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Bernardi, Wachs Seek Allies Among Voters

September 05, 1986|RICHARD SIMON | Times Staff Writer

"Don't let the Valley get robbed at City Hall," begins a letter sent early this week to 80,000 San Fernando Valley homes by Los Angeles City Councilmen Ernani Bernardi and Joel Wachs.

The letter underscores a major argument used by opponents of the City Council's latest redistricting plan. The letter urges residents to call council members and Mayor Tom Bradley to protest the plan on grounds that it cheats the Valley of representation.

On Thursday, after letters began arriving at residents' homes, a Bradley spokesman said, "We've been inundated with calls." He could not provide a count but estimated there were more than 100.

Whether the plan, given preliminary approval on a 10-4 vote by the council Wednesday, will hurt--or help--the Valley politically is disputed, however, even among Valley officials.

West Valley Councilman Hal Bernson, who voted for the plan, said it would give Councilmen John Ferraro, Michael Woo and Zev Yaroslavsky "an interest, whereas they had none before" because their Los Angeles districts would extend into the Valley.

8 of 15 in Valley

A majority of the council districts--eight out of 15--would be entirely or partially in the Valley for the first time, Bernson said.

But another Valley council member, Joy Picus, an opponent of the plan, pointed out that Valley areas will make up a small part of the districts of Ferraro, Woo and Yaroslavsky.

"When your political base is not in the Valley, you could care less about how the Valley folks feel," she said.

The plan, which will come before the council for a final vote next week, drastically carves up the East Valley council districts, providing different representation to nearly half a million residents. Bernardi and Wachs oppose the plan, which would affect them the most, eliminating areas where they have enjoyed their strongest political support.

The plan eliminates the northeast Valley's 1st District, which was represented by the late Councilman Howard Finn, and parcels out that territory to Bernardi and Wachs. Portions of Wachs' district would be assigned to Ferraro and Woo, who could keep their own districts. The tentatively approved proposal, drawn by Ferraro and Woo, thus would enable them to avoid running against each other, as necessitated under the plan currently in effect.

Would Open Door to Latino

The Ferraro-Woo plan also would increase the opportunity for the first Latino to be elected to the council from the Valley. It would establish a new Valley district, represented by Bernardi, with a Latino population of 44%, based on the 1980 census. But the city's reapportionment consultant says the Latino population is probably higher in the proposed district because of the growth of that ethnic group there since 1980.

Under the plan, four of the 15 council members--Bernardi, Bernson, Picus and Wachs--would live in the Valley. Previously, five council members were Valley residents. Finn lived here before his death Aug. 12 of a ruptured aorta. His successor would have come from the Valley had the council not decided to consider carving up the district after his death.

Little Change for Braude

In addition to four who live here and the three who would be added under the Ferraro-Woo plan, there is Marvin Braude, whose largely Westside 11th District has long extended into Encino, Tarzana and Woodland Hills. Braude's district would remain largely unchanged under the new plan.

Wachs would lose 90% of his current 2nd District, including much of the Sherman Oaks and Studio City area he has long represented and which provides much of his political and financial support. His new 2nd District would take in most of Van Nuys and portions of North Hollywood and Sepulveda now represented by Bernardi. The liberal Wachs also would gain the conservative Sunland-Tujunga area, previously represented by Finn.

Bernardi's new 7th District would take in Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, Pacoima, Sun Valley and Sylmar, which were all part of Finn's district.

Bernardi's Van Nuys home and Wachs' Studio City residence would be in their new districts, connected by long, thin fingers extending from the hearts of their new districts.

New to the Valley would be Ferraro, whose mid-Wilshire 4th District would extend over the Santa Monica Mountains to take in much of Wachs' current territory, plus Toluca Lake, most of North Hollywood and the eastern side of Studio City. Most of the rest of Wachs' district would be ceded to Woo's Hollywood-based 13th District, which would extend over the mountains to the western part of Studio City and the eastern half of Sherman Oaks.

Yaroslavsky Gains More

Yaroslavsky, whose largely Westside 5th District was extended into Sherman Oaks under the earlier redistricting plan, will get even more of the affluent Valley area, plus part of North Hollywood and Van Nuys. The change should afford Yaroslavsky greater exposure in the Valley, and enable him to broaden his base for his stated desire to run for mayor some day.

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