JORDAN COCKERAM | Making West Hollywood a business-friendly city again

Supporting our business community is essential to the prosperity of our city. After all, the success of our business is the success of our city.

Historically, the relationship between the city and our business community has been strong. But recently, our city council made decisions that severed that relationship.

Fixing this relationship and getting West Hollywood back on track is of the utmost importance to me, for a myriad of reasons.

One, it’s just the right thing to do. Our city has become the beacon it is thanks to businesses that have tried their luck in what was once a scary, unincorporated part of LA County.

Secondly, I am not at all oblivious to the fact that West Hollywood provides the incredible services it provides to our community through the tax revenue they collect from businesses in the city.

That’s why I don’t understand why anyone, especially council members or candidates, who should be better informed, because they’re supposed to be very well versed and knowledgeable about city finances, would support ordinances that burden our business community.

It is not fair to apply the same rules and regulations to companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars and to have thousands of employees in family stores with a handful of employees who can barely afford to keep their doors open each month. The City of West Hollywood website states that 74.44% of businesses in West Hollywood have between 1 and 4 employees. 87.83% have less than ten1.

So this order doesn’t just affect a huge number of small businesses, it affects a HUGE number of small businesses. The ordinance that was passed by the City Council on November 15, 2021 is called the West Hollywood Minimum Wage Ordinance. This ordinance not only increased the minimum wage, it also added other requirements for companies to implement, such as vacation, sick leave, and paid time off for part-time employees. (by the way – the city council is supposed to represent the people of West Hollywood.

Currently, only 5% of West Hollywood employees live in West Hollywood, and only 1% of those workers who also live in West Hollywood are part-time.2 This seems to help workers from outside our community much more than that helps the workers who live here). I understand the thinking and good nature behind this, but we can’t apply the same general policies to every business in town. What works for a company of 500 employees does not work for a company of five.

I spoke with business owners across the city to hear their stories and thoughts. One of the people I spoke with, whom I will refer to as “Taylor” in this article, is a real estate agent. For anyone who knows me personally, you can guess why I chose the name Taylor for his alias. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to meet me yet, you’ll find out within two minutes of my conversation that I’m a borderline obsessive Taylor Swift fan.

Taylor has a small office in West Hollywood with two part-time assistants. She actually got her assistants from the Los Angeles LGBT Center youth employment program! For anyone reading this who isn’t familiar with the program, the LA LGBT Center has a program that helps LGBTQ+ youth who are struggling to find work, need work experience, or want to be put in relationship with a mentor, do just that.

It’s a great program, and I’ll include information on how you can get involved at the bottom of the article. Taylor didn’t even really need an assistant, but she supports the program and, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she wanted to pay it forward and provide an opportunity for someone who could benefit from it.

Originally, she only had one assistant, but she decided to have a second one because she discovered that another person in the program needed experience and a source of income. . Her assistants have flexible hours, which gives them the freedom and ability to pursue full-time opportunities in the career fields they want to work in.

Now, with the passage of West Hollywood’s Minimum Wage Ordinance, Taylor is required to pay them increased hourly wages and provide them with paid time off, paid sick time, and paid time off. Taylor doesn’t want to have to fire either employee.

She hired them BECAUSE she wanted to give them an opportunity when they needed it most. But it puts a huge burden on his business. We see the ads on grocery carts, the flyers in our mailboxes, and the posts on our Instagram timelines — we know real estate is a competitive field in our city. Taylor was trying to do a good thing by helping her two assistants, and now she faces the difficult decision, and the very real possibility, of having to either let one or both of her assistants go, close her business, or move her to across the street from Los Angeles.

I want to make it very clear, unequivocal, that I absolutely support raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing employee benefits. What I don’t support is the city passing blanket ordinances that treat all businesses in West Hollywood the same, when they aren’t treated at all.

If we make it harder to start a business in West Hollywood, we’re not stopping big businesses from opening stores here, we’re stopping small businesses owned by black people, women, AAPIs, LGBTQ+, to Russians, etc. businesses to come here because the barriers to entry are so high. We’ll tell them it’s too hard to open a business here, and they should do it across the street instead. We want these small business owners to come to West Hollywood.

There must be exclusions for small businesses like Taylor in the ordinances we pass as a city. I want, and expect, large corporations that can afford to offer higher wages and benefits to their employees to do just that. But I don’t want the neighborhood family shops, the local ethnic shops, the ones that make West Hollywood the amazing city that it is, the city that I fell in love with almost ten years ago when I moved here, collapse and disappear in the name of struggles between councils for politics and ideologies.

We have two choices as a city.

We can either push our neighboring towns to join us in raising the minimum wage and extra benefits so the scales don’t tip against us, or we have to make changes to the West Hollywood minimum wage ordinance that are fair to our business owners, who provide our West Hollywood workers with the benefits they deserve and continue to make West Hollywood the best place to own and operate a business.

As a member of your city council, I will fight for both, and get our businesses and our employees what they deserve. As always, I want and welcome your feedback on my thoughts and plans for West Hollywood.

I do not claim to be the savior with all the answers and solutions to the problems facing our city. My ideas come from talking to wonderful people like you. I hope you will contact me by phone or email with your thoughts, concerns and ideas of your own!

My number is (323) 250-0992 and my email is JC@JordanForWeHo.com.

You can also find more information on my website, JordanForWeHo.com. If you like my plan and what I think the city should do to support our businesses, I would love and appreciate your vote on November 8th. I would also love and appreciate if you would tell 10 other people about my campaign and support me in the upcoming election.

I have another idea for helping new businesses open up in West Hollywood (which I came up with while talking to two West Hollywood residents and business owners, and to which I give full credit!) that I’m excited to share with you, which will be coming in another OpEd very soon.

If you can, please also consider checking out the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Employment Program if you are looking for employees or want to mentor some of our city’s amazing LGBTQ+ youth. The link for the program is lalgbtcenter.org/social-service-and-housing/youth/employment Thank you very much for reading my article.

The reason I’m running for city council is because I want to represent passionate, caring people like you. You are what makes West Hollywood great, and I love you all!

Sources

1. https://www.weho.org/business/business-resources/interactive-data-tools/community-profile#:~:text=Labor%20Force,an%20unemployment%20rate%20of%208.8%25.

2. https://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/CA/West-Hollywood-Demographics.html AND https://datausa.io/profile/geo/west-hollywood-ca/#economy

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