Beverly Hills commissioners take on a big responsibility when sworn in for the post. In addition to meetings that can run long, commissioners must acquire detailed knowledge of city codes, said Lou Milkowski, who recently joined the Planning Commission. So, what compels someone to enter the selection process for commissioner? For Milkowski and JR Dzubak, the newest member of the Recreation and Parks Commission, the throughline is a long-held desire to give back to a community that has given them so much.
Dzubak and Milkowski were two of four commissioners sworn into their posts in 2023. Pam Kraushaar, BHUSD administrative assistant for the Superintendent’s Office, and Susan Kimura, a senior manager at Yahoo, also began their terms on the Human Relations Commission and the Public Works Commission, respectively. Kraushaar and Kimura were not available for interviews for this story.
As the Recreation and Parks Commission and Planning Commission serve two different functions, it follows that Dzubak and Milkowski were attracted to their respective commissions for different reasons.
Milkowski recently served as chair of the Rent Stabilization Commission. His desire to join the Planning Commission began during the lead-up to the referendum election on the proposed Cheval Blanc Beverly Hills hotel, when he and his wife, Gloria, began watching every meeting.
He was inspired by the important role the commission plays in the city’s future and respected the commissioners’ competencies and careful analyses. Soon, Milkowski was eager to join them.
Since moving to Beverly Hills in the late ‘90s, Milkowski has been deeply involved with the community. In addition to the Rent Stabilization Commission, he served as the first chair of the Friends of Greystone. This varied background affords him a unique perspective as the Planning Commission’s newest member, he said.
During his term, Milkowski is focused on addressing three major issues: Getting approval of the city’s housing element, building up the mixed-use overlay zone and continuing to weigh the importance of each project against residents’ concerns.
“I don’t want to be a follower and be part of a rubber stamp program,” Milkowski said. “I think I have a very good understanding of what’s of value to the city. I’m just happy to share as I always have been my entire life.”
Dzubak, meanwhile, was eager to join the Recreation and Parks Commission because he sees it as the city’s most fun commission.
“I mean, it is a lot of fun,” Dzubak said. “And it also represents a lot of the things I’m familiar with.”
As a former president of the Rotary Club of Beverly Hills and the current executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of West San Gabriel Valley, Dzubak said his diverse experience running nonprofits and engaging communities will help him become an effective commissioner.
“Working on the national level at Boys and Girls Club of America, and back here at a local level, I think what it’s prepared me for is how to unite people, how to look at the community as a whole and engage people through a level of trust, honesty and transparency,” Dzubak said.
He also wants to encourage more residents to pursue outdoor activities and is particularly focused on expanding the city’s pickleball opportunities and increasing leadership opportunities for the youth.
“We’re looking at doing a Junior Ranger program, looking at ways that kids could really take advantage and get involved,” he said.
Dzubak prizes inclusivity and collaboration, and over the coming years he expects to see greater partnerships between different commissions, including joint projects led by commission chairs. The city’s collaborative spirit is one of his favorite aspects of life in Beverly Hills and one of the biggest influences on his priorities as a new commissioner.
“When you walk the city, as my wife and I do almost every night … you run into community stakeholders, and they share thoughts and opinions about improving and making our city better,” Dzubak said. “And I feel like I’m making such an impact by being that voice that people feel – through transparency and trust—they can come to me and voice their concerns or share some of the issues that they would like to see changed or implemented.”