Citizens Agenda: WeHo Council Candidates on Sheriff’s Services and Sports Facilities

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June-Election-Candidates

In early December, WEHOville asked West Hollywood residents what issues they wanted candidates in the upcoming City Council election to address. We received hundreds of responses and boiled them down to 13 key issues. We have asked each of the four candidates in the June 2 special City Council election to offer his or her positions on these issues. On each Monday through today we have published one or two of the questions and the candidates’ responses. On March 23, candidates addressed traffic issues. On March 30 candidates answered questions about parking. On April 6 they talked about pedestrian safety issues and the City Council deputy system. On April 13 the candidates answered questions about historic preservation and development. On April 20 candidates discussed issues regarding campaign finance reform. On April 27 the candidates discussed affordable housing. Today, in the last of the series, the candidates discuss the Sheriff’s Department’s services and local sports facilities.

Beverly Hills, a city of roughly the same population as West Hollywood, has its own police department. Given incidents such as the shooting by deputies at 939 Palm and allegations of anti-gay behavior raised by the L.A. LGBT Center a few years ago, should West Hollywood have its own police department

LARRY BLOCK

I do not believe West Hollywood needs to have its own police department. Funding and running our own police department and the bureaucracy that entails will cost us more than our current $18 million. One of the most expensive budget items is employee pensions, and our own police department would also need its own pension plan. As a small city we can update our contract to leverage any special needs.

Also, having our own police department does not guarantee that we will have better results. While there have been instances of problems with our sheriff’s station my personal experience with Capt. Gary Honings and Lt. Dave Smith are that they both lead the force with strength and compassion.

Last week at the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Oversight Commission meeting at the West Hollywood Library many citizens came to talk about racial profiling as well as ways to improve communication. The goal of the Oversight Commission is more transparency. We need more transparency in a) public confidence in our sheriff and b) subpoena power of the Oversight Commission. With these tools the public will develop a stronger sense of comfort with the Sheriff’s Department overall.

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COLE ETTMAN

No. The City cannot afford the expense or liability of having its own police department. With a rising crime rate, what we need are more deputies on the beat to prevent robberies and violent crime, and increase traffic enforcement. The best way to handle any issues between law enforcement and the LGBT community is to forge a meaningful, ongoing dialogue with our local deputies. With new leadership, we can help build a stronger relationship between residents and deputies for a safe community.

JOHN HEILMAN

No response.

HEIDI SHINK

No. While I understand why that would seem like an appealing idea, a West Hollywood Police Department would simply be economically unfeasible. Aside from the costs of establishing an infrastructure (buildings, equipment, a fleet of vehicles, etc.) and the cost of training, the most pressing expense would be the public pensions, which would be part of the officers’ contracts. As a contract city, we get a good deal financially from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and the level of services provided would not be ones that we could afford were we to establish our own police department.

That being said, there is much that we can do to improve the quality of policing that we receive. In response to the alleged anti-LGBTQ behavior by some ceputies, I would implement mandatory trainings which would focus on our gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered residents. Additionally, because of the marked uptick in crime that has been reported— especially on the Eastside and the in the nightlife and entertainment districts— I would push for increased patrols citywide. I will also work with the Sheriff’s Station to expand the community oriented policing (“COPs”) program and integrate that program with our Neighborhood Watches to foster closer communication and relationships between residents and deputies.

The city is spending more than $10 million an acre to redevelop West Hollywood Park, yet it provides no place for most local sports leagues to play. Does that make sense to you? And if not, how would you propose the city address that issue?

 LARRY BLOCK

 Above question is only partially true. The new gymnasium will allow for dodgeball and other indoor sports leagues. It does not have a baseball field, and I hope that the park can be adapted to create a space for some special events. At the West Hollywood Park design review I suggested spacing the trees so that the open field could be adaptable for special events and perhaps a baseball field too.

We need to look at our overall park land and make sure we can meet the needs of all our residents in our parks. That includes basketball, swimming, tennis, baseball or soccer, dodge ball, and some space for our dogs to run. Dog parks need to be park of our park plans throughout the city.

COLE ETTMAN

 No, it does not make sense. Rather than have the support we deserve from our city, we had to fight them tooth and nail to get a dog park included in their plans for a glass and concrete events center. We should not make generating revenue the basis of developing spaces that are meant for the enjoyment of residents.

