Hollywood from Public Works, to budgeting, to legislative advocacy on behalf of the community. I have provided leadership in statewide municipal government, having served as the president of a statewide municipal organization, the California Contract Cities Association.
Personal characteristics that I offer the job—I'm patient, I listen. Every resident and every business in the city has something important to say, and the should feel that they've got a place to go to express their concerns as well as their hopes for the community. I believe that most people would agree that I'm accessible, I treat people fairly and with dignity, that I work hard to keep people informed and I put a lot of attention to making government work at the most detailed level for the people who live, work in and visit West Hollywood. I think I've got a well-earned reputation that when a lot of people call West Hollywood City Hall needing help from one of their elected officials, my office is the one that they call.
Patch: How would those characteristics and experiences define your term on the city council?
Prang: I have a lot of ideas and goals of my own for the next four years, but probably one of the most important goals is to make certain that I am in sync with the needs and aspirations of the people who live in the city. I don't believe that I know everything and I don't believe that I have all the answers, but a key portion of my strategy is to make certain that I am keeping my thumb on the pulse of the community to ensure that their concerns and aspirations are part of my objectives.
The things that I hear from people every day is that they want a community with a high quality of life—they want low crime, walk-ability, neighborhood services, they want to enjoy the conveniences of urban living. But they're also concerned about pushing that envelope too far. Overdevelopment has changed the fundamental character of the city and the neighborhood, not only aesthetically but also in terms of parking and traffic and the neighborhood environment. I share those concerns, but I have some very specific objectives for the next four years. One of which is ensuring that we have adequate parking in the city to deal with our residential needs.
Parkland is also a very high priority for me. I have high hopes that Laurel, also known as Tara, is going be expanded into a neighborhood park resource like Kings Road Park. I want to see that through. Also, in the wake of the Plummer Park project now that the plan that was presented previously is now a moot issue, we need to go back to the drawing board and develop a plan that meets the city's needs as well as the community's needs and takes into consideration a lot of the issues that have been raised without the controversy. We need to come up with a dignified plan to rehabilitate that park in a manner that enjoys wide community support.
We're going to have to continue to invest in city infrastructure to make sure that our roads and facilities are well-maintained. We're going to have to start working toward the future working with the fire department about either improving the placing or enhancing Fire Station No. 8. We also have a lot of economic development opportunities and challenges. A couple of the hotels on Sunset will provide jobs and economic opportunity for the city, but they also present some challenges as well that will have to be mitigated.
Patch: In your interactions with West Hollywood voters during the campaign, what were the top three issues they were most interested in?
Prang: One thing that's very clear from going door to door—and I've been aggressively campaigning door to door since the first of the year—is people love West Hollywood. They like living there, they like the conveniences. They like the fact that there's restaurants and shopping, and it's a self-contained city where it's safe, where there's a sense of community. There's rich arts and cultural affairs opportunities, for senior citizens they are extremely grateful for all the services that help them lead a better quality of life for their elder years. People really like the city of West Hollywood, they like the services that they are provided and they're proud to be a part of the community.
The big issues that people are concerned about not only in West Hollywood but in Beverly Hills and all of the Westside of Los Angeles is traffic, traffic issues are still a concern. They are concerned about some of the developments that they believe will change the character of their neighborhoods and possibly bringing a number of impacts—all things that I have been talking about for many years and which have been reflected in the way I've voted on the city council.
Patch: When you look around West Hollywood, which project, development or ordinance approved by previous city councils would you like to see undone, reversed or changed in some way?
Prang: I would like to have seen the Desmond project on San Vicente, a project that voted upon early in my term of office, I think that project was not well-designed, and I think the opportunities that we gave up at that time on San Vicente were too many.
Patch: If you weren't running for city council, which one of the other candidates would be your first choice?
Prang: There's a lot of very fine, bright, capable people, they all love the city of West Hollywood and they each have something different and unique to contribute. I don't want to get into the game of deciding who would be best. Obviously if I were not running I would be looking at all the candidates very seriously to determine which ones reflect what's in the best interest of the city. I really think that every one of them cares about the city and wants to contribute to its growth and success.