The cities of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood moved decisively toward a return to normal in 2022 following two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The year was a period of new beginnings on many fronts, with election campaigns and public policy matters dominating the news. Voters elected Karen Bass as the new mayor of Los Angeles after a heated campaign against developer Rick Caruso, owner of The Grove. Two City Council members were also elected in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles’ 5th and 13th Districts, and three council members were elected in West Hollywood. Along with public safety, homelessness, housing and economic vitality were hotly-debated topics. The community also saw an increase in development over the previous two years, and major progress on large projects such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s new building spanning Wilshire Boulevard and Metro’s Purple Line Extension. With momentum building, the community appears to be poised for even more progress and change in the coming year.
The Beverly Hills City Council made its opposition to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon clear on Jan. 4 when it voted unanimously to support a recall effort. City officials said Gascon’s policies were not tough enough on criminals and led to an increase in crime during the pandemic. The effort failed when proponents announced in August that they did not have enough signatures for the recall to move forward. Elections were a major topic during the year in Beverly Hills, as 11 candidates vied for three seats on the City Council in the June 7 election. Ultimately, incumbent Councilman Lester Friedman won first place and Councilman John Mirisch took third, while new Councilwoman Sharona Nazarian was elected to her first term, receiving the second highest vote totals. The three council members were sworn in on July 12.
In March, the Beverly Hills City Council extended the OpenBH program through the end of the year, allowing restaurants to retain outdoor dining areas created during the pandemic. The city recently extended the program again through Sept. 30, 2023, ensuring outdoor dining will remain an option at many locations throughout the spring and summer.
The city of Beverly Hills hosted a multitude of community events in 2022, many led by Lili Bosse, who began serving as mayor in April. They included Business With Bosse, which highlights local companies, and the Mayor’s Mental Wellness Series, which brought experts such as Dr. Edith Eger and Deepak Chopra to the city for discussions on health and wellness. Live with Lili gives residents an opportunity to discuss issues directly with the mayor.
Beverly Hills experienced another high-profile crime on March 22 when a group of suspects smashed the front windows of a jewelry store at 203 S. Beverly Drive and stole merchandise valued at up to $5 million. Three men from Long Breach were arrested in September in connection with the robbery and are facing felony charges, and police are still searching for at least two additional suspects.
In late March, Beverly Hills rededicated its Foothill Water Treatment Plant, which provides approximately 20% of the city’s water supply. Beverly Hills remains at the forefront of environmentally-friendly water practices. Its Burton Way Median project, which is currently under construction, will feature equipment to better capture stormwater and water efficient landscaping.
On June 15, the city of Beverly Hills announced that city manager George Chavez planned to retire at the end of December after 34 years in various positions with the city. On Dec. 13, the city held a reception for Chavez, who was fondly remembered for his guidance and management. Nancy Hunt-Coffey will succeed Chavez as Beverly Hills’ next city manager.
In July, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office announced charges against Adam Friedman, son of Councilman Lester Friedman. Adam Friedman is accused of creating a fake Instagram account that impersonated then-council candidate Nazarian, a rival of his father in the City Council election. Authorities raided Lester Friedman’s home as part of the investigation but the councilman was not arrested and has said he was unaware of his son’s activities regarding the Instagram account. The charges against Adam Friedman, who has pleaded not guilty, were later reduced to misdemeanors. The next court date for Adam Friedman is on Jan. 4.
The field of candidates for the Beverly Hills Unified School District Board Education became clear in September, when five community members declared their candidacies. Incumbent Rachelle Marcus won re-election to the board in November, along with new board member Judy Manouchehri.
Development also made news in Beverly Hills when the City Council voted on Sept. 20 to approve the Cheval Blanc project, a luxury mixed-use development planned on Rodeo Drive. In December, a union representing hospitality workers announced its intention to force a referendum on the project, placing the future in question for the project by the French luxury brand LVMH.
In late September, Beverly Hills announced plans to expedite its system of closed circuit television cameras, expediting the installation of additional cameras by December 2023. The system, along with the Beverly Hills Police Department’s Real Time Watch Center, has been credited with reducing crime in the city. In December, Beverly Hills announced that it is increasing signing bonusses for new police officers, and the City Council plans to continue making public safety a top priority in 2023.
The West Hollywood City Council took a major step toward increasing sustainability when it banned single-use, non-compostable food ware items in January The new policy had previously been included in a 2019 city directive making plastic utensils and straws available only upon customer request. However, implementation was delayed until 2022, when the city’s ordinance took effect with similar state regulations.
In February, the West Hollywood City Council approved a plan for a new company to hold its annual Pride Weekend in June, and the event production company JJLA hosted the Pride Parade on June 5. Christopher Street West, which previously held West Hollywood’s Pride events, parted ways with the city during the pandemic and hosted the return of the L.A. Pride on June 10-12 in Hollywood.
The West Hollywood City Council took a major step in support of the recovery community in March when it agreed to purchase the Log Cabin on Robertson Boulevard from the city of Beverly Hills for approximately $5.7 million. The West Hollywood Recovery Center currently hosts substance abuse meetings and programs at the Log Cabin, 621 N. Robertson Blvd.
Public safety was also a heated topic in West Hollywood throughout 2022. The City Council voted in March to examine reducing the number of sheriff’s deputies patrolling its streets and expanding the Block by Block ambassador program. After a series of contentious meetings, the council voted in June to remove five deputies, and to add a dedicated deputy for the city’s entertainment districts. At its final meeting in December, the City Council moved forward with a plan to cut two deputies on Jan. 1, and will consider cutting the additional deputies at the end of March.
