Council Discusses RHNA Reform and Parking Upgrades in Beverly Hills

The Beverly Hills City Council discussed its initial contributions to the Regional Housing Needs Assessment reform process at the Aug. 2 Study Session. The Council also heard updates to parking meter and garage upgrades during the meeting.

The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) is a state law that determines the number of housing units a jurisdiction is required to plan for during the next eight years. Currently, Beverly Hills is required to plan for 3,104 units to be constructed in the next eight years. Recently, the Southern California Association of Governments reported that multiple concerns were raised regarding RHNA and, in an effort to reform the process, are accepting comments and ideas from jurisdictions such as Beverly Hills.

Beverly Hills has had problems in the past with RHNA requirements. In 2020, the city challenged their RHNA number, calling the system “flawed.” In 2022, the city was denied a housing element that would allow them to meet the RHNA share through mixed-use developments.

The Council was presented with a draft letter from city staff, which requested process modifications that promoted an increase in collaboration between cities. The draft was met with criticism from the Council. “The cross-jurisdictional opportunity has failed, my concern is that so much of this particular letter is focused on that,” said Mayor Lili Bosse.

Aside from the draft letter concern, the Council was willing to offer suggestions to the RHNA process.

“Anything that is a formula is going to be one-size-fits-all, I think you need to look at a variety of factors and perhaps there are very polycentric factors that we need to look at,” said Councilmember John Mirisch. “Let those areas that would like to have economic development, that are in a different stage in their development as a city, grow to their ideal size, height and weight and don’t force it on other places that are going to suffer because of it.”

Vice Mayor Julian Gold agreed, while also offering his own opinion on just how the number of units is determined. “I don’t have the same negative reaction to formulaic approaches depending on what the formula is,” he said. “For instance, you could create a formula where various elements are weighted differently for different cities.”

The Council agreed to review the draft and provide the city with thorough notes by August 12.

The Study Session’s focus then shifted to the advancement of the Beverly Hills parking system. The Beverly Hills Public Works Department shared upcoming projects that will make it easier to pay for parking. Public Works will be adding new technology to parking garages, on-street parking meters and pay stations at the Santa Monica Five parking lots. Customers will soon be able to pay-by-phone and parking booths will be replaced with License Plate Recognition (LPR) to streamline transactions.

LPR functionality will be integrated with the police department’s mobile LPR technology to increase their geographical coverage capability.

Additionally, the number of Electric Vehicle Charging stations is increasing. Technologies and vendors are currently being explored and staff will present plans for review and recommendation by the City Council later this year. However, Tesla stations will not be coming to Beverly Hills as of right now.

The Council is eager to see the improvements currently worked on. “I’m very excited about this program,” said Councilmember Sharona Nazarian. “I think it’s going to be a fantastic way to modernize our community. [Parking is] the first point of impact and the last for a lot of our visitors.”