In his last race for mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley forged a winning coalition that involved little in the way of significant electoral help from the San Fernando Valley. The fallout from that was predictable. Although Valley residents accounted for slightly more than one-third of the population of Los Angeles, they made up less than 20% of the membership of Bradley's city commissions during his last term. The Valley had no representatives at all on the fire, water and power and public works commissions. The Valley also lost representation on the Police Commission when its sole member resigned in 1991 while protesting financial disclosure requirements in the the city's ethics law that have since been relaxed.
It would be tempting now for Valley residents to expect new Mayor Richard Riordan to include huge numbers of Valley residents in more than 200 commission appointments. It also would be improper. What's called for here is a reasonable mix that will allow all of the city's voices to be heard. So far, the Valley has little to complain about.
Prominent among Mayor Riordan's early appointments, for example, was the selection of Latino investment banker Alfred R. Villalobos as one of the city's deputy mayors. Villalobos is a Tarzana resident whose expertise will be directed toward economic development. This will be of crucial importance during Los Angeles' continuing financial woes.
In terms of appointments to the city's citizen commissions, Riordan has been as mathematically correct for the Valley as possible. Valley residents so far have accounted for 32% of the mayor's choices for those positions, a figure that nearly matches the Valley's percentage of the city's population.
Most notable among these was the mayor's choice of Encino attorney and developer Ted Stein as a senior policy adviser and member of the city's Airport Commission. Stein might be most valuable, however, in suggesting ways in which the city can welcome new development while still assuaging the concerns of homeowners' associations. As president of the city's Planning Commission, Stein was instrumental in hammering out a plan for orderly development at Warner Center, a retail-office complex in Woodland Hills.
Mayor Riordan wants two Valley residents on the new commission of the Community Redevelopment Agency. His choices are garment mogul Stanley Hirsch of Studio City, and former U. S. Rep. Bobbi Fiedler of Northridge. Hirsch must answer concerns of possible conflicts of interest because his downtown Los Angeles holdings are in that part of town where CRA business has been centered. Fiedler was a virulent opponent of busing in the Los Angeles school district; a much less divisive approach will be needed now.
Northridge millionaire Herbert F. Boeckmann II was the Valley Police Commission member who quit over the city's ethics law. He has been picked to return to that position by the mayor. Boeckmann should be expected to strongly support the Christopher Commission's goals for reform of the LAPD.
Other Valley choices made by Mayor Riordan include Mel Wilson, a Northridge resident who is head of his own real estate consulting firm, for a post on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Joining him are the mayor's selection of Robert L. Scott and Arleta resident Shelly S. Suzuki for the Planning Commission, Judy M. Miller of Van Nuys and Marcia Volpert of Sherman Oaks for the Water and Power Commission, and David W. Fleming for the Fire Commission.
Most, if not all of these designated appointees will be approved by the City Council, giving the Valley a greatly heightened influence in city affairs. That influence should be tempered, however, with a concern for the needs of the city as whole.