LA Council considering boroughs


LOS ANGELES - A proposal to create a borough system in Los Angeles was submitted yesterday to the City Council by five of its members.

If approved by the council, it would go to voters Nov. 5, providing the city's electorate with an alternative to an expected secession measure or measures that same day.

The proposal calls for a charter amendment that would create an elected, 15-member commission to draft a plan within a year.

That commission would be required to divide the city into multiple boroughs, each of which would elect its own board to handle local budget and planning decisions.

The motion was introduced by Councilwomen Wendy Greuel and Janice Hahn and seconded by Council members Tom LaBonge, Jan Perry and Dennis Zine.

"This is not a study," Greuel said. "This is a binding reorganization that dramatically moves power away from City Hall and to the local communities."

Although she picked up some support from additional Council members, some secessionists viewed the motion as an attempt to derail their efforts and some Council members greeted the move skeptically.

"If they had floated this two or three years ago, it might have been taken seriously," Councilman Hal Bernson said.

"To me it looks like a blatant attempt to sidetrack a vote on secession."

Hahn said she supported a similar effort while serving as a charter reform commissioner in 1997. That proposal was set aside by the charter panel in favor of other changes, including the creation of a citywide neighborhood council network.

Hahn said the key feature of the borough system would be to have city departments coordinate with each borough to provide the level of service they demand.

"This takes all the negative aspects, all the uncertainties about breaking the city up and says we can stay together, and clearly we heard from the public that they want a government that better serves the constituents," Hahn said.

Her brother, Mayor James K. Hahn, was noncommittal.

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