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Earthquake: The Long Road Back : County Rejects $6.6-Billion Plan for Quake, Economic Needs : Government: Supervisors say chief administrative officer's proposal to seek state and federal aid is too ambitious. They ask her to focus solely on disaster costs.

January 22, 1994|CARLA RIVERA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles County supervisors on Friday rejected a $6.6-billion package of earthquake and economic recovery proposals, saying they feared the state Legislature would oppose the scope of the plan and balk at approving any money for earthquake repairs.

The plan was submitted to the board by Chief Administrative Officer Sally Reed at a hastily called meeting late Friday to address recovery costs. County officials hope to devise a plan that will be used by state and federal officials as a blueprint for earthquake recovery and relief efforts.

But Reed told the supervisors that the county should also prepare an assessment of its needs based on its long-term economic outlook, one that would include programs to revitalize business and create jobs.

Her plan would have included $4.9 billion to revitalize local businesses, rebuild public housing and establish job programs; $1 billion for community health, mental health and social services, temporary shelter, anti-graffiti and homeless programs, and $700 million for public-safety services.

Supervisors, however, rejected the package--and the $6.6-billion figure--as too ambitious. Saying it might jeopardize the county's credibility, the board told Reed to come back with different numbers that reflect only earthquake damage and recovery costs.

"We need to be realistic in terms of what the state can do now," said Supervisor Ed Edelman. "If we put in everything else we want, we weaken our position."

"We don't want to lose our credibility or give the impression that we are taking advantage of the emergency to solve our other problems," added board Chairwoman Yvonne Brathwaite Burke.

An earthquake recovery plan was requested by state Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Van Nuys) in anticipation of a special legislative session that Gov. Pete Wilson is expected to call next week to address earthquake recovery issues.

The city of Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce have endorsed Reed's package and pledged to lobby hard to obtain legislative support.

But Roberti, who attended the supervisors' meeting, hinted at his unease with the scale of the proposals at the beginning.

"In reading the list, it does include an awful lot of things I happen to favor, but I don't think are specifically related to the disaster," Roberti said. "I would hope that what you are asking of the state can be pruned a little bit."

In defending the plan, Reed argued that the fate of California's economic recovery rests with Los Angeles County.

"The greater Los Angeles area is the economic engine that will eventually power statewide recovery," said Reed. "I know the number . . . is more than expected but it is not off base."

The board will take up the package again next week.

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