Cesar Chavez Day in Weho, but you still pay for parking

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March 31, 2014

By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California

Parking is the issue that West Hollywood residents most wish their electeds would do something about, and the issue the city council most dreads hearing about.

Lauren Meister is running for city council next year. Photo by Michael Poles.

Lauren Meister is running for city council next year. Photo by Michael Poles.

Fights over parking meters, residential permit zones, valets’ use of parking lots and streets abound in this “normal” city by day and “party” city by night.

Because of this, one candidate for the city council race coming in just under a year from now, Lauren Meister, is making a fuss about WeHo not offering free parking at city meters, despite a municipal code, “Section Nine of Fee Resolution 13-4420, adopted April 1, 2013,” she said, “that establishing extended parking meter hours and states, ‘Parking meters citywide shall not be in effect on recognized holidays.’”

The candidate, who served as a Public Safety Commissioner before a short and controversial stint on the Planning Commission, decried what she called a double standard.

“City Hall is closed.  City employees have the day off,” Meister said, “but the City still enforces parking meter hours and regulations on Cesar Chavez Day when they do not enforce them on any other holiday. That’s what I call a double-standard.”

Cesar Chavez, who organized the farm workers in California and has become a labor hero with a state holiday.

Cesar Chavez, who organized the farm workers in California and has become a labor hero with a state holiday.

She referred to a press release issued late last week, which reads, “The City of West Hollywood will observe Cesar Chavez Day on Monday, March 31, 2014. West Hollywood City Hall will be closed for the day.

“On Monday, March 31, 2014, all parking regulations will be in effect throughout the City of West Hollywood, as usual.

“This includes parking meter operations, time limits in parking spaces, and peak-hour towing restrictions.”

Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American labor activist and leader of the United Farm Workers. During the 20th century he was a leading voice for migrant farm workers.

His tireless leadership focused national attention on these laborers’ terrible working conditions, which eventually led to improvements.

Ms. Meister took issue with marginalizing a labor hero who worked for the marginalized.

“It is a shame that the City leaders in West Hollywood would declare a holiday for City Hall, but not for the rest of us.

“Cesar Chavez stood up for the marginalized and disrespected—those  who couldn’t afford to pay a parking meter or a $53 ticket.

“To say that his holiday is not on par with Christopher Columbus’s or Martin Luther King’s does a disservice to the legacy of Cesar Chavez.”

Ms. Meister is off to a quick start in next year's council campaign.

Ms. Meister is off to a quick start in next year’s council campaign.

Cesar Chavez’s birthday is celebrated as a state holiday in California. Although Cesar Chavez Day is not a federal holiday, in 2011, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation for the day — he called upon “all Americans to observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor Cesar Chavez’s enduring legacy.”

City Hall being closed today, officials could not respond, however, our records show that the city has not lifted metered or peak traffic parking restrictions since at least 2008.

Ms. Meister is among a few early candidates for the West Hollywood City Council election next year, in which it is possible that as many as four seats could change hands.

Never before has the campaign for council started so early; candidates most often wait until the last moment to announce their intentions.