Why I’m Not for Myra Demeter
Myra Demeter’s Understanding of Projects
It is my opinion that Myra Demeter does not have the mental capacity or drive required to really dig in, study and gain a thorough understanding of projects and complicated issues, and therefore she tends to rely on others. For instance, she makes statements like, “I looked at the materials as best I could.”
At the recent planning commission meeting on January 25 concerning ADU's, Myra Demeter explained that prior to the meeting she had to call the planner 4 times to get her questions answered about the agenda. After I reviewed that same agenda, I had questions and called the planner once. It should not have taken 4 calls to the planner to understand the agenda. At the end of the ADU meeting portion, another vote was taken. At that time Demeter announced that she could not vote because she did not understand what was being proposed. Several people explained to her what was being proposed and then she was able to vote. Myra was honest about her difficulties, but that does not cure the problem.
Myra Demeter’s Substandard Work on the Failed Housing Element Plan
At the February 1 candidates forum, Myra, a planning commissioner, indicated that she is on the ad hoc committee which oversees the submission of the housing element plan. The state has rejected our housing element plan numerous times. Each time the state (the HCD or California Department of Housing and Community Development) sends a lengthy letter explaining the reasons for the rejection. Nevertheless subsequent housing element plans have still not complied with requirements and continue to be rejected.
Because of the incompetence of our planning department as overseen by Myra Demeter, and our housing element plan being rejected repeatedly, numerous Builder’s Remedy projects are being proposed. That is, if a city’s housing element plan is not accepted by the state, builders can ignore our zoning laws and build very tall housing projects. Currently many Builder’s Remedy projects in or near residential areas have been applied for, to build tall housing projects. They include a 9 story building, 11 story building, three 12 story buildings, two 14 story buildings, a 17 story building, and a 20 story building. (See pages 24 to 26 of our planning department’s current project list for their locations at https://www.beverlyhills.org/cbhfiles/storage/files/19694922541727612494/Tab5-CurrentDevelopmentCaseLog.pdf.
Since Demeter has been unable to get the housing element plan approved a number of times, there is no reason to believe she can succeed in the future, and more Builder’s Remedy projects will be proposed. We need a new council member who can assure that our housing element plan will be accepted, and it has proven repeatedly not to be Myra Demeter. In fact, getting the housing element accepted is not even one of Myra's top priorities.
Myra Was in Favor of a Robust City Density Bonus Program
A couple of years ago, as a planning commissioner, Myra was in agreement with planning commissioner Peter Ostroff that our city should develop a very robust city density bonus program, to allow builders much greater height and lesser parking requirements, such density bonuses to far exceed those provided by the state density bonus program. Further, Ostroff and Demeter did not intend to include much of a requirement, if any, for affordable housing, even though affordable housing is the rationale for any density bonus program. They just wanted to encourage building in Beverly Hills. Myra also did not seem to understand that our city is not actually required to build the approximately 3,100 units recommended by the state—our city is only required to provide a housing element plan demonstrating that our city has made adequate provisions to accommodate the building of such additional housing.
When I recently asked Myra about her previous position in favor of a robust city density bonus plan, she claimed she did not remember it, even though she was on the ad hoc committee and the matter was considered over three meetings on August 26, September 9, and September 23, 2021. Those meetings can be viewed at the city’s website. The agenda item relates to affordable housing and if anyone is interested, I will be happy to summarize Myra’s comments during those meetings.
Myra’s Position on Cheval Blanc
Myra, having voted in favor of Cheval Blanc as a planning commissioner, came up to me at the Farmers’ Market when I was passing out fliers against Cheval Blanc, and we got into a heated argument. Her position was that Cheval Blanc should be approved simply because it had gone through the required city processes, and she was not in favor of residents being able to decide upon or vote against Cheval Blanc.
Myra’s Son is a Lobbyist for the Saks Project
Myra's son, Ron Demeter, as of July 8, 2022, registered as a well paid lobbyist (legislative advocate), earnings $75K+ to change zoning for a taller Saks 5th Avenue project. I believe that people can’t really help being affected by the interests and occupations of their loved ones. Ron’s lobbyist registration is at https://www.beverlyhills.org/application/lobbyist/print.jsp?ID=3126
Myra’s Misleading Statements about Her Position
Myra effectively misrepresented her position on One Beverly Hills (the latest Hilton project). In communicating with residents she thought did not favor it, she stated she voted that One Beverly Hills was inconsistent with the City’s general plan. It is true that Myra and Peter Ostroff voted that that the development agreement for One Beverly Hills was inconsistent with the City’s general plan, however both Demeter and Ostroff were very much in favor of and voted to approve the One Beverly Hills project. When I asked Myra whether she had actually been in favor of the One Beverly Hills project, instead of admitting that she was, she responded, “One Beverly Hills is all public record.” It is not her position on One Beverly Hills that is so troubling—it is her effort to make it seem like she was not in favor of it when she was.
Myra Demeter’s Poor Performance on the Board of Education
Myra Demeter, Alissa Roston, and Nooshin Meshkaty were all on the Board of Education in 2006 when they were wined, dined, and duped by Karen Christiansen whom they carelessly approved to be a school construction consultant without investigating her.
They failed to determine that Christiansen was self-dealing and allowed her to persuade the Board to approve a school bond, Measure E, for $334M. But due to their poor judgment and a failure to oversee, our school system lost millions of dollars, litigation ensued, and ultimately a criminal prosecution was brought against Christiansen. Christiansen ended up being sentenced to 4 years in prison.
During the terms of Demeter, Roston, and Meshkaty on the School Board, test scores went down, debt went up, teacher pay went down, resident involvement went down, less people moved into the city for our schools, and more residents began to enroll their children in private schools. Myra and Nooshin attempted to cover up the problem by pushing through opportunity permits and accepting children from outside of Beverly Hills, but the permits were not distributed randomly or fairly.
Despite their poor performances on the Board of Education, and the Christiansen scandal which ensued and impaired our district’s reputation, Demeter, Roston, and Meshkaty now think they should be elected to city council.
Myra was endorsed by the Los Angeles County Democrats. But why should Beverly Hills listen to Los Angeles County residents? And being a democrat alone does not imbue one with greater knowledge to endorse in a non partisan race.