LA WATCHDOG--The development of the 27 story luxury high rise development at Catalina and 8th Street in Koreatown (photo above)has hit a snag as Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell ordered a full Environment Impact Report for this neighborhood destroying development that will have an adverse “impact on traffic, public services, and land use.”
This 322,000 square foot erection on a 54,000 lot with 269 luxury apartments never should have been authorized as the City Planning Commission rejected this project in 2014 because it did not conform to the City’s General Plan and the Wilshire Community Plan and was not compatible with the low rise, densely populated, low income neighborhood.
But once again, Mayor Garcetti, City Council President Herb Wesson, and the rest of the City Council demonstrated that they were for sale when the City Council and the Mayor overrode the Garcetti appointed City Planning Commission and approved the development as the Beverly Hills developer, Michael Hakim, agreed to contribute $1 million to a Garcetti pet project, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and $250,000 to Herb Wesson’s CD 10 Community Benefits Trust Fund.
In return for this investment of $1.25 million, the value of Hakim’s property increased by an estimated $15 to $20 million. Additional profits of a much greater amount will be captured upon the completion of this 300 foot tall eye sore, especially since this luxury development does not include any affordable housing.
The Hakim development appears to be part of a pattern where Mayor Garcetti and the City Council are in cahoots with the City’s real estate developers.
We have read about the Sea Breeze development where the now indicted developer orchestrated a scheme to contribute $600,000 to Garcetti, Councilmen Joe Buscaino, and other politicians to override a Planning Commission rejection of a $72 million residential development in an industrial area in Harbor City. And despite the fact that these cucarachas know that these contributions made through strawmen were illegal, they have not donated the money to a charity benefitting the Harbor City area.
The Mayor and the City Council have also been very generous to deep pocketed developers of hotels in DTLA, granting almost $1 billion in tax breaks to developments that have handsome rates of return before receiving any subsidies, turning home runs into grand slams. These giveaways fly in the face of the Structural Deficit where the City is trying to come up with enough money and cuts in service to eliminate the projected $250 million deficit in next year’s budget.
Of course, Garcetti is up to his eyeballs with the developer shenanigans in Hollywood (his turf when he was a member of the City Council), starting with the Hollywood Community Plan that was tossed out by a well-respected Superior Court judge in 2013. This plan, and the new one that they are cooking up, would allow developers the freedom to develop luxury high rises, all in the name of transit oriented density, where upper income renters and condo owners will tool to work in their BMW’s rather than relying on slow moving buses or our unsafe subways.
And then there are numerous individual projects in Hollywood where Garcetti has wetted his beak, ranging from the Target development at Sunset and Western, the Spaghetti Factory residential high rise at Sunset and Gordon, and the Millennium, all deals that have experienced judicial reverses because of the shenanigans involved.
We have also seen other luxury high rise developments approved by the City, many of which will adversely congestion and gridlock such as the massive Palladium Residences project that is only two blocks east of gridlocked intersection of Sunset and Vine.
But all these developments have one common element, campaign cash, the ultimate aphrodisiac for politicians.
It is time to put a halt to real estate developers buying the votes of the cucarachas who occupy City Hall, starting with Mayor Garcetti, City Council Herb Wesson, and Jose Huizar, the chair of the Planning and Land Use Management Committee of the City Council.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: [email protected].)