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WESTSIDE WATCH

The Sad Truth About the Art of the Meal in the '90s

April 18, 1993

Pinching pennies: It has been the custom in Beverly Hills in recent years to install a new mayor with a real '80s kind of party--formal invitations, a tent, fancy food, live chamber music, the works.

Not this year. The recession and the trickle-down effect of the state budget crisis have brought hard times even to the gilded enclave. When the gavel is passed to Councilman Max Salter on Tuesday, there will be no tent. No invitations are going out. The menu: cookies and punch.

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Let there be light: While Mayor Tom Bradley and Police Chief Willie L. Williams were holding a news conference recently in City Hall explaining the Police Department's deployment plan after the verdicts in the Rodney King civil rights case, a few council members were in the council chambers making preparations for another potential problem.

Westside Councilwoman Ruth Galanter was among those taking cover under their desks during an earthquake drill.

Galanter said she is determined to be prepared for an earthquake and that she makes a point of carrying a flashlight in her purse in case there is a blackout after a quake.

"I wonder how many council members have flashlights with them?" she asked.

Council President John Ferraro immediately put her in charge of making sure all the members are equipped with flashlights.

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Failing grades: A new Malibu property rights group has released results of a survey conducted last month that portends bad news for Mayor Walt Keller and three of his City Council pals.

According to officials of FED-UP--that's the Federation of United Malibu Property Owners--mail responses from 1,200 property owners gave the mayor a resounding 86% unfavorable rating.

Close on his heels were council members Carolyn Van Horn at 85%, Jeff Kramer at 80% and Joan House at 62%. Only Councilman John Harlow escaped the group's ire. His negative rating was 31%.

"We think this City Council has gone overboard in being too restrictive when it comes to residential development," says Vicki Weston, FED-UP's president.

Detractors insist, however, that the survey was predicated on misleading and inaccurate questions about Malibu growth issues, and that its proponents include the same anti-cityhood, pro-development crowd discredited in last year's election.

The mayor's response: "I would have voted against me if I had believed all of what was in there."

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Please don't leave me!In a last-ditch effort to keep the city as a tenant, the new owner of the building on Stuart Ranch Road that serves as Malibu's City Hall unveiled a much-sweetened lease offer to the City Council last week.

The council had recently decided, after a brief bidding war, to move in June into offices formerly occupied by the Sheriff's Department in a county-owned building in the Civic Center complex. The proposed five-year lease agreement had been working its way through the county bureaucratic maze, and city staffers were estimating that it would go before the County Board of Supervisors for approval in another week or two.

Enter Glendale Federal Bank, which assumed ownership of the Stuart Ranch Road building early this year through foreclosure and had not participated in the city's earlier negotiations with various Malibu landlords for office space.

Over the objections of City Council members Carolyn Van Horn and John Harlow, who said they thought it was too late to be reconsidering, the council voted to put the proposed county lease on hold long enough to study the new offer.

Glendale Federal is offering five months of free rent, which would make the first-year cost $59,500, about $35,000 less than Malibu would pay to Los Angeles County.

"This is a tenant's market and I think you should take advantage of it," Tory Dorn, a representative for Glendale Federal, told council members.

Dorn pointed out that the Stuart Ranch Road building is newer--2 years old compared to 24 for the county building. GlenFed is also willing to make alterations at its own expense to suit the city, while the county building is being offered mainly as is.

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Council meetings this week:

Beverly Hills: no meeting. 450 N. Crescent Drive (310) 285-2400.

Culver City: no meeting. Interim City Hall, Trailer 1, 4095 Overland Ave. (310) 202-5851.

Los Angeles: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. 200 N. Spring St. (213) 485-3126.

Malibu: 6:30 p.m. Monday. Hughes Laboratory, 3011 Malibu Canyon Road, (310) 456-2489.

Santa Monica: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. 1685 Main St. (310) 393-9975.

West Hollywood: 7 p.m. Monday. West Hollywood Park Auditorium, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd. (310) 854-7460.

Staff writers Ron Russell and Lee Harris and correspondent G. Jeanette Avent contributed to this report.

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