Once he becomes mayor, a job that requires the incumbent to chair meetings, sign checks and legislation and act as city spokesman, he expects to put in about 50 hours a week on municipal business.
"One shouldn't abuse one's privileges, but one does have a leadership role," Viterbi said.
Viterbi held a recent breakfast interview over a plate of eggs and cottage cheese at Nibbler's, a Beverly Hills coffee shop.
He said that in his spare time he hopes to complete work on his master's thesis, a study of how to improve transportation for the elderly in West Hollywood.
He completed his course work in public policy analysis at Claremont Graduate School five years ago, but put off completing the thesis until the last minute.
"Our transportation people said they're looking forward to seeing it," Viterbi said.
People 65 and older make up 22.5% of West Hollywood's population of about 37,000. Statewide, senior citizens make up 10.2% of the population.
Despite his youth, Viterbi is hardly a political neophyte. He founded a chapter of the American Jewish Congress while a student at UCLA and attributes his political ambition to the experiences of his parents in Europe before and during World War II.
His father, an Italian Jew, fled Italy in 1939, while his mother and her family dodged German troops in occupied Yugoslavia.
He was raised in a traditional Jewish home in San Diego and has made a point of arranging for kosher catering at the reception that will follow his swearing-in ceremony Monday night.
He also successfully fought a proposal to hold City Council meetings on Friday evenings, the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath.
"He's a very impressive person, mature and knowledgeable in general, plus he has a wonderful Jewish background," said Rabbi Gilbert Kollin of Hollywood Temple Beth El, where Viterbi was named to the board of trustees last year.
Described as Peacemaker
"This is unusual for someone so young, but he's an unusual fellow," Kollin said.
"Alan's strongest quality is his ability to get along with very diverse elements," Kollin said. "He's emerged as a moderator, a peacemaker, respected by landlords, tenants, developers and conservationists alike."
Viterbi was endorsed late in his first election campaign by the Coalition for Economic Survival, a tenants' rights group, but he came in for praise from Grafton P. Tanquary, president of West Hollywood Concerned Citizens, an organization made up largely of property owners.
"Alan has always been willing to listen, and that's very important," Tanquary said. Recently, he said, Viterbi was persuaded by his arguments on a point about rent control and raised it during a City Council debate.
Larry Gross, head of the Coalition for Economic Survival, said his group supported Viterbi in the 1984 election along with three candidates who were leaders of the CES "because we wanted to make sure there would be someone we could work with and someone who was supportive of our directions and our positions."
Although Viterbi is a member of the organization, Gross said CES activists and City Council members John Heilman, Helen Albert and Abbe Land have been voting "a lot more consistently along the line where we feel things should go."
Despite that, he said, "we don't have strong disagreements with him at this time." He said it was too early to say if CES would endorse Viterbi for reelection.
Others in West Hollywood were less enthusiastic, although even Ruth Williams, a two-time council candidate who is contemplating another campaign next year, said she likes Viterbi.
She said she has received complaints that he lacks sensitivity to some local concerns, criticized some of his appointments to city commissions and said he is overly ambitious.
"I'm sure he wants to further himself beyond West Hollywood," she said. "I wish him luck and hope something comes up very soon that he can move on to."
Viterbi does not deny his ambition. "I'll take it as a compliment," he said. "It's ambition that gets things done. I think that eventually I could be drawn to look elsewhere, but not now. I'm having too much fun in West Hollywood."