Workplan Revealed for OpenBH

In an ongoing effort to make outdoor dining permanent, the Open BH Design and Operating Standards Subcommittee held its second meeting on May 25 where project safety, design standards, schedule and work plan goals were reviewed. To create a sense of harmony and cohesion for all outdoor dining in Beverly Hills, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) were engaged by the city and presented City Council liaisons Mayor Lili Bosse and Councilmember John Mirisch with a four-phase work plan and planning process for stakeholder outreach.

“This is about the process,” Director of Public Works Shana Epstein said. “We really want to have listening and communication, so that when we put these park guidelines together, this is something that really speaks to everyone in the community.”

The work plan is divided into four phases with respective timelines and deliverables: research, design development, documentation, and distribution. The first phase, research, spans six weeks from May to July and its goal is to define the project parameters. The research phase will be focused on communication and information collection, with stakeholder workshops and one public survey scheduled for June 8. The first stakeholder meeting will be held in person the week of June 6 with small group workshops, and the second one will be virtual during the week of June 20 to review follow-up survey results and outline design parameters. At the end of this phase, findings will be presented to the City Council. The second and longest phase, design development, runs 12 weeks from July to September with the goal of defining project standards. There will be a third stakeholder workshop in phase two the week of July 18 held in person. The third phase, from September to October, will focus on documentation. In the four-week phase, staff will gather findings and define the methods of evaluation, which will be presented as a physical document and serve as a manual. During this time, the LOHA team will do a site analysis with the city Architect, Engineer, and representatives from Public Safety, research construction materials and manufacturers, and create an on-site outdoor dining protype following a draft of permissible standards.

“Our goal is to create a physical space that all stakeholders can visit, kind of engage with, and ask questions about in real time,” project manager Kevin Murray said of the third phase.

The fourth phase, distribution, is scheduled from October to November, to review design standards and set goals regarding strategy implementation. The final phase will also involve the delivery of the on-site prototype, which will be paired with a fourth stakeholder workshop the week of Nov. 7 with an open Q&A period to review the site. Staff are expecting to develop the project through November and present a design standards manual for adoption to the City Council at its Nov. 22 meeting. All stakeholder meetings with be attended by council liaisons, broadcast, recorded and available to stream online for the public.

“I think the goal here was to make it really reflect the uniqueness of Beverly Hills and also reflect the uniqueness of each of your businesses as well,” Bosse said. “We don’t want it to be cookie cutter. Each of your restaurants and businesses have your own feel to it, and that’s what makes Beverly Hills so special, is that there’s so much beauty in each of your visions. So, safety is number one…and the guidelines and the aesthetics, which will be all of your voices together, and again will be available for everybody to see, to comment on. This cannot be rushed. It needs to be done right. It needs to feel like everybody sees that this is their Beverly Hills in terms of their branding, their restaurant, their elevation of what Beverly Hills is about.”

Under the timeline proposed by LOHA, restaurateurs would have little time before their permits expire to install a new outdoor dining space according to standards. In March, the City Council voted to keep the Open BH program in place in its current form, with waived permit fees and traffic control costs, through Dec. 31, 2022. Liaisons will provide the Council with an update regarding the timeline and the possibility of extending the program at a future meeting “so there’s some predictability and realistic expectations for everybody,” Bosse said.