Commission Takes Up Matters of School and Public Safety

The Beverly Hills Health and Safety Commission held its regular meeting on Sept. 25, during which commissioners discussed school safety, a new way to measure health and safety, and a presentation from the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

In her monthly report, Beverly Hills Unified Board of Education (BHUSD) member Rochelle Marcus elaborated on recent safety drills held at schools, including a safety drill run by the Beverly Hills Fire Department (BHFD) and Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) at Hawthorne Elementary School. Marcus also voiced sympathy for the recent tragedy at Hollywood High School, where one student was killed and two more were arrested following a fentanyl overdose.

“This is of great concern to our community,” Marcus said. “We’re doing a lot of counseling with the students, and having experts come in to speak to the students about this.”

The commission briefly discussed how to keep students and families better informed about the dangers of fentanyl. 

Marcus announced that experts and medical professionals will be traveling to Beverly Hills schools to offer information about how to avoid dangerous interactions with the deadly drug.

“It’s such a crisis that we’re in right now,” said Commissioner Erica Felsenthal. “I appreciate you raising awareness.”

The commission also weighed the possible implementation of the WELL Health-Safety Rating system, built by the WELL Building Institute, a private company that specializes in workplace health and wellness. Businesses are given health and safety ratings derived from several core elements such as cleaning, air quality management, and stakeholder engagement.

The commission saw an initial presentation from the company CEO and founder Paul Scialla during its June meeting, but ultimately decided to discuss the motion more before a final vote.

If implemented, 65 Beverly Hills buildings would receive safety ratings from WELL and be given window decals displaying those ratings. 

The program would cost the city a conservative estimate of $90,000 over a three-year period. Only one other city – Miami, Florida – currently uses the program, but several others are in the process of enrolling.

Commissioners had differing opinions on the usefulness of the ratings. Although some were interested, others balked at the cost.

“We pretty much meet these standards already,” said Commission Vice Chair Lee Hilborne, M.D. “I don’t have an opposition to this, but then it becomes a budget issue.”

Commissioners elected to wait and reconsider the implementation of the program until there is more data available from its progress in other cities.

“In the spirit of stewardship, I think there are other ways to spend $90,000 that will increase health and safety outcomes in the city,” said Rosenthal.

After discussing the safety rating program and the regular COVID-19 update, BHFD ERT coordinator Gabriel Mier presented an informational video about the program, which offers training in fire suppression and disaster aid free of charge to any Beverly Hills resident. There are in-person and virtual training sessions year-round.

“We encourage everyone in the city to participate, to enroll, to take the full training,” Mier said. “Everyone can empower themselves with these skills.”

The commission expressed support for CERT and encouraged residents to enroll.

“It’s not only neighbor-to-neighbor,” said commissioner Cathy Baker. “You really do learn so much for you and your family. I highly recommend everybody take this free program.”

The commission will meet again on Oct. 24 at 4 PM.