Candidates for a Los Angeles City Council seat sparred Wednesday at their last forum before Tuesday's election over such issues as how to rein in development and expand green space.
The debate at the Ebell Club was held on the same day a landlord group, the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles, began airing radio commercials opposing former state Sen. David Roberti's candidacy for the 4th District seat and supporting attorney Beth Garfield and private school owner Fares Wehbe.
"David Roberti has never been a friend of our industry, and he would be a hindrance to developing new housing," said Charles Isham, executive vice president of the association, which has spent $9,600 on the commercials.
Roberti said he was troubled by the effect of independent expenditures on such efforts but proud his support for the city's rent-control ordinance and other tenant-rights measures has earned him the ire of the landlord association.
"It's a badge of honor that they oppose me," he said. "It's because I fought for renters who were unrepresented and voiceless."
The association's effort is one of several such independent campaigns in the race. Hollywood businessman Eugene La Pietra, a leader of the group Hollywood VOTE, has reported spending more than $40,000 on canvassing, brochures and lawn signs for Wehbe, the group's former president.
Also, the county Federation of Labor and the San Fernando Valley Democratic Party are providing volunteers to walk precincts and operate phone banks in support of Garfield.
Get-out-the-vote operations also are gearing up for other candidates, including Tom LaBonge, who was an aide to former 4th District Councilman John Ferraro.
More than 300 people attended the Los Angeles forum sponsored by the Mid-Wilshire Neighborhood Council and others. They heard LaBonge propose expansion of greenbelts, tree plantings and bicycle lanes along the Los Angeles River.
Denise Monro Robb, a paralegal and environmental educator, said she supports a charter amendment to strengthen neighborhood councils and give them decision-making power over development projects.
Beth Garfield, a former elected member of the Los Angeles Community College District Board, endorsed the city's rent-control ordinance but said construction of affordable housing also should be encouraged.
Mike Schaefer, an attorney and former San Diego councilman, said public safety is his top priority.
Susan Fong, a teacher, said the city needs to encourage creation of more small, neighborhood-friendly businesses.
Wehbe, owner of the Hollywood Little Red School House, said he would work to keep film production in the city.
Richard MacMinn, who heads a neighborhood council organization, denounced the large amount of special-interest money flowing into the race, and tax accountant Larry Green bemoaned the negative mailers sent by other candidates.
Linda Lockwood, a general contractor and community organizer, promised to remove graffiti, trash and weeds from city streets.
"I think, first of all, we ought to clean up our city," Lockwood said.
The 4th District includes North Hollywood, Toluca Lake and Studio City, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater, Hancock Park and Koreatown.