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City Hall For Sale: CIM Group Spent $2.6 Million to Woo LA Pols and Bureaucrats

In Archive by Patrick Range McDonald

Perhaps more than most developers, CIM Group, an outfit that’s widely known for its aggressive, “shock-and-awe” tactics to complete deals, knows how to get results at L.A. City Hall. Take, for example, the time that City Council members unanimously approved a $30-million loan for CIM Group in 2009, even though it was strongly opposed by City Hall watchdogs and the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board.

To get that kind of big favor from City Hall, developers must shell out major cash in campaign contributions and lobbyist fees, and that’s exactly what CIM Group has done over the years. Between 2001 and 2016, the development firm has spent an eye-popping total of $2,643,905 to win over local politicians and city bureaucrats.

CIM Group’s projects have included the controversial Sunset & Gordon residential tower in Hollywood; the $30-million loan to retrofit the former Kodak Theater on Hollywood Boulevard for the coming of Cirque du Soleil, which then abruptly ended its run there after disappointing ticket sales; and one of the largest mixed-use developments in Silver Lake in recent years on the corner of Silver Lake Boulevard and Bellevue Avenue.

Since 2001, CIM group founders Richard Ressler, Shaul Kuba and Avi Shemesh and their employees have contributed $26,444 to the campaign war chests of L.A. pols, according to the city’s Ethics Commission. Additionally, CIM Group spent $2,617,461 on lobbyists to curry favor with council members and city agencies, according to the Ethics Commission.

That spreading around of cash has helped CIM Group grow into a “mega-developer” with $20.5 billion in assets.

That’s what happens with L.A.’s rigged and broken development-approval system. Developers grease the palms of local politicians, who then bend land-use rules for developers so they can become filthy rich.

In the meantime, citizens pay the price in the long run — luxury mega-projects cause gridlock traffic, create the displacement of longtime, lower-income residents and ruin neighborhood character and livability.

We can change that with the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which seeks to rein in developer control of City Hall and give citizens more say in how their communities are developed and shaped. The measure will appear on the March 2017 ballot.

Join our community-based movement by clicking to our Act page right now, and by following and cheering our efforts on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. You can also send us an email at [email protected] for more information.

With billions of dollars on the line, developers will do anything to defeat the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. But together, we, the citizens, can create the change that L.A. needs!