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Palisades Considers Making Official Its Un-Official Council

September 22, 1988|KENNETH J. GARCIA | Times Staff Writer

If some community leaders in Pacific Palisades have their way, Chevy Chase couldn't stumble through a second term as honorary mayor.

Rita Moreno would be out. Ditto for Dom DeLuise. It would be an impossible mission for Peter Graves.

It's nothing personal. They just want to take the honorary post and make it official. Or somewhat more official.

Elected Representatives

If left to them, the Palisades will have not only a mayor, but up to 15 elected representatives from neighborhoods throughout the affluent community to deal with future planning issues.

The proposal by Randy Young, a local historian and a member of the town council, is an attempt to end the factionalism in the community. Community disputes are now handled by neighborhood associations and a town council picked by the Chamber of Commerce and other council members. Young and others want to create an organized body to handle such disputes and to deal with Los Angeles city officials at a time when the Palisades is feeling the crunch from traffic jams and booming development throughout the Westside.

"We have been like a Hindu god with seven arms," Young said of the community's neighborhoods groups. "It's been a case where the multileft hands don't often known what the multiright hands are doing."

Young will present his plan at a town hall forum at 7:30 this evening at the United Methodist Church, 801 Via de la Paz.

More Involvement

Flo Elfant, town council chairwoman, said the idea for a formally elected council is designed to get people in the community more involved in local affairs. The plan is not a precursor to incorporation for the Palisades, she said, which does not have a large enough tax base to support a separate city.

"It's not like we're trying to secede," she said. "We just need a way to deal with some of the problems in this community."

In recent years, the Chamber of Commerce has appointed a local celebrity to serve as honorary mayor, and Chase, DeLuise, Graves and others have filled the role. Moreno now holds the honorary title.

Young said the idea worked fine while the Palisades was primarily concerned with boosterism and community pride, but it no longer serves the area's needs. He said a borough system, like the one in New York City, would function well in the Palisades. The organization would present its views to the city of Los Angeles.

"I know a lot of people here are happy with the idea of a celebrity mayor, but it should be an administrative position," Young said. "We really need someone who can deal with all these civic groups, and celebrities just can't do that because they're too busy with their own careers."

Neighborhood Districts

Young's plan calls for nine to 15 neighborhood districts in which elections would be held to select community council representatives. The town council now is made up of 16 representatives, many of them hand-picked by the Chamber of Commerce. Young has prepared a map that divides the approximately 4,000-acre community into districts. The Palisades is formally represented by Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude.

Presumably, the elected representatives could grapple with other issues that would be raised at the town forum, including the most controversial proposal in the Palisades today: Mobil Oil Corp.'s plan to open an all-night mini-mart and gas station.

The oil company wants to expand the snack shop at its station on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Swarthmore Avenue and remain open around the clock, an idea that has been roundly criticized by community leaders and that prompted numerous angry letters in the local newspaper.

Civic leaders believe that if Mobil's plan is approved by the Los Angeles City Council, large packs of junk-food crazed teen-agers would spill out onto the Palisades streets and that the mini-mart would encourage late-night drinking.

Drinking Fears

"This is a bedroom community that closes up by 11 p.m.," said town council member Peter Fleming. "We don't want anything open in the early hours. The only people who are out drinking at 2 a.m. are people in trouble, and we don't need to invite that kind of person into the village."

Local neighborhood associations and the president of the Palisades High School Parent, Teacher, Student Assn. also have come out against the 24-hour gas station proposal, saying that the mini-mart would encourage drinking and driving in the community.

Mobil Oil executive Jim Huntsberry said that the company is just trying to "dress up" its station by building a new facade and snack shop and that the station's dealer intends to stop selling alcohol before midnight. He said the dealer would also place limits on the hours when junk food, or what he earlier described as "high-impulse items," would be sold.

"What we're proposing is not really new at all," he said. "We realize that alcohol is an emotional issue, but I would think having the lights on when the station is open at night would discourage people from congregating."

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