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Official speaks out on payouts

April 06, 2007|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said Thursday he was not disappointed that his colleagues have not scheduled a public hearing on his proposed moratorium on condominium conversions in his Westside district.

Speaking at the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum downtown, Rosendahl said his proposal helped spark the council on Wednesday to double and triple the relocation fees paid by building owners to tenants who are evicted because of conversions.

"By putting it out there, we wouldn't have accomplished what we accomplished" Wednesday, Rosendahl said. "The goal isn't the moratorium. The moratorium is a timeout period to come up with solutions; that's all I was looking for."

Although he supports the fee increase, Rosendahl joined four colleagues -- Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Janice Hahn and Tom LaBonge -- in voting against the fee ordinance. Their problem: the way the fees are structured.

Another vote is scheduled for next week, and passage is likely.

Under the plan, tenants would receive fees ranging from $6,810 to $17,080 based on variables such as length of tenancy and income.

Rosendahl supported an earlier proposal by the city Planning Commission that had a minimum fee of $9,040 and, in his view, would have been easier for landlords and the city to administer.

Also at Thursday's luncheon session, the often-outspoken Rosendahl conveyed his frustrations with City Hall since being elected to the council in 2005.

Although he didn't say it explicitly, he insinuated the real estate industry still holds great sway over City Hall.

"You know who hides around the poles and the pillars and works the council members," Rosendahl said. "I was there. I worked for the cable industry and started in that role. That is a professional role that lobbyists do, and that is good for the democracy, people present their points of views."

A few minutes later, Rosendahl worked his way back to the theme of who has influence at City Hall and in government.

"If you truly want a government that represents the people, you must take all political contributions out" of campaigns, he said. "If you want true transparency" in which "no one has influence over anybody else, nobody has more access than anybody else, then we people have to say we're willing to pay" for campaigns with public tax dollars.

Rosendahl, Garcetti and Greuel last year pushed for a greatly expanded public-financing campaign system.

But that idea has stalled because of a lack of funds and the unwillingness of their colleagues to ask for taxes for political campaigns.

steve.hymon@latimes.com

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