|City of West Hollywood|
|— City —|
|Motto: The Creative City|
Location of West Hollywood in Los Angeles County, California
|Incorporated||November 29, 1984|
|- Mayor||Abbe Land|
|- Mayor Pro Tempore||John Heilman|
|- City Manager||Paul Arevalo|
|- Council Members||John J. Duran
|- Total||1.9 sq mi (4.9 km2)|
|- Land||1.9 sq mi (4.9 km2)|
|- Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2) 0%|
|Elevation||282 ft (86 m)|
|- Density||18,992.7/sq mi (7,335.1/km2)|
|U.S. Census Bureau American FactFinder|
|Time zone||PST (UTC-8)|
|- Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC-7)|
|ZIP codes||90038, 90046, 90048, 90069|
|GNIS feature ID||1652810|
West Hollywood, a city of Los Angeles County, California, was incorporated on November 29, 1984. The latest residential population estimate was 34,675. The city is well-known for its nightlife, celebrity culture, and diverse atmosphere. The city has large gay, Jewish and eastern European populations. The area is informally referred to as "WeHo".
The general plan describes the city as an urban village, interpreted by city residents as a neighborly, safe environment with a diversity of residents and businesses and streets that are green and walkable. West Hollywood is "urban" in the sense of traffic, nightlife, and general activity level, but the "village" component distinguishes the City from adjacent cities. This city is known as one of the largest gay villages in the United States.
Although just 1.9 square miles in size, West Hollywood is one of the highest profile communities in the Los Angeles area, full of celebrities and nightlife, and due to its central location among the generally wealthy communities west of downtown Los Angeles. Goings-on in the city and surrounding areas are broadcast daily in media around the world, including on TMZ on TV from Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights Avenue (intersection actually in the city of Los Angeles).
West Hollywood is bordered on the north by the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, on the east by the Hollywood District of Los Angeles, on the west by the city of Beverly Hills, and on the south by the Fairfax District of Los Angeles.
The unique, irregular border of the city, which is highlighted in the city logo, was largely formed from the unincorporated Los Angeles County area that had not become part of the surrounding cities.
West Hollywood benefits from a relatively dense, compact urban form with small lots, a mix of land uses, and a walkable street grid. Commercial corridors include the nightlife and dining focused Sunset Strip, a largely gay area along Santa Monica Boulevard, and the Avenues of Art & Design along Robertson, Melrose and Beverly near the Pacific Design Center.
Major residential neighborhoods include Norma Triangle, West Hollywood North, West Hollywood West, and West Hollywood East. The city breaks down eleven preferential parking zones which further define residential areas. Major intersecting streets provide amenities within walking distance of adjacent neighborhoods.
Affordable housing is a hot topic in the city. The rent-control issue has remained in the foreground since the city was founded in large part to protect tenant rights.
West Hollywood also has inclusionary zoning laws governing development. The city established the Affordable Housing Trust Fund in 1986 requiring developers to either provide affordable housing in new projects or pay a fee in in-lieu to the city which it directs towards other affordable housing projects.
In recent years, residential development has resulted in the replacement of existing housing with fewer, much larger and less affordable luxury units. This is counter to the city goal of increasing the housing stock. On June 4, 2007, the city council unanimously adopted Ordinance No. 07-759U, an interim urgency ordinance (IZO) which imposed new temporary development standards in an effort to curtail this trend while developing a long term solution.
Gentrification and the scale and type of building developments in West Hollywood present ongoing issues for the city. Most recently, a proposed Walgreens drug store at Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Blvd. has been among the most contentious projects in recent years. The West Hollywood Gateway project brought big box retailers Target and Best Buy to the eastern border of the city, although in a more urban footprint. The city adopted a historic preservation ordinance in 1989.
With a socially minded population, West Hollywood adopted one of the nation's first mandatory green building ordinance on October 1, 2007. The ordinance ensures that new buildings will be healthier for residents, and use energy and resources more efficiently.
