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Saturday, Jul 13, 2024


HOWARD FINE Staff Reporter Developers with major projects before the city are dominating lobbying expenditures at City Hall, taking four of the top five slots in first-quarter spending reports filed with the L.A. city Ethics Commission. Among the top-spending developers were Majestic Realty Co., which is building the Staples Center sports arena downtown; TrizecHahn Centers, which is developing the Hollywood & Highland entertainment-retail complex; and JMB Realty Corp., which hopes to develop the 700,000-square-foot Constellation Place project in Century City. “Los Angeles is experiencing a resurgence in large projects,” said Larry Kosmont, whose Kosmont & Associates tracks various developments and city fees around the region. “We’ve not seen this kind of private-sector activity since before the recession; just a few years ago, most of the big projects were in the public sector.” Overall, lobbyists doing business with the city were paid $2.3 million during the first quarter, up from $1.9 million for the like period last year. Lobbyists spent $940,388 during the first quarter on behalf of their clients, down slightly from $1 million for the like period last year. (The reason why lobbyists took in more but spent less than last year may have to do with the fact that they frequently spend money to lobby government officials before they get paid by their clients.) Topping the list are the two major projects that have won city funding: Majestic Realty Co.’s downtown Sports Arena and TrizecHahn Centers’ Hollywood & Highland project. Majestic paid out $99,211 in lobbying fees during the first quarter, mostly to Cerrell & Associates. (Though the sports arena was approved last September with $70 million in city funds, many of the fees were paid out later.) TrizecHahn paid $98,095 in lobbying fees, mostly to law firm Allen, Matkins, Leck, Gamble & Mallory and Marathon Communications, to win redevelopment agency and city approval for $90 million in public funds. Next door to TrizecHahn’s Hollywood & Highland project, Hollywood Orange Land LLC has proposed a 37,451-square-foot, mixed-use commercial project next to Mann’s Chinese Theater. Hollywood Orange Land paid $80,000 in lobbying fees during the first quarter in its attempt to win city approval; last December, the city’s zoning administrator approved the project. Two Westside projects also made the list: Weintraub Financial Services’ proposed 104-unit condominium project on Wishire Boulevard near Westwood and JMB Realty’s proposed 38-story office tower on Constellation Place in Century City. Weintraub paid $51,332 in lobbying fees, while JMB Realty paid $46,468. In the San Fernando Valley, Porter Ranch Development Co. and its main partner, Shapell Industries Inc. racked up $57,599 in lobbying fees in their bid to win approval for a 660,000-square-foot shopping center in the Porter Ranch project area. “This just goes to show that times are flush for real estate developers and their lobbyist friends,” said Walter Prince, land-use chairman for PRIDE, a Northridge-area homeowners’ group opposed to the Porter Ranch project. Developers weren’t the only ones paying high lobbying fees for city-related matters. Multistate Associates Inc. an East Coast lobbying firm that contracts out local lobbying work paid $62,492 during the first quarter on behalf of three national clients: Kelly Staff Leasing (which sought a change in the way city business taxes are calculated); TRW Inc. (for extension of a Police Dept. 911 emergency system contract) and the National Council of Chain Restaurants (to win City Council support for changes to L.A. County’s restaurant inspection ordinance). Also on the list was Bovis Construction, which paid $51,250 in lobbying fees to win an $8 million extension of its contract for construction management services for the seismic retrofitting and rehabilitation of L.A. City Hall. And Golden Eagle Distributing Co., which sells leaf blowers, paid Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro $46,553. The money was spent in an unsuccessful bid to press the L.A. City Council to overturn its leaf-blower ordinance.

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