During the Jan. 24 Beverly Hills City Council meeting, City Clerk Huma Ahmed announced that two petitions opposing the Cheval Blanc development had received enough signatures to either repeal the ordinances approving the project or trigger a referendum in which residents will be able to vote on the ordinances.
The council will hold a vote during a meeting next month to determine which option it will take, Ahmed said. If the council decides to hold a referendum, election details will be discussed at the A petition opposing an ordinance that approved the project’s zoning received 2,959 signatures, while a petition opposing the project’s development agreement received 3,077 signatures, according to a staff report.
Resident Darian Bojeaux, a staunch opponent of the development, said she joined the canvassing effort after learning that Unite Here Local 11, a labor union representing service workers, had started gathering signatures.
“I’ve always been opposed to the project, but I and many other people who were opposed did not bother to object before the planning commission and the City Council because we felt it was a done deal,” Bojeaux said. “As soon as I found out [Unite Here] was willing to do this I was really on board.”
While some of the signatories were motivated by dissatisfaction with the terms of the development agreement, the majority were concerned that the luxury development by LVMH would ruin the character of the Golden Triangle, Bojeaux said.
Located on the 400 blocks of North Rodeo and North Beverly drives, the mixed-use project would include a hotel with 109 rooms, roughly 25,000 square feet of retail space spread over two floors, a private club for up to 500 members, restaurants, a wellness center and pool deck.
Rather than commence a referendum, Bojeaux hoped that the council would scrap the ordinances and start from scratch, approving a smaller development that she felt was more in step with the surrounding area, she said.
Councilman John Mirisch, the lone council member who voted against the project, has denounced the development agreement for favoring LVMH over Beverly Hills residents and failing to raise funds for affordable housing.
Other council members, however, have said that the project, which could generate as much as $1 billion in tax revenue over a 30-year period, will provide the city with immense benefits years in coming years.
Mayor Lili Bosse has also taken aim at the canvassing effort, claiming that it was driven by an outside union trying to make decisions on behalf of residents.
“As I see it, the union does not reflect the views or priorities of Beverly Hills, and they do not have our best interests at heart,” she stated.
Bojeaux and Mirisch refuted that characterization.
“The union can’t decide anything. They can help us gather signatures, but they can’t decide anything for us,” Bojeaux said.
Mirisch said he was not surprised that the petitioners cleared the threshold for triggering a referendum, as there was likely more opposition to the project and the development agreement than some might have realized.
While Mirisch expects his colleagues to vote in favor of the referendum, he plans to vote for rescinding the ordinances, he said.
In a Dec. 15 Facebook post, Mirisch wrote that it was misguided to talk about an outside union influencing city politics considering the number of lobbyists employed by LVMH, whose CEO, Bernard Arnault, is the world’s richest man.
“Whatever the motivation of the union sponsoring the referendum, it is the residents of Beverly Hills who would vote on the project and the bad deal,” Mirisch wrote. “Whatever the motivation of the union, a referendum would give the residents the chance to fix an awful deal that sells our community short and misrepresents who we are at our core.”
Should the city decide to hold a referendum instead of rescinding the ordinances, Bojeaux plans to continue organizing against the development, she said.
“Our plans are to get together a campaign that’s participated in by residents. We’ll put our heads together and try to educate the rest of the residents,” she said. “When all the facts came out, if everybody really wanted this gargantuan thing … I would be much better with it.”
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