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L.A. County supervisors order review of $700,000 office renovation

Mark Ridley-Thomas drew criticism for his proposal to overhaul his 6,400-square-foot work space. The county executive will study office conditions and report to the board.

December 22, 2009|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

L.A. County Supervisors on Tuesday ordered the county's chief executive to review a $707,000 office renovation proposed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas earlier this month.

Ridley-Thomas requested the review after he drew criticism for proposing the renovation Dec. 1 at a time when county finances are spread thin.

"Discussion of the proposed repair and renovation work has become a needless distraction inflamed by misleading and erroneous information," Ridley-Thomas said in a statement released after the supervisors' unanimous vote.

The county executive's staff will review office conditions, including building code violations and other safety concerns, and report back to supervisors.

Ridley-Thomas said he has also ordered an "independent review" to "re-scope and re-evaluate the proposed project." He has also posted an "office improvements" link on his website explaining the project.

"We're reassessing the appraisal, the cost, the scope of what needs to be done," he said.

Proposed renovations include replacing office furniture, carpet, floor tiles, ceiling, lighting, interior woodwork, air conditioning, electrical equipment and plumbing.

Ridley-Thomas said the work will be covered by his district's discretionary fund, and the renovations are long overdue. "This is an office that hasn't been invested in in over two decades. That is not acceptable," he said.

He said the initial cost estimate made sense given the scope of the project.

"They did nothing of consequence when I moved into the office, bare minimum," he said. "It's perfectly reasonable."

"I do not think we should do anything extravagant, nor have I over the many years I have been in public office."

He said his staff of 31 is doubled up in offices in the 6,400-square-foot office with "substandard" lighting.

"It's to make the office more efficient, safe," he said.

He said there is no timeline for the renovation. He had originally planned to start Dec. 9 and finish by August.

molly.hennessy-fiske @latimes.com

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