Councilmembers Wrangling to Keep Downtown on Their Side

by Howard Fine

The tussle between L.A. City Councilmembers Nick Pacheco and Jan Perry over the redistricting of downtown council seats has been depicted by some as a referendum about which ethnic community has the strongest ties to downtown.

But race and ethnicity may have little to do with the recent exchange of letters between Pacheco and Perry supporter Carol Schatz, president and chief executive of the Central City Association, over who should get to represent the area.

Currently, Perry's ninth district serves the majority of the redeveloped portions of downtown, with Pacheco taking a slice down Broadway and Ed Reyes' first district on the northern edge. The city redistricting commission's new plan largely keeps the same boundaries.

So why all the fuss?

"It's all about assets," John Emerson, chair of the L.A. City Redistricting Commission, said last week.

With new projects either just completed or under way including Staples Center, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Disney Concert Hall, the renovated City Hall, and the proposed federal courthouse downtown is a treasure chest of economic generators that would be a boon to any council district.

Without downtown, both the ninth and 14th districts lack such major assets, since residential properties and small businesses dominate both districts. Perry now lays claim to most of the new downtown assets; Pacheco wants a bigger share for his own district. Even Reyes has made an argument for including the nearly completed cathedral in his district.

So where will all this end up? The redistricting commission still has some say, since it can revise the boundaries in its plan. But ultimately, it's up to the City Council itself to make the final call this spring. Galanter's Gambit

City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter may soon see her Westside district relocated to the San Fernando Valley. But at least there's a silver lining: she'll be closer to the airport of her dreams.

For most of the last decade, Galanter, a staunch opponent of expanding Los Angeles International Airport, has been shouting "Palmdale!" "Palmdale!" to whomever would listen. Not only would developing an airport at Palmdale take the pressure off of LAX, but it would also meet far less opposition, since many leaders in that high desert community have said they would jump at the opportunity to have an airport.

But Galanter's words fell largely on deaf ears as the Richard Riordan administration pursued plans to expand LAX. Palmdale, it was argued, was too far and too difficult for most Angelenos to get to. And the airlines, sensing a limited market and wanting to keep their hub operations at LAX, also rejected Palmdale.

But last week, L.A. Mayor James Hahn helped push through the Airport Commission a measure seeking proposals to turn a city-owned airfield in Palmdale into a regional airport.

With barely a year left in office, Galanter is a step closer to getting her wish. She shouldn't hold her breath, though. The master plan to develop the airport will extend out 25 years.

In Other News

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon has made hay out of his New York connection with his endorsement by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Now Riordan has come back from his recent New York swing with his own connection to that state: the endorsements of Gov. George Pataki and Michael Bloomberg, the new mayor of New York

Freshman Long Beach Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza is becoming an expert at baptism by fire. Less than four weeks into her term, she was put on the Assembly committee dealing with the power crisis. Now, new Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson named her as chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, where her job will be to confront the state's $12.5 billion budget deficit.

Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227, or by e-mail at

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