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Wed, Jun

Three Recalls are Better Than One

LOS ANGELES

PEOPLE POWER--Valley Village has gone Hollywood. Following Howard Beale’s lead in “Network,” it’s yelling, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore.”

Valley Village has gone Hollywood in another way. It is suing the City of Los Angeles. Hollywoodians learned a long time ago that the only way to derail the developer juggernaut at City Hall is to sue. The Valley Village uprising began when Councilmember Krekorian needlessly demolished one of Marilyn Monroe’s old homes before people could have it moved to another location. See CityWatch article from August 27, 2015.

Marilyn’s former home did not even interfere with the condo project which Krekorian wanted. The mentality which prevails at City Hall is a feudal one, where each councilmember fancies himself as the Lord of his fiefdom with his constituents as serfs. Their role is to render him homage and gifts. When the peasants had the nerve to oppose the needless destruction of Marilyn’s modest home, Krekorian’s office helped the developer use an invalid permit to demolish it just three days before the Cultural Heritage Commission hearing that was to consider the matter.

Following in Hollywood’s litigation footsteps, tiny SaveValleyVillage sued the city over the illegal demolition of Marilyn’s home.

SaveValleyVillage filed a follow-up lawsuit challenging City Council’s unlawful vote trading practices wherein councilmembers agree not to vote No on a project in another council district. Penal Code 86 criminalized all vote trading agreements. That unlawful vote trading pact is the key to developer power at City Hall. All a developer has to do is be “nice” to one poor councilmember and he will be bestowed with riches that include entitlements, exemptions and financial subsidies. Not only does a developer receive an iron clad guarantee of unanimous City Council approval, but just by being nice to a council member he gets a cheap way to rape the zoning code.

With the knowledge that voters had stopped La Bonge’s hand-picked successor from being elected in Hollywood’s Council District 4, Valley Village decided not to wait for Krekorian’s re-election time, but to undertake a recall…a big challenge for such a small group.

Councilmember Krekorian’s wanton destruction of Marilyn’s former home was particularly mean spirited, but Angelenos throughout the city are treated in a similarly shabby manner. Each councilmember knows that his or her word is law within the district, thanks to the City Council’s unlawful “voting pact.”

The question for Angelenos is this: Are you sick and tired of councilmembers who are too busy obsessing over maximizing the profits of Big Business to care about your quality of your life?

If the councilmember approves a project which is patently illegal, such as the Target Store in Hollywood, he knows that it will pass unanimously. If he wants to destroy a historic home like the Bartlett Home in Hollywood or Marilyn’s home in Valley Village, he knows that the City Council will unanimously approve. If he wants to approve a mega project that will loom over nearby homes, the homeowners will soon find a humongous wall in their midst.

As an example, look at how Council President Wesson helped get hundreds of millions of dollars for developers to provide disabled accessible housing that has been allegedly pocketed by those developers and was sued by advocates of the disabled. Wesson has supported the demolition of thousands of rent controlled units, creating an artificial market for his developer buddies to construct affordable housing with funds earmarked for the disabled. Wesson and Mayor Eric Garcetti have both been shedding crocodile tears for the homeless. But in the meantime, they are steering hundreds of millions of dollars to their developer friends for the construction of “affordable housing.”

The problems besetting Valley Village and Hollywood are citywide, although Mitch O-Farrell (Council District 13) and Herb Wesson (Council District 10) are especially aloof from their constituents. If Angelenos want to really take back our city from the City Hall Overlords, maybe two more recall petitions would be a good start.

If we Angelenos, do not look out for ourselves, who else will do it? If we don’t step up now, then when? We have the tool of the “recall.” We need to find the will to use it. And three recalls are better than one.

 

(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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