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Challengers Attack Picus, Disagree on Other Issues

Times Staff Writer

The five challengers of Los Angeles City Councilwoman Joy Picus attacked the incumbent in absentia at a candidates’ forum Thursday, but disagreed among themselves over a wide range of issues in the West San Fernando Valley’s 3rd District.

Picus said she skipped the meeting before a full house of about 150 students at Pierce College in Woodland Hills because she had a previous commitment. But the 12-year councilwoman added, “I haven’t knocked myself out” to attend candidates’ forums.

“I don’t think the incumbent gains anything being present,” she said. “Everybody dumps on the incumbent.”

Opponents Undeterred

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The absence of Picus, 58, failed to deter her opponents in the April 11 election from attacking her for failing to slow growth in the 3rd District. But that was where their agreement ended.

Peter Ireland, 42, a deputy of Los Angeles County Supervisor Deane Dana, pledged that if elected, he would seek to halt the building of large apartment and condominium complexes in single-family residential neighborhoods until a development plan could be prepared.

Businessman Paul McKellips, 30, went a step further. “We need to stop all development for a year” until a new development plan can be prepared, he said.

But he said he supports the controversial office complex proposed for Warner Ridge in Woodland Hills because planning for the project is well under way.

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Republican Activist

Jeanne Nemo, 60, a Republican activist backed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, said that a building moratorium is “like going after a fly with an elephant gun.” She said new apartments and condominiums are needed to provide affordable housing.

Ireland said he opposes a study of a light-rail line running from North Hollywood to Warner Center via Chandler and Victory boulevards. Picus favors the study. He said he supports building a light-rail line along Southern Pacific railroad tracks running diagonally across the Valley from Burbank to Chatsworth.

Nemo advocated building a monorail on the Ventura Freeway. McKellips said he supports the light-rail line along Chandler and Victory boulevards.

Car dealer Ron Rich, 40, called for more buses and adding lanes to freeways for the exclusive use of car pools.

Mort Diamond, 56, a hot-dog vendor, said he opposes building light-rail or subway systems anywhere in earthquake-prone Los Angeles. He said he favors the use of minibuses.

Arts Park Views

The challengers also differed on a Picus-supported proposal to build an arts park in the Sepulveda Basin.

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Ireland said he opposes the facility.

“I’m a strong supporter of an arts park,” Nemo said. “It is something that the children of the San Fernando Valley deserve.”

She said that most Valley schoolchildren have never been to an art show “because the school district won’t transport them over the hill” to cultural facilities outside the Valley.

Diamond said, “If you really want someone who is not in the back pocket of developers, that’s me.”

Picus has agreed to meet her opponents at an April 5 candidates’ forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters at El Camino High School in Woodland Hills.


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