Traffic congestion and public transport are critical issues in the city due to its location between access to areas such as greater Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley to the east and the Los Angeles West Side area, with the Hollywood Hills creating a natural impediment to the north. Santa Monica Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard are critical east-west arteries in the metropolitan area, and Laurel Canyon Boulevard is a popular shortcut through the hills. Nearly 600 employees and 260 buses in the District 7 fleet of the LACMTA are based in a large facility on prime real estate near San Vicente Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. The development of a "pink line" subway through the city, providing a connection between the Metro Red Line (LACMTA) and a proposed Metro Purple Line (LACMTA) along Wilshire Boulevard is currently under study.
Residents of West Hollywood vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. They also regularly pass ordinances geared toward reducing perceived discrimination and protecting the public health and dignity of all living things. West Hollywood is nationally known as a frontrunner in social justice legislation.
In 1985, West Hollywood was the first city to create a same gender domestic partnership registration for its residents, as well as to offer same gender domestic partner benefits for city employees. West Hollywood's comprehensive Domestic Partnership Ordinance allows those couples that are prohibited from marrying (same-sex), and those that can marry but choose not to (heterosexual), to register their union with the city. These unions are treated on an equal basis with legal marriages in regards to city-level benefits and services. In California as a whole, same-sex couples may enter domestic partnerships which offer them many of the state rights of marriage. However, they are unable to enter an actual Marriage contract which also denies them many of the rights that are offered to heterosexual partners.
Legislation prohibiting discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation is widely recognized as the toughest in the nation. The city is also one of 92 jurisdictions in the country where it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression.
City legislation also bans the sale of handguns, prohibits smoking in public places, and restricts the city from doing business directly or indirectly (via vendors) with any country known to violate human rights. Also, the city is one of 19 in California that has banned the use of gas-powered leaf-blowers.
West Hollywood is extremely pet friendly and is home to 1,000 dogs per square mile. The city designed a law that pets are to be called “companions” and their owners “guardians” and was the first city in the country to outlaw the de-clawing of cats.
West Hollywood has a distinctive street design scheme, with postmodern street signs featuring a blue map of the city. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department vehicles that patrol West Hollywood feature the same map of the city, but in the rainbow colors of the gay community.
Because of the large gay population and the large numbers of gay-oriented businesses, West Hollywood became prominently known as a gay village. The section of Santa Monica Boulevard from La Cienega Boulevard to Robertson Boulevard, known as "boys' town," is among the most popular gay neighborhoods in the world, with numerous well-known spots such as the nightclubs Rage and Mickys and newer bars/restaurants such as Eleven and East|West Lounge.
Alta Loma Road is also home to the exclusive hotel "The Sunset" with its famous 45-person Whisky Bar and a recording studio that has been the home to many hits. Alta Loma Road was one of the main locations for the film Perfect. Actor Sal Mineo lived on this street in the 1970s; he was murdered in his carport just around the corner from Alta Loma Road on Holloway Drive.
The western stretch of Melrose Avenue, between Fairfax Avenue and Doheny Drive, is notable for its trendy clothing boutiques, interior design shops, restaurants and antique stores. The west end of Melrose, near the Pacific Design Center, is especially known for its exclusive furniture.
The area around Fountain Avenue, Harper Avenue and Havenhurst Drive contains a high concentration of landmark 1920s Spanish Revival and Art Deco apartment buildings by such noted architects as Leland Bryant. This historic district has been home to many celebrities and at one time the Sunset Tower at 8358 Sunset Boulevard was home to Frank Sinatra, Errol Flynn, the Gabor Sisters, John Wayne and Howard Hughes.
Notable business and attractions in West Hollywood include:
The West Hollywood Halloween Carneval is an event that takes place annually on October 31. The largest Halloween street party in the United States (spanning over one mile (1.6 km) of Santa Monica Boulevard from La Cienega Boulevard on the East to Doheny and the Beverly Hills border on the West), the 2007 Carneval was reported to have more than 350,000 people in attendance, with some traveling from other countries specifically for the event.
