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City Council Briefs Valley Residents on Improving Services

November 14, 2002|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

Convening in the San Fernando Valley for the first time since the defeat of secession, the Los Angeles City Council advanced plans Wednesday to improve city services.

In a meeting at Mission College in Sylmar, the council also provided the more than 250 residents who attended with briefings from city department heads on efforts to improve basic city services to the Valley.

Council President Alex Padilla directly addressed those in the audience who believe the Valley has not received its fair share of services. "We are going to need to focus on the equity of providing city services throughout Los Angeles," Padilla said.

Secession activist James Stewart said he was appalled by the conditions of streets in the northeast Valley.

"This area of the Valley has been lacking in these services," he told the council.

But even as the council was talking of reform and improved services, secession backers met Wednesday to plan ways to keep pressure on the city to carry out real change.

Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Northridge), who received the most votes for mayor of the proposed Valley city, met Wednesday with many of the 14 top vote-getters who ran for seats on a city council that would have existed had cityhood been approved by voters Nov. 5.

Richman denied the group was forming a "shadow government," saying instead the former candidates are creating a nonprofit organization to advocate for the Valley getting better service from the city.

"This is an organization to keep pressure on the city of Los Angeles to move forward," Richman said.

The council met until late into the evening and was expected to move forward with a study of a new committee structure in which council members in geographic clusters would meet periodically in the areas they serve.

"It's all about being effective," said Councilman Tom LaBonge, who introduced a motion to create the new committees. "Anytime you get closer to the people and engage them in conversation you provide a better opportunity to solve problems."

Under the proposal, there would be one committee for each of the seven areas covered by a regional planning commission. Some council members would serve on more than one committee if their districts straddled two regions.

For instance, the council members of the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 12th districts would form a north Valley regional committee, which would hold night meetings in that area on north Valley issues.

The council members of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 12th districts would form a south Valley regional committee.

Other committees would be formed for the Westside, Central, Eastside, South City and harbor areas.

The council action came a day after Mayor James K. Hahn proposed dividing the city into seven neighborhood service areas, each with its own city hall and cabinet of administrators from departments providing community services. The boundaries of the service areas and the regions served by the council committee would be the same.

Padilla, in whose district Wednesday's meeting was held, arranged to have city department heads brief the public at the meeting on how they are improving basic services in the Valley.

The city increased the amount of street resurfacing from 150 miles in 1996 to 260 miles this year, and officials hope to increase it to 300 miles in the near future, according to William A. Robertson, director of the city Bureau of Street Resurfacing.

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