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Westside Watch

Supervisor's Westside Office Is a Lonely Place These Days

February 23, 1995

Whose office is this, anyhow?

Nobody's, it turns out.

When Zev Yaroslavsky left the Los Angeles City Council to take over retiring Ed Edelman's seat on the County Board of Supervisors, he decided against keeping the field office his predecessor had established near the seaward end of Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica.

Since much of the Westside is served by various city governments, most residents have little need to contact their county representative on purely local issues, a spokesman for Yaroslavsky said.

Also, county departments, such as the Department of Public Social Services, have their own offices in the area, so Yaroslavsky decided to save some rent money by giving up his quarters in Santa Monica.

The office is unoccupied. Apparently, the sign painters didn't get the word in time.

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MORE OFFICE POLITICS: Yaroslavsky's move to the Board of Supervisors has also caused confusion Downtown.

Consider the plight of poor Avak Keotahian. A longtime bureaucrat, Keotahian was assigned the thankless job of watching over the council district Yaroslavsky left vacant in December. He was given a skeleton staff to care for the 5th Council District, which stretches from Brentwood to Sherman Oaks.

Last week, he and his staff were booted out of Yaroslavsky's offices on the third floor of City Hall and shuffled off into a vacant conference room behind council chambers. The room is a clutter of boxes, cabinets, computer terminals and three messy desks, where Keotahian and his two staffers respond to calls for assistance and complaints from residents.

Keotahian had to move out of Yaroslavsky's old digs because they are being painted and remodeled for Councilman Mike Hernandez, who will take over the more spacious environs. Once Hernandez relocates, Councilman Richard Alarcon will move into Hernandez's old offices. When all that is done, Keotahian can settle into Alarcon's offices.

Meanwhile, the only clue 5th District constituents can use to find their temporary caretaker is a handwritten sign taped to Yaroslavsky's old office door. It reads: "The 5th District has moved to Room 332."

PARTNERS, ROUND II: Never one to shy away from another uphill battle, Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sylmar) has launched his second attempt at getting a domestic-partners bill passed and signed into law.

Beating the odds last year, Katz ushered such a bill through the Assembly and then the Senate. It was killed when it landed on Gov. Pete Wilson's desk. Wilson, as Katz views it, caved in to election year pressure and vetoed it.

But Katz is leading the charge again, starting with a Monday news conference in Los Angeles where he announced the bill's reintroduction. The measure would allow unmarried couples who live together to register with the Secretary of State's Office, thereby ensuring hospital visitation rights, conservatorship rights and other legal benefits granted to married people.

Joining Katz were AIDS activists, retirees, representatives of religious and medical groups, and gay and lesbian activists.

This year, Katz has the benefit of added support from co-sponsor Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), a powerful new voice in the Legislature on behalf of homosexuals.

Kuehl said she expects the bill will again garner enough votes to make it through the Assembly and Senate. Again, the governor will be the tough sell.

"It's difficult for me to understand because whenever Gov. Wilson doesn't like something having to do with gay or lesbian people, he says it's bad for business," Kuehl said. "He certainly seems to repeat it a lot--like a mantra--without thinking it through."

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