Legal Blow to Mixed Use Referendum in Beverly Hills

An effort to place the City’s recent mixed-use ordinance on the ballot hit a roadblock on Dec. 10, when a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge refused to grant an extension to gather more signatures. The referendum would have granted residents a chance to vote on the newly-created mixed-use overlay zone ordinance before it becomes law. The referendum required some 2,333 signatures within 30 days of adoption of the ordinance or Dec. 20. With COVID-19 presenting unique dangers to canvassers, the community activists behind the referendum push said the 30-day window of time simply was not enough.

“It’s really not a safe thing to do. You can’t go door to door,” Darian Bojeaux told the Courier.

According to Bojeaux, she and other activists only gathered about 300 signatures out of the necessary 2,333. She noted that most of the group’s members are retirees who are most vulnerable to the virus. “We had people who were gathering signatures, but we had maybe 20 percent of our usual workforce that we would expect right now,” said Bojeaux.

Even with the legal setback, Borjeaux, an attorney who filed for the extension in court, said that she plans to appeal the Superior Court ruling as early as Dec. 14. “[I]t is a case of first impression and needs to be decided, and decided expeditiously,” she said.

“We are pleased with the ruling,” said City Attorney Lawrence Weiner to the Courier. “The judge agreed with the City that he does not have the authority to grant Ms. Bojeaux the relief she requested.” Weiner declined to comment on Borjeaux’s intention to appeal.

The Beverly Hills City Council passed an ordinance allowing for mixed use development in certain commercial areas of the City on Nov. 10. Developments within the new overlay zone can include both residential and commercial uses. The passage of the ordinance was marked by vocal opposition from residents who called and wrote in to town halls and City Council meetings, expressing concerns that new developments would mar the character of the City and their quality of life.

Borjeaux was among those that opposed the ordinance. “This is really in my backyard, because I live within a block of Wilshire,” she said. She is concerned about her neighborhood transforming too dramatically and losing parking on her street. “It’s not just us that will be affected, though, because when some of Beverly Hills goes down, the whole City goes down.”

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