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Diamond Bar Council Broke, May Disband

May 05, 1985|PAT BRENNAN | Times Staff Writer

DIAMOND BAR — The Municipal Advisory Council for this unincorporated community is broke and could be disbanded if it is unable to pay $5,470 to the county. The council is soliciting the public for donations to help pay its debts, its treasurer said.

The debts that may spell ruin for the council were incurred in 1982 and 1984 council elections. The council owes $1,000 on the 1982 election and $4,470 on the last one.

County Supervisor Pete Schabarum, largely responsible for forming the advisory board in 1976 so Diamond Bar residents would have a voice in county government, said disbanding the council will be "one option available" to the Board of Supervisors when it begins careful scrutiny of the debt situation in 1986. Diamond Bar is scheduled to have yet another council election in November of that year.

The council has five members who meet twice a month. Elections are held every two years; two members are elected one time, and three the next.

"If there is not enough support to finance an election, maybe that's a signal the community doesn't think the council is all that important in the first place," Schabarum said. He said no time limit for payment has been set.

Covina Firm Contributes

Lavinia Rowland, treasurer for the advisory council, said she has collected $1,600 so far this year toward the debt, including $1,000 from a Covina psychiatric firm. A spokesman for the firm said about 20% of its customers come from the Diamond Bar area. Rowland said $1,200 will go to the county and the rest will go to maintain the advisory council, which spends about $350 a month to operate, some of which covers secretarial help.

The council receives no public funds, but must rely on contributions and revenues shared with civic organizations such as the Lions Club and Diamond Bar YMCA to meet expenses, Rowland said.

The council also is issuing "founder's certificates" as an enticement to the first 100 people who donate $200 or more, and plans to give certificates of appreciation to those who contribute $100. But Rowland said Diamond Bar residents for the most part seem uninterested in saving the council.

"The community is very apathetic, evidently," Rowland said. "I'm trying to get a committee together for fund raising, but I can't find anyone to head the committee. Yet if we weren't here to protect their property values I don't think they'd be too happy."

The advisory council is the only one of its kind in Los Angeles County. Its function is similar to that of a city council, although decisions it makes are not binding to the Board of Supervisors.

Oversee Development

Council members have said that their main task is to ensure that only desirable development be allowed in the area, and to help maintain the community's "country" atmosphere.

Unlike similar boards in other counties, however, the Diamond Bar council was formed with the understanding that it would pay its own bills, Rowland said.

"If we cannot live up to our bargain to pay our debts it just stands to reason that we would be dissolved," Rowland said. "The county cannot go on carrying debts that we accumulate."

Another member of the council, Diamond Bar attorney Paul Horcher, disagreed. "I think the county should shoulder it," he said. "We're the county's eyes and ears out here. When those jokers come out here with their construction plans it's a good thing we're here watching the community."

Pledges From Businesses

Rowland said that although currently the council's only asset is a portable tape recorder, businesses in Diamond Bar and elsewhere have contributed funds in past years toward the debt, and others have promised to make donations soon.

In November, she said, the Transamerica Development Corp. donated $2,000 toward the 1982 election debt, leaving the council with the balance of $1,000.

Rowland said a softball tournament and sales of as-yet-unspecified items are on the agenda for fund raising, although that still leaves the board with an uncertain financial future.

"If the community would realize we are important to them maybe they would come out and support us," Rowland said. "Donations in this community are very scarce for some reason. It's a shame to have to generate revenue from a Covina firm."

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