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Romney Uses Defunct Mall to Criticize Obama Policies

Republican presidential candidate appears at Valley Plaza mall in North Hollywood Wednesday on his campaign tour.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday chose a row of vacant storefronts at North Hollywood’s Valley Plaza mall as the backdrop for an address in which he criticized President Obama’s handling of the nation's economy.

"As a president, you can’t control everything, but you sure can control your use of time and what you focus your energy on," Romney told a sparse crowd of supporters and media. "If I’m president, there will be something done in places across the country to put people back to work.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian and Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chairman Eric C. Bauman were on hand to counter Romney’s remarks.

See the accompanying video of Romney’s speech and Krekorian’s and Bauman’s rebuttals.

Also, see a Patch video series on the history of the troubled malls and attempts to redevelop the area.

Krekorian, who represents the area, objected to the mall being used as an example of a failed economy. 

"I think it’s really unfair and misleading for him to come here and use this as a backdrop to make arguments against the policies of the current administration," Krekorian said. "Many of us are working every single day to bring this property back to its prior state.”

Krekorian, a San Fernando Valley native who frequented the Valley Plaza and Laurel Plaza shopping centers while growing up, called revitalizing the area one of his top priorities.

In 2009 a majority owner of the property, developer J.H. Snyder, proposed a $560-million renovation to create a mixed-use retail area with a multiplex movie theater, a Target store, apartments and townhouses. However, the developer pulled out and development was put on hold.

Krekorian said the property has recently come under the sole ownership of the iStar Financial company, which has been meeting with him and other city officials on a plan to restore the area as a retail center.

Steve Magee, iStar’s executive vice president, said in a statement that the company is in the process of designing and building a new project that will be an "economic engine" for North Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. 

"These are people investing their own money on the future of North Hollywood," Krekorian said. "The future in this area is, in fact, bright and is not the dismal picture that [Mitt Romney] tried to paint today."

When asked about a state Assembly bill that could potentially dissolve the city's community redevelopment agency, Krekorian said that it is a concern, but a problem that the property owners can work around if CRA funds are not available for the project. 

"The loss of the tools that are available for redevelopment is a significant concern," he said. "But that is the reality that we’re going to have to just deal with, and the private owners of the property understand that." 

Krekorian said the new retail project "will have an economically transforming effect on the community and the whole region.”

Romney, in his address, said his 25 years of experience in the private sector gave him the qualifications to create jobs for Americans. While conceding that the Obama administration inherited the recession, he said the president has made the economy worse. 

Last month, Romney made a similar campaign stop, criticizing Obama’s economic policies in front of boarded-up windows in Allentown, PA.

Drew Puli Wolf July 21, 2011 at 10:39 PM
While Romney was governor between 2003-2007 Massachusetts ranked 47th among the 50 states in job creation. The average for Massachusetts job growth was just 0.9 percent, California’s was 4.7 and the national average was 5 percent. He blames the Democratic state legislature, but now under a Democratic governor Massachusetts has a job growth of 4.2 percent, better than twice the national average. What is funny is his talk of Herbert Hoover, his economic policies from a balanced budget, and deep cuts in federal spending during a down turn are identical to the policies Hoover followed leading to the great depression. Like Bob Dylan says “there no success like failure”. Also he earned his money the old fashion way, he inherited it.
Brian July 22, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Alex don't know how long you have lived in North Hollywood but I'll be 50 next month and can tell you that this mall and entire area died at the hands of indoor malls like Northridge and Glendale. The business in this area quickly became second rate and absolutely no money was spent over the years to attract customers. When you try to blame unions you might be half right. Not that these stores were union but they suffered from loss of all the good paying union jobs Lockheed and others provided before they jumped ship like rats for cheep rent and labor in other states. Those job friendly states did not create they stole them. But that's capitalism at work.
James Weatherwax July 22, 2011 at 05:28 AM
Well, genius...Massachusetts had such low unemployment that there was no room for growth. A high percentage of people held jobs. Only when there is high unemployment can there be significant job growth (as businesses start hiring again). So job growth is less an indicator than unemployment figures.
Skraeling July 22, 2011 at 06:28 AM
No, I am not way off...the CRA is a tool of the politicians downtown..the City Council just channeled over 1.5 billion to the CRA to keep it from the State where it might actually do some good. Krekorian has no plan but to serve the usual crowds...sorry, I have lived too long in Studio City and seen the rapid decay that has taken place here since Joel Wachs left....Krekorian could begin to do the simple things, like clean up the alleys and streets, pick up the grocery carts that litter every block and bill the stores that allow their carts to become trash, and he could organize an anti graffitti group, or lead a fight to keep the disgusting mobile advertising signs now proliferating on every block off Ventura Blvd, and limit the presence of Thai " massage" parlors....but he won't....he is an empty suit on a council of empty suits but full" campaign" funds...
Skraeling July 22, 2011 at 06:35 AM
brian is absolutely correct. North Hollywood has been ignored for years. There were no union jobs there, just the businesses that benefitted for years because the union jobs just down the street paid decent salaries. The City's scramble for money encouraged the malls and they, in turn, destroyed the type of shopping center that served so many so well.....Capitalism really doesn't work in an overcrowded world with limited resources and no community spirit....certainly, with the right wing and left wing extremists, capitalism is a myth. What we have is a new form of economy based on corporations....we have yet to learn how to live with it..

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