Officials in West Hollywood have shelved a controversial proposal that would have required people who earn a living working at home to register with the city.
But television and motion picture writers who opposed the proposed law, claiming that it smacked of “Big Brotherism,” expressed concern that officials may attempt to revive the proposal several months from now.
“Right now, I don’t trust anything the city says or does on this issue,” said Robert Adels, a writer who likened the ill-fated provision to “something out of Nazi Germany.”
City officials said at a Business License Commission hearing that they were postponing consideration of the measure. Several writers, including a spokeswoman for the Writers Guild of America, West, spoke against the proposal at the hearing.
About 500 of the guild’s more than 7,500 members--who represent an estimated 90% of all film and broadcast writers in the United States--live in West Hollywood, said guild spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden. The guild has its headquarters in the city.
City Manager Paul Brotzman said the decision had nothing to do with the writers’ opposition.
Brotzman said the move “should not be interpreted as the city backing away from anything.” He said the proposal may be included in another, yet-to-be-developed ordinance officials have begun to discuss that would establish a business license tax in West Hollywood.
“When we began devising the ordinance with the registration provision in it a year ago, there was no business license tax on the horizon, and now that that appears to be changing, it appears to make more sense to hold up on the registration,” he said.
Since the defeat three weeks ago of an $8-million bond issue to build a fire station and library, Brotzman and other city officials have expressed enthusiasm for such a tax as a means of helping finance some of the city’s more pressing needs, particularly public parking facilities.
Plan Raised Ire
What raised the writers’ ire was a plan to license many of the city’s estimated 3,000 to 5,000 businesses, many of which have remained unregulated since West Hollywood became a city five years ago.
While exempting from regulation writers, artists and others who are self-employed and work at home, the law would have required such people to register with the city clerk’s office and pay an annual fee to be determined by the City Council.
City officials were careful to distinguish between regulation and registration, saying it was never their intention to regulate writers and others who earn their living at home.
But Adels and others--who opposed the idea when the commission began considering it a month ago--said the law was drafted in a way that would make them vulnerable to city officials.