Newspaper Archive of
Beverly Hills Weekly
Beverly Hills, California
Lyft
January 3, 2013     Beverly Hills Weekly
PAGE 6     (6 of 20 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
 
PAGE 6     (6 of 20 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
January 3, 2013
 

Newspaper Archive of Beverly Hills Weekly produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2018. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.




fromthehills City Oversteps Itself And Quick Bits on Civic Life By Rudy Cole Competition is healthy, even among newspapers and all of media. We are fortunate that this is really a two newspaper town, often, but not always, representing very diverse views on every- thing from local politics to national partisan issues. So, how does an electronic only news source fit into the mix? The immediacy of internet news coverage has changed and challenged all of media, but as an informa- tion source, it is still in its infancy. Which brings me to a Patch, a Beverly Hills outlet for a national internet news ser- vice that has, incredibly, won the endorse- ment of an official publication ofthe City of Beverly Hills. Strange, even amusing, but still troubling. Will the City soon advise on where to find the best Italian food or best buys in lingerie? Patch does have some hard working staff- ers who are quickly learning their craft and the life and times of our village. I know them, read their work and admire their zeal. But they are far from being even close to a total news resource. No fair-minded person could even begin to compare them with the City's two newspapers. However, an "official" City publication has done that and more. In an interview with Patch editor Marie Cunningham, the writer asked the following question: "The site (Patch) has quickly become the community's go to information source. How did you achieve it in a record time?" (Roxbury News, Winter 2013 sponsored by the Beverly Hills Community Service Department.) There is a side bar that makes this even more amusing. The interview was con- ducted by the estranged wife of Vice Mayor -John Mirisch, Magdalena. In fairness, we should give credit to Mrs. Mirisch for her involvement and support of senior adult programs, but someone in Community Services should have spored the offensive endorsement and done some editing, and even questioned whether it was an appropriate use of City resources or close to being factual. Another example of why it is risky to have "official" government publications. Although the City had no official entry in this year's Pasadena Rose Parade, an orga- nization with our name was in the event and even won one of the prizes: "Beverly Hills Pet Care Foundation." As faithful readers know, I have seri- ous reservations on the value of having a City funded float in the annual event. Do we really need the exposure and is the cost worth the advertising value? If people around the world have not yet heard the name Beverly Hills, we are really in deep PR trouble. In our hundred year history, there have been only a few times when we partici- pated - we did in 2011 butnot this year. The number of cities in the parade has also decreased, but not viewers around the world or visitors who see it live in Pasadena. Which brings us to the 100th anniversary celebration and plans to have a float in the parade next year. Frankly, while I still have reservations, the last battle over entering the event was so acrimonious and divisive as to make the whole decision-making process too overblown. If the committee feels they need a float and it is not beyond reason in costs, this column will remain doubtful but reserved. This should not degenerate into a battle that distracts from the 100th celebra= tion. However, as to how that whole pro- gram is presented and organized, we may have some questions. Speaking of good promotion, on January 13, the Beverly Hilton will host the 70th anniversary of the Golden Globes - and the world wide exposure for our city will outdistance any other single media event, including the Rose Parade. The Beverly Hilton and the foreign news- paper organization sponsors of the Golden Globes deserve our thanks for keeping this constantly evolving and improvement event in our city. Suggestion: As part of our anniversary, the City should find ways .of promoting the Golden Globes city-wide, including exhib- its on Rodeo Drive. of beverly One of the most challenging aspects of city governance is respecting and under- standing decisions made by past City coun- cils or City staff. As an example, when a project of any significance is approved, there are often important conditions imposed that should run with the entitlement. But often, as years pass, the owners return to the City for modi- fications on the conditions and are success- ful because the current decision makers are often not totally aware of why the rationales for the restrictions. As an example, very stringent conditions were imposed on Lexns for its planned new building. Will some future council under- stand the reasons or grant modifications? An example of how this can and does happen involves three of our hotels, all important to our economy. What is now the Thompson, near Wilshire and Canon, was approved with far more