Yaroslavsky Gives In to Bradley on Plan for Mall
In a potentially embarrassing political retreat, Los Angeles Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky reversed himself Tuesday and agreed to a demand by Mayor Tom Bradley that would ban retail shops on a proposed bridge at the Westside Pavilion shopping mall.
The City Council, following Yaroslavsky’s lead, unanimously approved the ban, which Bradley demanded last month when he vetoed council approval of an expansion of the mall that included the bridge over Westwood Boulevard. The council incorporated the retail shop ban on Tuesday into a new ordinance approving the project--one that Bradley said he will support.
Yaroslavsky, who is expected to challenge Bradley in April’s mayoral election, said he had enough votes to override the veto but decided to go along with the ban to bring an end to his “peacock dance” with Bradley over the controversial project. He insisted, however, that the mayor’s demand was a “publicity stunt” that merely restated a prohibition implicit in the original ordinance, and he accused Bradley of playing politics with the shopping mall.
“Two weeks ago, when this came before the City Council, the mayor didn’t ask for such a condition,” Yaroslavsky said. “The mayor has tried to exploit an issue, almost successfully, at the expense of that neighborhood.”
But Bradley was hailed as a hero by several nearby homeowner leaders who had turned to the mayor for help after Yaroslavsky refused to incorporate the ban in the original ordinance. The neighborhoods around the mall have been divided over the expansion plan, with some traffic-weary homeowners opposing any new development and others welcoming the expansion because it includes extra parking and is smaller than originally proposed by the developer.
“This is a victory for Tom Bradley,” said Sandy Brown, who has led several homeowner groups opposed to the expansion. “He has picked up a lot of homeowner support. Homeowners are realizing that Bradley can make a difference.”
Bradley praised the council for following his lead and said the new ordinance is necessary to eliminate any confusion about shops on the bridge, which would be built over Westwood Boulevard to allow cars and shoppers to pass between the existing mall and the proposed expansion.
“I can’t understand why they didn’t do this in the first place,” Bradley said.
The city attorney’s office has said that the expansion would violate Proposition U, the growth-limitation measure passed by voters in 1986, if the bridge includes retail shops. When the council approved the expansion two weeks ago, Yaroslavsky said he believed the ordinance prohibited shops on the bridge, but he acknowledged that the language could be interpreted differently.
In vetoing the expansion, Bradley said the council action “leaves the record in this matter muddled.” He said he would approve the expansion if the council added a condition specifically banning commercial uses on the bridge.
Yaroslavsky, eager to steal the initiative from Bradley, helped negotiate an agreement Tuesday morning between the developer and five nearby homeowner groups that prevents any of them from challenging the new ordinance in court. Yaroslavsky said the agreement will save the city thousands of dollars in potential legal costs.
But the agreement does not deal with other approvals necessary for the developer, Westfield Inc., to build the project. Specifically, homeowners are expected to challenge Westfield’s request for a separate approval to build a structure over a street.