Christopher Street West is a gay pride parade and festival that was first held in June 1970 in Hollywood to commemorate the first anniversary of Stonewall Riots in New York. After incorporation, the event moved to West Hollywood and is typically held the second weekend in June so as not to conflict with the celebrations in New York City and San Francisco, and with Father's Day (because many deputies request that day off and do not want to work overtime on that day).
The Oscars is a major event in the city with a majority of the large Academy Award party venues being located in the city. Many streets are closed and traffic swells on this day each year.
The City of West Hollywood sponsors an animal walk and pet appreciation days throughout the year, which have in the past featured pet psychics and dog activities. During Halloween the week prior to October 31, animals can participate in a costume contest in West Hollywood Park. West Hollywood is in close proximity to Runyon Canyon hiking trail and dog park in Hollywood.
Situated between Beverly Hills to the west, Hollywood to the east, and the Hollywood Hills to the north, West Hollywood is sometimes referred to as the playground of the stars. Quite a few celebrities live in the city and adjacent areas. West Hollywood is thought of as more hip than Hollywood, and more accommodating to nightlife than Beverly Hills. It seems to be the natural place for stars to socialize, work, or simply do their day-to-day shopping and errands. The heart of the action and many celebrities can be seen on the Sunset Strip, especially on its western end. Stars also frequent the northern end of Robertson Boulevard, above Third Street.
There is no better time to see celebrities than during awards season, when they pour into West Hollywood from around the globe for parties. The Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Party has traditionally been held at the Pacific Design Center and is best known of these events and is a multi-million dollar fundraiser for the foundation.
Paparazzi chasing celebrities around the city are a frequent sight, and some consider this a nuisance and threat to public safety. Arrests often result from frequent altercations. The issue is raised regularly and the city participates in meetings with other nearby municipalities such as Beverly Hills and Los Angeles to discuss the problem and possible actions to better control the activity. The epicenter of the Thirty Mile Zone lies just blocks to the south of the city, and is the basis for the name of TMZ on TV, a paparazzi footage based program produced in West Hollywood at Sunset and Crescent Heights Boulevards.
Alan Hale, Jr., the "Skipper" on the television show Gilligan's Island, would often appear in character in his West Hollywood restaurant, Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel, even after the show had ended production.
In 1930, Howard Hughes purchased the building at 7000 Romaine Street, which was then used for an experimental film process company for a short time. Hughes eventually used the location as the communication nerve center for his empire. Employees called this location The Fortress.
The celebrity presence in the city often shows up on the news with a more sordid side, with arrests, overdoses, deaths and other controversies.
In 1982, John Belushi died of a drug overdose at the elegant Chateau Marmont hotel. On the night of his death, he was visited separately by friends Robin Williams (at the height of his own drug exploits) and Robert De Niro, each of whom left the premises, leaving Belushi in the company of assorted others, including Cathy Smith. This is just one of many notable sordid events at the location. A 1930s movie executive reportedly said, 'If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont'.
In 1961, comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested on obscenity charges at The Troubadour in then-unincorporated West Hollywood. The arresting officer was a young deputy named Sherman Block, who would later become County Sheriff.
In 1989, actor Christian Slater was arrested in West Hollywood for leading the police on a drunken car chase that ended when Slater crashed his car into a telephone pole.
On November 17, 2006, during a performance at the Laugh Factory, a cell phone video captured Michael Richards shouting "Shut up" to a heckler in the audience, followed by repeated shouts of "He's a nigger!" to the rest of the audience (using the word six times altogether), and also making a reference to lynching.