height and lack of parking than the codes required. So, clear restrictions were imposed to lessen neighborhood impacts, including limitation on roof uses. Now, years later, the roof does have guest services approved by th.e City. Thompson has clearly made upgrades in the look and feel of the hotel. Before this upscale chain, the hotel had been a Holiday Inn and even a Best Western. Side note: The dining and bar areas are much improved and very well designed. However, there are problems. While service was professional and friendly, at a recent breakfast, we were disappointed by the canned and not even chilled, orange juice, and the gratuity being automatically added to the check. (A not unreasonable eighteen percent.) The most egregious example of changing the rules of operation is what has happened to the L'Hermitage on Burton Way. No question, this is a fine hotel and an important source of City revenue. However, the history of its approval is an almost clas- sic example of how the zoning process can sometimes be totally manipulated - none of this the responsibility of the current own- ers. However, this hotel, and the Beverly Hills, are totally inside residential zones - there are no other commercial uses nearby. How did the developers win approval? There was a peculiar part of the then- zon- ing rules that actually permitted conversion of apartment buildings to hotels as a matter of right. When the Ashkenazy family first considered a hotel on the current site, they were told it was not permitted under codes, but if they built an apartment structure, it could be legally converted for hotel use. The City quickly adopted rules that made future conversions illegal, but too late to prevent the hotel from being built. But the City did impose restrictions, including din- ing venues. Now most of those rules have been removed and a full service, highly successful hotel operates entirely within a residential zone: The Beverly Hills had a different history. It was totally constructed before a City gen- eral plan would have prohibited its creation in the middle of high priced residential. In fact, one investor owner sold the property OUt of.fear that if the hotel was damaged by fire or earthquake, it might not win approval to be rebuilt. (An unlikelyfear, considering the history and economic city benefits.) One more historical note: Before the City made it impossible, there were hotels origi- nally built as apartments in the southwest section of the City, including one o.n South McCarty. *** Delayed condolences to the Warren Aekerman family, their loss is really shared by our whole community. Few people gave as much back as Warren, who always seemed bigger than life. Ackerman was a years long stabilizing force on the Chamber of Commerce and as a pace setter in the business community. His House of Uniforms set high standards of service and excellence,as did Warren in all of his many contributions to civic life. He will be missed. one note about the intensive debate on pension reform for government workers: Obviously, changes should only be made for new contracts and for recently hired, not for those who served under agreed rules. But while the costs and impacts on City budgets are clearly important, we too often forget the benefits. When City employees remain on the job for their whole careers, savings in turnover are enormous. Just consider what we save in recruitment and training alone and balance that against the costs of retention and life time service of staff members. In any case, a very happy New Year and aren't you glad that both national parties are not running Beverly Hills? Rudy Cole served for eight years as a member and chair of the city's Recreation & Parks Commission. He was also President of the Greystone Fo&fndation and served on three other city committees. Rudy can be reached at: Rudy @bhweekly.com. briefs cont. from page 5 asked staff to look into whether or not the pool could be converted to salt water. The Board will also vote on whether or not to approve a contract with Henrikson and Owen Group to provide engineering design for the installation of a new kitchen hood in the kitchen classroom at Beverly High as well as a contract for the enginee- ring design to move the district data center to Beverly High's Science and Technology Page 6 Beverly Hills Weekly Building from its current location at the District office. The proposed projects will be paid for with the Measure E bond fund. "Fiscal cliff" temporarily averted; BHUSD budget not affected by federal cuts Though the U.S. House of Representatives announced on Monday they would not vote on the fiscal cliff deal failing to meet the New Year's deadline,: representatives were able to approve a deal to avoid automatic tax hikes and spending cuts late Jan. 1. On Nov. 27, the Board of Education voted to approve an interim budget for the 2013-201,4 year that outlined $3.85 million in cuts. The Board is required to submit a budget to the Los Angeles County Office of Education with a positive certification. When .presenting to the Board, Chief Administrative Officer Dawnalyn Leopard- Murakawa said the budget assumes the fed- eral legislators would reach an agreement and if they did not, sequestration would occur resulting in an 