Hollywood redevelopment critics this week began listening to tapes of meetings to determine whether the citizens group advising the Community Redevelopment Agency was illegally constituted in 1984.
The tapes were recorded at about 30 meetings over the past two years by the Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area Committee. The committee voted Monday to make the tapes available after critics contended that they contained the only true account of committee actions.
The tapes are in the possession of the records department of the Community Redevelopment Agency, the administrative arm of the nearly $1-billion Hollywood redevelopment project.
Brian Moore, a dissident member of the 25-member project area committee, and others have charged that the committee is without legal standing.
"Assuming that key portions have not been edited," Moore said, "the tapes are the only accurate account of the meetings. We do not trust the minutes, since they are prepared by the Community Redevelopment Agency, which has a vested interest in continuing the existence of the existing project area committee."
Moore said his goal is to force the Community Redevelopment Agency to dissolve the committee and form a new one with a majority of Hollywood tenants and homeowners.
According to committee guidelines, only four of the 25 positions are set aside for people who live in the project area. The remaining seats may be filled by business owners, commercial and industrial tenants and representatives of community organizations, who need not live in Hollywood.
Diana Webb, Hollywood project area manager for the Community Redevelopment Agency, said anyone who wants to listen to the tapes may call the agency for an appointment. Her office will monitor listeners to make certain nothing happens to the tapes, she said.
"We are fully confident that the committee was legally formed in 1984," Webb said. "We also are convinced that the last election held in June was also legal."
Moore and others maintained that the June election, in which seven seats were filled, was improperly conducted, with unqualified candidates running for election and some voters obtaining more than one ballot for each open seat.
Webb said the election was legal. She conceded that although it may have been possible for a voter to obtain more than one ballot, there was no evidence that voters did so.
"We have reviewed the number of eligible voters and the ballots cast for each seat," she said. "In every instance, there were fewer votes than there were eligible voters, leading us to believe that there was no ballot stuffing for candidates."
Norris Lineweaver, chairman of the project area committee, said the attention being paid to the tapes is symptomatic of the lack of trust among committee members.
"Somewhere down the line," he said, "we are going to have to start trusting each other so that we can deal with redevelopment. The tapes, as far as I am concerned, are a non-issue, meant to divert us from our real task of advising the redevelopment agency on the redevelopment of Hollywood."
Lineweaver, who was conducting his first meeting as chairman, said he was frustrated by the fact that the 2 1/2-hour session was dominated by debate over committee procedures and the committee's alleged illegality.
But Moore said both issues are of paramount concern in the community and must be resolved before there can be any positive action on redevelopment.
"Strictly speaking," Moore said, "an illegally constituted committee cannot conduct any business. Despite that, we have been willing to debate and act on specific redevelopment projects that have come before the committee.
"What must be understood is that the issue of the legality of the committee and the propriety of the last election is not going to go away until we form a new committee, one that has more tenants on it and one that is legally established."
Webb said that although the continued wrangling is disappointing, the redevelopment of Hollywood is proceeding apace. "Development proposals are being made and the committee is making recommendations on them," she said.
The $922-million Hollywood redevelopment project is bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard and Serrano, Franklin and La Brea avenues. It is being financed by tax increment bonds over 30 years.