Most historical writings about West Hollywood began in the late 18th century with European colonization when the Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo arrived offshore and claimed the already inhabited region for Spain. Around 5,000 of the indigenous inhabitants from the Tongva tribe canoed out to greet Juan Cabrillo. The Tongva tribe were a nation of hunter-gatherers known for their reverence of dancing and courage. By 1771 the indigenous people were severely reduced by disease while being mandatorily acculturated by the Spanish mission system. The Spanish mission system changed their tribal name to “Gabrielinos”, in reference to the Mission de San Gabriel.
By 1780, what became the "Sunset Strip" was the major connecting road for El Pueblo de Los Angeles and all ranches westward to the Pacific Ocean. The land went through various owners and names in the next one hundred years, with names such as La Brea and Plummer listed in the historical record. Most of the area was part of the Rancho La Brea, and eventually came under the ownership of the Hancock family.
In the last years of the nineteenth century, the first large development in what would become West Hollywood — the town of Sherman — was established by Moses Sherman and his partners in the Los Angeles and Pacific Railway, an interurban line which would become part of the Pacific Electric Railway system. Sherman became the location of the railroad's main shops, yards and car barns. Many working-class employees of the railroad took up residence in the town. It was during this time that the city began to earn its reputation as a loosely-regulated, liquor-friendly spot for eccentric people wary of government interference. The town chose not to incorporate with Los Angeles and instead adopted “West Hollywood” as an informal name to borrow the glamour and celebrity from the new movie colony in Hollywood.
For many years, the area that is now the City of West Hollywood was an unincorporated area in the midst of the City of Los Angeles, but fell under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County. Because gambling was illegal in the city of Los Angeles but legal in the county, the 1920s saw the proliferation of many nightclubs and casinos along the Sunset Strip (which starts and ends within West Hollywood borders) that did not fall within the Los Angeles city limits. As a result, these businesses were immune from the heavy-handed enforcement of the LAPD. (The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was and remains in charge of policing the district.)
Movie people were attracted to this less restricted county area and a number of architecturally fine apartment houses and apartment hotels were built. Movie fans throughout the world knew that Ciro's, the Mocambo, the Trocadero, the Garden of Allah, the Chateau Marmont and the Formosa Cafe on Santa Monica Boulevard were places where movie stars could be seen.
Eventually, the area and its extravagant night spots lost favor with movie people. But the Strip and its restaurants, bars and clubs continued to be an attraction for locals and out-of-town tourists. In the late 1960s, the Strip was transformed again during the hippie movement which brought a thriving music publishing industry coupled with "hippie" culture. Young people from all over the country flocked to West Hollywood clubs such as the Whisky a Go Go, Barney's Beanery, Filthy McNasty's, The Rainbow, and The Troubadour.
In the 1960s, a club called Ciro's held the first gay dance nights on Sundays, known as "Tea Dances" [or "T-Dances"]. At the time, it was illegal for men to dance together, but this law was not strictly enforced. This tolerance led to more gay clubs after Ciro's closed, as well as the end of the anti-gay laws that prohibited dancing between two persons of the same gender in Los Angeles County. The building that Ciro's occupied is now the home of The Comedy Store.
Emboldened by the Stonewall Riots of 1969, gays from all over Los Angeles flocked to West Hollywood with many fleeing from the homophobic harassment of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). West Hollywood was still unincorporated and so it was patrolled by the markedly less brutal Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The design and decorating industry that took root in the 1950s culminated in the completion of the 750,000-square-foot (70,000 m2)first phase (blue building) of the Pacific Design Center (PDC) in 1975. The PDC green building was completed in 1988, and the new red building will complete the project and was under construction as of 2009. This landmark location has been used widely in movies and television and is the highest profile architecture in West Hollywood.
The most recent migration to West Hollywood came about after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when thousands of Russian Jews immigrated to the city. A majority of the 5,000 to 6,000 Russian Jews settled in two major immigration waves, 1978-79 and 1988-92. Approximately 13 percent of the current city population is Russian-speaking.