8.2 percent reduction, or an estimated $150,000, in cuts from the district's budget. The deal only delays sequestration for two months. Congress will have to meet again in March to address the budget. briefs cont. on page 9 fromthehills City Oversteps Itself And Quick Bits on Civic Life By Rudy Cole Competition is healthy, even among newspapers and all of media. We are fortunate that this is really a two newspaper town, often, but not always, representing very diverse views on every- thing from local politics to national partisan issues. So, how does an electronic only news source fit into the mix? The immediacy of internet news coverage has changed and challenged all of media, but as an informa- tion source, it is still in its infancy. Which brings me to a Patch, a Beverly Hills outlet for a national internet news ser- vice that has, incredibly, won the endorse- ment of an official publication ofthe City of Beverly Hills. Strange, even amusing, but still troubling. Will the City soon advise on where to find the best Italian food or best buys in lingerie? Patch does have some hard working staff- ers who are quickly learning their craft and the life and times of our village. I know them, read their work and admire their zeal. But they are far from being even close to a total news resource. No fair-minded person could even begin to compare them with the City's two newspapers. However, an "official" City publication has done that and more. In an interview with Patch editor Marie Cunningham, the writer asked the following question: "The site (Patch) has quickly become the community's go to information source. How did you achieve it in a record time?" (Roxbury News, Winter 2013 sponsored by the Beverly Hills Community Service Department.) There is a side bar that makes this even more amusing. The interview was con- ducted by the estranged wife of Vice Mayor -John Mirisch, Magdalena. In fairness, we should give credit to Mrs. Mirisch for her involvement and support of senior adult programs, but someone in Community Services should have spored the offensive endorsement and done some editing, and even questioned whether it was an appropriate use of City resources or close to being factual. Another example of why it is risky to have "official" government publications. Although the City had no official entry in this year's Pasadena Rose Parade, an orga- nization with our name was in the event and even won one of the prizes: "Beverly Hills Pet Care Foundation." As faithful readers know, I have seri- ous reservations on the value of having a City funded float in the annual event. Do we really need the exposure and is the cost worth the advertising value? If people around the world have not yet heard the name Beverly Hills, we are really in deep PR trouble. In our hundred year history, there have been only a few times when we partici- pated - we did in 2011 butnot this year. The number of cities in the parade has also decreased, but not viewers around the world or visitors who see it live in Pasadena. Which brings us to the 100th anniversary celebration and plans to have a float in the parade next year. Frankly, while I still have reservations, the last battle over entering the event was so acrimonious and divisive as to make the whole decision-making process too overblown. If the committee feels they need a float and it is not beyond reason in costs, this column will remain doubtful but reserved. This should not degenerate into a battle that distracts from the 100th celebra= tion. However, as to how that whole pro- gram is presented and organized, we may have some questions. Speaking of good promotion, on January 13, the Beverly Hilton will host the 70th anniversary of the Golden Globes - and the world wide exposure for our city will outdistance any other single media event, including the Rose Parade. The Beverly Hilton and the foreign news- paper organization sponsors of the Golden Globes deserve our thanks for keeping this constantly evolving and improvement event in our city. Suggestion: As part of our anniversary, the City should find ways .of promoting the Golden Globes city-wide, including exhib- its on Rodeo Drive. of beverly One of the most challenging aspects of city governance is respecting and under- standing decisions made by past City coun- cils or City staff. As an example, when a project of any significance is approved, there are often important conditions imposed that should run with the entitlement. But often, as years pass, the owners return to the City for modi- fications on the conditions and are success- ful because the current decision makers are often not totally aware of why the rationales for the restrictions. As an example, very stringent conditions were imposed on Lexns for its planned new building. Will some future council under- stand the reasons or grant modifications? An example of how this can and does happen involves three of our hotels, all important to our economy. What is now the Thompson, near Wilshire and Canon, was approved with far more height and lack of parking than the codes required. So, clear restrictions were imposed to lessen neighborhood impacts, including limitation on roof uses. Now, years later, the roof does have guest services approved by th.e