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Draft ordinance to implement a WeHo Citywide minimum wage approved

Ordinance Must Return to Council for Second Reading to be Enacted, which is Anticipated on November 15, 2021

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Photo Credit: City of West Hollywood

WEST HOLLYWOOD– The City Council of the City of West Hollywood has unanimously approved a draft Ordinance to establish a citywide minimum wage and guaranteed leave provisions.

The draft Ordinance will create a hotel worker minimum wage of $17.64 per hour starting on January 1, 2022, and will create a phased approach for minimum wage increases for large businesses and small businesses starting on January 1, 2022 with adjustments every six months to create consistency in the minimum wage citywide by July 1, 2023.

Starting on July 1, 2023, the citywide minimum wage for all businesses will be $17.64 (plus two cost of living adjustments as part of the phased schedule for increases). Following that, the citywide minimum wage for all businesses will be increased each July 1 by the Annual Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) Adjustment.

The City Council approved a revised version of the draft Ordinance at its Adjourned City Council Meeting, which took place on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, via teleconference.

The approved draft Ordinance must return to the City Council for second reading to be enacted; this in anticipated to take place on November 15, 2021.

“The minimum wage discussion can be a challenging one,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister. “I want to ensure that all voices are heard in this discussion and that workers in our city are provided a wage that they can live on, that our businesses can recover in a post-COVID economy, and that our residents on limited incomes are able to afford goods and services in our city. I believe the approach we’ve crafted to phase implementation of the citywide minimum wage over time moves us forward and meets all three of these goals.”

“As we recover from the pandemic, it is important to ensure recovery includes everyone,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Sepi Shyne. “There is undeniable income inequality in this nation and wages have remained stagnant compared to the growing cost of living. This has caused workers to remain in poverty no matter how hard they work. I am proud of our unanimous decision last night to raise the minimum wage for workers to one of the highest levels in the country and include sick leave and personal time off provisions for all. West Hollywood has now proclaimed that we want our workers to be as successful as our businesses. We took into account the needs of working people as well as the requests from businesses to phase in the higher wage. West Hollywood has always been a creative leader on many fronts and now we are a leader in creating equity for workers and helping to close the gap in income inequality.”

“Raising the minimum wage to the highest in the country is us using our small shoe, our 1.9 square-mile shoe, that we know leaves an enormous footprint,” said Councilmember John D’Amico. “We can change the world and I have a sense we are starting something much bigger for workers across the country.”

“As someone who has worked a minimum wage job, I understand the challenges of being able to cover the growing costs of basic expenses such as rent and food without even taking into effect the massive number of other bills people now face due to the substantial pay gap in our country,” said Councilmember John M. Erickson. “Together, as a City Council, we unanimously put the needs of working people — and of the unique businesses that make our city great — on the table. We began this conversation 10 months ago and we focused on how we, as a city, can lead the way in helping people earn more, while also prioritizing paid sick time and other important provisions critical to uplifting the health of our community, overall.”

“West Hollywood has raised the wage and is, once again, leading the national conversation,” said Councilmember Lindsey P. Horvath. “Cost of living is rising everywhere — it’s getting more and more expensive to live, work, and raise a family. Our minimum wage should reflect that reality and I am proud to be part of this thoughtful step for our City. The wealth generated by an increased minimum wage will raise more people into the middle class, drive more consumer spending, and create a more stable, prosperous, and business-friendly economy. This victory belongs to the courageous people who came forward to say we can and must do better. I am ever-grateful for the workers who commit themselves every day to making our City such a special place.”

As background, the City Council held a special study session on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, to discuss potential changes to the City’s minimum wage, following Council direction to staff in February 2021 to review the minimum wage in West Hollywood and how the minimum wage relates to the living wage. During the study session, the City Council directed staff to draft an Ordinance establishing a citywide minimum wage and hotel worker minimum wage. The City Council’s direction included the following items:

1) Establish a citywide minimum wage for small and large businesses;

2) Establish a citywide hotel worker minimum wage;

3) Include sick leave provisions in the citywide minimum wage;

4) Include provisions for transitional job programs, learners’ programs, non-profits, collective bargaining exemption, and service charges.

The City Council, on October 18, 2021, reviewed a draft Ordinance prepared by City staff and provided additional direction for staff to return with a revision of the draft Ordinance.

