Six months after it was approved, the mixed-use ordinance in Beverly Hills has not changed the city like many of its critics predicted.
In fact, Ryan Gohlich, the city’s community development director, said no mixed-use projects have been submitted thus far when he updated the City Council on the ordinance, which allows mixed-use projects to be approved on many commercial streets by the Planning Commission and without City Council approval, half a year after it was approved.
“Since adoption of the ordinance approximately six months ago, staff has not received any formal applications or concept review submittals; however, we have had a number of inquiries,” Gohlich said.
Gohlich said he did not have an exact number of developers who have asked for more information, but he said it has been “a lot.”
“It’s a fairly regular inquiry, especially when the ordinance was first adopted,” Gohlich said.
That did not stop 54 people from writing to the City Council to denounce the ordinance, even six months after its adoption. No one wrote in support of the ordinance, though the council members defended their support and said they are satisfied that there have been questions about the ordinance without the sudden changes some critics projected.
“Nothing has really changed since we passed the ordinance, other than the fact that there are now inquiries, which is a good thing,” Councilman Lester Friedman said.
“Perhaps some will find comfort in the fact that this is a deliberate and thoughtful process,” Councilman Julian Gold added.
The only vote against the ordinance last year, Councilman John Mirisch, reiterated that he is open to changing or repealing the mixed-use ordinance, but he also took offense to the dissatisfaction some developers have expressed to Gohlich and other city staffers regarding the ordinance’s stipulations. Gohlich said despite hearing some members of the public say that the ordinance is “progress for the city,” potential applicants have sometimes said “the standards are not generous enough.”
Mirisch said the developers are benefiting for free – they can do more with their property and those wishing to create mixed-use projects need fewer approvals from the city – yet they still aren’t satisfied.
“We’re literally making their property worth more and it’s not good enough,” he said. “We’re giving up discretion, we’re giving up our ability in many ways to influence the project, we’re giving people something to which they had no right or entitlement and it’s not enough. Not enough corporate welfare and they’re not getting enough free [stuff] for their liking.”
Vice Mayor Lili Bosse said she was “shocked that [staff is] hearing that it’s not enough.”
“To me, that’s ridiculous. If that’s a barrier to entry, then that’s too bad,” Bosse said.
The ordinance will come back for another review in six months.
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