Beverly Hills residents brought concerns regarding homelessness as well as crime targeting local businesses and neighboring communities of faith directly to their mayor during “Office Hours with Dr. Gold” on Aug. 23.
The event was the third in an ongoing series of forums hosted at the City Hall Municipal Gallery. Beverly Hills Mayor Dr. Julian Gold spent about an hour taking questions from in-person attendees and viewers tuning in via Zoom, and returned detailed, unedited replies.
“I do have some stuff to talk about, but that can wait,” Gold said after introducing himself to residents Wednesday evening. “I’m kind of more interested in what’s going on for you that you would like us to talk about.
Because that’s more important than this stuff. So, I’m open. I’m here.”
One resident asked the mayor to share his thoughts on the city’s approval of an agreement to provide shelter for up to 230 homeless people for the next 10 years. Gold noted that homelessness was discussed at length during the City Council’s most recent meeting before going on to share a snapshot of the issue.
He said there were a little under 40 people who have been living on the street for a persistent period of time within the city’s limits. And there was a much larger population of homeless people regularly passing through the city via public transit and other means.
However, only about five shelter beds have been made available by funding from Beverly Hills. Those facilities “obviously, in recent times, have been full,” Gold said.
“Some people would say, why, who cares, don’t bother… But the reality is that if we don’t, then the law basically says they’re able to be wherever they want to be,” the mayor said. “If we are not able to offer them housing, then they can pretty much live in our parks. They can live on our streets. They can, and candidly, that’s not good for us, and it’s not good for them.”
More than one resident asked Gold about what the city is doing to deter smash-and-grab robberies. The mayor was quick to note that those crimes appear to be relatively rare in Beverly Hills.
“In point of fact, Beverly Hills in recent times has had fewer,” Gold said. “We have retail theft, even the break-ins, [but] not so much right now. We’re seeing more people who just snatch something and run out of a store. So, the fortunate piece is that, well, we’ve been really well protected for that.”
But that doesn’t mean law enforcement in Beverly Hills has become complacent. City Council has approved significant amounts of funding for license plate readers and other surveillance equipment installed throughout the city. And last week, the police department announced that it had joined a task force made of local, state and federal agencies specifically assigned to combat smash-and-grab crimes.
“These are the kinds of regional cooperations that I think, ultimately, will be successful in stemming the tide. I know the chief has assigned a detective through this task force. We want to be very much engaged in it. Nobody has invested in technology infrastructure for public safety as we have.
Crimes that may have targeted the Jewish community in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood just south of Beverly Hills were also discussed at Wednesday’s forum. Shalom Grill, Nagila Pizza and three other restaurants serving kosher food were burglarized early on Aug. 19. (See separate story on pg. 5). One resident asked what officials were doing to support or reassure Jewish people in the city.
Gold announced that the Police Department will be inviting members of the Jewish community to an event on Sept. 5, during which they will go into detail about their response to potential hate crimes and hate incidents. He also urged the public not to hesitate in reporting potential cases to law enforcement.
“I would also say if somebody’s feeling uncomfortable, threatened, they should let us know and our police will reach out and help them,” said Gold.