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City Council Votes 'No Position' On Measure J
Posted by Ivetta Babadjanian on Oct 26, 2012 - 1:08:08 PM
BEVERLY HILLS—The Beverly Hills City Council voted 4-1 to stay neutral regarding Measure J during the study session on Tuesday, October 23.
Measure J is a Los Angeles County initiative that will be featured on the November 6 ballot and is sponsored by Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The measure would extend Measure R half-sent sales tax until 2069 in order to assist regional transit projects.
Beverly Hills Mayor and City Council Members.
The City Council came to a conclusion after two hours of deliberation, listening to various comments from the public and a half-hour recess. During the recess, Councilman Barry Brucker and Councilwoman Lilli Bosse wrote up a resolution for Measure J so the council could come to a vote. The resolution stated, "The City Council and the City of Beverly Hills does not take a position in support of Measure J."
Mayor William Brien and Councilman Julian Gold both agreed with Brucker and Bosse by voting for the resolution that decided to take no position on Measure J. Vice Mayor John Mirisch was the sole dissenting vote. "I think that not supporting something is not the same as opposing it," Mirisch said during the session. "I think that's what we would have needed."
Before the discussion during the recess took place, Gold was hesitant with the council making a decision on a ballot initiative while Bosse and Mirisch approved of representing the community with their decision. Brucker stated that before any vote was to be taken place a resolution should be drafted. Mirisch, however, stated they could "simply say 'no.'"
Bosse recommended the council mimic the language used by the Beverly Hills Unified School District when they opposed Measure J, which was passed with a unanimous vote during the school board meeting on October 9. The city and the district have attempted to stop the Metro from routing the WSE under BHHS by filing lawsuits that stated it was a hazard and disallowed the school from their plans for future enhancements to the campus.
"Metro has chosen the route. Measure J does not impact the route," Brien said. "Measure J is not a vote regarding the route. It's regarding accelerated funding for Metro projects throughout the entire country."
Those who wanted the council to take a position on the issue included representatives from Beverly Hills PTA Council, Bus Riders Union, CORE California, Southwest Beverly Hills Homeowners Association, Beverly Hills Municipal League, district parents and school board members.
"Before you take a vote on Measure J, you should review how Metro has treated this community," said PTA Council President Jennifer Terrell-Schwartz. She was referring to Metro's past refusal to tunnel along Santa Monica Boulevard in order to avoid the BHHS campus. Metro argues that the safest way to pass through Beverly Hills en route to Century City is to go below BHHS.
Member of the Board of Education, Lewis Hall, stated he was speaking as a private citizen and not as a school board member when he spoke against how the Metro Board of Directors' dealt with their concerns.
"By saying no to Measure J, you are not taking a position against mass transit," Hall said. "What you are saying is that you are not ready to commit [billions] of your children's money to a Metro board that is arrogant, irresponsible, unreasonable and has demonstrated an utter lack of sensitivity to the community's needs."
Out of 12 public speakers, there was only one who spoke in favor of the measure. "Measure J is not an issue of whether or not we should be tunneling under the high school," said A.J. Willmer, president of the Rotary Club of Beverly Hills. "Measure J is about whether we are going to affordably, for a generation or more, build this infrastructure cheaper and faster than we could without Measure J."
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