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October 11, 2012     Beverly Hills Weekly
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October 11, 2012
 

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ber of employees and hours worked. Class F is intended for businesses that lease commercial space: They are taxed based on gross receipts of approximately $23.53 per $1,000. As of January 2010, none of the 28 ambulatory surgery centers in Beverly Hills had filed under Class F, according to Allan Cooper, the group's attorney. "The law says the taxpayer has to know what to do. It has to be clear to the tax- payer," said Cooper. "This is not clear and therefore not constitutional." In 1976, the City Council voted 3-0 to approve an 'ordinance regarding busi- ness taxes, where lawyers, physicians and other professionals would pay a tax relative to employee counts. The three councilmembers who voted in favor were Councilmembers Joe Tilem, Richard Stone, both attorneys, and Charles Aronberg, a doctor. Councilmember Barry Brucker said he was surprised to learn that of the three voting councilmembers, two were lawyers and one was a doctor. "It's unusual given that they are direct beneficiaries of the classification change," he said in a phone interview. Speakers at the meeting said the claim that surgery centers rented out commercial space was unfair and untrue. "We do over 11,000 surgeries a year in our surgery center. These are real diseases that people come in for and we bill [the insurance company for] a colonoscopy and they pay a few hundred dollars to the surgery center," said Khodabakhsh. "The doctor is not renting a space, the doctor is performing a procedure there. The patients aren't renting the space, They're having a co|onoscopy." Surgery centers often provide medical procedures at lower costs than hospitals, according to Lisa Cassileth, a plastic sur- geon and owner of 436 Bedford Dr., an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) in the community. She said if surgery centers were taxed at higher rates,'healthcare costs would increase and push physicians to relocate to different areas. "ASC's are tenants. We ourselves sub- let from landlords who are already pay- ing taxes on this business, so we're not exactly sure where the rationale for this tax comes from," she said. "You don't tax ASC's at a higher rate unless you want to drive them out of our community." Specialty supporters believe this tax reclassification is the City's way of cir- cumventing voter's wishes. Measure P, turned down by voters in 2009, would have required professionals to pay $5 per $1,000 on gross receipts as do profession- als in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. "My sense is they're trying to gain other ways to find revenue for the City," said Dr. MariMadsen, who is On the governing board for Specialty Surgery: Center, after the meeting. Councilmember Lili Bosse attended the town hall meeting. The appeal hearing is set for Oct. 23, Councilmember Julian Gold and Mayor Willie Brien, who are both physicians, have recused themselves. Brien said after reviewing the appeal, he felt there was a potential conflict and felt recusing himself was the right thing to do. Bmcker said he will be open minded to hearing all partie.s during the appeal hearing. He will be looking for the fair- ness associated with the reclassification and how comparable cities, primarily Los Angeles, are taxing their surgery centers. Korbatov calls Highlights editorial "troubling" During a discussion Tuesday night about the Beverly High Watchtower y e:arbook staff' s pro- posed trip to a conference in Texas, Board of Education Usa forbatov: Unhappy with llorial member Lisa Korbatov responded to a recent Highlights editorial, which criti- cized the board's strategy of opposing the Metro Westside Subway Extension from tunneling under Beverly High. "I have no problems with people dis- agreeing with the board," Korbatov said. "What I do have a problem with is people who reach very resounding opinions with- out knowledge. I resent that because the board takes a tremendous amount of time and effort talking to experts, talking to all kinds of people we pay for their expert know/edge who are in many cases nation- ally known or world renowned. When a journalist student in Highlights writes an editorial that says 'Hey school board,' and then proceeds to say things that are absolutely borderline inane, I find that to be troubling." Korbatov, who was on the Highlights staff when she was at Beverly High, said she took issue that the editorial writer did not speak with board members or experts retained by the BHUSD prior to publica- tion. Chief Academic Officer Jen Tedford later clarified the agenda item was about a trip for the yearbook staff, not the Highlights staff. She explained the agen- da item was identified on the agenda as a "journalism" activity, because the Watchtower yearbook and Highlights staffs are part of the same organization. Prior to Tedford's clarification, Korbatov said