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Amid outcry, L.A. supervisor Ridley-Thomas rethinks plans for $700,000 in office renovations [Updated]

December 22, 2009 |  1:36 pm

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas today said he was revising his plans to spend $700,000 on renovations to his county offices.

In a statement, Ridley-Thomas said he asked the county's chief executive officer, William T Fujioka, to review how best to rehab the offices. The Board of Supervisors today approved his request.

"The CEO will review the condition of the workspace, including building code violations, other safety concerns and energy efficiency, and proceed consistent with board policy," Ridley-Thomas said in the statement. "Discussion of the proposed repair and renovation work has become a needless distraction inflamed by misleading and erroneous information."

Ridley-Thomas' proposal, met with criticism from some community activists, was the subject of several TV reports that questioned the cost of the rehab work amid the county's budget problems.

"As was my objective from the outset, we will continue to make service to the constituents of the 2nd District our top priority," Ridley-Thomas said in the statement. "They deserve the very best that the county of Los Angeles has to offer and I intend to meet their expectations."

[Updated 2:20 p.m.: Ridley-Thomas also said he has ordered an "independent review" to "re-scope and re-evaluate the proposed project."

"We’re reassessing the appraisal, the cost, the scope of what needs to be done," he said.

On his website, he has posted an "office improvements" link explaining the proposed work, which includes replacing office furniture, carpet, floor tiles, ceiling, lighting, interior woodwork, air conditioning, electrical equipment and plumbing.

Ridley-Thomas has said the work will be covered by his district’s discretionary fund, and the renovations are long overdue. He won the county's 2nd supervisorial district seat last year after beating Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks to replace the retiring Yvonne Brathwaite Burke.

"This is an office that hasn’t been invested in in over two decades. That is not acceptable," he told The Times last week, adding that he believed that the initial cost estimate made sense given the scope of the project.

"They did nothing of consequence when I moved into the office, bare minimum," he said. "It’s perfectly reasonable."

"I do not think we should do anything extravagant, nor have I over the many years I have been in public office," he said. "It’s to make the office more efficient, safe."

Now, he said his staff of 31 are doubled up in offices in the 6,400-square-foot facility with "substandard" lighting. He said there was no timeline for the renovation. He had originally planned to start Dec. 9 and complete renovations by August.

-- Shelby Grad and Molly Hennessy-Fiske