West Hollywood mayor wants a higher minimum wage than $15

West Hollywood City Hall, 2008.  According to "A People's Guide to Los Angeles," West Hollywood is popularly known as the first "gay city" in the United States, and was incorporated in November, 1984. The first couple to be married at West Hollywood City Hall was actor George Takei (aka Mr. Sulu) and his partner, Brad Altman.
West Hollywood City Hall, 2008. According to "A People's Guide to Los Angeles," West Hollywood is popularly known as the first "gay city" in the United States, and was incorporated in November, 1984. The first couple to be married at West Hollywood City Hall was actor George Takei (aka Mr. Sulu) and his partner, Brad Altman. Wendy Cheng

Even in progressive Southern California, West Hollywood stands out for being very progressive; it’s sometimes called "the city founded on rent control." On the suddenly vogue issue of minimum wage, though, West Hollywood finds itself in the position of playing catch-up.

But not for long, said its new mayor, Lindsey P. Horvath. The way she sees it, why wait until 2020 to go to $15 an hour, as L.A. is doing?

“It is my hope and my intention that West Hollywood would consider that degree of increase much sooner, and I would expect that we would consider a rate that’s higher than Los Angeles has considered,” Horvath said.

Horvath cautioned she is just one city council member out of five (one seat is vacant) and that she wants the study the city commissioned last fall to be completed. She did not know when that would be.  

"It's very important that when we make this decision, everyone has a say in it," Horvath said. "I would like to see us move on it very quickly."

Horvath also pointed out West Hollywood has had a living wage ordinance since 2011, though it only applies to city workers or businesses contracting with the city. On Monday, West Hollywood's city council approved increasing the city's living wage to $12.10 for workers with health benefits and to $13.42 for those without benefits, effective July 1.

Other cities studying higher minimum wages

West Hollywood’s population is only about 35,000. Many more people would be affected if Los Angeles County raises its minimum wage, something the supervisors ordered the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation to study last month.

Such a law would only apply to unincorporated areas, but those are home to some 1 million residents, according to Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. 

Santa Monica also ordered a study last fall. (Santa Monica mayor Kevin McKeown did not respond to a request for comment.)

Pasadena’s new mayor, Terry Tornek, has said he supports a $15 minimum wage, though a spokesman for the city said Wednesday the council has yet to discuss an increase. (Tornek did not respond to a request for comment.)

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