Beverly Hills Council Action : Olympic Boulevard Building Limited

Times Staff Writer

The Beverly Hills City Council has unanimously approved an urgency ordinance calling for tight restrictions on commercial development along heavily traveled Olympic Boulevard.

The council also asked its staff to identify other residential communities surrounded by commercial activity and to prepare an ordinance to cover those areas.

City officials targeted the Olympic Boulevard artery because the area has experienced increased pressure from builders for development and is adjacent to a residential area.

Homeowners have argued that development along the busy route will slow traffic, increase noise and make parking more difficult. The new law requires that any proposed commercial development exceeding two stories or 35 feet in height be reviewed by the city for impact on noise and traffic. Proposed buildings will also be examined for the effect of their height on nearby homes.

Office Building Exempt

The law does not cover the office building slated for the site of the former post office at 9478 Olympic. The developers were given a building permit from the city over the objections of nearby residents.

City Atty. Charles Haughton said that by imposing an urgency ordinance the council has determined that there is a threat to "the health, safety and welfare" of residents. The ordinance required four of five votes from the council and is effective for two years.

The ordinance gives city officials the opportunity to review each development for "cumulative impact" on the area rather than judging each on a case-by-case basis, city officials said.

The focus of much of the concern over development is the corner of South Beverly Drive and Olympic, where officials say as many as 5,000 cars pass in an hour. The ordinance, however, does not cover development on South Beverly.

Mayor Annabelle Heiferman and council members Edward Brown and Charlotte Spadaro said they wanted to enlarge the area covered by the ordinance to include all residential sections adjacent to commercial zones. But they were unable to get a fourth vote. Council members Benjamin Stansbury and Donna Ellman said they wanted more information.

Look Beyond Olympic

"I would like to see this kind of ordinance on a citywide basis," Brown said.

"I don't think we can do a good job if we just look at Olympic and close our eyes to South Beverly Drive," Spadaro said.

Ellman and Stansbury objected. "The rules for doing it on Olympic do not apply to Beverly," Ellman said.

Stansbury said that if the city broadened the scope of the ordinance, it might be taking on more than it could handle in the two years provided under the urgency ordinance. "The most important area is Olympic because that is the hot area at this time," he said.

Haughton told the council that it had enough information to make a case for an emergency ordinance on Olympic, but he questioned whether there was enough information to stretch the ordinance to other areas of the city.

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