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L.A. City Council Waives Fees for Academy Awards : Oscars: Traffic control tab is set aside but budget pressures may force academy to pick up next year's cost.

March 25, 1993|MARC LACEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to waive traffic control fees for next week's Academy Awards but said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will have to pick up next year's $50,000 tab itself.

Facing a deficit of up to $550 million next year, the city has been more circumspect in recent months in approving the once-routine fee waivers for events held across the city.

Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky argued that the academy, which charges hefty ticket prices for Oscar night, is in a better position to pay for traffic control than the financially strapped city. That traffic money could be used to increase police protection, he said.

But the council disagreed, approving the expense 7-2 (with Ernani Bernardi joining Yaroslavsky). The council members said that voting down the academy's request would send a negative message to an entertainment industry already being wooed by other cities. They called on the academy to raise ticket prices slightly next year to cover the city fees.

An academy spokesman, Jerry Moon, said he was not worried about the future because there will be a new mayor, a new council and a new philosophy by next year's Oscar time.

Robert Rehme, the academy's president, had argued in a letter to the council that the Oscars are a unique part of the city's history that should be "coddled just a little."

But he added: "I'm not going to tell you that we'll stalk off in disgust if you decide this year to change the rules on us."

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