The City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to move forward with plans to adopt an agreement with that keeps the company in Beverly Hills for the next 15 years, but did not commit to UTA's request to install street signage identifying the talent agency's new Civic Center Drive address as "United Talent Agency Drive."
Mayor William Brien, along with Councilmen Barry Brucker and Julian Gold, voted to approve the agreement. Vice Mayor John Mirisch and Councilwoman Lili Bosse voted against it. Brien said that the subject of street signage would be taken up by a subcommittee in an effort to reach some consensus on the issue. The council appeared unanimous in its opposition to renaming a portion of Civic Center Drive as part of the agreement.
"I do have a problem isolating one company, and focusing on that one company, as opposed to maybe calling it Entertainment Way or Entertainment Drive," Brucker said.
Former Beverly Hills Mayor Mark Egerman, the attorney representing UTA, said that during negotiations with city staff, UTA was assured that while Beverly Hills would not legally change the street name, it would install United Talent Agency Drive or UTA Drive placards below Civic Center Drive markers, as has been done with other .
"Signage is an extremely important issue for my client. They are in the branding business and they were being wooed very heavily...outside of our city," Egerman said. "It was sufficiently important to us that [UTA] delayed in the execution of their lease until we thought we had a meeting of the minds on signage."
UTA inked a 15-year lease with Tishman Speyer late last year to occupy 120,000 square feet of space at 9326 and 9346 Civic Center Drive, which will be renamed UTA Plaza. It consists of two four-story buildings and will also house . About 350 UTA employees will move to the Civic Center Drive offices from the company's current headquarters at 9560 Wilshire Blvd., where the talent agency has been located for the past 21 years.
UTA Co-Founder, CEO and Managing Director Jeremy Zimmer said he was "very disappointed" that the council did not support the installation of signage identifying the street with the talent agency.
"The complex is called UTA Plaza," Zimmer said. "I was so excited to tell my partners about the signage. It was such a big celebration at my company."
City staff had recommended that the council adopt the UTA agreement in full. The agreement's provisions included the following specifications:
- The terms of the agreement last until April 2027.
- During that time, UTA will maintain its primary California offices in Beverly Hills.
- Signage containing the words "United Talent Agency Drive" or "UTA Drive" will be placed along Civic Center Drive at the expense of UTA.
- The will move westerly to allow vehicular access to UTA's office building driveway on Civic Center Drive.
- The right-turn arrow for traffic heading in an easterly direction on Santa Monica Boulevard and turning right onto Beverly Boulevard will be maintained.
In addition to removing the provision calling for the renaming of the street, the item regarding maintenance of the right-turn arrow was also removed.
Aside from issues surrounding signage, Mirisch and Bosse also challenged the request to move the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market westward so that it does not block UTA's main driveway on Civic Center Drive. The market is located on the 9300 block of Civic Center Drive and is open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"In terms of the farmers' market being moved, I'm very disappointed that this proposal was not addressed with...the residents that use that very popular event on Sunday," Bosse said. "We're not asking for a big inconvenience to ask for those people who are going to arrive in [UTA's] building on Sunday to use a different entrance."
If the farmer's market is moved, Rexford Drive would become the market's main entrance and exit, according to Assistant City Manager Mahdi Aluzri.
Mirisch expressed frustration that the council did not have a chance to discuss the policy implications of the UTA agreement—like the renaming of the street or relocation of the farmers' market—before it was presented at the formal council meeting.
"I would prefer if we could send it back and have the specifics vetted either through a liaison or through a study session to see if we can't maybe resolve some of these issues," Mirisch said.