The Beverly Hills City Council is carefully considering what to do with what one council member called "our last valuable asset," about nine acres of undeveloped city-owned land in the industrial area, on which a municipal-services complex is proposed.
At its Tuesday study session, council members discussed a preliminary plan for the complex, which would be built at Foothill Road and 3rd Street. The municipal center would include a plant to house city vehicles, workshops and maintenance operations. A center for recreation and nonprofit social services is also under consideration, as is private commercial development to help defray the construction and maintenance costs of the other structures.
Councilwoman Vicki Reynolds was wary of the possible large scale and scope of the plant and resource center, whose combined cost is projected at roughly $70 million.
Deficit Could Jump to $4 Million
Concerned about the city's finances, Vice Mayor Allan Alexander said the $40-million plant alone would create a $600,000 deficit for the city. With the resources center, he said, the deficit would jump to nearly $4 million. He raised the possibility of upgrading recreational and other facilities at Beverly Hills High School and placing the resource center there so the city might use its undeveloped land to greater financial advantage.
Reynolds and Councilman Robert Tanenbaum opposed placing the resource center at the high school. "We talk about not selling one blade of grass at Greystone (a historical mansion used as a park) as though it were a sacred Indian burial ground, yet we are considering other uses of the high school," Tanenbaum said. "The notion of utilizing the high school property in this fashion has been overwhelmingly rejected by this community."
A tentative proposal to commercially develop some of the open space on the high school campus to raise money for the Beverly Hills Unified School District was presented to the school board recently, and has aroused strong negative reactions in the community.
'Highest Best Use'
Tanenbaum said that if Beverly Hills residents considered "the highest best use" of a property to be that which yields the greatest financial return, the city would be full of high-rise office buildings and hotels.
Councilman Bernard Hecht, reminding the council that this was the city's "last piece of (undeveloped city-owned) land" and "our last valuable asset," urged caution and careful planning.
A more detailed proposal for developing the property will be discussed on July 11.
At the study session, council members also considered the possibility of developing a cultural center--an item that had been cut, for budgetary reasons, from the new Civic Center currently under construction. Reynolds favored a meeting hall-art gallery combination; Alexander suggested looking into the feasibility of a performing-arts center. All agreed that any cultural facility would have to be privately funded and built on privately owned land.