Zev Yaroslavsky was warmly received by the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. in one of his first political outings since deciding to seek reelection to the Los Angeles City Council instead of running for mayor.
Yaroslavsky, who appeared with his three opponents for the 5th District seat, said he has increased police protection, reduced large development and improved government services.
Richard Close, the homeowner group's president, said Yaroslavsky has won the respect of voters on the San Fernando Valley side of the district.
Later, Close said he allowed Yaroslavsky more time to speak than his three challengers because it was an opportunity for voters to hear their representative.
Opponents Cry Foul
But Yaroslavsky's opponents cried foul, charging that the councilman was given preferential treatment at the meeting attended by about 100 people Wednesday night at Dixie Canyon Elementary School.
"Close played fast and loose with the format. . . . We wanted more fairness," said challenger Laura M. Lake, a Westwood activist.
Challenger Jack McGrath of North Hollywood, a former campaign manager and chief deputy of Yaroslavsky's who works in real estate, said he had hoped to question Yaroslavsky about development and other issues.
In his opening remarks, Yaroslavsky unveiled a plan to add 10,000 officers to the Los Angeles Police Department by 1993. He discussed efforts to reduce development along Ventura Boulevard by lowering density. Yaroslavsky said he would oppose an aboveground light-rail system in the Valley if it were to cause problems for residents.
"When it comes time to make the decision . . . there's no way I'm going to allow it to go by people's windows," he said.
His three challengers in the April 11 election were allowed to make only brief remarks. A fourth challenger, Henry Hill, dropped out of the race Thursday.
Lake, a UCLA environmental sciences professor who is on leave, was critical of Yaroslavsky's representation of the Westwood area.
"This race will be about fairly representing the people of the 5th District," she said. "Vote as if your neighborhood depended on it, because it does."
Lake, who leads Friends of Westwood, has blamed Yaroslavsky for development on the Westside. She said she believes Sherman Oaks residents have the same concerns.
McGrath accused the councilman of turning his back on the voters.
"Zev was an independent, he was a visionary," McGrath said. "But the last three years, something has happened."
Ryan Snyder, a private traffic consultant from Westwood, said he is the only candidate with the know-how to solve the area's chronic traffic problems. Snyder said he would create transportation-management organizations aimed at addressing traffic woes in each community.
The 5th District includes the Beverly-Fairfax area, Century City, Bel-Air, Westwood, West Los Angeles and parts of Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood and Van Nuys.