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Culver City Votes 2 Incumbents Out, Slow-Growth In

April 14, 1988|SHELDON ITO | Times Staff Writer

His victory party over, Jim Boulgarides sat in his rocking chair late Tuesday night and reflected on why voters swept two long-time Culver City Council incumbents out and put two slow-growth candidates in.

"I felt that if all the people who signed the (3,000-signature) height initiative voted, we would win," said Boulgarides, 64, a business professor and former councilman.

"And that's exactly what happened," he said, pointing to his 3,163 votes.

Growth was the major issue in the election, and the victory by Boulgarides and Steven Gourley, a 38-year-old attorney, puts the brakes on a city whose Redevelopment Agency has a $65-million budget and has been gearing up for development for the past 15 years.

"It's a victory over outside interests and outside developers," said Gourley, who trumpeted his support of Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, a slow-growth advocate, throughout the campaign. "It's a clear message for careful planning."

'Line-Item Review'

Both Boulgarides and Gourley said they will not approve any new development until they have inventoried every project in the city.

"We're going to have a line-item review," said Boulgarides, who favors a building moratorium until residents decide on a plan for the city.

Boulgarides and Gourley ousted two-term Councilman Paul A. Netzel and three-term Councilman Richard (Dick) Brundo. Incumbent Paul A. Jacobs, a councilman who has taken slow-growth stands in the past, won 3,399 votes, the most of any candidate, and was elected to his fourth consecutive term.

After several unpopular decisions last year, the council faced a building height initiative petition signed by almost 3,000 registered voters. Most campaign watchers agreed the incumbents were in for a close race.

Few, however, predicted that the defeats would be as bad as they were. Gourley beat fourth-place Netzel by 500 votes, Boulgarides beat him by 1,000. Brundo, mayor this year, came in sixth behind Ron Perkins, a former councilman.

"I think there's no question that the strong showing by Jim (Boulgarides) and Steve (Gourley) is a strong message to move slower in terms of growth," said Jacobs, 46, an attorney. "It's a message that we have a lot of improvements to make."

Both Netzel and Brundo blamed state Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes Culver City, and her last-minute mail and telephone endorsements of Jacobs, Boulgarides and Gourley for their losses.

'Made a Difference'

"I think there's absolutely no question that Gwen Moore spent more than $25,000 in four or five thrusts into this community in the past week and a half and made a difference," Netzel said.

Brundo agreed.

"Gwen Moore got involved in a city where she doesn't belong and I will work very hard to see that she never will (do this) again," said an angry Brundo.

Gourley said that Moore merely reflected what residents were already feeling.

"If you look at how many people voted against the incumbents, it was inevitable that they would lose," he said.

The election of Boulgarides and Gourley means trouble for two major developments in the city: Corporate Pointe, an office park near Fox Hills, and Marina Place, a Westside Pavilion-sized mall proposed for near Marina del Rey.

Seeking Renegotiations

Both have said they will make the developers of Corporate Pointe renegotiate the size of their project, which has approval for four 12-story buildings, and Gourley has stated his doubts about whether Marina Place will bring enough income to the city to cover its expenses.

Growth was not the only issue in the campaign.

Last year, the council made several unpopular decisions, including erecting barricades to solve traffic problems in Sunkist Park, moving City Hall away from downtown to Overland Avenue at Culver Boulevard and the creation of an assessment fee for city maintenance services.

Public protest forced the council to reverse these decisions.

Public "dissatisfaction with the council over the past two years finally came to fruition. And they converted their frustration to votes," Boulgarides said. "I think it's an example of grass-roots democracy at its best."

Brundo defended his record and said Gourley and Boulgarides would try to return the city to the 1960s, when levels of income, assessed value and services were much lower than they are now.

"I just hope the people are satisfied with what they've done, because they're going to have to live with it," he said.

The victory meant something different to Robin Turner, co-sponsor of the building height initiative.

"It means that there will be something done about over-development," she said. "Right now, nothing's being done."

In a contest that offered no surprises, Deputy City Treasurer Sue A. McCabe beat businessman William (Bill) Eskridge.

Election Results

(Inc.) designates incumbent office holder. Winners are in bold type, runoff candidates italics and the voter turnout will follow the precinct report.

Culver City 29 of 29 precincts 31% CITY COUNCIL 3 vacancies

Vote % Paul A. Jacobs (Inc.) 3,399 19.8 Jim Boulgarides 3,163 18.4 Steven Gourley 2,664 15.5 Paul A. Netzel (Inc.) 2,149 12.5 Ron Perkins 1,933 11.2 Richard (Dick) Brundo (Inc.) 1,822 10.6 Richard E. Pachtman 1,315 7.7 Janine Lauren 727 4.2 Randy Unruh (write-in) 12 0.1

CITY TREASURER

Vote % Sue A. McCabe 4,003 70.7 William (Bill) Eskridge 1,656 29.3

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