Posted: Tuesday, September 6, 2016 – 6:27 PM
By Victoria Talbot
The City of Beverly Hills has been ordered to rewrite the Ballot Question for the Hilton Initiative by a judge, who has called it, “false, misleading and biased.”
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant ruled Tuesday that the City’s Ballot Question regarding Measure HH was false, biased and misleading and ordered the Ballot Question to be revised. In addition, the Judge confirmed that Measure HH creates a new publicly accessible 1.7 acre garden for residents.
“This is the second major legal setback for the City concerning the Initiative. On August 1, a Federal judge prohibited the City from enforcing its initiative disclaimer laws, which would have prevented us from educating residents on Measure HH’s benefits,” said Hilton spokesperson Marie Garvey.
The Residents for The Beverly Hills Garden & Open Space Initiative won a challenge to the City’s disclosure laws in the Federal Court, which ruled that the City’s “ordinance violates the First Amendment,” contrary to the claims of Beverly Hills City Attorney Larry Wiener.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant is, “An experienced, respected judge who is known for being fully prepared for hearings and issuing thoughtful, well-reasoned decisions. He has brains and a backbone,” said multiple sources.
Residents Linda Briskman and Bruce Corwin had filed a petition for a writ of mandate and a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in the Los Angeles County Superior Court July 2, after the City Attorney submitted the ballot question to the County Registrar/Recorder.
Mayor John Mirisch has been extremely vocal in his opposition to the Hilton project, though for 62 years, the Hilton has been a community partner with the City of Beverly Hills, as well as being the biggest taxpayer and employer.
Mirisch has spoken at homeowners’ association meetings, at shuls, and at City Hall in criticism of the project in an attempt to influence the voters.
The new Ballot Question ordered by Judge Chalfant reads:
NEW: HILTON CONDOMINIUM TOWER INITIATIVE — SHALL AN ORDINANCE BE ADOPTED ALLOWING A 26 STORY (345 FEET) RESIDENTIAL BUILDING INSTEAD OF TWO RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS OF 8 AND 18 STORIES (101 and 218 FEET); INCREASING OPEN SPACE FROM 3.28 TO 3.89 ACRES AND IDENTIFYING 1.7 ACRES OF OPEN SPACE AS PRIVATE GARDEN GENERALLY OPEN TO THE PUBLIC SUBJECT TO PROPERTY OWNER’S REASONABLE RESTRICTIONS; REMOVING CONFERENCE CENTER AND RELOCATING ITS USES; PROHIBITING DISCRETIONARY ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW; REDUCING GRAYWATER USE REQUIREMENTS?
The Judge Chalfant said that the Open Space acreage is incorrect. He underscored that the Hilton had also already removed the approved Conference Center from the Initiative project.
The rejected Ballot Question that the City proposed read:
OLD: HILTON CONDOMINIUM TOWER INITIATIVE — SHALL AN ORDINANCE BE ADOPTED ALLOWING A 26 STORY (345 FEET) RESIDENTIAL BUILDING INSTEAD OF TWO RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS OF 8 STORIES (101 FEET) AND 18 STORIES (218 FEET); INCREASING OPEN SPACE FROM APPROXIMATELY 1.25 ACRES TO 1.7 ACRES FOR USE AS A PRIVATE GARDEN THAT IS GENERALLY OPEN TO THE PUBLIC SUBJECT TO REASONABLE RESTRICTIONS DETERMINED BY THE PROPERTY OWNER; PROHIBITING ANY DISCRETIONARY ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW; AND REDUCING GRAYWATER USE REQUIREMENTS?
The Hilton Initiative, Proposition HH, will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.