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West Hollywood Blondes

West Hollywood, California

West Hollywood, a city in Los Angeles County, California, was incorporated on November 29, 1984. The total residential population is just over 37,000; however, the nighttime and weekend population swells to between 80,000 and 100,000, with a high of up to 500,000 during major events such as Halloween or the Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which provides police services for West Hollywood. The city is one of the most notable gay villages in the United States. The area is also referred to as WeHo and BoysTown.

West Hollywood is bordered on the north by the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, on the east by the Hollywood District of Los Angeles, on the west by the city of Beverly Hills, and on the south by the Fairfax District of Los Angeles.

It is "green minded" and extremely pet friendly.

State and federal representatives

In the state legislature West Hollywood is located in the 23rd Senate District, represented by Democrat Sheila Kuehl, and in the 42nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Mike Feuer. Federally, West Hollywood is located in California's 30th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +20 and is represented by Democrat Henry Waxman.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 35,716 people, 23,120 households, and 5,202 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,335.1/km² (18,992.7/mi²). There were 24,110 housing units at an average density of 4,951.6/km² (12,821.0/mi²), making West Hollywood one of the most densely populated cities in the US. The racial makeup of the city was 86.43% White, 3.78% Asian, 6.40% African American, 0.36% Native American, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 2.87% from other races, and 3.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.80% of the population.

There were 23,120 households, out of which 5.8% had children under the age of eighteen, 16.4% were married couples living together, 4.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 77.5% were non-families. 60.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.0% included someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.53, and the average family size was 2.50.

In the city, population was spread out, with 5.7% under the age of eighteen, 6.3% from eighteen-to-twenty-four, 48.6% from twenty-five to forty-four, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was thirty-nine years. For every 100 females there were 123.4 males. For every 100 females aged eighteen and older, there were 125.2 males.

The weekend population swells to 78,000 as neighbors from nearby communities take advantage of shopping, dining and entertainment.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,914, and the median income for a family was $41,463. Males had a median income of $45,598 versus $35,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $38,302. About 7.3% of families and 11.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.0% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.

According to the city of West Hollywood's demographic profile, gleaned from the 2000 Census, the 2000 Customer Satisfaction Survey, the 1998 Community Needs Assessment Survey, and the 1994 Community Needs Assessment Survey, gay or bisexual men account for 41% of the population. Of these, 60% are between the ages of twenty-five and forty-four.

Landmarks and distinctive places

West Hollywood has a distinctive street design scheme, with postmodern street signs featuring a blue map of the city. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department vehicles that patrol West Hollywood feature the same map of the city, but in the rainbow colors of the gay community.

Because of the large gay population and the large numbers of gay-oriented businesses, West Hollywood became prominently known as a gay village. The section of Santa Monica Boulevard from La Cienega Boulevard to Robertson Boulevard, known as "boys' town," is among the most popular gay neighborhoods in the world, with numerous well-known spots such as the nightclubs Rage and Mickys (now closed due to fire that consumed the building) and newer bars/restaurants such as Eleven and East|West Lounge.

Alta Loma Road is also home to the exclusive hotel "The Sunset Marquis" with its famous 45-person Whisky Bar and a recording studio that has been the home to many hits. Alta Loma Road was one of the main locations for the film Perfect. Actor Sal Mineo lived on this street in the 1970s; he was murdered in his carport just around the corner from Alta Loma Road on Holloway Drive.

The western stretch of Melrose Avenue, between Fairfax Avenue and Doheny Drive, is notable for its trendy clothing boutiques, interior design shops, restaurants and antique stores. The west end of Melrose, near the Pacific Design Center, is especially known for its exclusive furniture.

The area around Fountain Avenue, Harper Avenue and Havenhurst Drive contains a high concentration of landmark 1920s Spanish Revival and Art Deco apartment buildings by such noted architects as Leland Bryant. This historic district has been home to many celebrities and at one time the Sunset Tower at 8358 Sunset Boulevard was home to Frank Sinatra, Errol Flynn, the Gabor Sisters, John Wayne and Howard Hughes.

The Robertson/West 3rd Street area is another area in West Hollywood with hip shops and cafés.

Notable business and attractions in West Hollywood include:

Social services

West Hollywood, with a gay population of 41%, has been disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic which has ravaged the gay male population since the early 1980’s. The city funds or subsidizes a vast array of services for those living with HIV or AIDS. AIDS Healthcare Foundation parks a Mobile HIV/STD testing van outside of the city’s busiest nightclubs on Friday and Saturday nights, and again on Sunday afternoons. This outreach attempts to intervene with those young people most at-risk for HIV infection. Project Angel Food receives city funding to deliver hundreds of fresh lunches and dinners daily which are prepared under the supervision of a registered dietitian who tailors the meals to meet individual client’s nutritional needs. AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) is a national leader for AIDS policy and advocacy issues and provides assistance to clients navigating the maze of available public benefits. APLA also provides free dental, psychotherapy and pharmaceutical services. AID for AIDS provides direct financial support by assisting clients with rent, utility and pharmacy expenses. The city also subsidizes agencies that help clients train for a return to the workforce. The city permits all residents living with HIV/AIDS to have up to two pets in his or her home regardless of a landlord's specifications in the property's lease.