In 1984, residents in West Hollywood organized to maintain rent control. When the County of Los Angeles began planning to dismantle rent control, West Hollywood was a densely-populated area of renters, many of whom would not be able to afford to keep up with the rapid rises in rent. A tight coalition of seniors, Jews, gays and renters were greatly assisted by the Community for Economic Survival (CES) and they swiftly voted to incorporate as the City of West Hollywood. West Hollywood then immediately adopted one of the strongest rent control laws in the nation.
Sometime in the 1940s a sign appeared over the bar at Barney's Beanery that said "FAGOTS – STAY OUT". It was so offensive to local homosexuals that Life magazine did an article on opposition to the sign in 1964, which included a photograph of the owner steadfastly holding on to it. The owner died in 1968, and efforts continued to have the sign removed. The Gay Liberation Front organized a zap of the restaurant on February 7, 1970 to push for its removal. The sign came down that day. The sign was put up and taken down several times of the next 14 years, but the practice ended in December 1984, days after the city voted itself into existence. The then-mayor, Valerie Terrigno, the entire city council and gay rights activists marched into Barney’s and relieved the wall of the offending sign. It was held by Morris Kight for many years and now rests in the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives.
As a way to honor the memory of Matthew Shepard, LGBT civil rights leader and pioneer Morris Kight proposed naming a city park at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard in the heart of West Hollywood after him. On December 21, 1998, a little over two months after Shepard's death, the West Hollywood City Council granted his request and sanctioned the Matthew Shepard Human Rights Triangle Park. On the night of March 26, 2009, vandals damaged two trees in the park which were dedicated to Kight and Ivy Bottini, who serves on the WeHo Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board.
A resident created a national uproar during the 2008 Presidential campaign by including a Sarah Palin mannequin hung in effigy in a Halloween display. The home's decorations also featured a doll of John McCain surrounded by decorative flames in the chimney. Some residents complained about the display as a hate crime, but the Los Angeles County Sheriff concluded the display did not violate any laws.
Hacienda Arms Apartments is a historic building located on the Sunset Strip. It was built in 1927 and operated initially as a luxury apartment building, but it became the "most famous brothel in California" in the 1930s. It is now, once again, a prestigious address.
In March 2006, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service seized 250 fake denomination notes, each bearing a denomination of $1,000,000,000 (one billion USD) from a West Hollywood apartment.
In 2006, the City Council passed a medicinal marijuana resolution, by a vote of 4-0, making it the first city in Southern California to adopt a lowest law enforcement priority law for cannabis offenses. The resolution stated "it is not the policy of the City or its law enforcement agency to target possession of small amounts of cannabis and the consumption of non-medical cannabis in private by adults".
West Hollywood was the first city in the country to have a majority-gay city council Council member John Heilman is the city's longest-serving council member (having served continuously since 1984) and finished serving his sixth term as mayor in April 2007. This position is mostly a ceremonial post that rotates on an annual basis among the council members. Abbe Land, co-director of the Saban Free Clinic currently serves as Mayor and her colleague John Heilman, a law professor, serves as Mayor Pro Tempore.
On February 19, 2001, West Hollywood became the second city in the United States (after Boulder, Colorado) to change the term pet "owner" to pet "guardian" in their municipal codes. West Hollywood was the first city in the USA to enact a law banning cat declawing.
Fire protection in West Hollywood is provided by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The LACFD operates Station #7, the battalion headquarters, and Station #8 at 864 North San Vicente Boulevard, both in West Hollywood, as a part of Battalion 1.
In the state legislature West Hollywood is located in the 23rd Senate District, represented by Democrat Sheila Kuehl, and in the 42nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Mike Feuer. Federally, West Hollywood is located in California's 30th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +20 and is represented by Democrat Henry Waxman.
