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Divided Council Delays Decision on Surplus Housing

After a lengthy discussion and public testimony, a hopelessly divided Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to postpone a controversial decision on the use of surplus military property in San Pedro.

The council is faced with the decision over the 545 mostly middle-class homes because the Navy families moved out nearly two years ago after the closing of the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.

But the council clearly was split over a community panel recommendation that the city set aside some of the property for educational concerns, 56 units for homeless families and 190 units for demolition.

That proposal is supported by Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr., who represents the area. But Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski has a competing plan to allocate most of the property for homeless families, a predominate number of which include veterans.

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Andrew Mardesich, president of the San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition, which represents 11 residents associations, said he believes that Miscikowski’s proposal would create an abnormal number of homeless families in the area. “Enough is enough,” he said.

Janice Hahn, who lives in San Pedro, told the council that Los Angeles has a long way to go toward addressing the housing problem but that Miscikowski’s proposal is unacceptable.

“This is not the time to slap the affordable housing and homeless problems on the backs of San Pedro,” she said, to a round of applause.

Under federal law, the city must consider the needs of the homeless, along with other public benefits and economic development priorities, when it decides how to use the surplus property.

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“We’re not talking about individuals walking around with a bottle in their hand or needles in their arms,” said Renee Hopwood, who said she is homeless and works for New Directions, which is seeking to use the property for transitional housing.

She said the opponents were basically telling her: “You can live where you want but you can’t live here.”

A divided City Council could agree only on a postponement to discuss the issues further in committee hearings.

“This is a very split body here,” said Councilman Mike Feuer, who pushed for the delay. “I don’t think there are eight votes for anything.”

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Council members also disagreed over the community plan that would give Rolling Hills Preparatory School 44 homes and Marymount College 86 units.

Those lawmakers said they could not support giving publicly owned property to private schools.


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