The July 18 Beverly Hills City Council study session focused on a broad range of topics, including decor for the 2023 Rodeo Drive holiday program, background checks for incoming city commissioners and the possible merging of the Design Review and Architectural commissions.
Kicking off the meeting, the Rodeo Drive-Special Events-Holiday Program Committee delivered its proposal for holiday decor, which was reviewed by the Council liaisons in June, and offered colorful slides that will become the basis for decorations on Rodeo Drive when the holiday season comes around.
The Rodeo Drive Committee said the theme of the holiday decor is “Up, Up and Away Holiday,” with inspiration provided by candy canes, hot air balloons and teddy bears. The concept includes holiday hot air balloons—up to 8 feet in diameter—hovering over piles of sweets; beautifully wrapped presents; large letters spelling out “Joy” and “Light;” and a tall menorah, among other festive objects.
The “Up, Up and Away” theme is a nod to the 5th Dimension song, “Up, Up and Away.”
Councilmember Lili Bosse was impressed. She described the holiday decor theme as “whimsical, fun and festive.”
The Committee is seeking approval of a $485,960 purchase order for the holiday decor. While the council signaled approval for the proposal, city leadership also expressed their desire for the decorations to be cutting edge. Specifically, Councilmember Sharona Nazarian said she’d like to know what cities like Singapore and Paris are doing and what those cities spend on their holiday decor so that Beverly Hills could take that into consideration.
Councilmember John Mirisch said the blue-and-white Chanukah-themed decor resonated.
“Balloons are fun,” Mirisch said. “And hot air balloons are fun. And I particularly appreciate that for the blue ones, we’re including dreidels and a menorah, and it talks about ‘light,’ which is very much in the theme of Chanukah.”
With the approval of the overall holiday decor theme and design, the holiday lighting celebration kickoff event and banner design will return to the council at a future date.
The second part of the two-hour meeting featured recommendations from the Commission Standardization Ad Hoc Committee. It addressed, among other things, whether there ought to be background checks for incoming city commissioners. Presently, the city does not require any form of background checks for commissioners, which is a volunteer role but is a city representative, nonetheless.
The committee recommended that background checks be performed for all incoming commissioners in several categories, including criminal convictions, bankruptcies and lawsuits. A third-party consultant would be responsible for conducting the background checks. The checks would only be required for commissioner finalists along with one back-up candidate in the event a finalist is disqualified because of the background check. It could be used only to inform the final candidate recommendations.
The council signaled support for implementing the background checks.
The proposal for the merger of the two commissions arose because of the decline in cases brought to the Design Review Commission.
“In light of the commission’s reduced workload, coupled with prior recruitment challenges and the fact that the Architectural Commission performs duties similar to the Design Review Commission, the Ad Hoc Committee recommends consolidating,” a city report said.
The new name of the proposed combined commission would be the Architecture and Design Review Commission, according to the city’s Assistant Manager Ryan Gohlich.
To prevent any commissioner terms from being cut short, the merger would result in a seven-member commission for a period. As terms end, the commission will become a five-member body.
The council indicated its approval for the merger.