Riordan Will Seek to Use Federal Funds on Neighborhoods


Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan wants to use chunks of the city’s annual share of federal community development funds on targeted projects ranging from rescuing deteriorating neighborhoods to helping AIDS patients return to work, administration sources said Wednesday.

The projects, which also include child-care programs and economic development efforts for selected areas, are contained in the mayor’s proposal for how the city should spend the $151 million it will receive next budget year under the federal Community Development Block Grant program.

Riordan is scheduled to spell out his plan at a news conference today with two of the lawmakers whose help he will need to sell it to the full City Council. They are Richard Alatorre, chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, and Mike Hernandez, who heads the Community and Economic Development Committee.

“Instead of the usual scatter-gun approach, we want to focus on specific neighborhoods and initiatives to see what we can accomplish, then move on to something else” in coming years, said Christopher O’Donnell, the mayor’s budget and strategic planning director.


Traditionally, the city’s annual block grant has been divvied up during budget deliberations among scores of social services and other programs administered by several city departments. Starting this year, the mayor and council began fashioning a block grant spending plan earlier in the budget year.

O’Donnell said the administration has found ways to maintain most of the current levels of social services spending, roughly $29 million--a favorite use of block grants among council members.

He said money for the new initiatives were found in administrative cost savings and by using unspent funds from previous years. O’Donnell said that for each block grant dollar that goes into communities, nearly 50 cents more is being spent on administrative and staff costs.

Among the mayor’s proposals are:


* Revitalization initiatives for 11 communities: Highland Park, Boyle Heights, Canoga Park, North Hollywood, South Crenshaw-Hyde Park, Van Nuys Boulevard area, Vermont East, Central Avenue, Washington Boulevard/Mid-Cities, Harbor Gateway and Echo Park. The Targeted Communities Initiatives plan calls for each community to receive between $3 million and $6 million over three years, with $11 million set aside for the next fiscal year.

* Construction of child-care facilities at a cost of $6 million. A survey by the city’s Commission on Children, Youth and Their Families found shortages of child-care facilities throughout the city, with the most acute needs in the east San Fernando Valley and on the city’s Eastside.

* Economic development funds for Hollywood, the Harbor area and inner-city, as well as money for environmental cleanup, sidewalk vending and business assistance centers, $9.7 million

* Additional funding for AIDS policy development, in particular a program with private employers to help AIDS patients remain in or return to the work force, $710,000; AIDS prevention programs, $1.25 million.

O’Donnell said the communities program was developed from the Los Angeles Neighborhoods Initiative, a project that provided modest amounts of federal funds and technical advice to help residents and business owners launch community improvement networks.