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LA Weekly Takes on WeHo's Politics, Planning Approach

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West Hollywood is an elitist, development-loving city that's squeezing out the middle class. Or so says the Los Angeles Weekly in a sweeping story that follows various city councilpersons, the editor of the WeHo News, and various activists for a profile of a city that has people fearing that WeHo, "which aggressively markets itself as "one of the most progressive cities" in the United States, is being run like a private business" by those in charge. Here's an excerpt: "Celebrating the city's 25th anniversary, West Hollywood elected leaders portray the densely populated "urban village" as an oasis of tolerance, diversity and creativity, where celebrities such as Elton John and Sandra Bullock hang out and party after the Oscars and city leaders faithfully tend to residents' needs with social services and "innovative" policies such as requiring emergency training for occupants of high-rises in case of a fire or earthquake.

"It's going in a great direction," says current West Hollywood Mayor Abbe Land, who this month hands the job of mayor back to Heilman. A sassy, hard-core feminist whose day job is co–chief executive officer of the Saban Free Clinic in Los Angeles, she says, "We've accomplished a lot over the past 25 years, and we're still committed to spending dollars on social services."

But community activists and renegade City Hall insiders say something quite different: that vindictive politics reigns, big development trumps citizen concerns, and deep-pocketed incumbents maintain their long hold on power by taking money from developers, fighting term limits and encouraging anti-outsider cliques.

"The political culture is very closed," says Lauren Meister, who ran twice for City Council, most recently in 2009. "You're either one of the insiders or you're not. As much as we'd like to think that West Hollywood is very progressive, the politics is actually very old-school." [Pavilions via Stephen Parisi's Hollywood Hills Blog Down]
· How a progressive town founded on renters' rights and diversity ended up gridlocked, angry and elitist [Weekly]