Tue, May

Corrupting Campaign Cash is King, Part Two: What Will Eric Do?


LA WATCHDOG-As we expected, on Tuesday afternoon, March 4, Jose Huizar railroaded the approval of the over height variance for the speculative 42,409 square foot monster mansion located at 10550 West Bellagio Road in Bel Air through his Planning and Land Use Management Committee, overriding the unanimous decision of the West LA Area Planning Commission to deny this variance requested by two campaign funding real estate developers from Beverly Hills.  

There was no meaningful discussion of the issues other than a softball question by Huizar to Paul Koretz’ Planning Deputy, leading many to speculate that Huizar and his fellow Committee member, Mitch Englander, had not even read the supporting documents.  

There was also no doubt that Huizar and Englander had decided in advance to support the variance requested by Paul Koretz for this property located in his personal fiefdom, Council District 5. 

The Committee also brushed off the concerns of numerous local residents, homeowner associations, and the local Neighborhood Council who are concerned about the negative impact of this oversized structure on their residential neighborhood and the dangerous precedent that would undermine the Baseline Hillside Ordinance. 

The most interesting public comment was from local resident Steve Twining who requested that both Huizar and Englander return their campaign contributions from the litigious developers, Mark and Arman Gabay, before voting on this variance.  

On Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the Committee meeting, the Herb Wesson led City Council approved the variance without any discussion. 

But this is not the end of the story. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti has until March 17 to veto this controversial variance that has been bought and paid for by the developers with almost $60,000 of campaign contributions.  This includes generous contributions to seven current members of the City Council, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and failed mayoral candidate, Wendy Greuel. 

But this $60,000 “investment” is chump change compared to the multimillion dollar value of this variance to the well connected real estate developers.  

So what will Eric do? 

Will he support this corrupt process where the political demands of the round heeled Paul Koretz rule the day?  

Or will Eric have the guts to support the decision of the West LA Area Planning Commission that unanimously rejected this over height variance.  And will he support the residents, the local Neighborhood Council, numerous homeowners associations, and the Hillside Federation who are vehemently opposed to this ethically questionable variance?   

If this variance is allowed to stand, the City will be hauled into a costly court battle as is the case with the over height variance issued in August for 360 North Stone Canyon Road, a 27,000 monster mansion that is being proposed by the same real estate developers on a lot adjacent to the Bellagio property.  

As this saga continues, we will continue to follow the corruption of our City Council caused by cash campaign contributions; the need for greater transparency, especially as it relates to the upfront disclosure of campaign contributions by those asking for favors from City Hall; and the voters’ lack of trust in the City Council and their cash dispensing, ring kissing cronies who roam the bowels of City Hall.


(Note: For additional information on the Bellagio variance, please see March 4, 2014 CityWatch article, LA’s City Council: Campaign Cash Is King.)



(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee,  The Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:  [email protected]. Hear Jack every Tuesday morning at 6:20 on McIntyre in the Morning, KABC Radio 790.) 





Vol 12 Issue 21

Pub: Mar 11, 2014





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