How these decisions get made – without meaningful public input and guidance – seriously undermines public trust and threatens the credibility of our elected City Council. Planning for a project of this importance and magnitude should begin and end with full public participation in the decision-making process. No more, no less.

There is no effort on behalf of the Council to identify and develop substantial additional green spaces for our community that include outdoor recreation. I plan on increasing opportunities for residents of ALL ages to partake in recreational, educational and community building activities.

JOHN HEILMAN

 No response.

HEIDI SHINK

CitiWhile West Hollywood Park is a wonderful public facility, I believe that there are better ways in which we can spend our money, especially given the lack of areas for local sports teams to play.

I have long been a proponent of pocket parks as a way to get the maximum recreational value out of minimal space, and while pocket parks may not always be large enough to accommodate sports that require a large playing area (e.g. football), many other sports can be played in them. However, with open green space at such a premium, I do believe that we need to start examining where and how we can provide more sports-oriented recreational facilities for our residents, even if that means indoor facilities.

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Her Airness
Her Airness
9 years ago

It’s disgusting that they took out the baseball/softball diamond. There was only one in the city and they took it away. I would love to have a field back in weho. Instead I pay the city of LA and BH to use theirs – money that could stay in my own city. NO on Heilman!

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
9 years ago

Actually there are cities that do require policemen to live in the city (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia among them; NYC and Chicago I believe used to) and it has been upheld by courts. But there is no way they could afford to live in WeHo – many have families with 2+ kids, and that requires salaries way in excess of $100,000 a year.

Manny
Manny
9 years ago

Todd, employers can’t tell employees where they must live…..We still live in a free country.

Flores St.
Flores St.
9 years ago

The City should plan for more open space on the MTA lot.

Additionally, we are not in a drought because every 35,000 residents of LA have access to 2 swimming pools. What a ridiculous comment. We are not dying of thirst, nor will we ever be.

Disco Dan
Disco Dan
9 years ago

Interesting and “telling” that John Heilman had NO RESPONSE to either questions ! !

fine7760
9 years ago
Reply to  Disco Dan

Beverly Hills recruits many of it’s officers from other departments. They don’t have to deal with as much crime but also enjoy better pay and benefits. Can we really afford having our own department? In addition there would be the cost of police cars, equipment and on going training. The RTD/MTA had their own department and it was abolished. They went from officers that had been terminated by other departments for police brutality and made the LASD look like kindergarten cops to incompetent clowns that were the laughingstock by other departments.

Alison
Alison
9 years ago

What they did to West Hollywood Park is a good reason NOT to vote for Heilman again. They took OUT a baseball diamond for their newly designed park and now everyone is clamoring for one to be put back in. It will never happen if Heilman is back on the Council.

Todd Bianco
9 years ago

I’ve never heard the cost quantified for our own PD. Pensions are a red herring because we already pay for their pensions in the fee charged to the City plus I’m sure there are multi-employer plans the City can join for this kind of thing. Like CalPERS for the City’s staff. I also wish there was some sort of requirement for officers/sheriffs to live in the City that they serve. Things might change then. Bottom line is that I’d like to see what it would As far as the park, the two pools will be used heavily. Many people don’t… Read more »

Randy
Randy
9 years ago

“Analyses by various water districts, along with scientific studies, conclude that pools and their surrounding hardscapes use about the same amount of water as a lawn of the same size.”

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-pool-haters-20140913-story.html

The aquatics program is tremendously popular, and I commend the city for including an extra pool in their park plan.

fine7760
9 years ago
Reply to  Randy

Randy, think about it. The city is going to drain the old pool and must fill the new two new pools. Perhaps two pools will better meet the citizens needs but at this time of sever water shortage does it seem fair to also ask property owners to remove their lawns and shrubbery while the city consumes such a large amount of water?

The city also stated the mediums will no longer be watered. Last night I observed Santa Monica Bl. flooded with water as the sprinklers were soaking the grass and shrubbery.

fine7760
9 years ago

We have a reported water shortage yet the city is building not one but two swimming pools in West Hollywood Park. Doesn’t make sense to me. It won’t be much of a park anyway. A nice wall to wall concrete monument to those on the city council

Manny
Manny
9 years ago

West Hollywood Park isn’t big enough for how far I can hit a baseball.

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