West Hollywood subsidizes programs for its growing population of children through a partnership with the USDA and local schools. “Healthy Start West Hollywood” is a program of the city’s Social Services division that introduces pre-Kindergarten through High School age kids to the benefits of good nutrition through such activities as collective vegetable gardens and yoga.

The special needs of senior citizens are addressed through a variety of programs. West Hollywood either funds or subsidizes agencies that offer adult day care, a roommate matching service, and nutritious meals. The West Hollywood Senior Center is not only a place for recreation, excursions, and socializing but also offers counseling and case management as needed.

West Hollywood also seeks to address the health needs of residents who do not have adequate insurance by subsidizing the LA Free Clinic and The LA Gay and Lesbian Center. Residents can access free medical, dental, legal and mental health services between these two sites.

The West Hollywood's Women’s Advisory Board publishes guides on sexual assault prevention, nightclub safety, and how to access rape services.

Education

West Hollywood is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Elementary schools that serve sections of West Hollywood include:

  • West Hollywood Elementary School
  • Rosewood Elementary School
  • Laurel Elementary School
  • Melrose Elementary School
  • Gardner Street Elementary School

(Some areas jointly zoned to Rosewood and West Hollywood)

Most of West Hollywood is zoned to Bancroft Middle School. Some portions in the south are zoned to John Burroughs Middle School. Students living in the Los Angeles area known as Beverly Hills Post Office, usually attend West Hollywood Elementary but then go to Emerson Middle School.

All of West Hollywood is zoned to Fairfax High School; some areas are jointly zoned to Fairfax High School and Hollywood High School.

Politics

Residents of West Hollywood vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. They also regularly pass ordinances geared toward reducing perceived discrimination and protecting the public health and dignity of all living things. West Hollywood is nationally known as a frontrunner in social justice legislation.

In 1985, West Hollywood was the first city to have same gender domestic partnership registration for its residents, as well as same gender domestic partner benefits for its employees. West Hollywood's comprehensive Domestic Partnership Ordinance allows those couples that are prohibited (prior to the California Supreme Court's May 15, 2008 decision striking down the State's ban on same-sex marriage) from marrying (same-sex), and those that can marry but choose not to (heterosexual), to register their union with the city. These unions are treated on an equal basis with legal marriages in regards to city-level benefits and services.

Legislation prohibiting discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation is widely recognized as the toughest in the nation. Prohibitions against harassment on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, marital status or mental condition offer further protections to vulnerable residents. The city is also one of 92 jurisdictions in the country where it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression.

Religious discrimination is banned within the city.

City legislation also bans the sale of handguns, prohibits smoking in public places, and restricts the city from doing business directly or indirectly (via vendors) with any country known to violate human rights. Also, the city is one of 19 in California that has banned the use of gas-powered leaf-blowers.

West Hollywood was the first city in the country to have a majority-gay city council Council member John Heilman is the city's longest-serving council member (having served continuously since 1984) and finished serving his sixth term as mayor in April 2007. This position is mostly a ceremonial post that rotates on an annual basis among the council members. Council member John Duran currently serves as Mayor and his colleague [Jeffrey Prang] serves as Mayor Pro Tempore.

On February 19, 2001, West Hollywood became the second city in the United States (after Boulder, Colorado) to change the term pet "owner" to pet "guardian" in their municipal codes. West Hollywood was the first city in the USA to enact a law banning cat declawing.

History

Most historical writings about West Hollywood began in the late 18th century with European colonization when the Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo arrived offshore and claimed the region for Spain. However, the land was already inhabited. Around 5,000 of the indigenous inhabitants from the Tongva tribe canoed out to greet Juan Cabrillo. The Tongva tribe were a nation of gentle hunter-gatherers known for their reverence of dancing and courage. By 1771 the indigenous people were almost wiped out by disease while being forcibly acculturated by the Spanish mission system. The Spanish mission system changed their tribal name to “Gabrielinos”, in reference to the Mission de San Gabriel that ravaged their culture and took over their land.

By 1780, what became the "Sunset Strip" was the major connecting road for El Pueblo de Los Angeles and all ranches westward to the Pacific Ocean. The land went through various owners and names in the next one hundred years, with names such as La Brea and Plummer listed in the historical record. Most of the area was part of the Rancho La Brea, and eventually came under the ownership of the Hancock family.

In the last years of the nineteenth century, the first large development in what would become West Hollywood — the town of Sherman — was established by Moses Sherman and his partners in the Los Angeles and Pacific Railway, an interurban line which would become part of the Pacific Electric Railway system. Sherman became the location of the railroad's main shops, yards and car barns. Many working-class employees of the railroad took up residence in the town. It was during this time that the city began to earn its reputation as a loosely-regulated, liquor-friendly spot for eccentric people wary of government interference. The town chose not to incorporate with Los Angeles and instead adopted “West Hollywood” as an informal name to borrow the glamour and celebrity from the new movie colony in Hollywood.

