A citizens advisory committee for the Hollywood redevelopment project, in a rare session devoid of the acrimony that has made it notorious over the past few years, moved this week to clean up its act and to ask the Los Angeles City Council for a new lease on life.
But Hollywood-area Councilman Michael Woo said in an interview that he has not decided what he wants the council to do about the Hollywood Project Area Committee, which has become well-known over the last 2 1/2 years for its boisterous, chaotic and often unproductive meetings.
Under state law, the group is scheduled to disband in May, three years after the City Council adopted a plan for the 1,100-acre redevelopment project. The council can extend the committee's existence for one-year intervals, but Woo said he will recommend an extension only if the group's "very rowdy and less constructive" elements are subdued over the next few months.
"While in theory the Project Area Committee can serve a very constructive purpose, I think anybody who has been to a PAC meeting in Hollywood also knows there is a lot of potential for wacky behavior," Woo said. "In terms of whether the council has the responsibility to provide an official forum for wacky behavior, I think that is questionable."
Exuding what one redevelopment official termed an uncharacteristic "clubby feeling," the committee met Monday for the first time since the election last month of 10 members endorsed by Save Hollywood Our Town, a residents' group that has sued the Community Redevelopment Agency in hopes of stopping the $922-million redevelopment effort. A judge is expected to issue a tentative ruling on the case next week.
Redevelopment critics now hold undisputed control of the 25-member committee, which they contended had been unfairly dominated by pro-business and development interests that have much to benefit from the renewal effort. The new majority moved quickly to affirm its grip on the committee Monday by ousting developer Michael Dubin as chairman and replacing him with Elaine Koenig, a homeowner who has headed a subcommittee on Hollywood Boulevard.
Seen as Moderate
Koenig has been critical of the CRA and its handling of Hollywood redevelopment, but she is generally regarded as a moderate and is expected to foster a period of relative calm on the committee. Although she says she sympathizes with supporters of the lawsuit, she has not joined in the litigation. Woo described Koenig as "very capable" and said he was "very happy" about her selection.
Koenig said in an interview that she will work to improve the committee's standing in the community.
"The meeting went very smoothly Monday night, and we got through the agenda--something that hasn't happened the whole time I've been on the PAC," said Koenig, who was elected to the panel in November, 1987. "Having a high profile and a good profile of a group of people concerned about Hollywood and actually working to do something for Hollywood is really important."
While committee members devoted little time on Monday to rehashing old problems, they did agree that many of their difficulties have been rooted in procedural disputes that could be avoided with the help of a professional parliamentarian. The committee voted unanimously--with two abstentions--to hire a parliamentarian on a trial basis, and CRA Hollywood Project Manager H. Cooke Sunoo said the agency would pick up the tab.
'A New Era'
In debating the merits of a parliamentarian, committee members were candid about the past shortcomings of the panel. Member John Walsh, whose emotional outbursts helped fuel pandemonium at previous sessions, declared that the committee has entered "a new era." Brian Moore, who on Monday replaced Bennett Kayser as Save Hollywood Our Town's representative on the committee, also said it was time to shed the committee's reputation in the community as a "charade" and a "zoo."
"Although this is a new PAC, there are still elements of people being uncontrolled," Moore said. "I believe the speaker should be in control at all times. I urge we do hire a parliamentarian."
But member Bill Welsh, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and one of the few CRA boosters remaining on the committee, said he doubts a parliamentarian alone can bring tranquility to the committee.
"How does the parliamentarian shut up the people who refuse to listen to the chair and be quiet?" Welsh asked. "You had better hire King Kong."
In another move intended to bring greater calm to committee meetings by clarifying sometimes murky legal issues, the committee voted to begin searching for an attorney. Sunoo, the CRA project manager, has said the redevelopment agency would make its attorneys available to the committee, but members said Monday that they want legal counsel independent of the CRA.