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Beverly Hills Tightens Building Standard : New Plan Targets Construction, Traffic in Busy Industrial Zone

September 15, 1988|PHILIPP GOLLNER | Community Correspondent

In an attempt to slow construction in its industrial zone, the Beverly Hills City Council on Tuesday voted to require planners to review all new building projects.

Developers will be asked to meet stricter density and traffic standards in the industrial zone, which officials fear may be overrun by office and retail construction.

The proposal, which received a first reading Tuesday, would require developers to obtain conditional-use permits. To qualify, projects must be compatible with uses in the area, and they may not worsen traffic or create a traffic hazard.

Council members, in approving the proposal, rejected developers' concerns that waiting for the permits would create a financial hardship.

The proposed ordinance, which required four votes for approval, was initially defeated when council members Allan Alexander and Vicki Reynolds insisted on exempting developers who could prove they would suffer hardship. But the two later changed their votes in favor of dropping the hardship exemption when assured that the issue will again be discussed when the law comes back to the council for final approval in 45 days.

The industrial zone consists largely of light industry and municipal buildings. It is bounded by Civic Center Drive on the north and west, Maple Drive on the east and Burton Way on the south.

Timing for Report

The ordinance is intended to give officials time to complete an environmental impact report for the area and to work on a master plan for the zone's future growth, said Mark Scott, the city's director of environmental services. The law will expire after one year if the council decides not to extend it.

Up to 50% of the area's land could be redeveloped in the next five years, Scott said. Already, the area is being targeted for three office buildings, a Mercedes-Benz dealership and a post office building, Scott said. In addition, he said, the city eventually may undertake projects on three parcels it is currently using for temporary facilities, while construction on the new civic center is scheduled for completion in October, 1989.

Possible uses for the city properties include a recreation and social services facility, a public works facility, and a stage theater, Scott said. He said the parcels are worth about $40 million.

The ordinance represents a concession to developers who opposed an earlier plan for a temporary moratorium on all new construction in the industrial zone. Developers nevertheless have complained that the proposed law will present a hardship because it forces them to delay projects until they obtain conditional-use permits and until the environmental impact report is completed, a process that could take six months or longer.

Steve Sim, an attorney for B & G Properties, which is planning an office complex on Maple Drive, said the council's standards for new projects are vague and create uncertainty for developers and lenders.

Exemption Requested

Attorney Gerald L. Polone, representing a property owner on Civic Center Drive, argued that his client's property should be exempted from the law because the lot does not abut residential property and because the developer's proposed office building will not worsen traffic in the area.

But Mayor Robert K. Tanenbaum argued that the council should make no more concessions to developers.

"We have made a major concession by not going forward with the moratorium," Tanenbaum said. "Having made that concession, we have a compelling city interest to go forward with a plan."

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