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
“We all need to sacrifice a little in order to gain a lot,” Garcetti told a radio show, summing up his philosophy.
Doug Haines, of La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association of Hollywood, which has several times sued the City Council over land-use issues, says East Hollywood is “a dumping ground for all of the problems of Hollywood. And if you go to Garcetti’s home, it’s like you’re back in the country. I don’t see any high-density projects going up there.”
Many of the 15 council members live a privileged life that forgoes the sacrifices they expect from the residents they represent. The City Council and Villaraigosa — the nation’s highest-paid mayor — have raised sewage- and solid-waste fees, parking ticket fees and towing charges, golf fees and electricity rates.
The City Council recently dramatically hiked parking-meter fees at 40,000-plus meters citywide, from 25 cents to $1 per hour or more. Greuel, the council’s chipper Transportation Committee chairwoman, offered a let-them-eat-cake view of the boost, saying the 400 percent meter price hike would stop motorists from looking for cheap parking — since there wouldn’t be any. In truth, the jacked-up prices were instituted because the council and Villaraigosa have a massive budget deficit, yet Greuel wanted to play it as a boon for shops because “more people will come into their businesses.”
The hikes set off havoc, including in North Hollywood’s theater district. Mike Rademaekers, co-owner of the Secret Rose Theatre, says there was little agreement over the meter hikes when, on February 18, he found an official notice on his theater door — stating that consensus had been reached. Theater-goers handled the sudden hikes by leaving midshow, getting in their cars, driving around, then reparking. After an intense outcry, LaBonge, who represents the area, cut the meter hikes on weekdays.
Not one of the 15 council members must pay L.A.’s new parking costs. Rosendahl’s aides say City Council members are exempt from feeding parking meters. Similarly, the council instituted an extra car-towing surcharge of $100, now slapped on anyone unlucky enough to park illegally in a tow zone, to narrow the budget deficit. Yet City Council members, with their special license plates on their free cars, can’t be towed in Los Angeles – unless they block a fire hydrant.
Eastside Councilman Ed Reyes says he tries to reach out to the common people, and his recent daily schedule obtained by the Weekly seems to bear that out. He does spend less time with lobbyists and corporate chiefs than many of his colleagues. Yet Reyes carries a big ethnic chip on his shoulder, noted even by other Latino politicians. He isn’t below justifying unpopular City Hall plans — he’s a proponent of “sign districts” that would allow intense billboard proliferation, for example — as a way of evening-up the score with more livable areas of Los Angeles.
Reyes lives on Mount Washington overlooking a woodsy ravine. As with all but a few council members, his quiet, protected street is not even remotely in danger of being slated for digital billboards, apartment towers or other City Hall schemes. Westside activist David Ewing recalls how Reyes last fall supported billionaire Philip Anschutz’s idea of turning Staples Center into a giant billboard. Reyes made the dubious claim that the advertising income for the city treasury somehow translated into help for the Eastside’s poor. Ewing was bothered by how Reyes tried to “make it a class issue,” with his guilt-riddled spin that “Essentially, we must just not care about people in his district.”
Then there’s Councilman Bernard Parks, infamous for ignoring people who take time off work to travel to City Hall to testify. Parks is one of only a few council members who at least reads the fat reports before voting — but he ignores testimony to do it. At one packed meeting of the Personnel Committee on January 27, Parks was so completely devoted to his Blackberry that Animal Services volunteer Judi Stein walked up to a Weekly reporter, described Parks’ antics as “offensive,” and declared, “This is a man that gets paid to do this!”
In November 2007, the curious editors at the well-read Web site LAist.com undertook a project, asking these rarified City Council members “to provide a list of the official neighborhoods in their district and a map that could easily identify them,” as explained on the site by Zach Behrens, editor of LAist.com. “Simple enough, right?” Behrens wrote. “No.”
Most council members ignored the Web site’s request. In a humorous gaffe, one of Jan Perry’s big personal staff of 26 people sent Behrens an e-mail meant for Perry. It informed the councilwoman: “I have a fairly comprehensive map of South Los Angeles that I drew at your request three years ago, but you never saw.” Only Greuel and the Valley’s Dennis Zine correctly named the neighborhoods they represent.
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