June 30, 1994 - From the June, 1994 issue

TPR Forum: LA City Council Oversight of LA/CRA?

In light of the recent City Council initiative to incorporate itself as the oversight board of the LA/CRA, we received from TPR readers comments on this important development in the continually changing relationship between LA/CRA and the Los Angeles City Council. Following is a sample of their responses.


"I believe that the City Council of the City of Los Angeles is ill-equipped to handle the volume of business generated by the LA/CRA."

SCANPH heartily supports this action, and has proposed it in our comments on the reorganization of the housing and economic development functions in the City. If the redevelopment function is to work for the best and widest benefit in Los Angeles, it must be led by the most open and accountable body possible. Having the Council sit as the redevelopment Board of Commissioners would require that the deliberations and decisions of the Board be conducted in the most open manner presently available.

Politically appointed boards ultimately must have allegiance to those who appoint them. Elected boards ultimately must answer to the community.

Jan Breidenbach, Ex. Dir., S. C. Assoc. of Non-Profit Housing

Under the City's "weak mayor" system of government, individual City Council members already have a virtual monopoly over land use policies within their districts. If the City Council incorporates itself as the CRA Board, there is a danger that the current system, which is designed to facilitate decision-making by consensus, will be replaced by a system where agency policy within each of the redevelopment areas will be dictated by the Council member for that district, perhaps without regard for the agency's overall mission.

John Bowman, Land Use Attorney, Reznik & Reznik

The City Council chronically underfunds the Planning Department and shows little commitment to planning the "City", as compared to their own Council Districts. If charged with the City's redevelopment duties, politics rather than good planning, will rule.

Sabrina Schiller, Attorney

It think it's important that the Council continue the consideration of an Economic Development Strategy for the City. The first step towards that goal is to have oversight of all departments that would be affected, such as CRA and Housing. That accomplished, we will deal with the expeditious consideration and implementation of proposals for departmental consolidation.

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Michael Hernandez, LA City Councilman

In the long run, the takeover is both healthy and smart. It is welcomed now more than ever given an atmosphere of uncertainty regarding the City's direction in housing and economic development. The City Council oversight provides the general public more access into the dealings of this powerful agency, and a degree of certainty and comfort regarding the use of public funds.

Denise Fairchild, Director, L.A. Local Initiatives Support Corporation

I believe that the City Council of the City of Los Angeles is ill-equipped to handle the volume of business generated by the LA/CRA. I think the City Council would have been better advised to adopt a structure utilized by some municipalities where certain powers (e.g. condemnation and the sale of bonds) are reserved to the City Council with the day-to-day decisions being retained by an independent agency board.

O'Malley M. Miller, Munger, Tolles & Olson

A 15-member elected body is more accountable to the public, than a 5-member appointed commission. Also, policy decisions made al the Board/staff level will revert back to the City Council, where it rightfully belongs, and the development process will be sped up because two layers of review will be reduced.

Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. City Councilman

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