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Yaroslavsky warns L.A. Council candidates of voters' 'anti-development' mood

June 5, 2009 | 12:55 pm

Zev-anne-cusack Here’s a warning for candidates looking to replace Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel in the Sept. 22 special election in the San Fernando Valley: pay attention to real estate development – and the fury it inspires among neighborhood groups.

That was the advice offered this morning by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who picked the winning candidate in last month’s election for his own onetime Westside council seat.

Yaroslavsky backed former Assemblyman Paul Koretz, who won by a 51-49 margin. Appearing at the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum, Yaroslavsky pointed out that the race, which started out with six candidates, went down to the wire as a nail biter between the two who were most skeptical of real estate projects.

“This was an anti-development electorate,” Yaroslavsky told the breakfast crowd. “Nobody in that electorate said, ‘I want to double the density [of buildings] on Fairfax Avenue or on Westwood Boulevard.’”

Greuel, who becomes the city controller on July 1, spent the last seven years representing a district that stretches from Sherman Oaks to Sunland-Tujunga. Potential candidates for her seat include Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, airport commissioner Chris Essel and school board member Tamar Galatzan, among others. (If no candidate garners a majority, a runoff is slated for Dec. 8.)

Yaroslavsky, in his typically blunt fashion, called Greuel’s district the “second angriest district in the city.” He argued that voters are fed up with the city’s handling of growth and development, including Senate Bill 1818, aimed at creating more affordable housing. The council pursued “an orgy of upzoning” in its attempt to implement that law, he argued.

Yaroslavsky, who served on the council from 1975 to 1994, said he made plenty of mistakes on development himself during his tenure at City Hall. But he argued that, when reviewing a real estate project, the city’s elected officials should pay special attention to the senior citizen who lives alone and can’t afford a high-priced lobbyist or City Hall consultant. “I’m her consultant,” he said.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall