Hollywood Committee 'Fractured' : Woo Urged to Mediate Redevelopment Fight

Times Staff Writer

Dissident members of a Hollywood redevelopment citizens' committee this week urged Councilman Michael Woo to intervene in a heated dispute over the group's annual election.

Five of the 24 members of the Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area Committee, a community advisory group, walked out of a committee meeting Monday to dramatize their unhappiness.

They contended that the election, held last month to choose 12 new members, was conducted improperly and that some of the candidates elected to the committee were not qualified for the positions they sought.

"There will be a legal cloud over all Hollywood redevelopment until this matter is settled satisfactorily," said Brian Moore, one of the committee members who walked out.

'No Illegalities'

Speaking for the 19 members who did not walk out, Marshall A. Caskey, chairman of the committee, dismissed the dissident group's arguments.

"There were no illegalities in the election," Caskey said. "And we have been assured (by the redevelopment agency) that all candidates who sought election to the committee were qualified to run for the positions.

"What seems to be happening is a deliberate attempt to discredit the committee by those who do not favor redevelopment in Hollywood. We could be so fractured that the community will lose its voice on the direction of redevelopment."

Woo said in an interview shortly after the election that he would study the possibility of invalidating the vote, but that was before he became involved in the councilmanic redistricting battle still being fought in the Los Angeles City Council.

"We sympathize with his troubles with redistricting," Moore said. "But he also has a district to run and there is nothing more important to Hollywood at this time than redevelopment."

'Animosity Developing'

Patrick Michell, a Woo aide, said the councilman remains concerned about the split on the committee, "particularly the animosity that seems to be developing among some members."

Michell said Woo's office is continuing to gather information on the dispute with an eye toward working out some sort of understanding among the committee members.

Those unhappy with the election results said they questioned the qualifications of four individuals elected to the committee. Opponents are challenging two of the new members because they are employees rather than business owners, as required in election procedures, Moore said.

The other two are being challenged because they ran as representatives of industrial, warehousing and manufacturing interests when, in fact, they represented commercial businesses, Moore said.

"We wanted to verify their qualifications," Moore said, "but the Community Redevelopment Agency refused to allow us access to the qualifications. The agency wanted us to take its word for the qualifications. Obviously, we want to see the qualifications."

Won't Violate Privacy

Donald A. Pelegrino, community affairs director for the Community Redevelopment Agency, which conducted the election, said his agency could not release the qualification information because it would violate individual privacy.

"We are talking about individual telephone numbers, residences, even tax returns," Pelegrino said. "We are completely satisfied with the qualifications, but we are not going to release such personal information."

Doreet Rotman, another of the dissidents on the committee, said she wants the entire election run over again.

"There is not enough representation for the small business person and residential tenant on the committee," she said. "The vast majority of the committee represents the interests of the powerful people with large projects to build in the community."

Rotman also criticized Pelegrino for failing to announce before last month's election that runoffs were possible. This omission, she contended, caused many of her supporters to leave the election site and miss voting in the runoffs.

Pelegrino conceded that he did not make the announcement. But he did say that the election would be conducted according to Roberts Rules of Order, which allows for runoffs right after a main election is completed.

"Looking back," Pelegrino said, "I would have pointed out such a possibility to make certain everyone understood that particular procedure. But from a legal framework, there was nothing illegal about the election. We conducted a proper election. Unfortunately, as in all elections, someone wins, someone loses."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
62°