Hermosa Beach Councilwoman June Williams said Wednesday that she now opposes an agreement with City Manager Kevin B. Northcraft under which the city would loan him $250,000 to assist him in buying a home in the community.
"It's been a public relations disaster," she said. "I was surprised by how strongly people came out against this."
Williams joined Mayor Jim Rosenberger and Councilman Chuck Sheldon last week in approving, 3 to 2, Northcraft's request for the loan, which would have come from the city's $8-million investment fund.
Council members Roger Creighton and Etta Simpson had voted against the loan, and Williams' change of mind likely means that the loan offer will be withdrawn at the City Council meeting Tuesday.
Williams said she still thinks it would be a good idea for Northcraft, who has a house in El Segundo, to live in the city where he works. And, she said, the terms of the proposed loan, including a 120-day cancellation provision, adequately protected the city against loss and carried a higher interest rate than the city normally receives from its investments.
"But a lot of mistaken notions started circulating and the thing got out of hand," she said.
Going ahead with the loan now, she said, would create bad feelings that would make it hard for the city manager to work with the public. Northcraft was hired about a year ago.
Williams said about 10 people told her they opposed the loan. "If even three people call you in a small town like this, you'd better watch out," she said. Hermosa Beach has a population of about 20,000.