For many years, the area that is now the City of West Hollywood was an unincorporated area in the midst of the City of Los Angeles, but fell under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County. Because gambling was illegal in the city of Los Angeles but legal in the county, the 1920s saw the proliferation of many nightclubs and casinos along the Sunset Strip (which starts and ends within West Hollywood borders) that did not fall within the Los Angeles city limits. As a result, these businesses were immune from the heavy-handed enforcement of the LAPD. (The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was and remains in charge of policing the district.)

Movie people were attracted to this less restricted county area and a number of architecturally fine apartment houses and apartment hotels were built. Movie fans throughout the world knew that Ciro's, the Mocambo, the Trocadero, the Garden of Allah, the Chateau Marmont and the Formosa Cafe on Santa Monica Boulevard were places where movie stars could be seen.

Eventually, the area and its extravagant night spots lost favor with movie people. But the Strip and its restaurants, bars and clubs continued to be an attraction for locals and out-of-town tourists. In the late 1960s, the Strip was transformed again during the hippie movement which brought a thriving music publishing industry coupled with "hippie" culture. Young people from all over the country flocked to West Hollywood clubs such as the Whisky a Go Go, Barney's Beanery, Filthy McNasty's, The Rainbow, and the Troubadour.

In the 1960s, a club called Ciro's held the first gay dance nights on Sundays, known as "Tea Dances" [or "T-Dances"]. At the time, it was illegal for men to dance together, but this law was not strictly enforced. This tolerance led to more gay clubs after Ciro's closed, as well as the end of the anti-gay laws that prohibited dancing between two persons of the same gender in Los Angeles County. The building that Ciro's occupied is now the home of The Comedy Store.

Emboldened by the Stonewall Riots of 1969, gays from all over Los Angeles flocked to West Hollywood with many fleeing from the homophobic harassment of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). West Hollywood was still unincorporated and so it was patrolled by the markedly less brutal Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The design and decorating industry that took root in the 1950s culminated in the completion of the Pacific Design Center in 1975.

The most recent migration to West Hollywood came about after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when thousands of Russian Jews immigrated to the city. A majority of the 5,000 to 6,000 Russian Jews settled in two major immigration waves, 1978-79 and 1988-92. Approximately 13 percent of the current city population is Russian-speaking.

In 1984, residents in West Hollywood organized to maintain rent control. When the County of Los Angeles began planning to dismantle rent control West Hollywood was a densely-populated area of renters, many of whom would not be able to afford to keep up with the rapid rises in rent. A tight coalition of seniors, Jews, gays and renters were greatly assisted by the Community for Economic Survival (CES) and they swiftly voted to incorporate as the City of West Hollywood. West Hollywood then immediately adopted one of the strongest rent control laws in the nation.

The rent-control issue remains in the foreground and the CES continues to hold much favor among the city’s voters, with 20 out of 24 council members (thus far) being CES-endorsed.

Events

The West Hollywood Halloween carnival is an event that takes place annually on October 31. The largest Halloween street party in the United States (spanning over one mile (1.6 km) of Santa Monica Boulevard from La Cienega Boulevard on the East to Doheny and the Beverly Hills border on the West), the 2005 Carnival was reported to have more than 350,000 people in attendance, with some traveling from other countries specifically for this event and has already been estimated to have peaked over 500,000 this year where pop diva Tiffany performed and was named honorary mayor of the city.

Christopher Street West is a gay pride parade and festival that was first held in June 1970 in Hollywood to commemorate the first anniversary of Stonewall Riots in New York. After incorporation, the event moved to West Hollywood and is typically held the second weekend in June so as not to conflict with the celebrations in San Francisco and New York City, and with Father's Day (because many deputies request that day off and do not want to work overtime on that day).

Frontrunners LGBT Pride Run is a 5km/10km run/walk held on the Sunday morning of LGBT Pride.

Pet friendly

West Hollywood is home to 1,000 dogs per square mile. West Hollywood designed a law that pets are to be called “companions” and their owners “guardians” and was the first city in the country to outlaw the de-clawing of cats

Several West Hollywood hotels are extremely pet friendly. The Le Parc Suites, Le Montrose, and Sunset Tower allow pets to tag along (with a $ deposit) and supply a dog bowl and biscuits. The Bel Age hotel offers a special pet menu with items such as “bow wow sirloin of beef” or “kitty salmon surprise.” Many hotels also provide dog walking services and pet welcome gifts. Other pet-friendly hotels include the Ramada Plaza West Hollywood and the Chamberlain.

Located around the city are several pet stores. Around Santa Monica Boulevard are several dog washing services, animal hospitals, and curbside dog stations. Wells Fargo Bank branch on Santa Monica Boulevard allows guardians to open pet accounts where the pet receives an ATM card with the animal's name, and while one waits there are dog treats and water bowls available.

The City of West Hollywood sponsors an animal walk and pet appreciation days throughout the year, which have in the past featured pet psychics and dog activities. During Halloween the week prior to October 31st, animals can participate in a costume contest in West Hollywood Park. West Hollywood is in close proximity to Runyon Canyon hiking trail and dog park in Hollywood.

References

External links

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