City. Thompson has clearly made upgrades in the look and feel of the hotel. Before this upscale chain, the hotel had been a Holiday Inn and even a Best Western. Side note: The dining and bar areas are much improved and very well designed. However, there are problems. While service was professional and friendly, at a recent breakfast, we were disappointed by the canned and not even chilled, orange juice, and the gratuity being automatically added to the check. (A not unreasonable eighteen percent.) The most egregious example of changing the rules of operation is what has happened to the L'Hermitage on Burton Way. No question, this is a fine hotel and an important source of City revenue. However, the history of its approval is an almost clas- sic example of how the zoning process can sometimes be totally manipulated - none of this the responsibility of the current own- ers. However, this hotel, and the Beverly Hills, are totally inside residential zones - there are no other commercial uses nearby. How did the developers win approval? There was a peculiar part of the then- zon- ing rules that actually permitted conversion of apartment buildings to hotels as a matter of right. When the Ashkenazy family first considered a hotel on the current site, they were told it was not permitted under codes, but if they built an apartment structure, it could be legally converted for hotel use. The City quickly adopted rules that made future conversions illegal, but too late to prevent the hotel from being built. But the City did impose restrictions, including din- ing venues. Now most of those rules have been removed and a full service, highly successful hotel operates entirely within a residential zone: The Beverly Hills had a different history. It was totally constructed before a City gen- eral plan would have prohibited its creation in the middle of high priced residential. In fact, one investor owner sold the property OUt of.fear that if the hotel was damaged by fire or earthquake, it might not win approval to be rebuilt. (An unlikelyfear, considering the history and economic city benefits.) One more historical note: Before the City made it impossible, there were hotels origi- nally built as apartments in the southwest section of the City, including one o.n South McCarty. *** Delayed condolences to the Warren Aekerman family, their loss is really shared by our whole community. Few people gave as much back as Warren, who always seemed bigger than life. Ackerman was a years long stabilizing force on the Chamber of Commerce and as a pace setter in the business community. His House of Uniforms set high standards of service and excellence,as did Warren in all of his many contributions to civic life. He will be missed. one note about the intensive debate on pension reform for government workers: Obviously, changes should only be made for new contracts and for recently hired, not for those who served under agreed rules. But while the costs and impacts on City budgets are clearly important, we too often forget the benefits. When City employees remain on the job for their whole careers, savings in turnover are enormous. Just consider what we save in recruitment and training alone and balance that against the costs of retention and life time service of staff members. In any case, a very happy New Year and aren't you glad that both national parties are not running Beverly Hills? Rudy Cole served for eight years as a member and chair of the city's Recreation & Parks Commission. He was also President of the Greystone Fo&fndation and served on three other city committees. Rudy can be reached at: Rudy @bhweekly.com. briefs cont. from page 5 asked staff to look into whether or not the pool could be converted to salt water. The Board will also vote on whether or not to approve a contract with Henrikson and Owen Group to provide engineering design for the installation of a new kitchen hood in the kitchen classroom at Beverly High as well as a contract for the enginee- ring design to move the district data center to Beverly High's Science and Technology Page 6 Beverly Hills Weekly Building from its current location at the District office. The proposed projects will be paid for with the Measure E bond fund. "Fiscal cliff" temporarily averted; BHUSD budget not affected by federal cuts Though the U.S. House of Representatives announced on Monday they would not vote on the fiscal cliff deal failing to meet the New Year's deadline,: representatives were able to approve a deal to avoid automatic tax hikes and spending cuts late Jan. 1. On Nov. 27, the Board of Education voted to approve an interim budget for the 2013-201,4 year that outlined $3.85 million in cuts. The Board is required to submit a budget to the Los Angeles County Office of Education with a positive certification. When .presenting to the Board, Chief Administrative Officer Dawnalyn Leopard- Murakawa said the budget assumes the fed- eral legislators would reach an agreement and if they did not, sequestration would occur resulting in an 8.2 percent reduction, or an estimated $150,000, in cuts from the district's budget. The deal only delays sequestration for two months. Congress will have to meet again in March to address the budget. briefs cont. on page 9