Mayor Barry Brucker, responding to concerns raised by Councilman John Mirisch, is starting a mayor’s task force on development for the southeast part of Beverly Hills.
“I am putting together a mayor’s task force on redevelopment … aimed at encouraging [southeast] property owners to spruce up their empty properties,” Brucker announced Tuesday at a PTA Council meeting.
The so-called southeast, located south of Wilshire Boulevard and east of Beverly Drive, has a disproportionately large number of shut businesses and empty lots.
Mirisch told Patch that he has been pushing for such a task force along with city funding for the last few years as he watched more buildings become vacant along Olympic and Robertson boulevards. He lives in that neighborhood and believes a lack of city parking facilities is partly to blame.
“As the only council member who lives south of Santa Monica Boulevard, I need to push hard to make this a council priority,” he said. “I am glad we are doing something, but it has to be backed up with money.”
At a City Council meeting Tuesday night, Brucker named Mirisch to chair the task force. But the council majority rejected a call by Mirisch and Councilwoman Lili Bosse to allocate city capital improvement funds for the task force.
“Rather then just say we will do another study and postpone it, I would like us to take some concrete action and find some actual dollars,” Mirisch told his colleagues after showing them photos of shut buildings and empty lots along Olympic Boulevard between Robertson Boulevard and Doheny Drive.
“What is sorely needed is parking,” he said. “We cannot tell property owners what to do, but we can buy one of these properties and build a parking garage, landscape it and have stores. That would kick-start business for existing property owners.”
While the entire council agreed with Mirisch on the need for redevelopment in the southeast, a debate began when Bosse called for reallocating $6.5 million in funds from the planned Roxbury Park renovation to the southeast task force. As Patch has reported, over plans to spend $14.7 million on Phase One of the proposed Roxbury Park Master Plan.
“We have designated $55.9 million for CIP [capital improvement projects] funds for 2011-12,” Bosse said. “Why is $6.5 million from this budget going to Roxbury Park?”
Most residents, herself included, initially supported the master plan because they believed all funds for the renovation were coming from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department budget, she said.
“I would like to propose that we use that $6.5 million as a potential fund for the southeast … which should come from a building fund,” Bosse said.
Brucker quickly rejected that idea, saying it could jeopardize plans to revitalize Roxbury.
“No, I am keeping Roxbury Park on the table, but putting something else on the table too,” Bosse replied.
Councilmen Willie Brien and Julian Gold, however, agreed with Brucker.
“I don’t support setting aside money … without a specific spending plan,” Brien said. “I am guessing it will take [the task force] three to six months to develop a plan.”
Brien did agree with Mirisch’s call to start planning to allocate funds for the southeast.
“You are right—we need to start setting aside money,” he said to Mirisch.
“Going forward, maybe in next year’s budget we can start allocating funds for this and as staff works on setting priorities, we can look for money for the short term,” Brien said. “There are a lot of ways we can fill some needs, but let’s not change the budget a few weeks before we are adopting a new budget.”
The city’s fiscal year begins July 1, and by that time the next budget must be adopted.
The mayor’s task force on redevelopment in the southeast will be seeking input and members from southeast homeowners, businesses and parents from . For further information on the new task force, contact or .
Editor's Note: This article originally stated that Horace Mann is the only city school in the proposed southeast redevelopment area. is also in that area.