Planning Commission Approves O’Gara Renovations

The Beverly Hills Planning Commission voted 4-1 on March 14 to approve an amended conditional use permit for luxury car dealership O’Gara Coach Company to turn its vehicle storage facility at 8955 Olympic Boulevard into a new showroom.

According to a draft resolution, O’Gara Coach plans to reconfigure the interior layout, remove an existing mezzanine, renovate and restripe the parking lot, construct a new driveway from Olympic Boulevard to the parking lot, install planters and other landscaping features around the parking lot, and relocate a bus stop further west along Olympic Boulevard.

Attorney Murray D. Fischer, who represented O’Gara Coach, said that representatives had previously submitted more “grandiose” plans to construct a second story before scaling back the current proposal.

“We are now bringing the building back to its original height with the changes to the front facade … to make it more pedestrian oriented and to better fit within the character of the street,” Fischer said.

Vehicles will be lightly serviced at the Olympic location, though more extensive maintenance will be performed at a facility on West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. Showroom hours will be expanded from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, and events at the showroom will be limited to six each year, according to a staff report.

Resident Andrea Grossman expressed strong support for the project, saying O’Gara staff are responsive to her concerns and work closely with neighbors to mitigate any impacts on their quality of life.

Michael Goldberg, another resident, had a different take.

Goldberg said that third-party vendors often block alleyways while delivering vehicles to the showroom, and he claimed that O’Gara staff, while responsive when he calls, does not force the drivers to move.

He submitted to the commission approximately 40 photos that he said show vendors blocking alleyways, and he pressed the commission to implement fines for such deliveries. He also claimed that he was falsely told by O’Gara staff that “all multi-car transports would take place outside of Beverly Hills.”

“I’ve contacted the [Beverly Hills Police Department]. I’ve contacted parking enforcement and code enforcement, and no one is hearing me, and this is a problem,” Goldberg said. “I feel unheard in this city in regard to this specific thing.”

In response to questions from Commissioner Lou Milkowski, Fischer said the new opening on Olympic Boulevard will allow drivers to pull directly into the lot and negate the need for drivers to block alleys.

Tim O’Hara, O’Gara Coach general manager, added that of the 40 photos submitted by Goldberg, about half “are not us.” There are several other car dealerships nearby, and he and his staff have little control over their operations, he said.

“I can’t identify all the [delivery] trucks that come up illegally, or even legally. But if I see one, or my employees see one, we immediately jump out there and ask them to move,” O’Hara said. “Frequently when it’s not our truck we will encounter resistance, and I will call the police department and ask them to please ask this truck to leave.”

Responding to a question from Commissioner Myra Demeter, City Planner Masa Alkire said the dealership is allowed to unload vehicles from delivery trucks parked in the middle of Olympic Boulevard during the “non-peak” hours of 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Demeter said she opposed this practice because it congests traffic and asked that the dealership schedule deliveries so that trucks do not need to park in the middle of the boulevard.

After the public hearing closed, Commissioner Wolfe said he supported the project but would be open to adopting additional conditions that his colleagues proposed. Vice Chair Terri Kaplan said she was also supportive of the project and of implementing conditions limiting multi-car transports.

Demeter initially approved of the project, but she later decided to oppose it after asking the O’Gara representatives why they now needed to conduct multi-car transports after telling the commission in 2020 that they did not need to.

Chair Gary Ross then asked a city staffer to read a new condition reflecting the commission’s discussion, and the commission voted on the motion to approve the amended CUP.