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Hopefuls for L.A. County supervisor seat speak at Glendale forum

Job creation, water conservation and improving public safety were the key focal points Monday night during a candidate forum for the five hopefuls looking to succeed L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich in the 5th District.

In front of a crowd of about two dozen people at Robert Hall & Associates, Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian said his city has been at the forefront of treating water for Chromium 6.

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A water-delivery system known as “purple pipe” is also a key feature of all the new downtown developments so their toilets use recycled rather than fresh water, he said.

Smart meters that deliver usage data electronically have also been a big player in trimming waste and boosting conservation, Najarian said.

“If you have a small, trickling leak, you’re notified by [Glendale Water & Power] in one day,” he said. “Through technology, through cleanup of the water system and recharging, we can make a much better situation.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander, who represents the 12th District in the northwest San Fernando Valley, said too much rainwater is heading off into the ocean. The solution is to implement infrastructure that captures rainwater and sends it into underground aquifers, he said.

On the residential end, Englander said he’s modified his home to better conserve water and that such improvements should be made easier for other homeowners.

“We should create incentives that would give people incentive to put [water-conservation improvements] in their homes,” he said.

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Looking to add new jobs, State Sen. Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) said his experience with the issue came in the form of co-writing tax-incentive legislation to bring film production jobs back to Los Angeles.

The only problem was the incentives came after the film industry had started relocating, so ideally there should be business exit interviews to see why, he said. There need to be more proactive measures and a look at what can be done to attract and retain businesses, in general, Huff said.

“We need to look through tax incentives as I have done for aerospace jobs and movie entertainment jobs,” he said. “We lost half our movie jobs because we were asleep at the switch. We thought they would stay forever, we have to be smart about how we impact people.”

Kathryn Barger, Antonovich’s chief deputy supervisor, said work is already being done at the county level to simplify the process of getting businesses open in the first place.

She mentioned a one-stop shop in Alhambra that’s being developed so new business owners can get all their planning, environmental, fire permits and other required documentation under one roof rather than going from building to building, as in downtown Los Angeles.

“When you talk about concierge services, that’s what we’re doing right now … It’s vital to make it easy,” Barger said.

Concierge service for business owners was also brought up by Najarian, who said Glendale assigns individual planners to new business owners to help them one-on-one through the permitting process.

L.A. Deputy District Atty. Elan Carr said he thinks new permit costs should come in the form of installment payments to lessen the burden on new entrepreneurs.

On the topic of public safety, Carr said the county is 1,500 deputies short of what should be staffed. When there are more cops on street corners, people are safer, he said, adding that it’s time to start hiring more nonsworn personnel such as jailers to free up more patrol time.

“We have to lighten the burden, so the kind of work nonsworn-in personnel can do can be transferred to other staff members,” Carr said. “Why have a sworn police officer do a job that someone else could do? You want them to be out on the street keeping us safe.”

Englander, a reserve Los Angeles police officer, said he agreed that first and foremost there needs to be a “civilian restoration hiring plan.”

Antonovich is terming out after serving on the board of supervisors since 1980.

Election day in the supervisor race will be June 7.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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