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KOREATOWN : CRA Moves Official to Speed Recovery


The head of the Community Redevelopment Agency's Hollywood Project has been reassigned to Koreatown as part of a personnel shake-up intended to help speed the recovery of riot-stricken portions of Los Angeles.

CRA Administrator Edward J. Avila said that the move of H. Cooke Sunoo came in response to the City Council's directive to seek ways of revitalizing some of the hardest-hit areas of the city, including Koreatown and South-Central.

Sunoo, 47, had been assigned to the Hollywood project for five years. He has also been an active member of the Korean Youth and Community Center's board of directors. "We need to combine the communities of interest in Koreatown in the planning process and if there's support, recommend a single CRA project for the area," Sunoo said.

Rather than define people in the community according to one characteristic, such as ethnicity, Sunoo said, he preferred to see merchants, property owners and residents who share common interests work together.

Because of a city hiring freeze, no new staffers will be hired, Avila said. Instead, more than 50 of the agency's 320 staffers will be shuffled to new jobs as the CRA seeks to maintain its 20 projects while it considers whether to begin new ones. About $3 million has been budgeted for the process.

A proposed Koreatown-Mid-Wilshire zone may include the areas between Western Avenue and MacArthur Park, Avila said. The South-Central zone may include a large area encompassing as many as 12 distinct communities south of the Santa Monica Freeway.

Under redevelopment, which is governed by state law, a portion of property taxes collected from a blighted area is set aside to help revitalize that zone.

"The whole purpose (of the reorganization) is to determine if there should be a project area or not, and to have those communities make that determination," Avila said.

Robert Nudelman, chairman of the Hollywood Project Area Committee, a citizens advisory group, said Sunoo was being removed because of dissatisfaction with the agency's record in Hollywood.

Avila countered: "That's pure nonsense. The assignment he's been given is a major responsibility you don't give to somebody you don't think well of."

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