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Council Seeks to Redevelop Southeast Part of City

Councilman Mirisch will lead a task force to look at ways to revitalize the southeast section of town, but the effort has no city funds at this time.

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.

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Lily Daisy May 26, 2011 at 03:04 PM
All I can say is that with Mirisch at the helm, you can bet it will be done right!
Eddie May 26, 2011 at 03:21 PM
If the Southeast is defined as South of Wilshire and East of Beverly Drive, then Beverly Vista Elementary School is also in the area. And many of the empty lots and stores on Olympic Blvd., between Doheny and Rexford, are within 6 blocks of BV . I hope the coucil includes parents of BV students on the task force.
Laurie Lande May 26, 2011 at 05:52 PM
You are right Eddie, BV would be in that area. Mayor Brucker specifically mentioned Horace Mann in his comments, but hopefully the task force will also include BV parents.
Tom Pease May 26, 2011 at 06:27 PM
I've been taking Olympic and Wilshire buses home recently and am shocked at how those stretches on the East side look. Good for Councilmember Mirisch for spearheading a plan to do something about it long-term, and thanks to Mayor Brucker for creating the task force and making the point that the City should be contacting property owners about the condition of their vacant parcels now.
John Mirisch May 26, 2011 at 06:36 PM
I agree with Eddie. I hope the task force will include residents from the entire southeast. I'd define the southeast as: east of Beverly Dr., south of Wilshire to Robertson, and everything to the east of Robertson. The main areas we should focus on upgrading are: Olympic east of Beverly, all of the BH part of Robertson, and Wilshire, east of Robertson to the eastern City limits. I'd also include the block of La Cienega south of Wilshire. These areas have the potential to become one of the jewels in the BH crown. We should focus on livability, walkability and enhancing the community character throughout the entire southeast.
WM GOLDSTEIN May 26, 2011 at 09:15 PM
THE LAST 'UPGRADING OLYMPIC' PLAN CALLED FOR CUTTING DOWN ALL THE FICUS TREES ALONG THAT HEAVILY TRAVELLED BOULEVARD! WHATCHA GOT IN MIND THIS TIME AROUND?
John Mirisch May 27, 2011 at 04:02 AM
Yes, and there was also a plan for east Wilshire which advocated the development of a "Grand Sidewalk." That report is in some drawer gathering dust. I think this time around, we're gonna have to do a bit more than cut down trees (in general, cities seem to like getting rid of ficus trees because of the root damage). How about, for starters, some parking, so that property owners can purchase in lieu parking and develop? How about walkable areas featuring cafes, boutiques and maybe even some landscaping beyond overgrown ivy and weeks? How about features that help create the feeling of neighborhood?
PlebisPower May 27, 2011 at 07:38 AM
I agree with the Councilman when he says, "We should focus on livability, walkability and enhancing the community character throughout the entire southeast." These small-scale commercial strips are the armature around which a thriving local economy will form. Consider how small businesses in other cities of neighborhoods - Portland, Seattle, SF, and now Brooklyn - know their community. In lieu of so many nail parlors and spas and the like, thriving commercial districts there cater to well-rounded interests. In our area, there are too many businesses that don't contribute to that ecology (i.e., diversity) of commerce but instead drain from it. One correction I would make, Councilman Mirisch: livability, walkability, and bikeability. Cyclists, like walkers, are locavores: we graze where we can travel under our own power. The example cities (above) are the tip of the iceberg. Invite cyclists and encourage them to linger and we're on our way to revitalized neighborhood commerce. Mark Elliot www.BetterBikeBeverlyHills.org
DoughBoy June 14, 2011 at 11:35 PM
If the greedy developers get their way and the MTA subway is placed under BHHS, let's turn a section of Olympic Blvd into a pedestrian- and bike-only strip that forces them to actually take the subway or drive a circuitous route to their beloved Century City.

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