The Beverly Hills Sunshine Task Force met for a second time this week following on last month’s initial meeting, wherein participants highlighted instances where the city falls short on sharing information. In that meeting, several new initiatives were proposed to nudge the city toward open government principles. On this month’s agenda was a staff presentation on West Hollywood, Walnut Creek and little-known city of Villa Park’s efforts. But in this 1-hour meeting we focused instead on proposals for an ombudsman and greater lobbying disclosure. There was scant time to address other issues as suggested last month much less ‘next steps.’ Here’s the recap.
Remember the attempted murder & hit-and-run on a cyclist in Beverly Hills back on April 3rd? You’d think a crime like that would garner significant media attention seeing as it was captured by CCTV video. That it would generate concern among commissioners on the Traffic and Parking Commission. That the body receiving a standing monthly police report on collisions and citations would bother to ask. Today we tuned into the live commission broadcast to learn that commissioners wouldn’t be wrestling with this threat to public safety because they had other pressing business. Like the assault never happened.
Mayor John Mirisch’s transparency-focused Sunshine Task Force (agenda) held its inaugural meeting this past Tuesday. A handful of folks from all corners of Beverly Hills came together to talk about what can be done to make City Hall more open and to make public information more accessible. The mission as framed simply by the Mayor: “To shine a light upon the workings of city government to encourage public participation.” With two sitting councilmembers, two former mayors, various neighborhood leaders and a bike advocate at the table, there was no shortage of diagnoses or suggestions for a cure.
Beverly Hills pulled out all of the stops to celebrate the installation of the new City Council this past Wednesday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences theater. From a taste of Sweden to incoming Mayor John Mirisch’s recipe for community right here in Beverly Hills, the ceremony hit all the high notes after a season of Council discord and a partisan election characterized by negative attacks. Yet this new Council’s installation suggested that change may actually be in the air. Of course the potential for change comes every two years, but in our parochial burgh, it’s usually only the Council nameplates that rotate even as our entrenched resistance to open government endures. Will the coming two years … Continue reading
The Beverly Hills Traffic & Parking Commission met this week to further consider a long-continued bicycle rack agenda item. In brief, the city is entertaining a bike parking program that could include city-initiated bicycle rack installations and a bicycle rack-on-request program. It can’t come too soon: local businesses owners have asked for them; cyclists beg for them; and every city but ours is already installing them. For the past year, though, Public Works has only talked and it has been years since any bicycle rack in our city has hit a sidewalk. We’re curious to know the progress that’s been made and eager to learn when we might see a new bicycle rack touch ground.
Beverly Hills City Council today recommended a limited set of improvements today for two candidate corridors under the city’s Bike Route Pilot Program. Per direction provided to staff, sharrows and signage on Crescent Drive and Burton Way will be installed once implementation particulars are brought back to Council for approval (at some unspecified date). While the recommended measures on two routes are less than cyclists really need, we must note that this is the first time a policy-making body in Beverly Hills actually gave the nod to bike facilities. This could be the beginning of a bike-friendly city network, or a distraction from the real planning we’ve yet to do. Time will tell!
We’ve followed the Gateway overlay zone planning process for two years because an impending policy change could well foreclose any opportunity to realize Santa Monica Boulevard as a signature active mobility corridor for Beverly Hills. When the City Council recently sent the proposal back for reworking, it seemed a reprieve to argue again for vision. But last week’s liaison meeting suggested to project applicants and their lobbyists to expect a pretty sweet developer giveaway – at the expense of cyclists, walkers and nearby residents.
If you’ve been waiting for Beverly Hills to install bike racks, we’ve got good news and bad. The good news is that the city may move ahead on three initiatives: racks for city properties, installations in commercial districts, and a rack-on-request program. This week the Traffic & Parking Commission discussed the particulars. The bad news is that the Commission continued the discussion until September, which means we’re approaching three years since the Commission formed a bike committee to implement just this kind of improvement but with scant progress to show.
For those who have followed the progress of the proposed Gateway overlay zone for the western end of Beverly Hills, closure is still not at hand! We’ve covered this most significant rezoning policy change in many years for the past 18 months because it has clear transportation implications – and they’re not good. So we’re not disheartened that City Council held off on a final decision this past Tuesday. The slow progress of the policy change through the Hall pipeline indicates that we’re not the only concerned stakeholders!
On today’s Beverly Hills City Council study session (2:30 p.m.) agenda was item #5: Review Proposed Pilot Bicycle Routes. In many other cities, that could suggest another step in bike improvements implementation. In Beverly Hills, it barely scratches the surface of bike planning. Indeed it is the first time that City Council has substantively discussed improvements in open session, and we were very interested to know where the Council would come down on the agendized proposal as well as bike planning in general.
On Sunday we joined the LACBC for the latest ride in its great Sunday Funday series: the ‘Beverly Thrills’ 13-mile ride though the streets of Beverly Hills. This easy ride brought over fifty riders to our well-tended blacktop. Short of the Gran Fondo or Amgen rides, it’s a record. (For the record those rides kept riders out of the hills.) For this ride we traversed the boulevards and stop signed sidestreets to visit Greystone mansion. But was a thrill was in the offing, it was the steep descent back down. We worked up a sweat and wicked it away. Here’s the recap!
Last week the Traffic & Parking Commission took public comment about the five corridors identified by the Bike Plan Update Committee for potential bike-friendly improvements. Today the full Commission met in special session to determine the committee’s recommendation to City Council. The good news: The 3-2 split Traffic & Parking Commission recommended three corridors for possible bike-friendly improvements. The bad news: the commission declined to recommend the two most congested routes, Beverly and Charleville, and the majority expressed concerns with even the three routes that they did recommend. Let’s recap this important advisory vote.
The Beverly Hills Bike Route Pilot program was rolled out for public comment in the second of three outreach meetings at Public Works today. This is the program to select among five bike routes for suitable cycling-friendly improvements. Like the last meeting, planner Martha Eros gave an overview; consultant Sarah Brandenburg (right) presented feasibility study findings, and a few folks took turns at the microphone for 3-minute comments. Here’s the recap. Next up: the final outreach meeting before Traffic & Parking commission on May 9th where commissioners will discuss appropriate improvements.
An update following today’s City Council’s April 17th Study Session. In our earlier review of the draft request for proposals (RFP) for the Santa Monica Boulevard conceptual design, we noted that RFP language seemed to slight the bike lanes option. We also noted that it presumed community opposition to boulevard expansion for lanes, and we also observed that the draft RFP failed to include Complete Streets principles. We argued that because the RFP establishes bidder expectations, it’s important to craft it carefully. Councilmembers agreed and sent it back for revisions. Here’s the recap.
Beverly Hills doesn’t have much to stand on when it comes to cyclist safety, so it’s heartening at least that a Bike Route Pilot program is underway to bring, for the first time, cycling-friendly improvements to some of our city streets. With the first public outreach meeting under our belt and two more upcoming on April 25th and May 9th, here we recap where we are and the next steps to safer bike routes.