LOL: “Under the leadership of the City Manager, Jeff Kolin, Beverly Hills City employees aspire towards a performance environment of excellence and innovation. The ultimate goal is to provide unparalleled municipal services by being ‘the Best of the Best.'” We wish him well in his pending retirement.

What We Can Do Today About Santa Monica Boulevard

Santa Monica Boulevard pavementBeverly Hills City Council may have punted on Santa Monica Boulevard, but they can’t turn their back on street safety entirely. Consider what confronts road users every day on this corridor: pavement hazards and intersections seemingly engineered to fail riders. While councilmembers continue to discuss reconstruction cost, let’s talk safety. There’s much we can do to make this corridor better today: repair that blacktop and intersections like Santa Monica-Beverly Blvd and Santa Monica/Wilshire more safely accessible to riders. Continue reading

Council Slaps Back: No Bike Lanes for SM Blvd [Recap]

Beverly Hills City Council Disses Road Safety, Slaps Riders in Santa Monica Boulevard Session

A split Beverly Hills City Council last night dismissed the safety concerns of over two hundred riders (and twenty who showed up in person) to blithely wave off any prospect for class II bicycle lanes on tomorrow’s Santa Monica Boulevard. Those of us who hoped that the corridor would close the regional backbone network gap, or perhaps illustrate the current thinking in complete streets principles, will be sorely disappointed. Living up to our reputation for insularity and parochial thinking, a majority on our City Council last night affirmed our city’s disregard for connectivity and road safety by ruling out bike lanes. Continue reading

Small Town Advocacy in BH: Opportunities & Constraints

beverly hills city hallIf you want to advocate for a policy change in Beverly Hills,  take some comfort that we’re a small town at heart. You’ll see a councilmember at the farmers market now and again. City Hall is close by enough to touch, after all. Staffers will likely answer your phone call. What’s best is that good ideas don’t necessarily go to an early grave like they might in Los Angeles, where they’re lost in committee. Here your good idea will at least get an honest hearing in Council. So why is it that a family-friendly notion like road safety finds so little traction here? Continue reading

Beverly Hills Civics 101

City Manager dominates the org chartLast we checked, power flows from the people. We the people stand astride the machinery of government. We sit atop the pyramid of power. So accordingly we the people top-off the governance organization chart. But democracy in practice doesn’t always accord with the organization chart. Even in local government of only forty thousand people. Power is arrogated and bureaucracy exercises it’s prerogatives. Where does that leave the people?
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Setting the City’s Agenda

City Manager dominates the org chartThe Beverly Hills Courier ran a cover article last week titled, ‘Mirisch Says City Manager Kolin “Usurped” Authority.’ Attention-grabbing headlines are a staple in the tabloid’s toolbox precisely because they beg a look. And indeed the Courier has been known to swing a provocative headline now and then. But ‘usurps’ is a serious charge, and it merits attention because the City Manager already exercises control. Does he exercise too much control? Let’s look more closely at the City Manager and the Courier’s claim. Continue reading

Time to Review the Department Head Hiring Process

Beverly Hills org chartHave you wondered why Beverly Hills has taken none of the steps toward safer for cyclists that other cities have? One can point to a few factors that get in the way: an outdated 1977-era Bicycle Master Plan; our Traffic and Parking Commission which doesn’t recognize road safety as a mandate; and a City Council that historically has shown little interest in cycling. All are true but not sufficient: probably the biggest obstacle has been our Public Works department where managers and staff seem not to grasp the importance of multimodal mobility to our city’s future. But now that it’s time to name a new PW director, we can help to change that. How difficult can it be? Continue reading

Human Relations Commission July 18, 2013 [Recap]

The Beverly Hills Human Relations Commission has been considering an expansion of its ‘Embrace Civility’ initiative to address uncivil conduct evident on city streets. God Bless, we say. But we wonder if riders will need more than a well-intentioned message to make our streets materially safer for those who do choose to ride. So we tuned in to hear transportation planner Martha Eros brief the commission today about the city’s new Pilot bike route program. We listened in as commissioners asked a few questions of their own. And here we suggest a role for the commission to play to make those streets safe. Continue reading

City Manager Performance: Worthy of a Bonus Necessary?


Our recent election made an issue of City Hall performance. Mayor Mirisch said at installation, “If local government doesn’t listen, it can also be the most frustrating form of government.” Councilmember Krasne criticized City Hall for insularity. “The people have made it clear that they will no longer be excluded from the decision-making process,” she said. So why is a $7,500 performance bonus (aka “compensation enhancement”) for the City Manager even on the table tonight at the City Council meeting?

Guest Starring: the City Manager!


Last year the Courier dumped city salary data obtained though a long-stalled freedom of information request, and the immediate response from City Manager Jeff Kolin was a Patch post to address what could have been a PR disaster. That one-time counter-message didn’t herald a new era of City Manager communication. Even as our city expanded video programming and even inaugurated a news segment called Beverly Hills This Week, he’s been missing in action. Why? Here’s an opportunity to talk directly to the public about Council policy priorities, say, or the election. At $286,000 per year he’s paid like a media star. Where’s his star turn on Beverly Hills TV?

Beverly Hills City Hall on Cable TV

Did you know that Beverly Hills broadcasts a cable TV television station with its own talk show called Inside Beverly Hills (Time Warner channel 10)? The show opens a window onto the process behind the politics and until Rudy Cole, the city’s unofficial political wonk and host, passed recently, we saw it as a big step that City Council took last year to reach the public. In honor of Sunshine Week (“open government is good government”) we will revisit one episode of Inside to celebrate Rudy’s handiwork and to learn how the public fits into this we the people enterprise, local government.