LOS ANGELES : Housing Panel Urges City to Hire Law Firm


A Los Angeles City Council committee recommended Monday hiring a law firm to argue for an increased spending limit on a downtown redevelopment project and defend against a lawsuit by former Councilman Ernani Bernardi.

Bernardi, a longtime critic of redevelopment projects who retired in June, filed a suit in December alleging that closed-door sessions of the Council’s housing and redevelopment committee and of the Board of Commissioners for the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency violated the state’s open meeting laws.

In both November meetings, the panels said they held private sessions to discuss a plan to lift a spending limit on the city’s redevelopment project for the central business district.


Bernardi contends that the closed-door sessions violated the Ralph M. Brown Open Meetings Act, which requires all government meetings--with few exceptions--be held in public. One exception allows private meetings when to discuss pending litigation.

Bernardi said no litigation was pending and therefore the meetings were illegal. To defend against the suit, the City Council’s Housing and Community Redevelopment Committee recommended that the city hire the law firm of Kane, Ballmer & Berkman for a contract not to exceed $150,000.

The law firm was also hired to petition a judge to allow the city to lift the current $750-million spending cap for the redevelopment project. A judge must approve the limit adjustment because the limit was set under a court-approved agreement.