As a former West Hollywood business owner, I read with interest the Comment column headlined “Why WeHo Business Should Howl” by Charles Crumpley.
He told it like it is. WeHo is so totally antibusiness that it makes sane people sick.
Consider my story. All we wanted to do was open a small wine bar/bistro at Robertson and Santa Monica boulevards. Little did I know what we were in for. The first visit to the counter at City Hall should have told me. Just getting help from the bureaucrats was a major challenge.
I admit I’m not a construction expert, but somehow I thought it should be pretty easy to learn what we had to do. No such luck. The terribly officious, unbelievably unfriendly staff personnel – yes, more than one was there to obstruct and insult – made it clear that they had absolutely no interest in seeing us open the business, let alone succeed.
My experience at the counter made it clear that I would need help. So our contractor, who also had no experience with WeHo bureaucracy, suggested that his construction-savvy “expediter” take over with City Hall. I was delighted to bow out.
After a few weeks, it became clear that there was a home field clique that was designed to make it difficult for business owners, and God forbid, a visiting construction expert.
As we continued to struggle, I got into the issue of valet parking, a big thing in WeHo. Ideally we wanted to have parking right in front of our place, an upscale restaurant. We were connected with one of the valet parking operators who quickly let us know that we would be lucky to get parking at all and that there wasn’t a chance in hell of getting it on Santa Monica in front of our place.
He also suggested that we consider retaining the services of another local expediter who worked with him on retainer to deal with the city. The expediter, as he explained, really knew what was going on at City Hall and could help us get the parking handled. Perhaps he could be helpful with other issues that he was sure would crop up – this he said with a knowing laugh.
We met with the expediter, who it turns out is a member of the local expediter club, a group of five or six local hangers-on who have learned how to play the WeHo political games to help local businesses, at great expense, get through the city’s paper and political jungle.
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