During its Adjourned City Council Meeting on Wednesday, November 3, 2021, the City Council received this revision and then took steps to refine it with a phased approach for implementation, as follows:

  1. Effective January 1, 2022, hotel employers shall pay hotel workers no less than $17.64 per hour, to be increased each July 1 by the annual CPI-W adjustment. The paid sick leave, vacation, or personal necessity time set out in the draft Ordinance goes into effect for these hotel workers on this date;
  2. Effective January 1, 2022, employers with 50 employees or more shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $15.50 per hour; On July 1, 2022, such employers shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $16.50 per hour and paid sick leave, vacation, or personal necessity time as set out in the draft Ordinance to go into effect on this date; On January 1, 2023, such employers shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $17.50 per hour;
  3. Effective January 1, 2022, employers with fewer than 50 employees shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $15.00 per hour; On July 1, 2022, such employers shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $16.00 per hour and paid sick leave, vacation, or personal necessity time as set out in the draft Ordinance to go into effect on this date; On January 1, 2023, such employers shall pay employees no less than the hourly wage of $17.00 per hour.
  4. Effective July 1, 2023, a citywide minimum wage will go into effect for all businesses. This minimum wage rate will be $17.64 per hour, plus two CPI-W adjustments: one on July 1, 2022, and one on July 1, 2023. The specific CPI-W adjustments for July 1, 2022, and July 1, 2023 are not yet known, as the Consumer Price Index has not yet been determined for these dates, but it is likely that the citywide minimum wage rate on July 1, 2023, will be more than $18.00 per hour. Annually thereafter, the minimum wage rate will increase by the annual CPI-W adjustment.

The number of employees shall be determined as follows:

(a) For businesses operational in 2019 or earlier, the number of employees for calendar year 2022 and 2023 shall be based on the average number of employees employed per quarter during the 2019 calendar year.

(b) The number of employees shall be determined using the employer’s total number of individual employees within the United States, regardless of where those employees work.

Additional provisions in the draft Ordinance include:

  1. Provision for the distribution of service charges as follows: Amounts collected as service charges shall be paid to employees and hotel workers equitably and according to the services that are or appear to be related to the description of the amounts given by an employer or hotel employer to the customers; and
  2. Provision for transitional employers as follows: Transitional employers that provide supportive services and transitional jobs for the hardest to employ may pay each employee in a transitional job an hourly wage that is below the established minimum wage during the first 18 months of the employee’s work in the transitional job.

Based on a living wage calculator developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the appropriate living wage for a single person with no children in Los Angeles County would be $19.35 per hour.

The original proposal was intended to create regional consistency for hotel workers. However, while the City Council was discussing the original proposal, the West Hollywood City Council determined that if this wage was regionally appropriate for hotel workers given the significantly high cost of living in the West Hollywood region, all workers — not just hotel workers — must make a wage upon which someone can live.

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West Hollywood

Unprovoked attack in WeHo may be latest in a string of violent crimes

McGrath spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries due to injuries that doctors told him were caused by a blunt object

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File photo of LASD deputies making an arrest -unrelated- (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – After an evening out with friends in West Hollywood at the Abbey on November15, Matthew McGrath found himself in hospital the next day with a fractured jaw and his wallet and mobile phone missing.

According to McGrath, who has lived in WeHo for five years, he was walking home along San Vicente Boulevard when he heard “some slurs, some profanity.” “I’m not exactly clear on what, [happened next] but sort of a few minutes later, I just felt a really blunt force to my head, blacked out and was knocked unconscious,” he told KTLA.

McGrath spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries due to injuries that doctors told him were caused by a blunt object KTLA also noted.

Matthew McGrath via GoFundMe page

He said that he has filed a report with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s substation about the assault and theft but as of Friday had not received a response.

KTLA also reported that the night after McGrath was assaulted, a person was beaten and stabbed on Santa Monica Boulevard. David Cook, 44, was arrested for that stabbing last month. There were also two similar attacks involving a different man using a baseball bat and a boxcutter on Nov. 18 resulted in another arrest last month the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station said in a statement posted to the webpage for the LASD.

“I’ve always felt safe in this neighborhood,” McGrath told KTLA. He observed that although his attack was unprovoked given the other cases and arrests the timing seems suspicious. “We get a crime here or there in West Hollywood, but I have never heard of it happening multiple days in a row,” he said. “Similar assaults, similar attacks, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

GoFundMe page has been created to help McGrath.

