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Lynch Bases Campaign on His Years as Planner

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For 16 years, Peter A. Lynch worked as a city planner. Later, he became a private consultant and lobbyist for small builders seeking city permits and zoning changes.

He remembers the city Planning Department as a place where officials cared about their work and were eager to talk to citizens groups.

Now, the 60-year-old Sun Valley resident is running against Los Angeles City Councilman Joel Wachs, charging that Wachs is unresponsive to his constituents’ needs.

“There’s so many people who are totally frustrated with not being able to contact the councilman, not being able to get calls back from his office,” Lynch said.

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After two years with the city Bureau of Engineering, Lynch joined the city Planning Department in 1963. He worked there for the next 16 years.

In the late 1960s, he headed a Planning Department team that produced “Concept: Los Angeles,” a massive, long-range blueprint for urban growth in the Los Angeles Basin.

Lynch left his city job in the late 1970s, setting himself up as a planning and zoning consultant. He is now a registered City Hall lobbyist, working mostly for small builders and property owners such as churches and day-care operators, he said.

Born in Cleveland, Lynch enlisted in the Army after high school and was assigned to the U.S. occupation forces in war-devastated Japan.

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He served as an Army public information officer, often writing articles about soldiers stationed in Japan for publication in their hometown newspapers.

With a mixture of pride and sheepishness, Lynch recounted how he participated in a black market scheme to raise money for an orphanage in Osaka, where he was stationed.

The orphanage--later portrayed in the movie “Three Stripes in the Sun,” starring Aldo Ray--had received substantial sums of money from soldiers of the 27th Infantry Regiment, which was bivouacked nearby. But at the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, the regiment was shipped out to the front lines.

Determined to help the orphans nonetheless, the soldiers of the 27th had crates of GI cigarettes secretly flown back to Japan aboard planes carrying wounded soldiers. After he was asked to help by his unit chaplain, Lynch sold the cigarettes on the Osaka black market, turning the yen over to the orphanage. After marrying a Japanese woman, Lynch returned to the U.S. and attended Ohio State University under the GI Bill.

Lynch said the major issues in the district are crime, drugs and gangs. If elected, he said he would give $100,000 from his office budget for extra police patrols and organizing efforts by neighborhood anti-crime groups.

He charged that city officials did not prepare well for the current drought. For example, he said, recycled water from the Tillman sewage treatment plant in Van Nuys “for years has been going down the sewer.”

Only recently, he said, has the city begun using the water on the grounds of the six-acre Japanese gardens at the plant.

He added that “there probably should have been more effort” by city officials to improve facilities that collect rainwater for use in recharging underground water supplies in the East Valley.

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“These guys, I don’t think they’re futurists,” he said.

PETER A. LYNCH

Age: 60

Occupation: Planning and zoning consultant

Education: Ohio State University, BA

Home: Sun Valley


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