On Monday, the West Hollywood City Council unanimously approved a resolution urging for the removal of Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “Earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is an honor. When one belittles and attacks minorities, immigrants, people with disabilities or women — the honor no longer exists,” West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem John D’Amico told entertainment website TheWrap.
For anyone in support of the star’s removal, this sounds like an historic victory, especially since no star has ever been removed from the walk. The only wrinkle is the Council has no jurisdiction over the Walk of Fame. That power lies with the Los Angeles City Council and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which has refused all previous calls for stars to be removed, including Bill Cosby’s.
“As of now, there are no plans to remove any stars from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
In 2015, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Leron Gubler gave The Hollywood Reporter a statement about the decision to keep Cosby: “The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a registered historic landmark. Once a star has been added to the Walk, it is considered a part of the historic fabric of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Because of this, we have never removed a star from the Walk.” The Chamber has reissued that statement again and again with every new word of the star’s vandalism or destruction over the years.
The West Hollywood City Council, however, seems to hold a bit more weight with the Chamber. In response to Monday’s vote, Gubler told CNN, “Once we receive a communication from the City of West Hollywood, it will be referred to our Executive Committee for consideration at their next meeting. As of now, there are no plans to remove any stars from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
Despite Gubler’s statement, the City of Los Angeles both “has the ultimate responsibility for the condition of the Walk of Fame” and houses the Department of City Planning. That Department is home to the Office of Historic Resources, which controls the designation and protection of historic-cultural monuments, one of which is the Walk of Fame. However, historic-monument status does not protect a property from being demolished or altered. According to the OHR website, interior and exterior alterations to historic-cultural monuments require review by the Cultural Heritage Commission “in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, the nationally accepted criteria for evaluating change to historic properties.”
When people are unhappy with one of our honorees, we would hope that they would project their anger in more positive ways than to vandalize a California State landmark. People can make a difference by voting & not destroying public property. Read statement https://t.co/cRuHtfrN9Rpic.twitter.com/NSDZQxSnBK— Hollywood Chamber (@HollywoodArea) July 25, 2018
So if the OHR’s Cultural Heritage Commission decided it wanted to go ahead and remove Donald Trump’s star (something it has never publicly suggested), it could, provided it follows the Standard’s advice against alterations that “create a false sense of historical development” and for preservation of a site as a “physical record of its time, place and use.” That last part becomes a bit tricky to parse in regards to the Walk of Fame, a monument that is altered annually with the addition of new stars. Is removing Trump’s star absolving us of a past when the entertainment world honored someone who even at his best was still a colossal buffoon, and set a precedent for removals of other stars? Does keeping it tarnish the dubious honor the Walk holds as a whole? These are questions the City of Los Angeles and the Cultural Heritage Commission will have to juggle should they take West Hollywood’s resolution seriously. Meanwhile, Trump’s star isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.