Apparently deeply touched by the thought that a developer might suffer "hardship" if not allowed to bulldoze an historic site and install low-income housing next to the Hollywood Bowl, Councilman Arthur Snyder last June 26 rammed through the City Council an exemption to a building moratorium, over the protests of the voters and taxpayers who live in that area.
Snyder was so concerned for the Jan Development Co.--which wants to wipe out the 15 small historic bungalows of Highland-Camrose Village and replace them with 108 low-to-moderate income units in an area already "choking in traffic"--that he refused a plea to wait until the 13th District was represented at the vote.
It is in the 13th District that the bungalows are located. When Snyder, after some highly interesting procedures, was able to rush through the moratorium exemption, neither departing Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson nor Councilman-elect Mike Woo were on hand to represent their district--the 13th.
Stevenson found better things to do than remain and argue against the exemption, which she knew could doom one more historic Hollywood area. If she had stayed and at least voted against Snyder, she would have been a departing heroine to those who believed in her, trusted her and voted for her. But she didn't, and to her critics, of course, it was just another of her alleged "flip-flops," the kind that led to her defeat at the polls.
But Woo's absence was much more distressing. He had been advised of the emergency--the first facing him in the 13th District--but he also found better things to do and sent no one else to represent him. If he had been there, as a concerned observer, it might have helped when one councilman made the decent suggestion that the council should await Woo's installation before voting on such a serious matter.
Woo's absence indicates either a lack of political savvy, a lack of concern, bad advice from his aides, or no comprehension of what is important to the voters of his district. Whatever the reason, this was a bad start.
This is not an issue or a problem confined to the Hollywood Bowl area. When a councilman like Snyder is allowed to move in on an area he does not represent and to make a farce out of an historic designation and a lawful moratorium, imposing his will on taxpayers trying to maintain a decent quality of life, then the rest of this city should be very, very concerned. Because what happened in the 13th District on June 26 can happen to everybody else.