I applaud the Beverly Hills City Council for passing additional restrictions on smoking near open air dining areas and in the public rights of way in our City. Tobacco smoke causes cancer, heart and lung disease. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just cause these in smokers, but also in those involuntarily exposed to secondhand or environmental tobacco smoke.
Indoor smoking bans reduce heart attack rates immediately and significantly. In addition, secondhand smoke is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Class A carcinogen, with no known safe lower exposure limit. If bars and restaurants want to allow smoking nearby, exposing patrons to secondhand smoke, perhaps they need to post Prop. 65 warnings. Or maybe we can sue them for failing to post these warning?
The fear of lost revenue was a major concern in 1987, when Beverly Hills was the first city in California to introduce a smoking ban in restaurants. The Chamber of Commerce opposed that ban, too. The restaurants seem to be thriving. I think those people who didn’t go to a restaurant here because they couldn’t smoke at lunch or dinner were quickly replaced by those of us who avoided restaurants because we didn’t want a side order of secondhand smoke with our steak fries.
Multiple studies in respected economics journals generally show no impact on restaurant or bar sales, usually as measured by sales tax revenues, after indoor smoking bans were introduced.
Of course, now all restaurants are smoke-free, so the few who still smoke have learned to do so before or after dining, or outside the restaurant. Now they will merely have to step a few more paces away. I don’t think diners will choose restaurants in Westwood, Brentwood, Larchmont Village or Santa Monica because they have to step further away to smoke. And for those concerned about international visitors, Europe and most countries in Asia don’t allow smoking in restaurants or hotels these days, either.
Now if only the City would do something about making restaurants quieter indoors, dining in Beverly Hills would really be enjoyable.
Daniel Fink M.D.
Under the title “Beverly Hills Strengthens Open-Air Dining Smoking Ban” in last week’s Courier, the article begins “Life just got a little more difficult for smokers.” Not in the name of political correctness but, rather, to emphasize what is really at stake, the article could open with something like “Albeit making it more restrictive for some, the air in Beverly Hills is about to get a lot cleaner for smokers and non-smokers alike.”
I think the focus of the article should be less on the ”poor babies” who find increasing limits on a disgusting habit, and more on the benefits that everyone will enjoy; ironically, smokers as well. As a former smoker, I get the addiction, along with the need to be sure others don’t suffer.
I am hopeful and optimistic when I hear the Board of Education’s endorsement of our newest superintendent, Dr. Michael Bregy. It is concerning to me that in the first few weeks of his position, Dr. Bregy has gone on record making statements about the constraints of the K-8 model and his intention to find out if the community values this model.
As a member of our community, I do value the K-8 model at all four of our elementary schools. I urge others to continue to be vocal about the future of our BHUSD institutions, and will be contacting the school board as well as Dr. Bregy to let them know how important this is to our children and future students. Let us be vigilant amidst the recent talk among the school board regarding the future of Hawthorne Elementary. This should not even be considered as an option.
Robert Kennedy once said: “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.” Here in Beverly Hills, not only do we insist, but gratefully, get the best of the best when it comes to the men and women of BHPD.
Earlier this month I had the privilege of participating in a ride along with one of BHPD’s finest. In order to protect his identity, and ensure his modest character remains intact, I will refrain from disclosing his identity.
During the ride along, we responded to a 911 call in which the caller requested assistance for a kitchen fire that had just ensued. As we reached the street, we were unable to immediately locate the home because the painted curb addresses on that street were faded and/or entirely washed away. This added nerve wracking seconds to our ability to “protect and serve.” Eventually the home occupants came outside and we were able to determine the proper home to enter. The officer I was assigned to ran in with a fire extinguisher, took care of the emergency, and high-fived the child who stared at him in that superhero amazement kind of way.
After talking to the officer about the immediacy for addressing the situation, I decided that something needed to immediately be done about this. After a recent conversation with Beverly Hills’ Code Enforcement, I learned that although the painted curb addresses are part of the public’s right of way, the actual painting and maintenance of the curb is the actual property owner’s responsibility and requires they maintain the numbering in clear, legible condition. Unfortunately, it does not appear the City currently does much to enforce this owner responsibility.
BHMC 501.2.2 Building Numbering Requirements. 3. If any property owner shall fail to provide the address identification required by this subsection on the premises, the City may provide and affix such address identification markings at no cost to the property owner. Where identification markings are provided by the City, no person shall remove, deface, or modify such markings without the written authorization of the City building official.
Thankfully, this call was not a life or death situation, but had it been, or had a burglary been in progress, those precious seconds could have really counted to potentially save a life or property. I want to urge all our residents to take a moment, go outside, check your curbs, and make sure those painted signs are clearly visible. If not, be proactive and get them painted immediately. I promise you from my first-hand experience, they are regularly used by our emergency services, and necessary to preserve our community. I too plan on doing the same, as well as addressing this issue within my commission and the City Council to spread the word.
Knowing that the City “may provide..at no cost to the property owner” (and does not allow otherr busineses to paint, perhaps Beverly Hills can organize its first ever “Paint Your Curb Day” and make it a community wide event! I’d love to see us come together to accomplish this imperative necessity.
Ori S. Blumenfeld
It was 50 years ago this month, in 1967, I was watching a super hero show that really was a spoof of super heroes called Captain Nice, created by Beverly Hills resident writer Buck Henry. The lead character Carter Nash was a police chemist played much like Buck himself, a bespectacled nebbish who drank a power potion that worked only on him for one hour at a time. This show was done on the heels of Batman, which was a huge hit and inspired many other super hero TV shows and cartoons.
Buck had co-created the TV spy spoof Get Smart a couple of years before Captain Nice and after finishing writing and acting in The Graduate. Captain Nice debuted on NBC in January 1967 and lasted until the spring of that year. Carter was played in Buck Henry style by actor William Daniels, and he lived with his parents and was very skittish about being a super guy. His meddling mom even sewed his baggy costume for him and would scream, “Be careful Carter!” when he would fly off to rescue someone in Bigtown.
Buck Henry has been seen over the years writing on yellow legal pads at favorite haunts like Nate N Al and the Fountain Coffee Room at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Maybe by now a laptop is used? Buck went on to become the very first host of Saturday Night Live in the mid-1970s and hosted many times thereafter. Buck had a memorable role in Heaven Can Wait as the assistant to Mr. Jordan played by James Mason, another BH resident. It should be noted that Warren Beatty once took residence in the penthouse atop The Beverly Wilshire, where Casey Kasem and his wife Jean lived for many years also.
Captain Nice has yet to debut on DVD but you can see scenes and even full episodes of YouTube. It was a very funny show and a memorable episode starred Bob Newhart as a Hugh Hefner type running the Apple Club. Captain Nice saves his life and is treated to a night there but hardly feels comfortable in goggles, cape, and high top sneakers. Now today, that outfit would be considered totally “dope” and hip hop friendly.