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Mar Vista Group Lands Big Prize: Visit From Mayor

September 06, 1987|ALAN CITRON | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley will bypass several of the Westside's most active and influential community organizations in favor of a tiny Mar Vista neighborhood group that has no elected officers, no formal membership, no newsletter and no political agenda during a political outing on the Westside this month.

Bradley is scheduled to meet with Homeowners Organized to Monitor their Environment on Sept. 21. Gregg Thomas, the founder and leader, said he has no idea why the mayor's office selected his organization. The 130 people who belong to the group have never even assembled in one place before.

"This is just a funky little organization," Thomas said. "When people want to know something they usually just stop and talk to me when I am out mowing my front lawn on Saturdays. Maybe he confused us with somebody else."

Thomas has reserved the Mar Vista Recreation Center for the meeting and is frantically working to round up participants, since there were only 30 people at the group's single previous get-together at Christmastime.

Focus on Neighborhood Issues

There is no formal agenda for the meeting, but Thomas said the discussion will probably focus on typical neighborhood issues such as crime and development.

"It sounds kind of like a spill-your-guts session," the 38-year-old graphic designer said. "It could be an attempt to portray the mayor as somebody concerned about the little guy because we are obviously little."

Homeowners Organized to Monitor their Environment first came together last year in opposition to plans to build a condominium complex in their area. Everyone who signed a petition circulated by Thomas became a member. Thomas said that the group has held no meetings and taken no stands since then.

Bradley's office initially contacted the group in July. Thomas said that Lloyd W. Raikes, an administrative coordinator in the mayor's office, wrote the group a letter stating that Bradley wanted to "interact" with them.

Raikes confirmed that Bradley will be meeting with the Mar Vista group but said that the organization's size is irrelevant. Raikes said that Thomas's group was picked because Bradley was planning to be in the Mar Vista area.

Equal Significance

"No constituent of the mayor is insignificant," Raikes said last week. "The mayor will be covering many groups and meeting with many people that day. . . . And these are people who live in the city of Los Angeles."

One of the other groups meeting with Bradley on Sept. 21 is the Venice Action Committee, an organization consisting primarily of businessmen, builders and artists who are seeking to upgrade the Bohemian beach community.

The mayor will not be getting together with the Mar Vista Del Rey Homeowners Assn., a group that has several times the membership of Thomas's group. Sal Grammatico, the association's president, said he was not even aware that Bradley would be in the area.

"I would be more than happy to meet with him," Grammatico said. "We have many concerns that need to be addressed."

Several major slow-growth organizations on the Westside that have been critical of Bradley in the past are also absent from the mayor's Sept. 21 itinerary. They include the Venice Town Council, the Coalition of Concerned Communities, Not Yet New York and Friends of Westwood.

Never Offered to Speak

"Bradley has never offered to address our group," said Patrick McCartney, the immediate past president of the Coalition of Concerned Communities. "But we would love to have the mayor come and speak to the organization."

Brian Moore, chairman of the Federation of Hillside and Canyon Assns., a vast organization that includes 13 Hollywood groups, said there is no logical pattern to Bradley's speaking engagements. Moore said the mayor routinely turned down his organization's invitations until recently, when he began preparing for his 1989 reelection campaign..

"He was never available in Hollywood," Moore said. "But after the 1986 gubernatorial election (which Bradley lost), I got a call from his office saying that he had been away from the federation too long and would like to speak. We were very pleased to get him. You don't sneeze at the mayor."

Raikes said it is incorrect to assume that Bradley sees some groups at the expense of others. He said that the mayor tries to meet with a range of people on "area days," Bradley's term for days spent in a specific part of town.

"We meet with all kinds of groups, and this (the Mar Vista meeting) is just another event," Raikes said.

Thomas said he is happy to have the mayor--whatever the circumstances. But he added that Bradley should not assume that he will get a warm reception. Thomas said that the mayor could be doing a better job.

"Bradley has said that he wants a world-class city," Thomas said. "It looks to me like we got the world but we didn't get the class."

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