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LOCAL ELECTIONS BALLOT MEASURES : 2 Moot Ballot Issues Still Stir Controversy

May 24, 1990|LEE HARRIS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SOUTH GATE — Two advisory measures on the June 5 ballot are considered a waste of taxpayers' money by some residents, including members of the City Council who said voters are being asked for opinions on issues that have already been resolved.

However, three former council members who supported the measures disagree.

Measure U asks voters whether they would approve development of an auto sales lot on 7.1 acres of vacant city property next to the Long Beach Freeway. Measure V asks whether the city should lend public funds to local metal-fabricating companies for redevelopment activities near Firestone Boulevard and Rayo Avenue.

In March, automobile dealer Pete Ellis withdrew plans to develop the vacant land described in Measure U after residents at an adjoining trailer park protested. At the same time, officials of Shultz Steel withdrew their request for a $2-million loan from the city to pay for plant construction.

But the three members of the council responsible for putting the measures on the ballot said the measures are relevant and that residents should be allowed to decide the issues.

Mayor Herbert W. Cranton and Councilmen Odell L. Snavely and William H. DeWitt, however, are no longer in office. Cranton was defeated in the April 10 municipal election and Snavely and DeWitt did not seek reelection.

"I don't think the questions are moot," Snavely said. "Something should be done with the vacant land. The Shultz company said it wasn't interested in the loan at the time. Shultz may be interested at a later date."

Cranton said: "A few people at the park should not control the city. All the voters should be given a chance to voice their opinions."

Robert Philipp, the new mayor, said it is was ludicrous to place the issues on the ballot after Ellis and Shultz withdrew their proposals.

Philipp said that although the land is zoned to allow commercial development and that he approved of the city's lending money to private companies, the council was obligated to listen to the protesters who said they wanted the measures off the ballot.

By going ahead with the measures, Philipp said, "it could be construed that the council is not following the will of the people. I don't think it is worth spending 6 cents on. Both items are a waste of taxpayers' money."

Council members Mary Ann Buckles and Johnny Ramirez also said taxpayer money should not be spent on the measures.

The measures cost an estimated $16,000 to place on the ballot, said Marcia Ventura, Los Angeles County registrar-recorder press relations officer.

After the April 10 election, the new City Council voted unanimously to remove the measures. The council asked the registrar-recorder's office April 24 to take the measures off the ballot, but the ballots had already been printed.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Zebrowski turned down a request by the council to remove the measures.

Residents of the Thunderbird Villa Mobile Home Park, who live next to the proposed auto lot, said they have printed flyers against Measure U that will be distributed to more than 400 park residents just before the election, resident Alberta Beitman said.

"Even though the measure is listed as advisory only, we don't want to take any chances. We want it to fail," Beitman said. Beitman is one of the protest leaders.

Ellis withdrew his plans after park residents and their supporters submitted 1,821 signatures on petitions aimed at forcing the council to place the issue on the ballot or to kill it.

Residents said the lot would create too much noise, traffic congestion and security problems for elderly residents.

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