Whistleblower: City Hall let TomTom and PUMP operate without licenses

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TomTom Restaurant & Bar in West Hollywood has been operating without a business license since 2019 according to city records, which verify allegations first brought to our attention by a whistleblower within City Hall, who has been granted anonymity in order to discuss the issue without fear of retaliation.

Additionally, PUMP Restaurant, formerly located at 8948 Santa Monica Blvd., had also been operating on an expired license from February 2023 until its closure last summer, the whistleblower reported.

A regulatory business license is required by West Hollywood city code for 34 specific business types, including bars and restaurants, to operate within city limits. 

TomTom is owned by Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd, along with junior partners Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz. PUMP, which gained notoriety as the setting for the reality TV show “Vanderpump Rules,” was owned by Vanderpump and Todd. 

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“The nighttime code compliance officer reported this to Danny Rivas, but was told to let it go,” said the whistleblower, a city employee dismayed by the favoritism shown by their superiors in City Hall. They describe a demoralized staff and a “buddy system,” where officers need approval to issue a citation. The whistleblower and their colleagues are baffled by the lack of action taken against these celebrity-owned establishments.

A public records request confirmed that both businesses are non-compliant, and it also verified the expiration of PUMP’s license at the former location.

We reached out to Danny Rivas, Director of Public Safety and Code Compliance Manager, about the issue. Rivas replied to questions regarding the expired licenses:

“In regard to Tom Tom, its business license is not valid. As with any business with a delinquent business license, the City works to bring the licenses up to date. When a business is delinquent, the City contacts the business to seek compliance. The City’s Neighborhood and Business Safety Division collaborates with other City Departments to ensure proactive measures are in place, identifying businesses that fail to establish or renew a business license and remedying delinquencies. In reference to your inquiry about our Neighborhood and Business Safety Division being instructed not to enforce laws on a business, the City’s goal has always been—and will continue to be—to enforce the municipal code. We work with businesses that may be out of compliance to bring them into compliance voluntarily.”

When asked if a business can pay business taxes to the city without a license, Rivas answered: “Thank you for your follow-up question. We are looking into what occurred and are working to resolve it amicably. Regards, Danny Rivas.”

However, this explanation does not clarify why Tom Tom or PUMP have never been cited, whether they are current on business tax payments, or how such non-compliance could persist for an extended period.

We also reached out to a member of the Business License Commission to inquire about their role. It appears there is no connection between expired business licenses and the Business License Commission, except for matters related to cannabis.

 

 

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Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago

I completely agree with all of the criticism of Danny Rivas and his imperial approach to his job as a public servant, and I agree that David Wilson as the captain of the ship is responsible for the transgressions of senior managment. What is missing is the accountability for the complicity of City Attorney Lauren Langer for failing to do anything about the lack of ethics at city hall. People talk about various lawsuits against the city for violation of public trust, but (so far) no one has talked about a State Bar complaint against Ms. Langer and her firm.… Read more »

Jasper
Jasper
1 month ago

You can bet there’s a lot of palm greasing going on at weho city hall. Nothing new really. I’ve been waiting years for the California attorney general to start pressing charges against these crooks.

Deep Throat
Deep Throat
1 month ago

Danny Rivas knows how to protect himself, he’s a smart man. Employees know that he gives verbal directions, nothing in writing. A staff member tried to stand their ground during a department meeting and Danny responded by saying “if you are not willing to do it, we will find someone that will.” You are prohibited from questioning him and if you do, you’re “against him.” No one is complicit, everyone is just trying to not get fired or be harassed to the point of wanting to quit. Retaliation is real and the work environment is toxic and hostile. Most of… Read more »

Ernesto Sportello
Ernesto Sportello
1 month ago

Gasp! You mean Weho is run by corrupt fools? Shocking! Absolutely shocking.

Olen
Olen
1 month ago

Who is this anonymous whistleblower loser in city hall that obeyed their fraudulent higher ups for “fear of retaliation” instead of following protocol and issuing the citations? They are just as complicit in this corruption as their boss. If they’d stood up to the corruption and gotten fired they could’ve sued and won money in a lawsuit for having done the right thing. How good would that feel?

Protocol
Protocol
1 month ago
Reply to  Olen

It seems you did not read the article and comments because it seems that the protocol is whatever management says.