West Hollywood, with a gay population of 41%, has been disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic which has ravaged the gay male population since the early 1980’s. The city funds or subsidizes a vast array of services for those living with HIV or AIDS. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation parks a Mobile HIV/STD testing van outside of the city’s busiest nightclubs on Friday and Saturday nights, and again on Sunday afternoons. This outreach attempts to intervene with those young people most at-risk for HIV infection. Project Angel Food receives city funding to deliver hundreds of fresh lunches and dinners daily which are prepared under the supervision of a registered dietitian who tailors the meals to meet individual client’s nutritional needs. AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) is a national leader for AIDS policy and advocacy issues and provides assistance to clients navigating the maze of available public benefits. APLA also provides free dental, psychotherapy and pharmaceutical services. AID for AIDS provides direct financial support by assisting clients with rent, utility and pharmacy expenses. The city also subsidizes agencies that help clients train for a return to the workforce. The city permits all residents living with HIV/AIDS to have up to two pets in his or her home regardless of a landlord's specifications in the property's lease.
West Hollywood subsidizes programs for its growing population of children through a partnership with the USDA and local schools. “Healthy Start West Hollywood” is a program of the city’s Social Services division that introduces pre-Kindergarten through High School age kids to the benefits of good nutrition through such activities as collective vegetable gardens and yoga.
The special needs of senior citizens are addressed through a variety of programs. West Hollywood either funds or subsidizes agencies that offer adult day care, a roommate matching service, and nutritious meals. The West Hollywood Senior Center is not only a place for recreation, excursions, and socializing but also offers counseling and case management as needed.
West Hollywood also seeks to address the health needs of residents who do not have adequate insurance by subsidizing the LA Free Clinic and The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Residents can access free medical, dental, legal and mental health services between these two sites.
The West Hollywood's Women’s Advisory Board publishes guides on sexual assault prevention, nightclub safety, and how to access rape services.
West Hollywood is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The area is within Board District 4. As of 2008 Marlene Canter represents the district. Canter announced that she will not seek re-election after her term expires in June 2009.
Elementary schools that serve sections of West Hollywood include:
(Some areas jointly zoned to Rosewood and West Hollywood)
Most of West Hollywood is zoned to Bancroft Middle School. Some portions in the south are zoned to John Burroughs Middle School. Students living in the Los Angeles area known as Beverly Hills Post Office, usually attend West Hollywood Elementary but then go to Emerson Middle School.
There are also private and alternative schools such as Dvorsky College Preparatory on Crescent Heights, which was founded to serve the Russian speaking community.
The city operates a filming office which handles permits and enforcement of West Hollywood's filming ordinance.
As of the census of 2000, there were 35,716 people, 23,120 households, and 5,202 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,335.1/km² (18,992.7/mi²). There were 24,110 housing units at an average density of 4,951.6/km² (12,821.0/mi²), making West Hollywood one of the most densely populated cities in the US. The racial makeup of the city was 86.43% White, 3.78% Asian, 6.40% African American, 0.36% Native American, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 2.87% from other races, and 3.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.80% of the population.
There were 23,120 households, out of which 5.8% had children under the age of eighteen, 16.4% were married couples living together, 4.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 77.5% were non-families. 60.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.0% included someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.53, and the average family size was 2.50.
In the city, population was spread out, with 5.7% under the age of eighteen, 6.3% from eighteen-to-twenty-four, 48.6% from twenty-five to forty-four, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was thirty-nine years. For every 100 females there were 123.4 males. For every 100 females aged eighteen and older, there were 125.2 males.
The weekend population swells to 78,000 as neighbors from nearby communities take advantage of shopping, dining and entertainment.
The median income for a household in the city was $38,914, and the median income for a family was $41,463. Males had a median income of $45,598 versus $35,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $38,302. About 7.3% of families and 11.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.0% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.
According to the city of West Hollywood's demographic profile, gleaned from the 2000 Census, the 2000 Customer Satisfaction Survey, the 1998 Community Needs Assessment Survey, and the 1994 Community Needs Assessment Survey, gay or bisexual men account for 41% of the population. Of these, 60% are between the ages of twenty-five and forty-four.