Campaigning for the 4th District Council Office took a turn this week following two heated debates and the revelation of a dismissed rape allegation 13 years ago against candidate David Ryu.
On Monday night, news surfaced that Ryu faced a charge of attempted rape in 2002 that was eventually dismissed. According to court documents, Ryu was involved in an incident on Aug. 14, 2002, that eventually led to his arrest. Then 27, Ryu was accused of attempted rape of an unconscious woman, only identified as a Jane Doe. The charges were filed on Sept. 10, 2002. The charges were dismissed after the prosecution said it was unable to proceed with the case, court records show.
“The alleged victim never claimed that anything happened,” said Mark Kim, Ryu’s attorney. “The police officers on the scene concluded nothing had happened. There was no physical evidence of either assault or unconsciousness. The one person who alleged a crime was a third party; and another witness cast doubt on her statement. There simply was no evidence of any crime. So my client, who consistently denied this charge, was fully exonerated.”
Ryu also responded to the information that was made public on Monday.
“It was a shock to be accused of something I did not do, and I would never do,” he said in a statement. “Never in my life did I imagine I would be falsely accused of such a serious crime. Even though I was exonerated, the false accusation was devastating to me at the time. I had just finished my internship at the United Nations and was preparing to leave for a Peace Corps posting in Africa. As a result, I had to wait out the wheels of justice and gave up my chance to serve in the Peace Corps. However, I have long since put this behind me. I don’t believe there was any malicious intent, and I have not seen nor spoken to the other parties for many years, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to disrupt their lives just because I’ve chosen to run for public office.”
Opponent Carolyn Ramsay’s campaign declined to comment on the charge.
At the debate on Tuesday night co-hosted by the Mount Olympus Property Owners Association and Laurel Canyon Association, the dismissed charges did not come up, and Ryu and Ramsay instead sparred over issues dominating the Hollywood Hills.
Both candidates said they supported the hillside communities inclusion in the city’s Interim Control Ordinance, which was put in place to stop mansionization until the city reforms its Baseline Mansionization Ordinance. They also agreed that the 8150 Sunset project should be reduced in scale.
Ryu said his top priorities for the area are to protect the hillside from overdevelopment, protect the wildlife corridor and provide better access to the 4th District Council Office.
Ramsay said she would prioritize acquiring more land for open space, protecting the hillside from the threat of fires and preserving the neighborhoods’ character.
Ryu’s announcement that he was refusing developer money and his vow to create a community task force to deal with discretionary spending dominated the debate held by the Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association last Thursday
A root-pruning question started a back-and-forth exchange between the candidates regarding council district discretionary funding. Ryu said he would use discretionary funding to eliminate the problem, and trumpeted his pledge for transparency and a task force overseeing the money.
“All of my discretionary funds are going to be on my website and clearly delineated,” Ramsay said. “It will be spent on community projects.”
She added that it was important to invest in neighborhood-building projects that work environmentally with the character of the local community — the installation of decomposed granite sidewalks, root pruning and greener storm drain systems.
“I’m glad to see my opponent has followed our lead,” Ryu countered. “It’s not just about showing where the money is going.”
Ryu said his task force would have an important voice when he prioritized how to spend that money. He also noted that through his campaign’s research, they have found that there is less than $1 million for salaries and approximately $1.6 million in “slush funds” from a variety of sources.
“It’s all about you (the community) telling me how your tax dollars will be spent,” he said.
Ramsay said her experience working as the former chief of staff for termed-out Councilman Tom LaBonge helps her understand how to use the discretionary funds.
“I know how much money is in the funds and what they are eligible for,” she said. “I won’t have to figure that out on day one.”
Ryu countered that “I’m sure they would love to hear” what the discretionary amounts are, but Ramsay said she doesn’t have the exact numbers currently because of her absence from the 4th District Council Office for a year. She left the office to campaign full time.
During a question related to the controversial Millennium Project, Ryu’s pledge to refuse campaign contributions from developers also came up. Ryu said he would work to open dialogue with the 13th District Council Office to find a solution that could work for the entire community.
“I would oppose the Millennium Project and really work with the developer to reduce its density,” Ramsay said. “The traffic study alone was very overwhelming.”
In reference to Ryu’s pledge, Ramsay said, “I hold developers accountable and I always have.”
She took issue with Ryu’s claim that he gave back all developer money, and her campaign handed out a list of developer names who they said donated to the Ryu campaign.
“I guess they included real estate agents and architects,” Ryu countered. “I don’t think a real estate agent is a developer or an architect is a developer. Why don’t you just refuse all developer funds and give it back and then we’ll be equal?”
Ramsay began reading the names of her developer list before the audience told her it was unnecessary to continue.
“There is some good development, but there is too much of it now,” Ramsay said, adding that she would protect the district residents by creating a regional traffic impact fund. Under the plan, developers from Los Angeles and surrounding communities such as West Hollywood, Glendale and Burbank would be required to pay into the fund to help mitigate regional traffic problems their projects might be causing. Ryu said it was necessary to update the Hollywood Specific Plan with changes the community would support.
Parking and traffic issues were also brought up frequently.
“I know the last few years have been very tough on Beachwood,” Ramsay said. “GPS is driving all these folks through your neighborhood to get to the Hollywood Sign. The response wasn’t as quick as it should have been and I want to work with you.”
Ramsay touted her work to create a shuttle system in Griffith Park that takes tourists to a Hollywood Sign viewing area and away from the neighborhoods, and said she would work to expand the program if elected.
Ryu said he wanted to sit down with all stakeholders in the area to come up with real solutions, not just solutions that move traffic to the east or west and create problems for adjacent communities.
“It’s a public safety issue first and foremost,” he added. “It’s not a tourist issue or a nuisance issue, it’s a public safety issue.”
For parking in Beachwood, both candidates said they would consider preferential parking along some streets, but the overall problem would have to be examined further.
Ryu warned that preferential parking might just shift the problem rather than solve it, but he also said it might be time to force incoming businesses to add more parking to help the area as a requirement to receiving permits.
“I’ll work with you to develop a deal with Gelson’s [supermarket] so they can provide parking to the Upright Citizens Brigade and other businesses along [Franklin Avenue] at night when [Gelson’s] own use is down,” Ramsay said as a suggestion to solve the issue.
Both candidates said they support a minimum wage increase, and would examine further pension reforms.
“The number one thing we need to do is hold the line,” Ryu said, noting he would go through the budget and departments line-by-line. “It’s not about cuts, it’s about not letting our deficit grow.”
Ryu continually emphasized his willingness to listen to the community, and noted at both forums that the current mayor was right in his sentiment of “back to basics”.
“This election is clear,” he said. “It’s insider versus outsider, status quo versus change.”
Ramsay countered that her experience was an asset.
“I have deep relationships with folks at all levels of city government,” she said, answering a question about how she would stand alone against a city council residents don’t trust. “Believe me, people are willing to listen.”
Ryu said it would be impossible for Ramsay to stand up to the current council, because she owes them a debt for their endorsements.
“How do you invoke change by a culture that helped you?” he asked. “I’m getting there without their support. I’m getting it from the community.”
“We both went for all of them, but I’m the one who got them,” Ramsay countered.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.