The advisory committee for Hollywood's redevelopment project endorsed a major restructuring proposal this week that would tip the panel's balance of power toward residential interests.
By an 8-7 vote, with one abstention, the Hollywood Project Area Committee (PAC) recommended that Los Angeles officials strip the business community of four of its nine seats on the 25-member panel.
The four business representatives would be replaced by residential renters who live within the 1,100-acre redevelopment area, a group that many contend has too few representatives on the committee. Statistics show that 94% of residents in the project area are renters.
The vote marks a symbolic victory for opponents of the redevelopment project who have long complained that the committee, which makes recommendations to the Los Angeles City Council and Community Redevelopment Agency, has been dominated by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and several large commercial interests.
But the restructuring proposal faces stiff opposition at City Hall, where it needs City Council approval to take effect. A CRA official said on Tuesday that the agency opposes the proposal, and Hollywood-area Councilman Michael Woo said in an interview that he will not support it.
'Not Necessarily Bound'
"The approach I would prefer is to add residential representation without taking business representation away," Woo said. "As far as I am concerned, (the vote) is an official position taken by the PAC advising the council, but I and the council are not necessarily bound by whatever the PAC decides to do."
H. Cooke Sunoo, CRA manager for the Hollywood project, said the existing committee adequately reflects business and non-business interests in Hollywood. There now are four seats on the committee for residential renters, four for residential or commercial property owners, six for business owners or tenants, three for industrial and warehousing businesses and eight for community organizations.
"We think the residential population is in fact represented roughly in proportion to its land-use proportion," Sunoo said. A 1986 land-use survey by the CRA, he said, showed that 38% of the redevelopment area is commercial or industrial, 39% is residential and 23% is used by community organizations.
Under the proposal approved by the citizens' committee, the industrial and warehousing category would be combined with the business-owner category. The new combined category would have five representatives--one elected at-large and one each from the project's four separate quadrants. All nine business and industrial representatives now are elected at-large.
Would Gain Advantage
Supporters of the proposal said assigning four of the business seats to individual quadrants would give small businesses--particularly those not affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce--a greater chance to win seats by eliminating community-wide campaigns. The supporters said chamber members and large businesses have enjoyed an unfair advantage because they have the resources and name recognition to win at-large elections.
Chamber President Bill Welsh, hoping to save the nine business-oriented seats on the committee, offered a compromise proposal that incorporated the idea of quadrant representatives. Welsh proposed a combined business category with nine seats, eight of which would be elected from quadrants. "I presume the members of the PAC who are seriously interested in redevelopment and improving Hollywood, those who are sincerely interested in it, realize you cannot accomplish it without the cooperation and the support and the contributions of the business community," Welsh said. "If you are not interested in redevelopment, then the thing to do is kick the business community out completely, and say we are going to tell them how to do it, and obviously you would get no cooperation."
Welsh's Proposal Fails
Welsh's proposal failed by a 2-1 margin, with even some business representatives refusing to support it. Michael Dubin of Kornwasser & Friedman, developers of the $37.6-million Galaxy project to be built on Hollywood Boulevard, abstained on Welsh's compromise, citing complaints by some residents that the quadrant system has fragmented their representation on the committee. Under existing rules, all eight homeowner and residential tenant representatives are elected from quadrants.
"I don't think you have to drag the business community into the same problem that the residential community has gone through," Dubin said.
The restructuring proposal endorsed by the committee was approved by its executive panel last week. The proposal was made by Bennett Kayser, a Silver Lake resident who represents Save Hollywood Our Town, a residents' group that has sued the CRA over the redevelopment project. Among other things, the lawsuit challenges the composition of the Project Area Committee. The lawsuit is now being heard in Los Angeles Superior Court.