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Jacobs Takes the Plunge--He Won’t Run for Reelection in ’92 : Lifestyles: The mayor, who has served on the City Council since 1976, will leave politics and start a second career in law.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For a person who doesn’t make changes easily, Culver City Mayor Paul Jacobs is doing what amounts to a triple-forward somersault off a sea cliff.

Jacobs, 49, will not run for reelection next year after serving since 1976 on the City Council. At the same time, he is starting a second career.

The lawyer sold his practice last month. For 24 years, he specialized in subrogation law, collecting money paid out in accident insurance claims from the parties held responsible for the accidents. Now he’s searching for a job that would allow him to practice land-use law, an area he became interested in during his years on the City Council.

Jacobs said he spent six months thinking over his decision to leave city politics before announcing it, living up to his reputation as a careful, cool player on the five-member council.

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“I don’t make changes easily,” Jacobs said in an interview, dressed in a neat, dark-blue suit, his hands folded serenely in his lap. “I like to stay with what I enjoy doing.”

But, he said, “There’s a time and a place for everything. It just feels right. It has been a complete opportunity for me.”

The main reason he is stepping down is to give others a chance to serve on the council, he said. With new people come “new ideas and new vitality.”

The greatest effect of Jacobs’ departure could be on the council’s stance on growth. Jacobs, along with council members Jozelle Smith and Mike Balkman, has consistently voted for moderate growth, supporting projects like the proposed Marina Place mall.

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Two other councilmen, James Boulgarides and Steve Gourley, have just as consistently opposed most of the major building projects, including the proposed mall, but were usually outvoted.

Jacobs said he is especially concerned about a proposal supported by the “slow-growthers” that could come before the council after he leaves. It would combine municipal elections with state and federal elections. Combined elections might get more people out to vote, and cost less, but more “glamorous” issues such as abortion would steal the spotlight from city issues, Jacobs said.

“There have been a lot of significant 3-2 votes,” Jacobs said, noting that the combined elections issue could be another one. “We’re not just talking about a single building or shopping center. We’re talking about the very nature of local government. I consider that very serious.”

Three council seats will go before the voters in April. Gourley announced he would seek reelection to his seat, and Boulgarides said he most likely will run again. Jacobs would have been seeking his fifth term.

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Although they have clashed on many issues, Boulgarides commended Jacobs for his “years of dedicated service.”

“It’s always good to have different points of view,” Boulgarides said.

Councilwoman Smith said Jacobs would be missed. He was courteous, even to citizens who harshly criticized the council during meetings, she said. On the other hand, he was firm with rude speakers, just as he held firm to his decisions.

“His legacy is one of quiet contemplation of all sides of an issue,” Smith said. “Sometimes, he seems almost naive, but that’s why I think people respond to him. There’s no arrogance. . . . He has a boyish appeal.”

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Jacobs was elected to his first four-year term in 1976. His fellow council members chose him as honorary mayor, a one-year post, four times.

Jacobs never planned to get into politics, he said. He was shy and introverted when he was growing up in West Los Angeles. His first involvement with politics came when a friend “dragged” him into following a school board election a few years after he moved to Culver City in 1968.

“I was excited to see that here a person had an opportunity to do so much,” he said. “Somebody that didn’t have a lot of money could, just through their interest and energy, make a big difference. It was a love affair from the word go.

But Jacobs, who will have served 16 years when he leaves office, said he looks forward to spending more time with his family. He plans to pick up old hobbies such as reading and watching “Monday Night Football.” And he plans to intensify his running schedule--he now runs 20 to 30 miles each week--in preparation for the annual marathon in Culver City this November.

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