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Grass roots and government

August 25, 2007

Re "A developing power," Opinion, Aug. 19

The recent defeat of Home Depot was a combined effort of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council and our group, the No Home Depot Campaign/Sunland-Tujunga Alliance. The neighborhood council was limited in its abilities to challenge L.A.'s permit process; our grass-roots group was not. This battle became a symbiotic relationship -- the neighborhood council utilized its influence where it was needed, and we utilized our standing as a community-benefit nonprofit corporation.

The lesson is that a neighborhood council is most effective when backed up by a community group that does not have its hands tied by the limitations imposed by the city of Los Angeles.

Joe Barrett


The writer is chairman of Sunland-Tujunga Alliance Inc. and the No Home Depot Campaign.

D.J. Waldie's commentary provides a good assessment of neighborhood councils and their fledging attempts to flex political muscle. The focus of the fight, though, is not development. Mega-projects such as Ponte Vista in San Pedro are symptoms. The disease is a municipal government in which decisions result from the cozy relationships among developers, lobbyists and city officials. Many neighborhood councils have figured out that shining a spotlight on the process is the first step toward altering the status quo. The next step is understanding the only thing that trumps political contributions is votes. When that happens, councils can force a fundamental shift in L.A.'s balance of power.

Doug Epperhart

San Pedro

The writer is president of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

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