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Quake-Damaged Areas Win an Additional $8 Million : Housing: A split between Valley and other council members breaks wide open. Compromise to split the money evenly throughout the city fails.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The San Fernando Valley and other quake-damaged areas won an additional $8 million in housing funds Tuesday after a bitter struggle with central city lawmakers, who argued that the money should be distributed throughout Los Angeles.

Although the amount of money in question was relatively small, the debate over how to allocate it reignited the longstanding turf war between City Council members from the Valley and those from the rest of the city over the distribution of limited resources.

In the end, after a compromise proposed by Valley Councilwoman Laura Chick to evenly divide the money throughout the city failed, the Los Angeles City Council voted 9 to 5, largely along geographical lines, to allocate $8.3 million more to quake-damaged areas than it had appropriated last week.

The council Tuesday reallocated the $47 million the city amassed from the sale of bonds for affordable housing by setting aside $23 million for quake-damaged areas, $14 million for areas damaged in the 1992 riots and $10 million for citywide housing.

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Councilman Richard Alatorre, who represents the city’s Eastside, and Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, who represents quake-damaged Hollywood, joined the seven lawmakers who represent the Valley in voting to give more money to that area.

“The whole city won today, not just the Valley,” Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky said after the vote. “Let’s not forget that what happened on Jan. 17 was the worst natural disaster in this nation’s history. Housing was not just overcrowded or deteriorating, it was destroyed, and it has to be replaced.”

But Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who proposed allocating only $14.7 million to quake-damaged areas, denounced the vote, arguing that the money was sorely needed throughout the city because of the severe lack of affordable housing that predated the quake. His proposal, which the council approved last week, also allocated $14 million for riot-damaged areas, but earmarked far more--$18 million--for citywide housing at the expense of the quake-damaged areas.

“Many members from the Valley knew that the way I proposed dividing the money was way more reasonable and fair, but the way it was put, it would be like they were selling out their constituency,” Ridley-Thomas said.

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The outbreak of hostilities began last week when Ridley-Thomas, with Yaroslavsky and two other Valley representatives absent, succeeded in getting the City Council to adopt his proposal.

Arguing that it was a violation of protocol for Ridley-Thomas to bring up the matter without all the Valley representatives present, Yaroslavsky and Councilman Richard Alarcon successfully pressed for Tuesday’s reconsideration.

Said Ridley-Thomas on Tuesday: “All this was an effort on Zev’s part to teach me a lesson, that’s how big his ego is"--a contention Yaroslavsky vehemently denied.

Early in the contentious 2 1/2-hour debate, Chick broke ranks with her Valley colleagues and proposed dividing the $8.3 million between quake-damaged areas and citywide housing.

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“We need to come together and fight for solutions to problems across the city,” said Chick, a former social worker.

But she was roundly scolded for breaking ranks by Yaroslavsky, who argued that the entire council should support more money to the quake zones because Valley representatives had supported rebuilding efforts after the 1992 riots. Chick’s motion failed to win by one vote.

Chick then joined the rest of the Valley coalition in voting to allocate all the money in question to the Valley and other areas hit by the quake.

Throughout the city’s political history, Valley politicians have complained that the region contributes a disproportionate amount of taxes compared to the services it receives.

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