RANCHO PALOS VERDES — A challenge by homeowner leader Franklyn C. Weiss, who has singled out longtime incumbent Councilman Robert E. Ryan as the man to beat, is sparking the contest for two seats on the City Council.
In addition to Ryan, incumbent Councilwoman Jacki Bacharach is seeking reelection. The fourth candidate in the Nov. 5 contest is Doris G. Tate, the mother of slain actress Sharon Tate, who is active in crime victim groups.
Voters on Nov. 5 will be able to vote for two candidates; the two top vote-getters will win four-year terms. Council members are unsalaried but receive $150 a month for expenses. The council sets policy for this sprawling Palos Verdes Peninsula city, which is characterized by expensive homes, concentrations of apartments and rustic, open space. The council also hires the city manager and hears appeals of decisions by appointed commissions.
"My campaign papers say I'm the homeowners' choice, and I believe that," said Weiss, 47, a patent attorney with Xerox Corp. who took a leave as president of the Rancho Palos Verdes Council of Homeowners Assns. to run for the council.
Original Council Member
But Ryan, the 55-year-old Northrop Corp. engineer who has been in office since the city's incorporation in 1973, thinks otherwise: "He (Weiss) runs a homeowner group that's just a political front. Membership in homeowner groups is so down it's pathetic."
Weiss said people are offended by Ryan's outspoken behavior, which he said includes insulting residents and other public officials, and believe "it is time for him to leave." For his part, Ryan--who acknowledged calling a congressman a "wimp" and a county attorney "a hired gun," saying they deserved it--said his longevity is an asset: "It sounds immodest, but I have accomplished more than anyone on the City Council, ever." Among other things, he cited elimination of low-income housing in the coastal zone.
Bacharach, 39, said she devotes full time to civic affairs, which range from the council to being chairman of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and an alternate director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments.
"The response from the community about this election feels pretty good," said Bacharach, who has lived in the city for 17 years and is seeking her second term on the council.
Tate, 60, a retired beauty salon owner and a city resident since 1961, said she believes the incumbents do not welcome challengers: "They have their little groups and do not want intruders. Everywhere I go, I feel like an outsider challenging entrenched incumbents."
Tate, who was defeated in a race against Assemblyman Gerald N. Felando (R-Torrance) in 1984, said she is running for the council "to learn more about the political arena in general," and expects to run for another office in the future. She is a leader of several law-and-order groups, including Parents of Murdered Children and Citizens for Truth, which fights the parole of what she termed "hardened criminals."
Golden Cove Controversy
Claiming that the incumbents have lost sight of the low-density principles of the general plan, Weiss has made an issue out of the longstanding controversy over development in Golden Cove, which overlooks the Pacific at the foot of Hawthorne Boulevard. A 130-unit condominium project on six acres was rejected three years ago and a 49-unit development is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission in December.
Weiss, who moved to the city in 1972, said the new proposal is "still excessive." He is advocating that the land be held for expansion of the small Golden Cove shopping center as the area grows.
Both Ryan and Bacharach reject that idea, Bacharach saying that a market study two years ago showed that commercial development "was not going to be viable." The incumbents also say inappropriate densities are not being permitted in the city.
"The general plan is the one I campaigned for when I first ran," said Ryan, who moved to the community in 1969 and was involved in the incorporation effort. "It is the most environmentally sensitive and lowest in density of any (city) in the state."
Need for New Revenue
The incumbents are talking about the need to boost city revenue, and Ryan said any new measures should be put to the voters and "not slipped under the mat as a utility tax." Bacharach said the city budget is "lean and getting leaner," but she said she is optimistic that the state will see that cities need money and will provide it. She doubts that a city tax would be passed by the voters.
"My main interest is crime and it will continue to be," said Tate, who contends that crime is increasing in the city. She blames it on overdevelopment, "which puts pressure on people," and advocates a lid on building.
Concerned about the landslides that have been plaguing the city for years, Tate said there should be a moratorium on development in all identified slide areas. She said if those areas begin to slide, the city could be sued because it has permitted building.