Thursday, December 12

Westwood improvement association board experiences high turnover rate

About half of the board members of the Westwood Village Improvement Association resigned or left the association’s board of directors over the past year.

The 13-member board leads Westwood’s business improvement district, which collects assessment fees from property owners in Westwood Village to provide services such as street maintenance and events. The board is comprised of property and business owners from within the district, as well as the UCLA administrative vice chancellor.

At the association’s meeting earlier this month, Adrienne Walden resigned because she was promoted at her job at Douglas Emmett, which requires her to move. This made her the sixth person since February 2016 to resign, leaving only seven members with more than a year of experience on the board.

Andrew Thomas, executive director of the association, said some resignations happen because companies often require their employees to relocate.

“Before Jim Brooks, we had someone else from Topa Management, and before Denise Garcia, we had someone else from Clarion Partners,” Thomas said. “People move on.”

Thomas added he thinks new board members can bring fresh ideas and different perspectives to the board, such as the four members who joined the board at its July meeting to fill seats that were empty for months.

“All those folks were good and they brought a lot of ideas,” Thomas said.

Thomas added that being a board member, which is done voluntarily and is an unpaid position, comes with a learning curve and requires time to adjust.

Clinton Schudy, former board member and owner of Oakley’s Baber Shop, said he thinks the board’s constant turnover slows down the association’s productivity because of the time required to train new members. Schudy, who was one of the board’s founding members, resigned last July because his term ended in May and he wanted to give a new business owner a chance to be on the board.

“You basically have to retrain people all over again,” Schudy said. “You can’t just jump on the saddle again; it’s a learning curve.”

[Related: Westwood officials rev up to increase parking opportunities]

Schudy added he thinks the association should recruit people who are easily available or who plan to stay in Westwood longer.

Other business improvement districts in Los Angeles County experience lower turnover rates than the association.

Joseph Mariani, staff member at the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, said very few members leave the alliance’s board because property owners in the area tend to stay for at least a couple of years.

But only property owners sit on the alliance’s board, whereas Westwood’s board also contains three business-owner seats. Thomas said this may lead to an increased turnover rate for the association’s board.

Thomas said the three current business-owner seats have been on the board for an average of 17 months, whereas the current Zone 1 and Zone 2 property owners have been on the board for 34 months and 17 months, respectively. Zone 1 covers the area north of Lindbrook Avenue and Zone 2 covers the high-rise buildings on Wilshire Boulevard.

He also said a total of 34 board members have served on the board over the course of 66 months.

Kathleen Rawson, CEO of the Downtown Santa Monica Inc., said her board saw two resignations this past year, the highest in recent time. She added board turnover is likely affected by the economy, and expects fewer resignation in Santa Monica and Westwood after the economy becomes more stable this year.

“You can expect the number of resignations to shift when the economy shifts,” Rawson said. “People resign for exclusively personal reasons.”

It takes at least two months to fill a vacancy on the board, Thomas said. The board chair nominates a temporary committee to interview candidates to fill the vacancy. A committee was made earlier this month to fill the board’s current vacancy.

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News senior staff

Roberto Luna Jr. is currently a senior staffer covering Westwood, crime and transportation. He was previously an assistant News editor from 2015-2016 and a News contributor from 2014-2015.

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