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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional
Review / DEVELOPMENTS IN ORANGE, RIVERSIDE, SAN BERNARDINO
AND VENTURA COUNTIES : NORTH HOLLYWOOD

Plan to Spend City Funds on Theater Criticized

March 10, 2000

Cost overruns for renovation of the historic El Portal theater in North Hollywood have sparked a dispute over who should pay.

The head of a city advisory panel objected Thursday to City Council President John Ferraro's proposal to spend $350,000 in city funds on the project, which has already received more than $4.2 million in taxpayers' money.

"With all the financial problems the city has, it has no business funding something like this that is not a high priority," said Glenn Hoiby, chairman of the North Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area Committee.

Hoiby said Actors Alley theater troupe, which recently reopened the venue, should raise the funds privately. The money is needed to cover the unexpected costs of bringing the 74-year-old theater into compliance with city code.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake caused extensive damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided $1.3 million for renovation in 1996, and then after long negotiations, approved another grant in 1998 that brought its total contribution to about $4 million.

Ferraro said the additional city funding is justified, in part because revised and stricter city building codes contributed to the higher cost.

The theater group, which has a 29-year lease with the private owners of the building, opened its new 390-seat main theater in January, renaming it the El Portal Center for the Arts.

Most of the additional costs are for work already done and paid for with private bank loans. The building is 98% complete, Caine said.

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