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Council Deadlocks on Renaming Crenshaw Blvd.

June 26, 2003|Matea Gold | Times Staff Writer

Amid passionate debate, the City Council deadlocked Wednesday on a proposal to rename Crenshaw Boulevard after the late Mayor Tom Bradley, bumping the issue to Friday for another vote.

After hearing from residents opposed to the change and Bradley relatives and friends urging the renaming, the council voted 6 to 6 on the motion, which was proposed by Councilman Nate Holden.

Holden told the packed council chamber that even though the late mayor's name is on public structures such as the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport and the tower of City Hall, the city should create a more accessible tribute for its first and only African American mayor.

"He always had an open heart and an open mind, and he always believed in diversity," Holden said.

Bradley's daughter Lorraine said renaming the street would be an appropriate acknowledgment of the work her father did for Los Angeles.

"There is nothing that should be forgotten about the legacy of Tom Bradley," she said.

Attorney Melanie Lomax, Bradley's goddaughter and a city commissioner in his administration, told the council that a name change would give the corridor a much-needed boost.

"As it stands now, Crenshaw is ... but a mere shadow of its former glory days," she said.

On Wednesday, Mayor James K. Hahn threw his support behind the idea of renaming.

"The community is always going to be known as Crenshaw, but I can't think of another mayor in Los Angeles history who has had such a huge impact on the city as Tom Bradley, and I think he deserves a significant tribute," Hahn said during the "Ask the Mayor" show on KFWB-AM (980).

But an array of residents and business owners along Crenshaw protested the proposal, saying they had not been given a chance to weigh in.

Community activist Shaka Satori, who runs advocacy programs in Leimert Park, said the name change was pushed behind closed doors by a "good ol' boy network."

"There wasn't even a town hall meeting to assess what the community wanted," he said.

Crenshaw Boulevard, which runs from Wilshire Boulevard to Rancho Palos Verdes, was named after developer George L. Crenshaw, who built a series of upscale residential tracts in mid-city Los Angeles in the early 1900s. His descendants have objected to the change.

Adrienne Mayberry, vice chairwoman of a Crenshaw redevelopment advisory committee, said Holden's proposal, which would rename the stretch of the boulevard within Los Angeles city limits, would divide the communities along the thoroughfare.

"I'm concerned that it may have a further segregating effect if one portion of Crenshaw, the quote-unquote black portion, is now called Bradley and the other portion then becomes the nonblack portion," she said.

Business owners said the name change would cost them money, to which Councilman Bernard C. Parks replied: "Tom Bradley is worth changing your stationery."

But Councilwoman Ruth Galanter said officials should not quickly dismiss the historical contribution of Crenshaw.

"We are a little cavalier, I think, in this city about getting rid of our history in order to have newer history," she said.

In the end, council members Parks, Wendy Greuel, Nick Pacheco, Jan Perry and Alex Padilla joined Holden in supporting the change. Galanter, Hal Bernson, Eric Garcetti, Cindy Miscikowski, Jack Weiss and Dennis Zine voted against it. Council members Janice Hahn, Tom LaBonge and Ed Reyes were absent.

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Times staff writers Patrick McGreevy and Joel Rubin contributed to this report.

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