L.A. council candidates split on city plan to operate the Greek

L.A. council candidates split on city plan to operate Greek Theatre itself

The two Los Angeles City Council candidates vying to represent a Sherman Oaks-to-Silver Lake district are split over a controversial plan for the city to operate the Greek Theatre itself.

At a forum Thursday night, candidate Carolyn Ramsay said that though she had backed community groups that wanted current theater operator Nederlander to remain in control of the Griffith Park venue, she now supported the decision for the city to operate the Greek at least temporarily as it restarted the process of choosing an operator.

Ramsay, former chief of staff to termed-out Councilman Tom LaBonge, described it as “a fair way to go forward” that would avoid any legal issues.

Meanwhile, community health center development director David Ryu said he would have advocated for the city to extend the contract for Nederlander, the existing venue operator, while it started the selection process again. He called the plan for the city to operate the theater a “kneejerk reaction” and “an afterthought.”

The Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners voted two weeks ago to approve a plan for the city to temporarily operate the Greek, which would include controlling the concert calendar.

Under the plan, the city would hire a management company for day-to-day operations. Concert promoters would remain responsible for managing and paying musicians, advertising concerts and paying for security and ushers.

Parks department officials suggested the idea after city decision makers deadlocked on who should run the Greek: The parks commission, whose members are appointed by the mayor, recommended choosing Live Nation, but the City Council voted against that idea after community groups sided with Nederlander and its new partner AEG.

The department said the plan could yield more revenue for the city. But many neighborhood groups were skeptical, questioning whether a strapped city department could handle the new task of operating the Greek. Several argued that the city should simply extend the contract with Nederlander, which expires this fall.

However, the head of the parks department argued that extending the Nederlander contract would be very difficult to justify legally. After discussing the issue earlier this week, the Los Angeles City Council did not take any action to overturn the commission decision.

Ramsay and Ryu made their remarks at a candidates forum held Thursday night at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in the Hollywood Hills, jointly sponsored by UCLA, NBC 4 and several neighborhood councils from the district. They will face off to represent Los Angeles City Council District 4 in an election on May 19.

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