Valley Council Members to Seek More Quake Funds : Politics: Housing plan was approved when three area representatives were absent. It appropriates $14.7 million.
Valley council members will ask the Los Angeles City Council today to amend a plan that appropriates $14.7 million in housing funds to quake-damaged areas, instead of the $23 million that had been proposed by Valley representatives.
“I intend to bring in a motion Friday to allow us to amend the decision that was made,” said Councilman Richard Alarcon in an interview on Thursday. “We need to allow debate and I do not believe there was adequate debate on this issue.”
The proposal passed 12-0 Wednesday with three Valley council members absent.
Councilmen Hal Bernson and Zev Yaroslavsky were on vacation. Councilman Joel Wachs left the meeting early to fly to Vail, Colo., where he delivered the keynote address to the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians.
The proposal that passed had been put forth in a report written by Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, chairman of the Housing and Redevelopment Committee. He recommended that $18 million be allocated for citywide use, $14 million for areas affected by the civil unrest of 1992 and $14.7 million for quake-damaged areas.
A report by Yaroslavsky and Alarcon, who sit on that committee, had recommended allocating $10 million for housing development and rehabilitation citywide, $14 million for areas affected by the unrest and $23 million for earthquake damaged areas.
Alarcon wants the council to reach a settlement closer to these figures.
“I believe the council as a whole will decide to put more of the dollars into earthquake recovery,” he said. “Earthquake recovery should be our top priority and we have not mustered sufficient resources to be able to recover fully.”
Ridley-Thomas had argued that while the quake has severely damaged certain areas of the city, the need for housing is a long-standing problem throughout the city.
Several council members or their representatives had argued that the vote was unfair because of the absence of the three Valley councilmen. To vote on a matter that affected them while they were absent violated the council’s standing protocol, Alarcon said.
“It has been the practice, as long as I’ve been on the council, to allow a council member to have a matter to be continued while they’re on vacation or out of town,” he said. “I would hate to think that if I go out of town people will be slipping motions behind my back.”
Bernson’s staff attempted to delay the vote until next week when the councilman is scheduled to return. But the council denied that request on a vote of 5-7.
Yaroslavsky, speaking from northern British Columbia where he is vacationing with his 12-year-old son, said he was outraged that the council decided to vote on the issue while he was away and he referred to the move as a “sneaky effort,” on the part of Ridley-Thomas.
Yaroslavsky charged that Ridley-Thomas scheduled the proposal to be discussed on a day that he would be away.
“He knew I wouldn’t be present,” Yaroslavsky said. “I believe it was intentionally done. . . . His minority report would have never passed with the full council present.”
Ridley-Thomas said there was no reason to try to rush the vote while Yaroslavsky was away and that agenda is public knowledge.
“The agenda is posted in advance and it’s a public document,” he said. “Everyone knows what’s on the agenda. The suggestion that it is sneaky is clearly baseless.”
Agendas for Wednesday’s meetings “are posted downstairs and put in the council boxes and distributed,” the previous Friday, said Mike Carey, executive officer of the city clerk.
“An effort was made to continue it in the full light of day and the votes were not there to continue,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Obviously the will of the body was to dispose of the matter.
“I do not take kindly to being charged as being sneaky and further it would be much better for Zev to learn how to accept that he is not always going to win and to accept that graciously.”
Yaroslavsky argued that the areas affected by the civil unrest suffered, “no residential damage to speak of,” and that less money should have been allocated to those parts of the city.
“To take a big chunk and put it in the civil unrest area is inexplicable,” he said.