We keep hearing how West Hollywood needs to be more "family-friendly" -- from WeHo's Arts and Cultural Affairs commissioners to West Hollywood City Council members to a recent post on West Hollywood Patch that suggests Sunset Boulevard billboards are too "risque" for kids.
In a kind of logic often cited by family-friendly forces, WeHo Patch writes: "Given that West Hollywood's demographic has changed dramatically in recent years and now includes increasing numbers of families with young children, perhaps it is time to open up a debate on whether these [billboard] images should be so readily visible to all."
2010 U.S. Census numbers, though, show West Hollywood has not transformed itself into a metropolis filled with young people. Quite the contrary.
As is often the case with the family-friendly crowd, whose powerful leader is longtime West Hollywood City Councilman John Heilman, the WeHo Patch column neglects to back up its reasoning with any real numbers.
In fact, as far as we can see, an exact breakdown of age groups in West Hollywood for 2010 has yet to be released by the U.S Census Bureau.
But, we can make a comparison between the number of West Hollywood residents who are 18 years old and older in 2000 and that same population in 2010 -- that statistic has been reported by the feds.
Guess what? Ten years later, West Hollywood's population has gotten older (older!), not younger.
In 2000, with a population of 35,716, there were 33,682 residents 18 years old or older. So, there were 2,034 people 17 years old or younger.
In 2010, with a population of 34,399, there were 32,821 residents 18 years old or older. That makes for 1,578 people 17 years old or younger.
That's a loss of 456 young people under the age of 18 in West Hollywood! Or a huge drop of 22 percent.
Not only that, only 4.6 percent of the 2010 population is 17 years old or younger. And 95.4 percent is 18 years old or older -- a jump of 1.1 percent compared to 2000. That year, the 18-and-over crowd made up 94.3 percent of the population.
Whoever says West Hollywood is getting younger with more kids so we need more family-friendly policies like taking down "risque" billboards (hello, WeHo Patch) or moving an alcohol and drug abuse treatment center out of a city-owned building to be replaced by a childcare center (hello, John Heilman) is full of baloney -- and doesn't have his or her facts straight.
Which begs the questions: Why are people at West Hollywood City Hall and other quarters pushing phony statistics that just aren't there? And why do they make such a big deal about accommodating a shrinking youth population often times to the annoyance and detriment of the older 95 percent?
It seems odd, don't it?
Update: Add NBCLosAngeles.com to the list of ill-informed media outlets that don't really know who's living in West Hollywood.
NBC repeats what WeHo Patch wrote without digging into U.S. Census numbers, quoting Patch's logic that there are more kids in West Hollywood and asking if "graphic" billboards should be regulated on Sunset Boulevard. Let's hope that if a media storm gets brewing, reporters will do a better job of looking into the facts.
WeHo Patch's column, by the way, doesn't give the names of the parents who supposedly complained about the billboards, and the piece isn't signed by a writer. The whole post is done very anonymously.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.