Since 1990, the supposed guiding light of West Hollywood government has been the Strategic Plan, a sprawling document that broadly outlines a vision for the city and contains things like mission statements and goal points. It’s been 23 years since West Hollywood revised its plan, a process which was supposed to start in 2020 but was delayed by COVID.
City Hall is now ready to resume work on the project, which will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, inform city decisions for decades into the future and leave WeHo with DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) dogma essentially written into its DNA.
Compiling a Strategic Plan is laborious, expensive work that requires a lot of time, participation — and consultants. Workshopping and brainstorming are major features. The finished plan is meant to be thorough and comprehensive, and its goals are supposed to reflect what the community as a whole wants.
Whether WeHo’s Strategic Plan will line up with the future its citizens want is difficult to predict.
But City Council will likely press go on Monday evening, when city staff will propose putting the project in the hands of three consultants, primarily architectural powerhouse Gensler.
The proposal directs these consultants to embark upon a familiar slew of research industry activities — focus groups, surveys, studies, listening sessions, outreach — each of which comes with a formidable price tag.
Gensler is charging $225,000 to lead the project and is responsible for delivering City Hall with the actual, finished Strategic Plan — but first, a packed schedule of case studies ($12,000), popup workshops ($4,000 for three) and presentations ($3,000). Gensler will also oversee the work of the two other consultants, Designing in Color and FM3.
Designing in Color, a “collective of architects and designers of culture,” is tasked with doing a deep dive into the city’s current DEI practices, after which they’ll “provide an assessment of gaps and opportunities.” They’ll start by assembling “key community stakeholders” and hosting a 2.5-hour workshop on how to “dismantle racism, bigotry, and gender/sex based bias entrenched in the built environment and communities” — both covered by the $28,250 budget for phase one.
Each phase promises a list of deliverables that are mostly intangible and often indecipherable, such as:
- “A roadmap for the themes and opportunities to explore for the community organizing process based on assessed data with prime consultant and city.”
- “Translation and manifestation assurance that feedback gathered in outreach meetings is accurately conveyed to prime consultants and corresponds in the planning documents.”
- “Identification and implementation of location-specific spaces for marginalized identities involved in the project”
- “A series of site and spatial drawings highlighting key community voices and relationships found during community organizing process”
- “The development of imagery that repositions power, place, and privileges of WeHo’s image and identify of community/visitors”
Designing in Color’s work will cost taxpayers $130,290.
Finally, the city is looking to sign a nearly $30,000 contract with firm FM3 to conduct a series of polls.
Absent in the staff report is information on the positive outcomes, if any, of adopting city’s first two Strategic Plans.