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Ronald L. Stone; W. Hollywood Activist

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Ronald L. Stone, the major architect of the incorporation drive that made a city out of the community of West Hollywood, died at his home Saturday of AIDS. He was 40.

Known as the father of West Hollywood’s cityhood, Stone was instrumental in turning the 1.9-square-mile wedge of unincorporated Los Angeles County into the first American city to be governed by a gay majority. “Without him it wouldn’t have happened,” said West Hollywood Councilman John Heilman.

After the 1984 cityhood victory, Stone ran twice for the council, losing both times. But he remained active in civic affairs, offering advice behind the scenes, attending council meetings and serving on committees.

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Compelled by a vision of open, local government, Stone saw cityhood as the means by which West Hollywood’s 36,000 residents--most of them renters, many of them gay or elderly--could shape key community issues such as zoning, rent control and anti-discrimination laws.

“He was really concerned about having local control over zoning and planning,” Heilman said.

Stone’s independence served him well during the incorporation campaign, Heilman said. “He kept some divergent and contentious individuals from separating during the cityhood campaign,” Heilman added.

Stone, who worked as a professional arbitrator, had been ill for more than a year. He is survived by his mother and brother.

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