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VALLEY FOCUS | Valleywide

Council Puts Off Vote on Brush Clearance

October 07, 1998|JILL LEOVY

A motion related to Los Angeles' ongoing efforts to lessen fire danger in the hillsides proved controversial at Tuesday's City Council meeting as members postponed a decision related to brush clearance on lands owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

The council balked at approving the motion made by City Councilman Michael Feuer to split with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy the $165,000 cost of clearing brush on conservancy land to 200 feet of structures.

Instead, members voted 13 to 1 to put off the question until Friday, although fire officials were given permission to go ahead with the brush clearance with the assumption that the council would decide how to pay for it later.

The decision came despite Feuer's pleas to act quickly to approve funding. The city's half of the cost--$82,500--is a "paltry amount," Feuer argued. "The weather is now putting us in jeopardy . . . and we are going to wait?" he asked incredulously.

But City Councilman Joel Wachs retorted the motion is tantamount to special treatment for the conservancy.

"I don't see [the conservancy] as the good guy in coming up with half. I see them as the bad guy in demanding half," Wachs said. "What do you say to all other people who say we don't have the money?"

The city requires property owners to clear brush from their properties at their own expense. But the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy does not have to abide by the city's ordinance because it is a state agency. However, the conservancy had agreed to abide by the ordinance voluntarily, provided the city helped with the cost.

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