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Wachs Seeks to Amend Arena Deal

September 05, 1997

In the latest development in the fight over the proposed downtown Los Angeles sports arena, City Councilman Joel Wachs said Thursday that he will insist that developers meet the same standards voters imposed on the International Olympic Committee in 1984 to ensure that the Los Angeles games would not be publicly subsidized.

Mayor Richard Riordan, vacationing in France, condemned the action, saying that Wachs' move "would be like tearing down our 'Welcome to Los Angeles' sign and replacing it with one that says, 'Los Angeles is closed for business.' "

Wachs said he will amend an initiative he has proposed calling for a popular vote on professional sports facilities that rely on public subsidies, so that he can include the detailed language that city voters approved for the Olympics. The language describes which benefits constitute a public subsidy. Developers who do not use subsidies would not have to take their projects to voters.

Arena developers have said that if they are required to take their $300-million project to the polls, delays will kill it.

In his statement, Riordan said the initiative was misguided. "What will Angelenos be asked to vote on next?" he asked. "The old GM plant in Van Nuys? DreamWorks? The new cathedral? The Alameda corridor? Funding for the arts? New affordable housing facilities?"

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