A neighborhood activist whose lawsuit halted construction of a Target shopping center in Hollywood has launched a campaign for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council in the March 7 election.
Hollywood resident Doug Haines filed paperwork to challenge Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who is seeking a second four-year term in a district that includes Echo Park, Silver Lake, Atwater Village and Historic Filipinotown.
Haines belongs to the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Assn., which has repeatedly sued over real estate development in Hollywood. Working with a Pasadena-based attorney, Haines' group persuaded a judge to overturn the city's approval of Target, which has been a partly built husk on Sunset Boulevard for more than two years.
With La Mirada, Haines also succeeded in invalidating the permits for Sunset and Gordon, a 299-unit apartment building, forcing the owner to move out all tenants. In addition, Haines worked with other organizations to overturn the city's update of the Hollywood Community Plan, a document that called for taller buildings near transit hubs.
That plan is now going through a new environmental review process.
Haines described O'Farrell, who favored completion of the Target project, as a "puppet of the development community." He also said the housing construction boom in Hollywood is making the area's homeless problem worse.
"All this development doesn't make us a better community," Haines said.
O'Farrell defended his record, saying he has been pushing for construction of new affordable housing in Hollywood and other parts of the district. He also pointed to cases where he rejected, or reduced the size of, development projects that he said were too big for their surroundings.
In Echo Park, O'Farrell worked to reduce the height limit for new buildings along a stretch of Sunset Boulevard. He also won approval of measures that scaled back the height and size of new buildings allowed next to the Los Angeles River in Elysian Valley — a move intended to address gentrification in that neighborhood.
"I wanted to do something about the displacement crisis before it devastated that community," O'Farrell said.
Haines is one of 12 people who filed the initial paperwork to run against O'Farrell by Saturday's deadline. The others are astronomer-inventor Derek Fuchs, property manager Juan Markos, activist Jessica Salans, sales representative Nelson Alfaro, neighborhood council chairman Bill Zide, nonprofit group director Gordon Markham, neighborhood council board member Coyote Shivers, Spanish interpreter Lehi White, entrepreneur Shakana Beatty, housing rights advocate Sylvie Shain and international business manager David de la Torre.
To qualify for the ballot, each will need to turn in petitions with at least 500 voter signatures by Dec. 7, according to city rules.