Monday, October 14

Editorial: Westwood Forward’s loss of momentum in the face of city opposition is a disservice to residents


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Westwood Forward, a student-led coalition, came together last quarter and professed the need for Westwood to change to meet students’ and community members’ needs. The group presented a vision and established contacts with the City of Los Angeles to bring its goals to fruition. It pieced together an action plan and identified ways to support businesses and entertainment in Westwood Village.

A quarter later, the group seems to have become complacent in letting bureaucracy get in its way.

Creating a new neighborhood council is no walk in the park. Westwood Forward has had to jump through numerous hoops: it gathered the signatures of close to a thousand community members – students, business owners, administrators and faculty. It had to wait three months after submitting a subdivision application to the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment before it got feedback on its plan. And now, it has to hold town halls and amend its proposal to satiate city officials.

Members of the Westwood Neighborhood Council have also been a force of resistance for the initiative. Most recently, the council has resorted to trying to delay the subdivision plan, successfully influencing the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to postpone a town hall where the coalition would have gathered public input regarding its plan.

The cards seem to be stacked against the coalition, which is trying to create its new council before summer. But the creation of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council isn’t the entirety of Westwood Forward’s purpose. Westwood Forward has a compelling agenda and doesn’t need the green light from the city to fight for ideas that community members have already rallied behind.

Several Westwood organizations have worked on their own in the past without an official stamp of recognition from the city. For example, the Westwood Community Council, a noncity certified organization, and homeowner associations have used their relationships with city officials and community leaders to advocate for their agendas, such as obstructing projects and limiting UCLA housing expansion on the Hill.

Westwood Forward has garnered significant support from students, faculty and businesses since it proposed its plans in November. Coalition leaders already have the backing they need to advocate for affordable housing, nightlife options and better public transportation in the Village. They have also caught the eye of city officials such as Paul Koretz, the city council member who represents Westwood, and David Ryu, the city council member who chairs the Health, Education and Neighborhood Councils Committee. The coalition has the clout it needs to lobby for community members’ needs and urge city officials to enact positive change.

That does not mean Westwood Forward should stop trying to create a neighborhood council. Neighborhood councils are the official voice to the city in regard to neighborhood issues, and receive funding for projects and grants each year.

But Westwood Forward’s existence isn’t defined by its ability to create a neighborhood council; it’s defined by the desire to serve community members who are fed up with the WWNC’s inability to address the area’s needs.

Addressing those needs doesn’t require an official stamp of recognition from the city – just the tenacity to act on the current system’s deficiencies.

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  • Lisa Chapman

    The community meeting was postponed because it was scheduled on the same night as the Roundtable Community event hosted by Congressman Lieu for the VA Master plan and issues of homelessness with our Veteran population, and the rest of our Los Angeles community. This roundtable meeting had been scheduled months in advance with community leaders invited to participate and speak. It was scheduled LONG before BONC decided to have their “community” meeting to hear Westwood Forward’s issues.Since one of the primary reasons to host this public meeting was to have input and public comment from the WWNC and other members of the community, there was no question that it should be rescheduled. Or is the editorial board of the Daily Bruin trying to quash and disenfanchise the voices of opposition to Westwood Forward’s gerrymandering the Village? It certainly seems that way after reading this drivel. You all are not neutral, you are squarely on one side, that of Westwood Forward, and it is very clear that any articles that you write on this subject will promote that stance. There truly is no neutrality or non-biased views in journalism anymore, the Daily Bruin included. What a shame.

    • Grayson Peters

      The nature of an editorial is that it is not neutral. I don’t think it’s surprising that a campus newspaper’s editorial board, composed of students, sides with the interests of students. The WNC has made a serious effort to block/reduce the construction of new student housing and prevent the creation of a real Westwood nightlife, both of which conflict with the interests of students.

      • Lisa Chapman

        It’s the WWNC, and we have never ONCE blocked any student housing, so you are clearly misinformed. We also have not prevented nightlife in the Village. No establishments wanting music, dancing, comedy, etc have ever come before us. That is just fact. We have open alcohol conditions now, and encourage nightlife, many of us have for many years, so you seem to be getting your information from WW Forward, and not the real world.

        • Grayson Peters

          Well, actually, the WWNC recently forced UCLA to remove 3 stories from a planned dorm building which will lead to 200 less people being housed because the WWNC was concerned with the building would ruin the neighborhood’s aesthetic and block views. This comes during a housing shortage crisis when 1 in 4 students report having to choose between housing/food costs and educational costs, and UCLA students have run a student homeless shelter since 2016.

          If you read the WWNC’s sample conditions for CUB (alcoholic), you can see plenty of arbitrary conditions like no dancing on the premises, no Happy Hours, no arcade machines, and no more than two TVs.
          http://www.wwnc.org/assets/committees/WWNC%20LUPC%20SAMPLE%20ALCOHOL%20CONDITIONS.pdf

      • David Lorango

        Westwood does have nightlife options but no one goes. :(

  • Lisa Chapman

    Oh, and btw, not ONE person from Westwood Forward bothered to attend last night’s public meeting on homelessness in our community. Not one. Rather telling, I would say.