DEAR WEHO 📬 Tread carefully with new cannabis club


Dear City Council – As a long-time resident on Laurel Avenue in Center City, I am concerned about issues of public safety and urban blight at the shuttered properties on the north side of Santa Monica Blvd. at Laurel Avenue – these include the historic French Marketplace Building and the Spanish Colonial Building that once housed a tanning salon and other small businesses as well as an adjoining early education school. In a report at the most recent Public Safety Commission meeting on December 11, Block by Block General Manager Erica Leon specifically mentioned that the closed school needs special attention as it has become a “hot spot.”  I personally have seen Sheriff’s Deputies at the sight on two occasions during the past year addressing squatters.

Public correspondence for City Council’s December 18 Agenda Item 5.A. from Afriat Consulting on behalf of Valkyrie Retail LLC (Villa Noble) –-  which plans a new 4-story cannabis club in place of the tanning salon at 8001 SMB and the school at 1105 Laurel  — is quite an eyeopener as it reveals behind-the-scenes maneuvers to bring the project to fruition while showing no regard for its effects on the neighborhood. 

There was a sparsely attended initial neighborhood meeting – at Plummer Park — about a year ago at which I raised concerns about the sorely inadequate onsite parking for the planned new cannabis club.  Now there are public safety concerns as well.

As Council considers granting further license extensions to Valkyrie Retail, please ask City staff about its letter of September 10, 2023, to the development team that had a list of requested project changes/corrections.  It would have been tantalizing to see this letter in time for tonight’s meeting, but, then again, I just found out about it in the public correspondence and there’s no time for a public records request.

And please note that the staff report on Page 7 states: “The City collects cannabis tax revenues from the businesses that are open in the City and cannabis tax revenue has decreased since Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. For FY 2023, revenues were at approximately $1.5 million (approximately $400 thousand less than FY 2020).” 


Has the promise of an Emerald Village been overstated and do public safety concerns outweigh the public benefits stemming from these businesses?  Let’s have a “preventative” public safety community conversation about what’s happening at this site as well as other shuttered commercial properties…before another fire.


 –Victor Omelczenko, 23-Year West Hollywood Resident

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About Victor Omelczenko
Victor Omelczenko has lived in West Hollywood going on two decades during which he’s served as a Public Facilities Commissioner, an advocate for bicycling and historic preservation, and someone interested in things occurring beyond his nice rent-stabilized courtyard building in Center City.

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6 months ago

Tons of pot shops but not one gun store. Guess getting high outweighs your personal safety in”progressive” cities.

6 months ago

I heard it’s 4-story cannabis club with a Palestinian Restaurant on top ! SHM

6 months ago

The residents never got to weight in on whether or not we even wanted an “Emerald Village.” What we were sold was just a few of each kind of pot we seem to be inundated with them (and more to come). Crime up, homeless numbers increasing, taxes highest in county, defund the police, empty store fronts, the number of median priced retail and restaurants are dwindling. Pots shops and bars..that’s what we have these days. The city is really heading in the crapper. Failed policies have brought us increased urban blights yet they still push their agenda foreword. They… Read more »

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