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Hopefuls Want to Preserve Area's Feel

Candidates for proposed city's 5th council district are seeking to protect equestrian lifestyle, but make government more responsive to residents.

October 24, 2002|Stephanie Stassel | Times Staff Writer

For candidates in the 5th district race for the proposed San Fernando Valley city council, secession is as much about change as it is about staying the same.

Some of the seven candidates want a Valley city to bring a police substation and more officers to the northeast Valley. Others say a city government more accommodating to business is needed. Yet others focus on plans to clean up blighted areas of the district, which includes Sunland-Tujunga, Shadow Hills, Lake View Terrace, La Tuna Canyon and parts of Sylmar, Pacoima and Sun Valley.

But when it comes to the northeast Valley's distinct lifestyle, the candidates agree that things should remain just as they are.

"I want to maintain the equestrian feel," said Richard W. Kendall-Bell, whose La Tuna Canyon home is zoned for horses, although he keeps only two rattlesnakes as pets. "That's the history of the area and the people who live here want to preserve that."

Valley voters will choose 14 council members and a mayor in the Nov. 5 election. The offices will exist only if secession wins.

Kendall-Bell, 44, believes that local town councils should be allowed to spend 5% of the city's budget on neighborhood priorities, such as parks, street paving and after-school programs. He also says an independent Valley should contract with the Los Angeles Police Department and try to increase the number of officers by 25%.

"We need a smaller, more responsive city that isn't run by special-interest groups," said Kendall-Bell, who works for a company that manages and develops out-of-state mobile home parks.

If elected, Kathy Anthony said she would push for a police substation for Sunland-Tujunga, where she has lived for 45 years.

"We're in the very outskirts and for years, we've said it's like we're the forgotten stepchild," said Anthony, who worked to get Foothill Boulevard paved and to have landscaping planted along the Foothill Freeway ramps on Sunland Boulevard.

Anthony, who once ran unsuccessfully for the Los Angeles City Council, also wants to simplify the building permit process and lower business taxes.

"I know the hardships of self-employment," said Anthony, 60, a dressmaker who runs a Halloween store and a Christmas tree lot every year. "We need to pay more attention to the businesses here and help them stay in business."

Another longtime activist, Al Dib, wants to tackle the neglected areas that are marked by graffiti and bars on the windows.

"We're not getting our fair share of services for our tax money -- I want to change that," said Dib, 68, a retired produce wholesaler who has been nominated for the Fernando Award for community service three times.

Dib, a Sylmar resident, has waged several losing campaigns for the Los Angeles City Council in the last three decades. He said he's been knocking on doors two to four hours a day since early August.

"A lot of people think I've already held public office," he quipped.

A Sunland-Tujunga native, Ken McAlpine said he wants to phase out the gross receipts tax. That would leave businesses with more money to improve Foothill Boulevard, he said.

"When you drive down Foothill Boulevard, you can tell when you enter Glendale," said McAlpine, 34, who is working on updating Disney's software system.

He said a smaller government would be more accountable: "If [secession] doesn't pass, next year we'll come back and do it again. We'll keep doing it until we secede."

Bob Bell of Shadow Hills -- he is not related to Kendall-Bell -- agrees that more must be done to attract and keep businesses in the Valley. But he said his first priority on a Valley council would be a smooth launch of the new government.

"Our No. 1 priority is to build the new city services and create management," said Bell, 43, an environmental health and safety manager who lost a 1992 bid for the state Assembly. "We'll need people at their desks with their sleeves rolled up."

Bell also favors a contract arrangement with the LAPD and the Los Angeles Fire Department.

John Blue Herget, 56, wants to preserve as much equestrian property and open space as possible in the district. Instead of suggesting his own solutions to the area's problems, Herget, who lives in Lake View Terrace, said he would turn to a wide variety of people.

"It starts with recognizing the problem, then bringing in the best possible minds and attacking it," said Herget, who works as a medic on film crews. "This goes for the disappearing of the middle class, runaway film production, closures of health clinics and the gang problem.

"I want to open up the doors to new ideas."

James J. Clancy, an attorney who has spent many years fighting pornography, said a Valley city should have its own police and fire departments. He also wants to require all municipal employees to live in the city.

In addition, the La Tuna Canyon resident hopes to overhaul city zoning.

"You can't get anything through the city without it taking a couple of years," said Clancy, 80, an unsuccessful candidate for Los Angeles city attorney in 1977. "We need to start from scratch."

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