Joe Shooshani is the latest political contender to enter the race for City Council as of last week. He joins seasoned two- term Councilman Julian Gold, who is fighting to hold on to his seat for a third term, as well as his fellow Planning Commissioner, Lori Greene Gordon, in vying for two open seats on the five-member City Council.
Councilmember Lili Bosse has yet to publicly declare whether she will join Gold in running for a third term on the Beverly Hills City Council this election cycle.
This election marks the second time that Shooshani has made a run for City Council; the last time was over 20 years ago, for the March 1997 election.
“I see challenges coming to the city that as a businessman I think I can solve,” Shooshani tells the Courier. “I want to keep our quality of life and we have to make sure that that we can handle the challenges and make them opportunities.”
For the past two decades, since his unsuccessful first run for City Council, Shooshani has been actively involved in the city, includi helping to campaign for a multitude of candidates both at the local and state level. He counts his support for former Mayor Jimmy Delshad’s successful City Council run in 2003 as one of his proudest moments. Delshad became the first, and thus far only, Persian to serve on the Beverly Hills City Council.
Shooshani, who emigrated from Iran in 1976 at the age of 17, said that Beverly Hills represented the pinnacle of dreams. Forty-three years later, Shooshani still sees the city as an aspirational paradise.
“Beverly Hills is an extremely special place. It has a dream, and it is a dream and I would like to maintain it and make it better,” he said. “This place is the dream of the American Dream.”
After graduating from Team Beverly Hills in 2004, Shooshani went on to serve on the Public Works Commission for six years (2008-13), where he helped save the city millions of dollars in waste disposal fees. For the past five years, he has served on the Planning Commission, where he has worked to facilitate some of the city’s most complex projects.
Shooshani said his most significant moments on the Planning Commission transpired during his time as chair. Namely, when he helped negotiate the unprecedented $60 million developer fee from Wanda (the largest developer fee ever achieved in the city), as well as when he worked to help defeat Beverly Hilton owner Beny Alagem’s referendum to transform an already-approved project on his property into a 26-story high-rise condominium tower by going directly to the voters.
“I’m very pro-business and prodevelopment, but this development would have been very detrimental for the city,” he said, underscoring how important it is for developers to follow the city’s prescribed development rules. “I’m proud to have helped defeat the referendum.”
After graduating with a degree in political science from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, Shooshani went on to carve a career in business and real estate development. In addition to developing several projects across the region, in 1980 he took over Bobco Metals LLC, one of the oldest metal companies in Los Angeles. He and his wife, Avid, have two young adult children, daughter Diba and son Aaron.
Shooshani believes he can make a difference on a number of key issues. Among them: reigniting the city’s brick and mortar retail economy in the face of online shopping; helping to solve the city’s roughly $280 million unfunded pension liability; and figuring out creative solutions to the recent Regional Housing Needs Assessment dictating the creation of scores of affordable housing units in the next eight years. He also advocates adding more hotel rooms to the city’s inventory as well as studying whether the millions of dollars to produce BOLD is “money well spent.”
“My first aim is to keep the quality of living in our city,” added Shooshani. “Cities are businesses. We have to run a tight ship. We have to look for opportunities.”