Real estate agents unscrupulously preying on the fears of Hollywood homeowners are undermining public confidence in the redevelopment process, according to the head of a renewal advisory group.
Norris Lineweaver, newly elected chairman of the Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area Committee, said in an interview that he has begun "Project Wolfhound" to identify the agents, inform their bosses of their employees' actions and, if necessary, challenge their real estate licenses.
"These people are not connected with agencies normally working the Hollywood area," Lineweaver said, "but they are doing great harm to the community by spreading lies about redevelopment to get people to sell their homes.
"Many of their victims are senior citizens who have lived in their homes for many years and do not want to sell. What the speculators are doing is very malicious and we intend to take away their anonymity."
Focusing on DeLongpre Park
He said the agents are telling homeowners that the Community Redevelopment Agency, administrative arm of the $922-million Hollywood redevelopment project, plans to seize and raze their dwellings through eminent domain.
Lineweaver said the agents are focusing on the DeLongpre Park area, a cluster of older homes immediately south of Sunset Boulevard. "This is an area designated for rehabilitation, not demolition," he said. "But the agents are trying to scare homeowners into selling their homes so that the agents can make a fast buck."
Lineweaver, 41, executive director of the Hollywood YMCA, succeeded Marshall A. Caskey as head of the committee, which is the official community advisory group of the Community Redevelopment Agency. Caskey had headed the committee since its formation three years ago.
The 25-member committee has been rocked by internal strife for the past four months. Some members have complained of irregularities in the organization's last election in June and claim that it is dominated by pro-development, big-business people associated with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
Lineweaver acknowledged that the election, held in crowded quarters without such equipment as a microphone, could have been better run.
"There were a lot of things I would have changed about the election, had we been able to do it again," he said. "But that does not mean that the election was illegal in any way. The results were valid and there is no point in trying to change them."
Lineweaver is a director of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and does not apologize for his participation in the organization. Actually, he said, the YMCA is a member of the chamber and he is the Y's representative to the group.
He said the chamber membership "does not speak with one voice" on development matters.
"I have nothing to gain financially by development," Lineweaver said. "My primary goals, as far as redevelopment are concerned, are increased child-care facilities, improved housing conditions in the community and anything else that will improve the quality of life for families in Hollywood."
Lineweaver said he will encourage the Project Area Committee to "get over the bickering" and concentrate on the direction of redevelopment of the community.
He said he is not interested in having all committee members agree on development issues. "Total agreement would be dangerous," he said. "We need dissent."
What the committee does not need, he said, is the atmosphere of distrust that has developed recently among members. "We have spent so much time bickering over petty matters that we have not had time to discuss major development projects already on line," he said.