Numerous phrases describe John Mirisch’s hypocrisy about free parking in Beverly Hills in his op-ed in the Feb. 7 issue (“Hidden Drive Behind Parking Measure”), but the simplest and most direct one is “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

While City Councilman Mirisch screams against Measure 2P on the March 8 Beverly Hills ballot, he is strangely silent about his sponsorship of Measure 3P on the same ballot. Measure 3P offers city residents three hours of free parking in all Beverly Hills-owned garages while being silent on whether or not visitors will be provided this amenity when they shop or dine in our city.

Measure 2P was written because the city of Beverly Hills changed parking policies and rates numerous times over the past five years. During that period, it reduced free parking from two hours to one. Six months later, the city returned it to two hours but only in some city-owned garages. Then it doubled the rates at the city’s parking meters. Then the Parking & Traffic Commission unanimously voted to end all free parking at one city garage and strongly hinted that this policy would be extended to others.

Retailers, restaurants and all businesses in Beverly Hills deserve certainty about parking in our city-owned garages. About 80 percent of the city budget comes from people who shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants and do business in the city. City government should do all it can to invite people here –- not drive them away.

Mirisch has so many errors in his rant, it’s hard to keep track of them all.

He apparently does not travel west of Rodeo Drive or he would know that there are more than 200 retail businesses on streets like Brighton, Camden, Bedford and Little Santa Monica that depend on two-hour free parking. These businesses are virtually all mom-and-pop businesses – the same “small, one-of-a-kind retailers” that Mirisch, when running for City Council, pledged to protect – but doesn’t. These are the types of businesses that President Obama said we need to support to fuel our economy. Measure 3P, however, which was sponsored by Mirisch, is extremely antilocal business and is strongly opposed by the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.

The city’s own study showed that the city garage on Bedford Drive has about 800 cars parking in it every Saturday. These people are not visiting their doctor or lawyer – they are shopping in our city.

Mirisch lived in Europe for awhile and is apparently ignorant of when our company, along with Ritz-Carlton, asked the city for approval to build a boutique hotel on Bedford. The City Council rejected us, but then asked us to build a medical office building. We did. In fact, we built it with more parking spaces than the code required. We currently own more than 700 parking spaces in the city, and provide more than enough parking for our tenants and their patrons. Underparked? Not at all. In fact, other buildings in the area even purchase spaces in our lots to accommodate their needs

Costs of measure?

Mirisch further claims that 2P will cost the city $1.3 million in revenue. The city report he quotes was so flawed that when State Controller John Chiang’s chief economist reviewed it, he commented that the study’s authors weren’t even able to add or multiply correctly. The actual cost of 2P to the city is about $1,500 per day.

He also claims that a judge found 2P “unconstitutional.” Just not true. Three judges of the Court of Appeals unanimously stayed the trial court’s order and allowed the people of Beverly Hills to vote for 2P.

Mirisch never mentions the cost of 3P, which would require that parking permits be sent to every Beverly Hills resident and that an entire new city bureaucracy would need to be created to administer 3P. If that’s not a government subsidy to a special interest (government employees, with large pensions and health care benefits), then we don’t know what is.

Lastly, Mirisch knows, or should know, that the Montage Hotel lot was exempted from 2P because it was specifically built with financing that required only one hour of free parking. It is a testament to how important two hours of free parking are that the city changed parking at the Montage lot to two hours.

Look at his record: Mirisch has done little to make Beverly Hills government perform more effectively or efficiently during his two years in office.

Thomas Paine said, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” Mirisch is not leading – and Beverly Hills doesn’t need any more followers. In the interest of Beverly Hills businesses – do us all a favor, John, and get out of the way.

Dan Gottlieb and Steve Lebowitz are principals in G&L Realty Corp., which owns five Beverly Hills office buildings. They are sponsors of Measure 2P on the March 8 ballot.

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