The newly-formed Westwood Village Improvement Association has swung into action, with the first visible results now on the streets of the village: blue-shirted ambassadors who will be responsible for patrolling the streets, some clean up and being generally helpful to visitors.
"It's a presence," said Andrew Thomas, executive director of the association. "It's a maintenance presence, it's a hospitality presence."
As many as 15 people have been hired to act as ambassadors, according to Eric Norton, spokesman for the association.
The improvement association is the village's Business Improvement District, a special district approved by a city council to allow the stakeholders in the area assess special fees to pay for improvements, including street clean up and extra patrols.
The village BID was . Unlike many such districts, the property owners in the area banded together to form the association, as opposed to the business owners. Thomas said that the association officially "opened" their doors on August 1.
"We started working with our board to start delivering on our promise," Thomas said, adding that there were several parliamentary procedures to work through, along with the usual meetings and sub-committee decisions to be made.
Still, putting the ambassadors on the streets happened remarkably quickly.
"I'm really proud of the speed at which we're able to get the services in place," Thomas said.
Norton said that he expects a little attrition among the first ambassadors, and that ultimately, the crew will consist of 12 members.
"Their shifts will overlap at times," Norton said, adding that in the early hours of the morning, there may be only one or two ambassadors patrolling and the two-person steam cleaning crew working. "Not too many people will be needing directions to Barney's Beanery at three a.m."
Andrews said that the ambassadors presence will help as additional eyes and ears for law enforcement.
Even with getting the ambassadors out, Andrews said that there's still much more to be done to improve the village for business.
"You start at the bottom of the pyramid and then you start moving up," he said. "It’s goingto be a process that will take use through the rest of this calendar year. Step two is strying to change the image of this place. We’re cleaning up and we’re open for business. The BID has a lot more stuff on its plate, too."