Westwood Village and Los Angeles city officials said at a Thursday meeting they think the Village needs to continue developing its infrastructure to be more appealing to visitors.
At the Westwood Village Improvement Association’s annual meeting at the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center, staff members said they think the Village is slowly improving business retention and popularity with visitors. The association is the nonprofit that manages Westwood Village’s business improvement district, which provides the Village with various services.
Andrew Thomas, executive director of the association, said at the meeting sales tax revenue in the Village increased from $1.85 million in 2015 to $2.3 million during the 2016 fiscal year. Thomas added the association earned $1.4 million in assessments, which are fees Westwood businesses pay to fund the association’s services.
Thomas also said the city selected the association as a parking benefit district this year, which means a portion of its parking revenue will return to the Village. Thomas said he expects the Village will receive around $200,000 per year for parking accessibility improvements after the benefit takes effect in 2018.
The association funded two hubs for UCLA’s Bruin Bike Share program, which allows students and residents to rent a bike for a fee, Thomas added. The association also worked with the Los Angeles mayor’s office and City Council District 5, which includes Westwood in its boundaries, to install a crosswalk on Westwood Boulevard, between Kinross and Weyburn avenues, early this year.
City Council District 5’s office also requested the association take steps to update the Westwood Village Specific Plan, which outlines zoning regulations, Thomas said. Earlier this year, the association proposed loosening up food-use definitions to allow more businesses to enter the Village.
Thomas said he thinks the association needs to continue making changes so the area is prepared for international visitors and viewers when the 2028 Olympics comes to Los Angeles. He added he thinks Metro’s Purple Line Extension, which will begin construction in the Village in 2018, will help improve Westwood’s infrastructure.
Jessica Dabney, chair of the association’s board of directors, said she is retiring from her position at the end of this year. Dabney, who helped form the association, has served as its chair since its inception in 2011.
Mott Smith, a principal at Civic Enterprise, said he thinks development in Westwood and Los Angeles is stagnant because he thinks city officials are too dependent on specific plans.
Smith said he thinks local officials who approve business proposals should engage in open conversations with developers and added he thinks specific plans may prevent unique businesses from opening.
He added he thinks some wealthy homeowners use specific plans to justify keeping younger or poorer individuals outside their neighborhoods.
“We can’t as polite liberal people say we are classists, that we don’t want certain people in the Village,” Smith said. “But we can restrict the places where they like to eat.”