City Council Extends Private Security Contracts to June 2022

Though Beverly Hills city government has been dominated by One Beverly Hills in recent weeks, the City Council still attended to other business in its June 1 Study Session and Formal Meeting. The Council approved a slate of first-term commissioners for their second four-year terms. It moved to allow the destruction of a 31-year-old mural by late muralist Terry Schoonhoven and its replacement with a piece by contemporary artist Pae White. The city also extended its contracts with two private security companies through June 30, 2022.

Beverly Hills initially contracted with Covered 6 and Nastec International on Oct. 13 in anticipation of unrest around the Nov. 3 general election at a cost of around $1.4 million. While widespread unrest never came, the city continued to experience weekly rallies in Beverly Gardens Park and other periodic demonstrations, prompting the city to amend the contracts three times prior to now. The most recent amendments add an additional $1.3 million for Covered 6 and $800,000 for Nastec. This brings the city’s total on private security to around $4.8 million. 

“Since February 2021, the City has experienced events that have required ongoing, supplemental armed uniformed security services including Armenian Remembrance Day, animal rights protests, pro-Trump rallies, protests against wearing face coverings, and demonstrations in support of Israel,” a staff report reads. According to the report, the city is also bracing for possible activity around the sentencing of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and the trials of the other three officers involved in George Floyd’s death. 

At its Formal Meeting, the Beverly Hills City Council reappointed six commissioners for their second term of service. In Beverly Hills, commissioners’ first terms last two years with a second term of four years. First term commissioners must submit a letter of interest and then receive a recommendation from the commission’s respective City Council liaisons before the full Council can reappoint them or not.

The Council reappointed the following commissioners: Tim Devlin to the Architectural Commission, Steven Smith to the Charitable Solicitations Commission, Kimberly Reiss to the Cultural Heritage Commission, Dr. Kirk Chang to the Health and Safety Commission, Amie Sherry to the Recreation and Parks Commission, and Dr. Sharon Ignarro to the Traffic and Parking Commission.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a great effect on our city’s daily practices and operations, [and] our Commission looks forward to getting back on track with our recreational programs in person as well as reevaluating some of the [Recreation and Park’s] slated projects for the Council’s consideration in the coming years,” Sherry wrote in her letter of interest to the Council.

The Council voted unanimously to allow destruction of a mural by well-known late muralist Terry Schoonhoven at 9242 Beverly Blvd. to allow for building renovations. The 1991 mural, “Projector,” which is painted directly on the building’s ceiling, cannot be removed without its destruction, according to the property owner. 

Schoonhoven’s work appears across Los Angeles in places like Union Station, Cedars-Sinai, and his alma mater of UCLA. He co-founded the Los Angeles Fine Arts Squad, a collaborative group of artists who specialized in wall paintings and murals across Los Angeles and abroad from 1969 to 1974. His art appears in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. He died of cancer in 2001 at the age of 56.

In lieu of paying the city for the value of the mural, the property owner has offered to replace the Schoonhoven with a more valuable piece by contemporary artist Pae White. The piece, “Whistleblower,” looks like a giant cloud-like, mobile made up of countless multi-colored reflective hexagons. It is valued at $140,000.

In other city business, the Council unanimously approved lifting a $50,000 cap on legal services by the law firm of Greenberg Glusker, et al., as a part of the June 1 consent calendar. Greenberg Glusker was heavily involved in negotiations of the One Beverly Hills development agreement. Despite the prior $50,000 limit, the city’s tab had run over $100,000. According to staff, the funds come out of “a developer-paid deposit liability escrow account” and have no impact on the city’s budget.

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