They say, “You can’t fight City Hall.” Well, I believe that we shouldn’t have to fight City Hall. Local government exists to serve the residents, not the other way around. When I first campaigned for City Council, I pledged to put residents first. That meant I wouldn’t put special interests ahead of the public interest. Nor would I look to developers or other outside groups for direction. Instead I will prioritize our residential quality of life and put you first.
In my work on the Council, and as Mayor this past year and in 2013-2014, I hope you agree that my record proves that I’ve honored that pledge. Let me highlight some of my accomplishments in office.
Fiscal responsibility is one of the core duties – or should be — for any elected official. Unfunded pension liabilities loom large over many municipalities and Beverly Hills is no exception.
- I stood firm against giveaways in our contract negotiations with city employee associations.
- And I urged Council to limit increases to our generous salary and benefits packages.
- I also opposed what I believed to be unwarranted increases in water rates.
- I have taken a firm line on city costs.
Transparency is a cornerstone of accountable government.
- As Mayor I created the Sunshine Task Force to promote openness at City Hall and to increase public participation among residents.
- We were able to change the City’s e-mail retention policy from a very short thirty days to a full two years. Had that outgoing policy been in place today, we might, for example, never have learned the story behind the improper clear-cutting of trees on parcels 12 and 13.
Technology is crucial to keeping Beverly Hills a world-class city. We have already taken important steps toward making ours a ‘smart city.’
- We are moving forward with Fiber to the Premises to provide fast, affordable Internet connectivity to households. But there is more to do.
- Autonomous vehicles is the leading edge of transportation research today, and I want Beverly Hills to become an early adopter. My proposal for a municipal autonomous shuttle system, I believe, will address our city’s congestion and parking challenges. It would also put our city at the forefront of outside-the-box thinking where it comes to problems like reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- I support the increased use of close-circuit cameras and ALPR’s (automatic license plate readers) along with other emerging technologies, which can be a valuable force multiplier for our police and make our City even safer.
Protecting our city
Protecting our city is every elected official’s first responsibility. I will continue to fight for the City’s unique charm and quality of life.
- In 2010 I helped to craft a General Plan that aims to keep Beverly Hills a low-rise, human-scale and livable city. It is not just a suggestion; the General Plan must be respected. Yet there are unending efforts to circumvent the planning process. Measure HH, for example, divided our community and it was completely unnecessary.
- In contrast, along with Councilmember Lili Bosse I negotiated the best development agreement ever in our city’s history. It will bring an estimated $820 million in revenue to City coffers over thirty years. And it didn’t require an initiative to do it.
- As one of the original proponents of our Dog Park, I have proposed converting most of the rest of the City’s adjacent five acres in the ‘Industrial Zone’ into a park or another municipal use, such as a museum. This would truly be a public space for all of our resident to enjoy.
Historic preservation is important if we want to keep the character of our distinctive Beverly Hills neighborhoods. We have seen potential historic districts like North Oakhurst Drive threatened by a massive new development (which Council denied on appeal) while new homes proposed for single-family districts tend to disrupt the long-established character of the street. We have accomplishments behind us, but we must better preserve the historic integrity of streets like Oakhurst and North Sierra (and many more).
- The city has inventoried of all of our structures so that we can identify those that we feel deserve special recognition – and preservation – as part of our historic heritage.
- We have created a Mills Act program to incentivize owners with tax breaks so that they can care for their historic properties.
- We hired an urban designer to ensure that our Mills Act program operates in accord with our preservation objectives.
- We can do more to ensure that our mass and bulk regulations are consistent with the General Plan’s emphasis on community character. City Council recently declined to revisit the process we use for single-family architectural review. But I believe that changes do need to be made to allow closer scrutiny of all new home designs in the central area of the city.