I don’t recognize anyone at city hall anymore and as a resident, I hate going in. I used to know everyone and I loved the cashier that always had candy for us. City Hall was familiar and friendly and now it’s just another corporation, no one says hi, bye, or even smiles.

CH Employee who is fed up with dictatorship!
CH Employee who is fed up with dictatorship!
1 month ago

This is no surprise on how fake Danny Rivas is. His laugh is one of the most fake and annoying laughs a person can have. That alone should be a red flag! The way he treats council members, higher staff, and the public isn’t the same way he treats his employees and lower staff. He looks down upon them and often makes employees who do not have a higher education feel inferior. This is obnoxious taking into consideration his education isn’t even that great. Knowing how to kiss ass isn’t a degree, DANNY!! Reports were make to Jackie Rocco about… Read more »

CH Personnel
CH Personnel
1 month ago

Please don’t do that: 1) His laugh has nothing to do with it. 2) Their city of residency is irrelevant. Let us stick to the facts, no personal attacks. I agree with everything else as it is factual: 1) Danny is 100% different when dealing with regular employees. He does look down at us all and makes it clear that he is the boss. 2) He absolutely knows who to please to get what he wants. 3) Jackie & HR have received complaints about Danny and he was made aware. There was no follow-up. Complaints were ghosted and possibly not… Read more »

Change is Needed
Change is Needed
1 month ago

I imagine this must be frustrating to the staff that is responsible for enforcing the muni code. Imagine being told “go issue a citation to this business but do not touch this business.” Being unaware that they are just following directions, our anger is directed at them for their favoritism. All along Dan Rivas was hiding behind his staff. The allegations are backed up by his statement to Larry. He did not deny that he is ultimately the one that determines who gets cited and who does not. If his statement is true that they work to gain voluntary compliance… Read more »

Danny Rivas
Danny Rivas
1 month ago

Given the information provided on the comments, I googled “Danny Rivas” which led me to find that he is actually “Daniel Rivas” who was the Community Preservation and Code Enforcement Manager at the City of Santa Clarita. I found an interesting pattern when reading all the articles tied to his name. Turns out he loves to be in the public spotlight and is all about numbers. “We picked up x amount of signs, we cleaned up x amount of encampments, etcétera.” “Dan Rivas, the city’s community preservation manager, stood at a city yard on Springbrook Avenue” reads one article. It’s… Read more »

The End
The End
1 month ago

The City Manager is directly responsible for the atrocious behavior of upper management’s actions.

David Wilson must step down along with Rivas, for defunding the sheriffs, and Jimenez for sweeping everything (regarding Rivas and other friends), under the rug. What a conflict of interest.

Now is the time
Now is the time
1 month ago

All of this information should reach media attention! More investigating needs to be done. I am a former CH employee who left years ago and have substantial evidence that shows how corrupt HR is when you file a harassment complaint. I am willing to present this evidence to the public is more people come forward. I think should be brought up on the next council meeting. All of these crooks need to be placed on administrative leave and investigation should be opened. Current CH employees should go on strike and demand better treatment. It is sad to see that this… Read more »

Stay informed
Stay informed
1 month ago

Put in a public request through the city clerk online. Legally they must respond back to you within 10 business days what ever information you are requesting.

E.g. a list of all the businesses that have not paid for their business license and business tax license.

Paper trail paper trail. those are Public records and should be disclosed.

Had Enough
Had Enough
1 month ago
Reply to  Stay informed

Good luck with that. During a rent decrease case I had to continually fight for records I was entitled to, one time taking 3 weeks to get the docs. The hearing examiner Brandon Lawrence requested docs from my landlord as additional evidence, but told the landlord he didn’t need to provide the docs to me.

Stay informed
Stay informed
1 month ago
Reply to  Had Enough

When they don’t fufill you need to report them to the State. Here is the link to call and see what can be done. This is strict and gets penalties.

https://post.ca.gov/california-public-records-act-faqs

How Appropriate
How Appropriate
1 month ago

Rivas answered: “Thank you for your follow-up question“ has to be the funniest thing I have read today. This is said by someone who has been caught red handed. If the city’s web is correct, there should be nothing to look into and he should already have the answer. Seems like Rivas and the city are trying to put a BS statement together. I can already imagine the conference calls being placed to sweep this under the rug. No matter what they say, they have no credibility. It is time for David Wilson to retire and take all these corrupt… Read more »

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