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Draft General Plan Released Calls For Higher Density In Commercial Areas

For the first time in more than 30 years, Beverly Hills residents and officials will debate a new update of its General Plan.

On Thursday, City officials released the draft report, which includes plans for the adaptive re-use of existing buildings, infill on underused properties, or intensification with larger structures to accommodate expected growth forecasts over the next 30 years.

“This draft General Plan is a road map to the future,” said Noah Furie, chairman of the Planning Commission. “It’s going to help define how the City will look over the next 15 to 20 years.”

The City’s General Plan was last updated in 1977 and prior to that in 1966. “For seven years we’ve been engaged in a process to update the City’s General Plan,” Furie told reporters Monday at a City Hall press briefing.

He described the plan as “realistic,” saying it recognizes that Beverly Hills is built out, with a limited amount of land available for development.

According to the plan’s introduction, it recognizes that new housing, retail, office, and other development must fit within and complement the character and quality of existing residential neighborhoods, commercial centers and corridors, and open spaces.

“It must grow from and transition with the community, rather than abruptly changing scale and character,” the plan said.

Furie said if approved the draft plan would allow for consideration of mixed use development on Olympic Boulevard between Doheny Drive and Robertson Boulevard.

He said a proposed change in the Floor Area Ratio, or FAR, would allow an FAR of up to 5 to 1 in some areas of the City.

Currently, the FAR is 2 to1. For example, Furie said if there is a 10,000-square-foot-lot, a developer could build approximately 20,000 square feet.

He said the increased FAR was especially important for the area around Wilshire and La Cienega boulevards, which is expected to be a transit-oriented area of the City.

Furie new the increased density may be controversial, but explained it was just a draft General Plan and not what the planning commission or city council will adopt.

After seven years of meetings and discussion groups, Furie said the plan is for the planning commission to be done by the end of October the latest and for the five-member council to approve a final General Plan by the end of the year.  

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