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LOCAL ELECTIONS / 5TH L.A. CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT : Yaroslavsky, Lake Clash Over Fox Expansion


Appearing before a group of real estate developers, Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky and challenger Laura Lake swapped barbs Wednesday over Fox Studio's planned expansion and a project aimed at helping revive Westwood Village.

"When you have jobs, you do what you can to keep them and not try to drive them away," said Yaroslavsky, who criticized Lake for her opposition to the Century City studio's proposed $200-million project.

Lake, meanwhile, accused the councilman of knuckling under to Fox while not doing enough to protect surrounding neighborhoods from traffic and other problems associated with the expansion.

"I support Fox but I also support keeping the middle class on the Westside and not making life unbearable for them," said Lake, an environmental activist making her second bid in four years to unseat the veteran councilman.

Fox's plan to add 771,000 square feet of office and production facilities at the historic studio is before the Los Angeles Planning Commission, which is expected to recommend approval next month. Studio officials have said the project will mean another 1,600 jobs.

Yaroslavsky and Lake were among several candidates from three council districts who spoke to Wednesday's gathering in Encino sponsored by the Valley Development Forum. The event drew fewer than two dozen people. Another 5th District candidate, building inspector Michael Rosenberg of North Hollywood, did not attend.

The exchange over Fox and the Nansay Hotel project in Westwood Village came after Lake accused Yaroslavsky of not doing enough to recruit and maintain business in the city.

Lake, a frequent critic of the 7.5% business tax imposed by the City Council last year, called for city government to be friendlier to business, advocating a moratorium on the tax for new businesses for "several years."

That, in turn, triggered an attack from Yaroslavsky, who supported the tax. He accused his challenger of "talking out of both sides of (her) mouth."

Yaroslavsky accused Lake of "opposing every step of the way" the 332-room Nansay Hotel project in Westwood Village--which also includes restaurants, offices, 24 condominium units, a movie theater, a supermarket, shops and underground parking.

The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the project.

"She and her group (Friends of Westwood) have tried to stop it, appealed every single decision, every beer and wine license, every side yard variance, every parking stall," Yaroslavsky said.

After the session, Lake angrily dismissed Yaroslavsky's remarks as a "political diatribe."

"Our position has always been to support the Nansay project," she said. "We've had some major concerns over the technical operations to make sure it functions properly, but to suggest I'm somehow against the project is simply not true."

Newly released campaign finance reports, meanwhile, show Lake slightly ahead of Yaroslavsky in the fund-raising derby.

Lake, who was outspent by Yaroslavsky by a 3-1 ratio four years ago, had collected more than $54,000 in contributions by March 6, compared to about $49,000 by Yaroslavsky.

But the environmental activist owes her early edge to a $32,000 head start last year before Yaroslavsky had raised a cent. Since Jan. 1, the councilman has raised more than twice as much as his chief rival.

The candidates filed campaign statements for the first nine weeks of the year with the city's Ethics Commission last week.

"The campaign is on track; it's going the way we want it to," said Greg Erfani, Lake's campaign manager.

Erfani said his candidate expects to raise between $150,000 and $200,000 before the April 20 election, and called Lake's being first to reach the $50,000 plateau "evidence that (Yaroslavsky's) campaign is in trouble."

Yaroslavsky, meanwhile, scoffed at the suggestion that he was getting off to a slow start in raising money, adding that he expects to raise an amount comparable to his $300,000 war chest in 1989.

"We aren't starting late; we know what we're doing," he said. "We've raised quite a bit already and we'll raise the rest."

All but 13 of Yaroslavsky's 103 contributions, which came from a variety of sources, were at the maximum $500 level. The councilman had $7,971 left at the end of the filing period, with the remainder going to salaries, the printing of brochures and other expenses.

Lake's individual contributions were less than Yaroslavsky's on average. Only nine of her 76 supporters gave the $500 allowable under city law, with most falling in the $100 to $250 range. She had $11,321 on hand at the end of the filing period.

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