Brucker Talks About Spirit, Service And Success
GREYSTONE MANSION —As the region’s economy falters, Mayor Barry Brucker is optimistic about the current state of Beverly Hills and its future. Before a crowd of about 100 people at Greystone mansion on Wednesday, Brucker invited them to share in the City’s achievements and join his administration in forging a vision for the future.
Brucker described the City with three simple words: spirit, service and success. He told a supportive audience that at the heart of Beverly Hills was a unique spirit that sets the community apart from other cities.
“The people of Beverly Hills have always been active and involved in our City government,” he said. “Their participation was front and center as the General Plan update process began in 2001. Over the past seven years, many of you here (Wed-nesday), spent countless volunteer hours attending meetings, studying issues, reviewing documents exchanging ideas, all in an effort to help shape the future of this City.”
Brucker said because of the community’s hard work over the next few months, the City expects to have the General Plan update finalized and approved by the end of the year.
But as the region’s economy falters because of ongoing job losses and home foreclosures, he assured residents that in spite of the economic problems, Beverly Hills remains exceptionally vibrant despite “many of the storms that swirl around” the City.
Brucker said the City is in solid financial shape, which has allowed it to maintain the highest credit and bond ratings available.
“And, while the real-estate market flounders in other communities, it remains steady in Beverly Hills,” the mayor said.
In terms of property values, he said the City’s values continue to climb. Brucker also described the housing market as strong and was grateful that new businesses continue to seek out Beverly Hills for restaurants, stores, hotels and firms.
According to the Los Angeles County Assessor’s office, Beverly Hills in 2007-08 had the highest percentage increase of assessed valuation in the county, nearly 12 percent, amounting to about $2.1 billion of new value.
He also stressed that the City’s hotel business was strong, generating nearly $24 million dollars in tax revenue, as hotel occupancy was at more than 78 percent. Beverly Hills experienced an average room rate of $439.
In terms of retail sales, the Beverly Hills Triangle and adjacent areas pulled in $1.45 billion last year.
Add in hotels, restaurants and other services total taxable retail sales of about $2 billion, around $58,000 in taxable sale per capita.
“I’d like to make one thing very clear, the Beverly Hills business community is the lifeblood of this City,” he said, “It contributes 75 percent of the taxes that enable the City to deliver its premiere services to residents. And, when you consider that only nine percent of the land in this city is commercially occupied, that is a startling and phenomenal figure.”
Brucker then spoke about the service the City provides. He admitted that budgets have been tightened over the past year, along with trimming non-essential programs and positions and re-evaluating how the City delivers its services to the community.
He added that safety is the most important service a city can provide and credited the fire and police departments for making Beverly Hills one of the safest cites in the country. Brucker pointed out that residents are well served by a police department with response times under three minutes and by a fire department that has recently received the prestigious ISO Class 1 rating.
Brucker reminded those in attendance at Greystone mansion that despite a tough economy, the city has maintained many public education programs, including emergency preparedness and CPR.
“Service in Beverly Hills has never been just basic,” he said. “We demand the highest community return from every program we create, every project we administer, every new facility we build.”
Finally, he said success also described Beverly Hills. In terms of programs that make the City successful, Brucker pointed to the Green Building Ordinance that was approved in July. The policy requires solar power for new commercial building and it ensures that building remain green forever, not just during the construction phase, regardless who the tenant is, the mayor said.
Brucker then thanked the business community for supporting the 90210 Fresh Air Dining ordinance, which banned smoking on outdoor patios at restaurants citywide.
“The passage of this landmark ordinance was truly a joint effort that required intense collaboration to ensure a balance between restaurants and hotels in our community and the rights of non-smokers,” he said.
The mayor also thanked fellow council members who joined with him and Vice Mayor Frank Fenton in approving an extension of the City’s Joint Powers Agreement with the Beverly Hills Unified School District.
Brucker’s term as mayor will conclude in March.