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Council OKs Fiedler for Seat on CRA


The Los Angeles City Council approved the appointment of former San Fernando Valley congresswoman Bobbi Fiedler to the powerful Community Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday, despite the objections of Councilwoman Rita Walters.

The council voted 12 to 1 to confirm the appointment of Fiedler, a Northridge businesswoman who many said would markedly improve the CRA's efforts to fund redevelopment projects in the Valley's rapidly growing urban areas.

The appointment of Fiedler and Stanley Hirsch, a Studio City resident and downtown landlord, gives the Valley its strongest voice yet on the seven-member CRA board, city officials and redevelopment experts said.

Walters voted no after sharply criticizing Fiedler for her leadership role against mandatory school busing for integration in the late 1970s, when the two bitterly clashed over the issue as rivals on the Los Angeles school board.

Fiedler, 56, has long been an advocate for more Valley representation in city and county government matters. She was elected to Congress in 1980 but left in 1986 to run unsuccessfully for the GOP Senate nomination.

In an interview Tuesday, Fiedler said she plans to work closely with city and CRA officials to bolster redevelopment efforts in the Valley. She said that in the past, the area has lost out to other parts of the city that had vocal representatives on the CRA's board of commissioners, who are appointed by the mayor.

"We simply haven't had any resources funneled into the Valley with the exception of the North Hollywood (redevelopment) project and a few housing projects," Fiedler said. "And the Valley has changed a lot and needs services of the kind that the CRA brings, particularly in the housing area."

But because of her antibusing activities and her history as a conservative Republican, Fiedler is an "inappropriate appointment" to an agency that deals heavily with minority issues, said Walters, who represents a heavily African-American constituency in South-Central Los Angeles.

"She has a history of extremely divisive activities," Walters told her colleagues. "I can't believe that she has suddenly changed her position in that regard."

Other council members, however, came to Fiedler's aid.

"If we're talking about healing . . . we have to allow for the possibility that people do change," Valley-based Councilman Richard Alarcon said.

Fiedler defended her role in opposing school busing as a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education from 1977 to 1981. As an at-large member, Fiedler said, she was representing the interests of the entire district, "and I was elected overwhelmingly throughout the entire city."

Some Valley-based council members and redevelopment experts hailed the council's approval of Fiedler, one of Mayor Richard Riordan's seven appointees to the board. All six requiring approval were confirmed Tuesday.

"I think she certainly has a Valley perspective," Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky said. "I think she has the capacity to question the status quo at the CRA that few commissioners in the past have had, and that she has the will to contest the conventional wisdom, which is very important in this agency."

Property owner Guy Weddington McCreary said he believed that Fiedler will act as a catalyst in prompting the CRA to spend more money in the Valley, especially on its North Hollywood redevelopment project.

"We need as many spokesmen as we can because the Valley has long been shortchanged by a CRA that has been centered on downtown and South-Central Los Angeles," said McCreary, who served 14 years on the CRA's citizens advisory committee for the $96-million North Hollywood project. "They've given us crumbs. Now I hope the North Hollywood project and possibly other projects will receive a fair share of the funding."

McCreary said city redevelopment officials are in the process of determining how much more money to spend on the North Hollywood project over the next 13 years to improve the area's housing stock, commercial core and roads.

Commissioners confirmed without dissent Tuesday were attorney Frank C. Cardenas, investment banker and attorney Cynthia McClain-Hill, banker Peggy Moore and property manager Shelby Jean Kaplan Sloan. Paramount Pictures Vice President Christine Essel didn't require approval because her term had not yet expired.

Times staff writer Marc Lacey contributed to this story.

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