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Valley Constituents Get Barbecue With a Side of Politics

City Council: A few hundred people are on hand as officials bring a full plate of local issues to Lake View Terrace. Secession leader says the meeting lacks substance.


Meeting in the thick of pro-secession territory, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday night offered residents barbecue and commendations and voted on several actions affecting their neighborhoods.

With the sun setting on the Verdugo Mountains and a Holstein cow grazing outside their makeshift council chamber, the city's elected officials met in Lake View Terrace, one of the semi-rural areas that Los Angeles stands to lose if the San Fernando Valley secession measure is approved by voters Nov. 5.

Several hundred people and 13 of 15 council members turned out for the meeting, hosted by Councilwoman Wendy Greuel.

"I like to show you off to my council colleagues," Greuel told the crowd in the gym of the Lake View Terrace Recreation Center.

Field Trip

The council normally meets downtown on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Every few months, they take a field trip to a member's district.

A sort of backyard picnic preceded the meeting. The barbecue cooks said they handed out 500 plates.

The council members and their aides wore suits but their constituents were more casually dressed. At least one appeared to have arrived on horseback.

"I'll come to a meeting here any time," said Joe Lozano, who lives in Mission Hills and wanted to speak to the council about the Valley's gang problems. It's too hard to park downtown, Lozano said, so he never goes to City Hall.

Girl and Boy Scouts from Sun Valley led the Pledge of Allegiance to start the meeting, followed by a poem read by Sunland-Tujunga's poet laureate.

One of Greuel's constituents had the crowd singing the chorus to her song about Lake View Terrace, where "if you take the time, you'll be amazed at what you'll find."

Full Agenda

Mindful that they need to court Valley voters mulling over the secession question, council members brought an agenda full of items affecting Greuel's district, including:

* Certificates drawn up by the city's calligraphers for community leaders, homeowners associations and neighborhood councils.

* "No stopping/tow-away" signs in North Hollywood to discourage drag-racing.

* The transfer of some city-owned land in Tujunga to the Verdugo YMCA.

* A study of ways to revitalize an area of Sunland-Tujunga.

* Official approval of a limit on home building along ridgelines overlooking the northeast Valley.

Secession leader Richard Close described the council's road trip as full of "show, not substance."

"This is cosmetics, public relations," said Close, who did not attend the meeting. "When there's real business, they require everyone to go downtown during the day."

Some Misgivings

In July, the council formalized the practice of periodically meeting in members' districts. They plan to meet away from City Hall at least 15 times every two years.

When the council approved its traveling plan, some of the more senior members complained that off-site meetings in the past often turned into dog-and-pony shows, where little business got done.

Valley Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who aides said had a personal conflict, and Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was meeting constituents in his Crenshaw area district, did not attend the session.

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