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WeHo attack leaves victim shaken, could be part of larger crime trend

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West Hollywood

The Los Angeles Blade celebrates West Hollywood as it turns 37

The City of West Hollywood was incorporated on November 29, 1984 by a coalition of LGBTQ activists, seniors, and renters

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Courtesy of the City of West Hollywood

LOS ANGELES – Incorporated on this date 37 years ago, the City of West Hollywood became the 84th city in Los Angeles County. The “Creative City” was formed during an extremely difficult time for the LGBTQ+ people who lived in the region as the HIV/AIDS pandemic took countless lives.

The city’s founding was also unique as it brought together an eclectic mix of renters, seniors, LGBTQ+ and others to form the basis of what is arguably one of the world’s most prominent LGBTQ+ communities.

The spirit of that inclusivity and free-spirited thinking continues today even as the city and the surrounding greater LA region has survived yet another pandemic.

Celebrate West Hollywood’s 37th Birthday!

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West Hollywood

City of West Hollywood marks World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show support for people living with HIV, & commemorate people died from HIV/AIDS

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Street view artist’s rendering of future WeHo AIDS Monument via https://aidsmonument.org/

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Each year, the City of West Hollywood recognizes World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 United Nations World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention and is held each year on December 1.

Every year, United Nations agencies, governments, nonprofit organizations, and civil society join together to campaign around specific themes related to AIDS. World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate people who have passed away due to HIV/AIDS.

The international theme of this year’s #WorldAIDSDay is “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.”

“So many have left us much too soon due to HIV and AIDS. The City’s annual recognition of World AIDS Day is an opportunity for us to commemorate those lost to AIDS and support those living with HIV,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister. “We remember the extraordinary loss of loved ones over the last four decades, as well as our community’s remarkable resilience in the face of that loss. The City will continue to fight to end stigma, to support access to medical and emotional care, and to provide resources and support for those in need as we continue to work toward the day we can celebrate the end of suffering and loss caused by AIDS.”

 This year, the City of West Hollywood will recognize World AIDS Day with special events and programming, including:

  • AIDSWatch, the electronic memorial to those lost to HIV, which will be viewable on the City of West Hollywood’s WeHoTV broadcast channel — Spectrum channel 10 within the City of West Hollywood — on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 beginning at midnight through 11:59 p.m.; and
  • The Paul Andrew Starke Warrior Awards presentation, which will take place virtually on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 6 p.m., and can be viewed on the City’s WeHoTV YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/wehotv. The event will feature the Warrior Awards, which are given to outstanding employees or volunteers of local agencies that offer HIV/AIDS and/or substance abuse prevention and care services. This year’s honorees are: Darrin Aiken – APLA Health; Jamie Baker – Being Alive; Derald Hunter – Los Angeles LGBT Center’s WeHo Life program; Triana Maldonado – Friends Community Center; Anil Patel – Alliance for Housing and Healing; William Alexis Rogel – The C.I.T.Y. x1 Youth Group; and Desiree Jade Sol – AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The event will also feature an update about the City of West Hollywood’s HIV Zero Initiative from Aaron Celious, Ph.D. of the Maroon Society. 

The City of West Hollywood is currently seeking feedback about stigma experienced as a result of sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status. The City’s Social Services Division has launched a short survey, as part of efforts to implement the City’s HIV Zero Initiative. Community members, regardless of HIV status, are encouraged to provide feedback. A goal of the survey is to understand how stigma impacts access to care and overall health and wellness. The survey is available at: https://www.weho.org/services/social-services/hiv-aids-resources.

The onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic had a significant impact in West Hollywood. The disease’s elevated infection rate among gay men caused a devastatingly high number of deaths in the City. The City of West Hollywood was one of the first government entities to provide social services grants to local HIV/AIDS organizations. The City of West Hollywood sponsored one of the first AIDS awareness campaigns in the country in October 1985 and the City’s response to the AIDS crisis has been recognized as a model for other cities, nationally and globally.

The City of West Hollywood actively participates in the development of programs that can bring awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and services to people living with HIV/AIDS. In January 2015, the City announced its vision to become an ‘HIV Zero’ city. The City is currently implementing its HIV Zero Initiative.

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