KAPLAN: Making it harder to run a business isn’t social justice

I am a full-on supporter of social justice in its truest meaning….policies designed to mitigate social and economic disparity.  But it is time to shed light on the misuse of this term by our city council, who is using it as an umbrella term to placate voters as they proceed with pushing through policy that does anything but mitigate disparity.

Consider recent moves by our city council including the hotel worker’s ordinance and the new higher minimum wage under discussion. 

Rather than evening out the playing field to provide equal access and economic opportunity, these policies build a wall around West Hollywood, a 1.9 sq mile city surrounded on all sides by Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. 

These policies make it more costly and challenging for those who choose to open and run businesses here and, with the higher cost structure, it makes goods and services more costly for our residents, a significant percentage of whom are elderly or disabled on fixed income and with limited mobility. 

From the perspective of the residents and businesses in West Hollywood then, the impact of these policies on their lives can hardly be considered “social justice”. 

And what of the young gay guy or girl with a dream to open a small business in West Hollywood to serve and give back to the community that has embraced them?   How can they justify opening their doors in West Hollywood when just across the street they can do so with fewer restrictions and costs?   Is this the kind of “social justice” we are looking for?

In its truest form, who can argue that “social justice” is not an important and valued ideology?  Policies that allow for more equal economic opportunity for all are certainly to be applauded.   When applied at the federal level the impact is positive and can be a great push towards a better society.   I would even agree that some of these policies applied on a broader scale, say across Los Angeles County, would deliver the desired outcome of providing better access and economic opportunity. 

But we cannot overlook the inequities that are created when these onerous policies are imposed on a community of 1.9 square miles that sits as an island surrounded by cities that place fewer restrictions and lower cost burdens on businesses within their borders.  When our overzealous council fails to recognize the obvious economic hardships, unfair burdens and economic disparities created for both our businesses and residents as a result of these policies, they must be called to task.

This is not social justice. It is a complete lack of concern and vision by a group of politicians grandstanding to build their personal legacies. Blinded by the bright lights of a bigger political future they fail to give credence to the well-being of the citizens they serve. 

WeHoans, do not be duped when this council bandies about the term “social justice,” because in the end it is you who will pay the price for this vanity legislation.

Keith Kaplan is a resident and property owner in West Hollywood for over 35 years.  This reflects his voice, not the voice of any other individual or organization.

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