In May, the city of West Hollywood moved quickly after public health experts identified a surge in monkeypox, now called mpox, cases in California. Vaccinations were provided in West Hollywood and the city worked closely with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and other agencies to protect at-risk members of the community.
West Hollywood took a major step in August when the City Council approved the Robertson Lane project, a long-planned development at the site of the former Factory building on Robertson Boulevard. Developer Faring plans to build commercial space, a hotel, event ballroom, restaurant and retail space at the site, which formerly housed one of the city’s first LGBTQ nightclubs.
Revelers in September denounced a decision by the West Hollywood City Council to cancel the city Halloween Carnaval again this year after it a hiatus in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic. The city emphasized support for local bars, nightclubs and restaurants, and the Halloween entertainment shifted to private spaces on Oct. 31, 2022.
The election dominated headlines during fall as 12 candidates ran for three open seats on the West Hollywood City Council. The contest included former Councilmen John Duran, Steve Martin and John Heilman, as well as a field of newcomers. In November, Mayor Lauren Meister, Heilman and Human Services Commission member Chelsea Byers were elected, and they participated in their first meeting on Dec. 19.
The city of Los Angeles experienced numerous highs and lows throughout 2022.
Betty White died at the age of 99 on Dec. 31, 2021, and the early part of 2022 included many tributes to the beloved actress. Pink’s Hot Dogs on La Brea Avenue created a special hot dog in honor of White, who frequently stopped by the stand and loved her hot dogs “naked,” without any toppings. The Los Angeles Zoo also paid tribute to White, a longtime supporter of animal conservation, on Jan. 17.
Community members were shaken by a heinous crime on Jan. 13, when the body of 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer was found inside the Croft House furniture store at 326 N. La Brea Ave. Kupfer, an employee of the store, was allegedly murdered by a transient from South Carolina who was arrested six days later in Pasadena and remains in custody pending his next court hearing on Jan. 5. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the store on Jan. 20 in memory of Kupfer.
On Feb. 13, the city of Los Angeles hosted Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium, featuring a matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. To celebrate the Rams’ win, the Hollywood sign was altered to read RAMSHOUSE for a day. The iconic Hollywood sign, which was recently repainted, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023 with a year-long series of events.
On Feb. 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, and communities throughout the region came together in support of the Ukrainian people. A large segment of the local Ukrainian American population lives in East Hollywood and the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Vladimir received an outpouring of support for its efforts to provide relief in the embattled country, where the war continues today.
The election dominated headlines throughout 2022 in Los Angeles, with Caruso and Bass going head-to-head since last spring. In March, candidates in the 5th and 13th districts also began attending community forums to outline their vision and ideas. In the 5th District, six candidates competed in the June 7 Primary Election, when Katy Young Yaroslavsky and Sam Yebri emerged as the top vote getters and headed for a runoff in November. Yaroslavsky won the election and attended her first Los Angeles City Council meeting on Dec. 13.
In the 13th District, incumbent Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell faced four challengers, including union organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez. O’Farrell and Soto-Martinez received the most votes in June and headed for a November runoff election, where Soto-Martinez defeated longtime civic leader O’Farrell. Soto-Martinez also attended his first council meeting on Dec. 13.
In addition to the mayoral and City Council races, voters decided winners in a long list of other Los Angeles public offices. They included Kenneth Mejia, who defeated Councilman Paul Koretz in the race for city controller, and Hydee Feldstein Soto, who won the race for city attorney against Faisal M. Gill.
Health care workers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center went on strike on May 9 in a high-profile show of unity along San Vicente Boulevard. The strike ended in late May when the hospital and the union representing employees reached an agreement.
Protests erupted throughout Los Angeles and West Hollywood in May when news leaked that the United States Supreme Court planned to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling guaranteeing women’s right to abortion. Thousands attended a women’s rights rally in downtown Los Angeles in support of abortion rights on May 14.
The Television City project was in the news throughout the summer, as an alliance of groups and organizations voiced opposition to the development planned at Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. Hackman Capital Partners, owner of Television City, plans to create 1,874,000 square feet of sound stages, production support space and office space at the site. The Mid City West Neighborhood Council voted in favor of the project. The alliance, which includes The Grove and the A.F. Gilmore Company, owner of the Original Farmers Market, continues its opposition as the project makes its way through the city planning process. An environmental impact report is due sometime in 2023, after which the planning department and City Council will consider the proposal.
In October, a taped conversation between former City Council President Nury Martinez, then-Councilman Gil Cedillo, Councilman Kevin de Leon and a Los Angeles County labor official rocked Los Angeles after it was leaked to the public. On the tape, the council members made racist remarks about Black people and other ethnic groups, prompting protests at City Hall. Martinez resigned from the council in October and Cedillo left office in December after being termed out.
However, de Leon continues to resist calls for his resignation, and protestors continue to besiege council chambers during meetings. The Los Angeles City returns from winter recess on Jan. 10, and it is unclear how it will move forward. Paul Krekorian, 2nd District, was elected by his colleagues to serve as council president in 2023. Caruso and Bass faced off in heated debates during the fall. A week after the Nov. 8 General Election, vote totals showed Bass was elected as Los Angeles’ first female mayor. On December 11, Bass was sworn in during a ceremony at City Hall, and the following day, she signed an emergency declaration on homelessness. In 2023, Bass plans to build more housing and bring a record number of people off the streets. With new leadership and fresh perspectives, 2023 is shaping up to be as eventful as ever in Los Angeles, Beverly and West Hollywood.
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