Agoura Hills Council Sets Goals for 1988

Times Staff Writer

If Agoura Hills City Councilwoman Darlene McBane has her way, campaign contributors in her city will be required to report donations, even ones as small as $10.

"I think people should be aware of what interests are supporting each candidate before they make their decision," McBane said Monday, after asking fellow council members to consider campaign changes, including a limit on contributions a candidate may receive and spend. Currently, Agoura Hills falls under a state law that requires candidates to report campaign contributions of $100 or more.

City Council members agreed at a workshop meeting Saturday that, during 1988, they will consider a campaign-spending ordinance, the purchase of new street signs and a change in the 5-year-old city's legal status from a general-law to a charter city. The change would give the city more control over local issues, including land use, elections and the adoption of ordinances, said City Manager David Carmany.

Council members also decided to postpone choosing a site and finalizing financing for a new community center and library. The council decided to delay the action because questions have been raised about whether the city will have enough money for the projects and whether the city has adequately considered public sentiment, said Paul Williams, Agoura Hills' director of planning and community development.

Under McBane's campaign proposal, council members who receive contributions from a developer would be required to disqualify themselves from voting on projects in which that developer has a financial interest. The proposal would limit how much money a person or business could contribute to a candidate, but a specific limit has not been set.

The proposal also would allow only residents of Agoura Hills to contribute to city campaigns, McBane said.

Campaign contributions were not a major issue in last year's election. But a controversy erupted in 1985 when Katell Properties of Torrance gave $1,500 to the campaign of then-Mayor John Hood and $400 to then-Councilman Ernest Dynda, said Matthew T. Stodder, a researcher with the California Commission on Campaign Financing, a privately funded, nonprofit Los Angeles-based group.

After the contribution, Dynda and Hood voted to allow Katell to build a controversial business park on 13 acres of hilly, oak-covered land. The measure passed 3 to 2, and sparked a citizens' drive that resulted in Hood's losing a bid for reelection, Stodder said.

Also on Saturday, the council voted to study further a proposal to seek voter approval of a change from general-law to charter status. A general-law city is governed by state laws governing municipalities, whereas a charter city may adopt state laws as deemed fit and create other laws as desired, Carmany said.

Council members also agreed to schedule a community forum after residents voiced concerns about traffic and the choice of Chumash Park as the site for the center and library complex, Carmany said.

The city had planned to raise $7.9 million for the community center and library through certificates of participation, bond issues secured by the city's general fund. But Shearson Lehman Brothers, the company chosen by the city to issue the certificates, has lowered estimates of the money that would be raised from $6.5 million to $3.8 million, Williams said.

The city estimates the cost of the library and community center at $5.9 million. But an extra $2 million is needed for a reserve fund, officials said.

The council also agreed to continue to examine a proposal to replace 771 street signs. City officials said the new signs would enhance the community's image and boost civic pride.

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