Beverly Hills business leaders ask candidate Robin Rowe challenging questions about good government and good business
BEVERLY HILLS, CA (robinsrowe.com) 2020/1/15 – Founded in 2014, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce Leadership PAC says its mission is to preserve, protect and foster good government. The Leadership PAC evaluates candidates for public office and may support candidates with endorsements, mailers, advertisements, and prepared opinion pieces.
Robin Rowe is one of five candidates running for Beverly Hills City Council in the #Election2020 race in March.
Will you seek to pass regulations to increase employee entitlements such as paid sick leave?
We need our maternity leave policy to come up to standard with the rest of developed world. The United States shouldn’t be the country where mothers must immediately return to work, are blocked in taking good care of their babies. Beverly Hills should enact measures to help mothers and fathers of newborns.
Regarding sick leave, I would focus on improving community health through our other initiatives. We need to reduce employee sickness generally, which is costing employees and employers too much.
How would you have Beverly Hills help the homeless?
Knowing who our homeless are and where they came from enables us to understand how best to help. We need an accurate survey of who our homeless are. The typical homeless resident in Beverly Hills is trying not to appear homeless. Those who look obviously homeless may be commuting from skid row to beg here during the day, are not our residents. Other cities are offering the homeless a one-way bus ticket, are dumping their homeless here.
Knowing the true size and composition of our homeless problem, let’s get to work on that. However, let’s not delay waiting for a study. We can help the homeless immediately by giving them tools to enable them to find work, such as I’ve done with my Free Laptops Initiative.
I got into helping the homeless by accident. After I got a new laptop, I wondered what I’d do with the old one. I led a large Hollywood association of producers and writers. I offered to the group to give away my computer to anybody who needed it. What I didn’t know at the time was, that person I gave my old laptop was secretly homeless.
Without a laptop it’s almost impossible to get a job. I later learned that my laptop made a difference, had helped someone homeless to get himself back on his feet. I asked my friends if anyone else had a surplus laptop or knew someone homeless who desperately needs one. I’ve been giving the homeless free laptops ever since. I’ve also given to the deaf.
How will you approach dity planning and high rise zoning regulations?
I lived in Chicago, one of the most beautiful city skylines in the world. I’ve lived in Carmel, also beautiful, with no high rises. Both cities demonstrate good central planning.
Beverly Hills is a mix architecturally, with a few high rise buildings and much low rise. Having lived in cities with great city skylines and charming character neighborhoods, it seems we have room for planning improvements here in both.
For example, the Beverly Hilton hotel renovation. Blocking the Waldorf building going high gained us nothing in architectural beauty and sacrificed much in city tax income. Such a revenue loss creates pressure for higher residential taxes, which is undesirable. In city planning we need to find the right balance.
How will you manage the needs of the residents who elect you and the businesses who provide so much tax revenue to the city?
The needs of residents and businesses aren’t incompatible when both are considered and treated with respect by city planners. We can preserve the charming character of our residential neighborhoods and build a vibrant economy in our commercial areas. We can increase tourism and mitigate traffic congestion.
When our city council takes an extreme position, such as blocking all new high rises or refusing a neighborhood market opening in a residential area, that can have undesirable consequences. It impacts our city skylines, reduces our tax revenues and has caused eyesore empty lots that persist for years. And, despite following our zoning rules, a charming apartment building may get torn down, the site gentrified.
Let’s consider the consequences fully when doing city planning, the intention of our rules.
As a shopping destination, how do we compete with Westfield in Century City and other malls?
Westfield recently completed a $1 billion renovation. Rather than compete, let’s connect our shopping experiences. Go big.
We have the Rodeo Drive subway stop opening in 2025, causing concern in that neighborhood that they may be inundated with people looking but unable to afford luxury merchandise.
Let’s build a skyway west from Rodeo to the Beverly Hilton to Westfield in Century City, and east to City Hall near the Chamber of Commerce and on to Beverly Center mall. Building a skyway is faster than going underground and will itself be a tourist attraction, a way to see the city.
Create a Destination Beverly Hills shopping experience that draws more tourist business and distributes shoppers across the area so Rodeo Drive won’t feel crushed.
How do you feel about zoning regulation changes to stimulate business, such as the recent emergency measure to make it easier to open restaurants here?
I support the emergency measure our city council passed recently, that restaurants will find it easier to open here. That change brings Beverly Hills regulations in line with West Hollywood. Our zoning restrictions were adding costs that drove out restaurants.
We need restaurants because they are often the anchor business in a commercial block. Without experiential businesses like restaurants to anchor, the result is boarded up storefronts up and down the street. That shouldn’t happen and shouldn’t be left to persist.
What took Beverly Hills so long to decide we need to fix this problem? The zoning laws that the city council amended recently were from 1974. We need to be faster addressing business obstacles. Not wait 45 years. Not let issues become an emergency.
What would you do about commercial rent increases?
Beverly Hills recently passed a residential rent stabilization program out of necessity. Rents were rising so much faster than incomes that it would cause an insurmountable homelessness problem if allowed to continue unabated.
Stabilization of commercial rents may be necessary, although I’m open to other solutions. We don’t want to discourage landlords from maintaining properties here. Let’s have appropriate improvements and good maintenance of buildings by landlords, but not price gouging.
Gentrification must be controlled somehow. Otherwise, the result is a main street of Fortune 500 luxury shops next to boarded up windows where smaller businesses should be.
Let’s have a vibrant business district that supports generating tax revenue for city services while maintaining the charm and character of our residential neighborhoods.