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Slow-Growth Advocates on Hold in Culver City

March 17, 1988|SHELDON ITO | Times Staff Writer

Backers of an initiative to limit building heights in Culver City say they will decide after the April 12 municipal elections whether to launch a second petition drive to force a vote on the issue before the planned date in 1990.

"We have to wait until the April election to see how many of the council members are kicked out," said Robin Turner, co-sponsor of the initiative.

"If two of the three, (Richard) Brundo and (Paul) Netzel in particular, are kicked out, we don't have to do anything," she said, explaining that the height limit would then have enough support from the likely winners of the election to make the initiative unnecessary.

The council voted Monday to place the initiative on the April, 1990, ballot rather than approve an ordinance proposed by initiative backers. Council and staff members say the ordinance is flawed and will not accomplish its intended purpose.

Petition Falls Short

Slow-growth advocates launched a petition drive in January to place on a special June ballot an initiative that would cut the maximum height from 167 feet to 56 feet. But last week, the city clerk reported the petition had gathered only 2,958 valid signatures, 100 short of its goal.

The shortage meant that the initiative could not go on the June ballot although it has qualified for the April, 1990, ballot.

Council candidate Richard Pachtman, co-sponsor of the initiative, disputed the city's criteria for validating signatures, saying that 100 voters were invalidated from the petition for writing ditto marks where the names of their streets should have been printed.

The city invalidated another 50 signers who had recently moved within the city and who wrote down their new addresses, but had not changed that information on their voter registration, he said.

The 2,958 whose signatures were valid were "more people than elect councilman on many occasions. You have a responsibility . . . to put that matter on the ballot," he told the council at its meeting Monday.

Then the 64-year-old Pachtman made the council an offer.

"You put that on the (June) ballot and I will withdraw from the election today," the former councilman said.

Two Options

But City Atty. Joseph Pannone told the council the invalidated signature count was correct and that it had only two options: adopt the ordinance proposed by initiative supporters or place it on the April, 1990, ballot.

The council voted unanimously to place it on the ballot.

Brundo said the council last month ordered the Planning Commission to review the city's height limits, and he believes that they will be lowered.

"I hope the backers of the petition will work with us on this so we could solve this problem long before it goes to the ballot in 1990," he said.

Pachtman said Monday that he thought the city deliberately stalled work on the politically sensitive initiative so that it would miss the March 11 deadline for the June primary.

But Brundo said that was not true.

"The city clerk did her very best to move that through in the time that was alloted," he said. "I don't believe there were any stall tactics at all."

Turner said initiative backers proved where the community stands on development in the city by gathering more than 3,000 signatures in less than three weeks. But, she added, the council feels threatened by the campaign and is doing everything it can to thwart it.

"We're the people that they're there to represent," she said. "But they're punishing us because we didn't do what they wanted us to."

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