Friday, November 16, 2001
Delgadillo, Pacheco Seek Funding for ‘Neighborhood Prosecutors’
By ROBERT GREENE, Staff Writer
City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Councilman Nick Pacheco hosted a house demolition in Highland Park yesterday to illustrate their commitment to erasing urban blight and to unveil their plan for neighborhood lawyers to handle complaints about drug houses, graffiti and other nuisance crimes.
“The time has come to strengthen the connection between our city government and the many communities, cultures and neighborhoods it serves,” Delgadillo said, before giving a bulldozer driver the go-ahead to begin knocking down a house across the street from Garvanza Elementary School.
Delgadillo and Pacheco said the house had become a center of drug-dealing and prostitution and a haven for gang members. The lot was purchased earlier this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District and is slated to become a playground.
Delgadillo campaigned on a promise to put attorneys in every neighborhood to serve residents who have been otherwise unable to get city response to complaints.
The city attorney proposed yesterday to place 15 lawyers in the city’s 15 council districts and add funding to beef up the Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program, a city task force that combines the Department of Building and Safety and other city agencies to close hazardous buildings and chase away nuisance crimes.
Delgadillo placed the bill at approximately $3.2 million annually to pay for the new lawyers, plus new CNAP staff to handle the referral from those lawyers.
“Some will say in the coming weeks that this is too expensive,” Delgadillo said. “I say to them, we can’t afford not to do this.”
He noted that the City Council recently voted to spend $3 million on security for City Hall and neighboring buildings.
“But what have we spent on security for our neighborhoods,” he said.
Pacheco said he will introduce in the council today a motion to pay for the program from the proceeds of the city’s “street furniture” project, which will place self-cleaning pay toilets around the city.
That project is expected to produce $150 million in advertising revenue over 20 years from sale of ads on the commodes.
Half of that money is already committed to transportation enhancements in the council districts, and the other half is to go to the city’s general fund. It is from the general find half that Pacheco is asking his colleagues to commit funding for community prosecutors.
“It’s new money,” Pacheco told the MetNews. He added: “Public safety always has to be a priority.”
Pacheco, as chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, has a great deal of clout in prioritizing funding.
The city has had a number of costly improvement programs that have received criticism for failing to live up to their potential. Several years ago, the city removed apartment inspection duties from the Department of Building and Safety and created a new inspection unit in the Housing Department to assure that blight is avoided by regular inspection of every rental unit in the city.
But Controller Laura Chick earlier this week released a report that criticized the Housing Department program and said it was failing to live up to its full potential.
Delgadillo acknowledged problems in other city programs, but said this one would be different.
“Both Nick and I have a demonstrated track record of success,” he said.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company