she did not support the Highlights staff traveling to the confer- ence, because she said she wondered if the students needed to "go all the way to Texas to figure out they need to brush up on their journalistic skills." Board member Lewis Hall said he also took issue with the editorial, not because of the opinion expressed, but because he thought it was "poorly written." He said he supported the Highlights students trav- eling to the San Antonio conference if it would help them become better writers. Vice President Jake Manaster said a student reporter who wrote a separate news article about the Metro issue met Planning Commission approves Tory Burch expansion, in-lieu parking Tory Burch, a wom- en's apparel and accesso- ries retailer, has plans to expand an existing store- front before opening shop on the 300 block of Rodeo Drive. In a 3-0 vote Sept. 27, the Planning Commission approved the proposed project' s development plan review and appli- cation for in-lieu park- Proposed Tory Burch faade (left) ing. Commissioner Dan, Yukelson did not attend the Sept. 27 meeting, and the City is currently seeking a candidate to fill the commission's vacancy. Commission Chair Craig Corman said although the building is set to expand, the proposed square footage would remain below the maximum floor area ratio (FAR). The 1,400-square-foot expansion would make the existing mezzanine level into a full second floor and add a partial third floor, according to the staff report presented to the commission. Tory Burch would occupy the northern part of the building, while Italian design retailer Roberto Cavalli currently occupies the southern part of the build- ing. Under the proposal, Roberto Cavalli's space would not be altered. The space desig- nated for Tory Burch would increase from 24 feet tall to 41 feet tall, and expand from 2,175 square feet to approximately 3,575 square feet. The proposed expansion results in the need for a total of five additional parking spaces, which the applicant requested to satisfy through the City's in-lieu parking program. According to the staff report, sufficient parking is available in nearby public park- ing facilities at 440 North Camden Drive and 345 North Beverly Drive to satisfy the parking requirement. Staff found the project would not result in significant traffic impacts. The project was presented last month as a "project preview" to the Architectural Commission. Commission Chair Zale Richard Rubins said the presentation of designs was fully detailed, and the commission supported the project as presented. Rubins called the designs, which feature a clear glass storefront with concrete slab base, "unique." The applicant will return for a formal presentation at a future Architectural .Commission meeting. with him before publication. Manaster said he believed students took a different approach to editorials, but he suggested to Korbatov it could be a learning experience for the students. "I wouldn't want to discourage stu-. dents from speaking their mind, where the paper is that vehicle and where it's part of their learning experience," Manaster said. "This actually could be an opportu- nity as opposed to potentially silencing a perspective that needs a response. I would encourage you, as a person who worked very hard on the subject matter that was at hand, you could write a.response correct- ing the record, asking the author and the editorial board to consider your side, and I'll bet you they'll publish it." Korbatov reiterated she believed the editorial board should have done more research. "They wrote an editorial that frankly was very lacking," Korbatov said. "It was very, very assumptive and really very thin on any sort of understanding of the real issues at hand." Highlights advisor Gaby Herbst did not attend Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting. Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Herbst said Highlights would invite Korbatov to write a letter to the editor. "We always invite people who disagree With editorials to write in and let us know via a letter to the editor," Herbst said. Ultimately, the board voted 4-1 to approve the Watchtower staff's partici- pation in and travel to the conference in San Antonio Nov. 14-18. President Brian Goldberg, who did not return a phone call from the Weekly before deadline, voted no. He did not explain his vote during the discussion. Later in the meeting, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a resolution stating the board's opposition to Measure J, an extension of the Measure R half-cent sales tax that would help fund Metro projects, including facilitating the acceleration of construction of the Metro Westside Subway Extension. Measure J would extend the Measure R tax, which expires in 2'039, to 2069. Korbatov announced Tuesday night that through the election, she would be work- ing with a coalition of stakeholders from throughout the county, including the Bus Riders Union, to help defeat Measure J. briefs cont. on page 4 October 11- October 17, 2012 Page 3