As announced in an exclusive News Alert by the Courier last week, Planning Commission Chair Andy Licht is running for City Council. Three Council seats are on the ballot in June 2022, those currently held by Councilmembers Lester Friedman, John Mirisch and Mayor Robert Wunderlich.
Licht is a lifelong Beverly Hills resident and a graduate of both Hawthorne Elementary and Beverly Hills High School. He holds a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley and an MFA from USC. Licht was unanimously selected by the City Council to serve on the Planning Commission in 2016 and unanimously reappointed in 2018. In addition, Licht served two terms on the Traffic and Parking Commission, totaling 11 years of work on city commissions.
“I am very fortunate to have lived in Beverly Hills most of my life and the city has given me so much. I can never pay it back, but I can pay it forward,” Licht told the Courier. “All the work, time and effort I’ve put in pales in comparison to what the city has meant to me. I grew up here, I moved back as an adult and raised my family here. I just love the city. My family and my business interests are all in a great place right now, and I have the time and energy to devote to being on Council.”
The issues at the forefront of his campaign include safety, ensuring that the police and fire department have every tool available to them, maintaining an exceptional school district, and developing strategic plans for future developments.
“I moved here for the same reason a lot of people do, for the police, the fire and the schools,” Licht said. “I want them to be as good as possible and I want the police and fire departments to have everything they need to keep the city the way it is and the way it’s known, as safe.”
“I think we need to plan very carefully for the coming of the subway, that’s going to be very important to the city,” Licht added. “I think we need affordable housing, and we need to consolidate housing around the subway stops. I’d like to have more affordable housing to allow more people the opportunity to live here, and also to encourage young people to live here. I would love for my children to be able to afford to live here and reap the benefits of the city, as well as energize it. Clustering housing around the subway stops, and especially the La Cienega stop, would encourage that.”
After six years on the Traffic and Parking Commission, Licht “knows every crack in the city.” As a commissioner, Licht took field trips around Beverly Hills with the city’s traffic engineer to point out problems related to congestion, and work towards solutions. While Licht admits that traffic problems in the city remain unsolved, many small changes he implemented during his terms on the Traffic and Parking Commission have made a difference.
While two of his children were enrolled at Beverly Vista Middle School, Licht also worked with the city engineer at the time to solve issues related to the carpool drop-off lane. Noticing many near accidents and traffic backed-up at Brighton Way and Wilshire Boulevard, Licht worked with the city to put in bollards in the right turn lane. “Now, you have to turn right, and it’s completely solved the problem. The traffic is much, much better,” said Licht.
Licht cited another example for the Courier.
“There’s a lane on Bedford Drive, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard, by the church, where in the mornings traffic backs up quite far up Bedford, because it was essentially only one lane, and many people from the hills drive down Bedford because it’s one way south,” Licht said. “I got the city to put up no parking signs from 7:30 – 9:30 a. m. in the curb lane, so we had two lanes going south instead of one. That pretty much solved that problem.”
On the Planning Commission Licht advocated for the passage of the hillside ordinance and the mixed-use ordinance. Approved in 2017, the hillside ordinance amends development standards pertaining to basements, grading and retaining walls in the city’s hillside area. Approved in 2020, the mixed-use ordinance allows for mixed-use development in certain commercial areas of the city, including portions of Wilshire Boulevard, La Cienega Boulevard, Robertson Boulevard, Olympic Boulevard, South Doheny Drive, San Vicente Boulevard, South Santa Monica Boulevard and South Beverly Drive. Of the city’s 12 commissions, the Planning Commission is the only one with authority to make final decisions without a vote from the City Council.
“I think that the Council and Commission have seen a lot of the development projects very similarly,” Licht told the Courier. “I was very happy that we were able to agree on the One Beverly Hills project because that’s going to be spectacular for the city. I think it’s going to be the eighth wonder of the world and really rock people. My goal for any project that comes to us is what’s best for the city, and that project is a really good one.”
Licht said that he is a strong believer in term limits. “Being a Councilmember is not a lifetime job, it’s not a job for a generation. I’m a strong supporter of that,” he told the Courier.
To promote his candidacy, Licht intends to go door-to-door in the city, introducing himself to prospective voters. “I realized that not very many people watch the Planning Commission meetings, and nobody knows who I am. Hopefully, people will have little events for me in their homes and invite their friends, so I can do a little bit more one-on-one.”
Licht will be announcing his campaign steering committee soon and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.