By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
So, the preservationists started thinking lawsuit. “It was clear the City Attorney’s Office was pulling all of the strings,” says Nudelman, “and needed to be reined in.”
Nudelman, an old hand at City Hall battles, wrangled a meeting last February with Rudd at his CRA office on Sunset Boulevard. Nudelman and Offenhauser expected to meet Deputy City Attorney Edward Young, who defends lawsuits filed against the redevelopment agency, but only Rudd attended. When Nudelman asked about Young, Rudd pointed to a speakerphone. “It was like I was talking to Howard Hughes,” says Nudelman. “I was thinking, what in the world is going on here?”
Nudelman says Young defended the use of mitigated negative declarations to destroy buildings identified as “historic resources,” arguing that Hollywood’s redevelopment plan was “too vague” and “this is our office’s interpretation.” Nudelman says there’s nothing vague about the plan, which at nearly 100 pages long states that the city “shall use established criteria” and “shall develop historic preservation incentives.” Two months later, in April, Hollywood Heritage sued.
Though not involved in the suit, Mike Buhler, director of advocacy at the Los Angeles Conservancy, is waging a similar fight in North Hollywood, where the redevelopment agency approved a mitigated negative declaration to fast-track demolition of the circa-1961 Commonwealth Savings and Loan Building. Buhler calls it “one of the finest modern buildings” in the Valley.
Now, city officials have gone silent.
Redevelopment agency officials refused to discuss with the Weekly their use of mitigated negative declarations — or Delgadillo’s role in pushing the scheme. The agency’s top dog in Hollywood, Rudd, referred the Weekly’s questions to other city bureaucrats. CRA spokeswoman Kiara Harris refused comment, citing the lawsuit by Hollywood Heritage. Deputy City Attorney Young failed to reply. Delgadillo’s bustling press office — quick to promote softball stories about Delgadillo — ignored four phone calls. Weitzer, LaBonge’s chief planner, failed to respond.
Josh Kamensky, Garcetti’s spokesman, would not discuss whether Garcetti aide Alison Becker was blown off by the city attorney, and instead offered up a pat civics lesson: “The city attorney is our lawyer — they don’t make policy decisions, but if we’re being sued, we do ask them for advice.”
City Councilman Dennis Zine, who represents part of the Valley, was unfamiliar with the Hollywood controversy, but said in an e-mail, “Sounds like some city employees are changing the rules without proper authority,” and promised to push for a review.
But Nudelman isn’t expecting much out of L.A.’s pro-growth and nontransparent City Hall. “Everyone must keep an eye out for the city to do something wrong,” he says. “If they can get away with something, they’ll do it.”
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