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Nominee for CRA Board Getting Cool Response From Business

Nominee for CRA Board Getting Cool Response From Business

POLITICS

by Howard Fine

L.A. Mayor James Hahn’s nomination of living wage proponent Madeline Janis-Aparicio to fill a vacancy on the Community Redevelopment Agency board is not exactly a favorite choice among business advocates.

A hearing on the selection of Janis-Aparicio, a major force behind L.A.’s living wage ordinance and a host of other local living wage measures, is scheduled for Sept. 9 in the City Council’s Economic Development Committee. Her nomination could go before the entire City Council as early as next week.

Committee chair Eric Garcetti, Janis-Aparicio’s chief sponsor on the council, said he has more than the two-thirds vote necessary for confirmation.

Janis-Aparicio says she wants to see the living wage more broadly applied to redevelopment projects hardly a popular position among developers and others whose labor costs would go up.

In addition, some fear that Janis-Aparicio could delay approval of projects as they come before the CRA. That in turn could scare off potential developers.

But while business interests are not pleased with Hahn’s choice, no one wants to air their grievances in public for fear of retribution if she got on the board.

For her part, Janis-Aparicio denies being an ideologue.

“I’m not going to single-handedly push through the most bold living wage possible,” she said. “I’ll be one of seven board members, so I’m going to have to be a team player.”

Garcetti echoed this. “I didn’t recommend her to Mayor Hahn so she could dictate where the CRA goes,” he said. “Rather, she’s somebody who has fought for economic and social justice, and that’s an essential part of the debate that must take place on the board.”

Besides, Aparicio said she has some sensitivity to the concerns of developers. Before launching the living wage efforts, she was a land use attorney at the downtown law firm of Latham & Watkins.

L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry, considered by many to be an opponent of the Janis-Aparicio appointment, said last week she has yet to make up her mind. She said she wants to ensure that any new appointee will not throw up barriers to economic development projects proposed for her district and for the city in general. Broader application of the living wage, she said, has the potential to be such a barrier.

Splinter Group

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s decision to oppose Hollywood secession has sparked a split in that business community.

Within hours of the chamber’s announcement, several business owners and chamber members held a rally in front of the chamber offices and subsequently formed a group called Hollywood Business Associates. Since then, membership in the group has grown to about three dozen, according to Ferris Wehbe, co-owner of the Hollywood Little Red School House and a co-founder of the HBA. (Last year, Wehbe lost a bid for the late John Ferraro’s L.A. City Council seat to Eric Garcetti.)

“This group was formed to provide service to the small merchants in Hollywood who are not well represented by the chamber,” Wehbe said.

Wehbe and others said the discontent had been brewing for some time, but it was the secession vote that pushed some of the small merchants into action.

“There was no active polling of the members on this issue and that’s what really gave this new group the kick-in-the-pants it needed to get started,” said Jeff Zarrinnam, general manager of the Ramada Inn and Conference Center in Hollywood and a candidate for Hollywood City Council.

Leron Gubler, president and chief executive of the Hollywood Chamber, said members have been polled each April for the last several years. “We asked the secession question three times, and three times there was no movement: it was 2-to-1 against secession,” he said.

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

hfine@labusinessjournal.com.

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