The city of Beverly Hills, California is one of the most affluent communities in the nation. And its mayor is probably the most beautiful, intelligent and dynamic city official in the country.... a blonde bombshell of a woman named Lili Bosse who is serving her first term as mayor of the wonderful little city set right in the heart of Los Angeles.. There are 34,290 people residing in this city, which is surrounded by the much larger Los Angeles County and West Hollywood. The signature 'icons' of the city are Rodeo Drive, its zip code of 90210. and the Beverly Hills Hotel. Rodeo Drive is one of the world's most popular shopping areas, comparable to New York's Fifth Avenue and Paris' Rue St. Honore.
I have lived in Beverly Hills about 14 years, having previously been ensconced in an apartment on the Wilshire corridor of West L.A. until a fellow named Donald Sterling (remember him?) bought the building and jacked up the rents. I was fortunate enough to find a delightful garden apartment in the heart of Beverly Hills just a block from Beverly Hills High School (and two blocks from Neiman Marcus, not good.) B.H. High is the only school in the world with a working oil well on its campus! The city is atop the Beverly Hills Oil Field, with four wells driving into the earth and bringing up oil and revenue.
Last night I attended a rather spectacular event at Greystone Mansion, a house-and-garden in the city available for special happenings. The Mayor of the city gave her annual State of the City address, and I was reminded once again of how lucky I am to be living here. Over 475 people crowded into the garden after a reception of food and wine to hear her speech, and afterwards I had an opportunity to round out this Huffington story with some personal questions-and answers. The evening was sponsored by the Beverly Hils Chamber of Commerce, and I was rather amazed at the zeal and enthusiasm of its members. This city is a 'destination' for retailers from all over the world, and space on Rodeo Drive and surrounding streets is at an all-time premium. She told me that over 20 % of the General Fund's revenue is provided by taxes and fees from its commercial members, probably unmatched by any other city. She said to me that she has worked to achieve "a healthy city, with healthy people, healthy business and a healthy government." When Mayor Bosse saw me kind of skoff at the platitude, she broke up laughing and said, "Do you know of another city anywhere which is actively working to better the health of its residents? I actually initiated a 'Walk with the Mayor' for residents to meet me early Monday mornings at City Hall and we walk around the city at a brisk pace, visiting several businesses and chatting about all sorts of things. Hundreds of people have come along so far, and it has helped the businesses we visit also." I said that it would not be my choice of how to start the week early Monday morning but..what the heck, to each his own.
I mentioned that I have found many of the elevators in the city's parking structures to be defective, often going unrepaired for long periods (see Bedford and Little Santa Monica, next to the drugstore), and she almost shouted at me: "Parking is at the forefront of our new programs. The first thing a visitor to Beverly Hills sees, and the last thing, is the parking structure, so we are now upgrading all of them, making them more attractive and fixing all the elevators." I calmed down and agreed. I reminded her of my Huffington lst week about The Palm Restaurant leaving its location of 40 years and moving into Beverly Hills in November, and she then noted that another major steak-and-seafood restaurant, Ocean Prime, would be opening here also. But then she stopped me in my tracks by saying: We have sent out a letter to every restaurant in the city encouraging them to add healthy menu options to its fare. If they do, we give them a Healthy City decal to display." Someone standing next to us said I should know about her "60 Second Shout Outs" at City Council Meetings, where she applauds cooperating city businesses. And did I know that the famous English company, Burberry, was opening on Rodeo? Lili then added that two major department stores, Barney's New York and Neiman Marcus (my neighbor) were undergoing major renovations. Her assistant said to me, "Did you know that she was sworn in as mayor by Sir Sidney Poitier?." I think I stunned her in reply by saying that I had produced the first movie to star two black actors, Sidney Poitier and Abbey Lincoln, called "For Love of Ivy," and Sidney had written the story. She stammered that I could get a picture of them on their website.
We ended our conversation with a discussion about the huge Chinese movie conglamorate, Wanda Group, buying the former Robinson-May property amd building 235 luxury condos, a park and restaurant and such on the site. She smiled and said, They closed escrow Tuesday and construction begins immediately. It will be a fabulous addition to the city. And did you know that the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is now approved for construction and should be open by 2018?"
Did I mention that Beverly Hills is celebrating its 100th birthday this year? Like I said, it is a one-of-kind city, a phenomenon, and if you can't live here, you can at least visit. See you soon.
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