Los Angeles City Council candidate Laura M. Lake got a little help from her friends this week when she was endorsed by the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters.
Lake, a former league board member who is running against 5th District Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, was touted as a "leader who knows how to tackle tough environmental problems" at a league press conference Tuesday.
Dorothy Green, the immediate past president, said the group will mount an independent campaign on Lake's behalf. League members successfully backed another dark horse in 1987, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter.
"We will mount a grass-roots campaign that includes phone banks and precinct walking," Green said. "We will commit substantial resources."
Lake, a Westwood activist on leave from the league while she runs her campaign, said she anticipated the group's support. She said the endorsement underscores her credentials within the environmental community, adding: "This shows who the environmentalists think is the real environmental leader."
Lake was chosen over Yaroslavsky and two other challengers, political activist Jack McGrath and traffic planner Ryan Snyder. A fourth challenger, artist Henry Hill, did not seek the league's support, Green said.
The 5th District council candidates were interviewed at length by the league, which represents several environmental organizations. In the end, Green said, the league decided Lake had the best environmental credentials.
"Laura has just exerted so much more in the way of leadership than we have seen coming from Zev over the years," Green said. "Zev's been disappointing in that he has only been responsive when he's pushed by the community."
Moe Stavnezer, the league's president, also sang Lake's praises.
"As a co-founder of some of the most effective neighborhood organizations in the city, Laura is arguably the most effective citizen activist in Los Angeles, . . . " Stavnezer said. " . . . Environment is not a political buzzword for Laura, it's her creed. She didn't jump on the bandwagon, she's leading the team."
Karin Caves, Yaroslavsky's campaign manager, downplayed the importance of the league endorsement Tuesday, saying the councilman still enjoys significant support within the environmental community. Caves said Yaroslavsky deserves credit for promoting two citywide initiatives that aided environmentalists.
Proposition U cut the allowable building densities in half throughout the city, while Proposition O outlawed oil drilling in Pacific Palisades.
"Zev has worked with the league on (Proposition O and Proposition U), and he will work with the league when he's reelected," said Caves, who dismissed the league's support of Lake as a case of "friends endorsing friends."
Green could not say how many members will work on behalf of Lake, the neighborhood activist who has battled development projects such as the Westside Pavilion in her role as leader of Friends of Westwood and Not Yet New York. In 1987, Green said, 50 to 80 people worked on Galanter's campaign. In that campaign, the state league office also supported Galanter. The state office has not committed to Lake.
The Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters is the political arm of the environmental movement. Its members have battled for better air quality. They have also supported efforts to rid Santa Monica Bay of contamination and have called for more citizen participation in governmental decisions.
Yaroslavsky's 5th District has been the setting for some of the environmental community's most rancorous development battles. It includes the Beverly-Fairfax area, Century City, Bel-Air, Westwood, West Los Angeles, and parts of Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys and North Hollywood.