By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Also on the Web site, there's a page for "Donor Recognition." Suggested contributions to get your name on a plaque or sign range from $2,500 to $1.5 million.
Some who have already made the honor roll are Ronald Haft, developer of the Sunset Time project, being considered right now by city officials (Haft will have a stage named after him); Arnone of Latham & Watkins (Arnone will get an elevator vestibule); and Jeffrey S. Haber, an influential land-use attorney (Haber is supplying library furnishings).
Many residents are clearly thrilled with the library, designed by Steve Johnson and James Favaro. But with it comes a sense of unease. D'Amico says, "It's a sleazy way to run a city. Meanwhile, it makes citizens wonder if their neighborhoods are up for sale."
Some West Hollywood residents may be outraged about tall projects, impossible traffic, Manhattan-priced rentals, developer agreements and Heilman and Land's elitist manner of governing, but oddly enough a proposed smoking ban might be the issue that finally shakes up City Hall.
Heilman and Land, facing elections in 2011 along with Horvath, have been joined by Councilman Prang in a push to end smoking on outdoor patios at streetside restaurants, nightclubs and bars. Councilman Duran is against it, and appointed Councilwoman Horvath's position is unknown; she is playing her cards close to the vest.
The plan is under attack by owners and managers of the nightclubs and bars, who charge that Land and Heilman are obsessed with maintaining an aura of West Hollywood as a national leader in feel-good issues.
Beverly Hills has already banned smoking on outdoor patios, as has Los Angeles. As if to bolster the accusation made by the nightclub owners, Land says, "We as a city are behind, and all of these other cities have adopted a smoking ban."
But this is not Los Angeles, or even Beverly Hills. This city has virtually no industry. And unlike the more mixed economic base in Beverly Hills, West Hollywood relies heavily on peddling its partying and nightlife to tourists, young suburbanites, the rich and celebrities. A sizable chunk of its sales tax comes from drinks sold at bars and nightclubs.
So bar and nightclub owners are stunned that Land and Heilman would push such a ban — and with the autocratic arrogance of longtime politicians to boot.
"I was shocked," says Sandy Sachs, owner of the Factory nightclub on Robertson Boulevard, who is angry that no "general meetings" were sought with leaders of the nightlife industry "before the smoking ban got on a roll." Sachs says, "We're in a really, really tough economic time. This is tougher than 9/11, than the earthquake in '94, than the riots. And to add something like this, when times are tough already, what are they trying to do? Stomp us out like a cigarette?"
Trip Wilmot, owner of East/West Lounge on Santa Monica Boulevard, agrees, saying, "The city has underestimated the impact of the smoking ban, and they've underestimated the people who aren't happy about it. ... It seems like they've really overstepped on this one."
According to Wilmot, bar and nightclub owners are organizing to stop the City Council. If that doesn't work, they may consider backing other council candidates in the future. "I wouldn't put it past us," he says.
Will West Hollywood's seminal political shake-up be over smoking, of all things? Sounding very much like Heilman and Land circa 1984, Sachs says, "It used to be 'Live and let live' around here. ... At what point do we stop telling people how to live their lives?"
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