Cumulus project in South Los Angeles

City Hall For Sale: Carmel Partners Spent $545,476 to Win Big Favors From Los Angeles Politicians

In Archive by Patrick Range McDonald

Carmel Partners, a San Francisco-based development firm, wants to be a nationwide, real estate powerhouse, and its proposed mega-projects for Los Angeles are undoubtedly key components to achieve that extremely lucrative goal. Like so many other developers seeking big profits, Carmel Partners has been spreading around the cash at L.A. City Hall — to the tune of $545,476.

Since 2013, Carmel Partners and its representatives have shelled out $4,900 in campaign contributions to L.A. City Council candidates, according to the city’s Ethics Commission. Also since 2013, the developer has spent $540,576 on politically connected City Hall lobbyists, who then woo the City Council, the Mayor’s Office and city agencies for special favors.

Carmel Partners has at least two major projects in L.A. that need serious rule bending from city politicians and bureaucrats.

For the controversial, high-density “Cumulus” project on La Cienega Boulevard near Jefferson Boulevard, Carmel Partners wants City Hall to approve a General Plan amendment, a zone change and height district change, among other things. For another massive project with 600 residential units in the Arts District near the L.A. River, the developer seeks a General Plan amendment and zone change.

Carmel Partners is one of many developers who are looking to cash in on City Hall’s problematic redevelopment of the L.A. River, which is shaping up to be another greedy grab of public land by the rich to make king-sized profits.

That’s how things work in L.A. City Hall’s broken planning and land-use system. Shell out big cash in campaign contributions and lobbying fees to win over city politicians and bureaucrats, and then expect very profitable favors in return.

Since 2000, the real estate industry has contributed at least $6 million to the campaign war chests of L.A. politicians, who then ignore L.A.’s General Plan, which should protect neighborhoods from overdevelopment, and bend the rules for developers by approving zone changes, General Plan amendments and height changes for their mega-projects.

Enough is enough. We need to reform L.A.’s broken planning and land-use system, which is what the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative will do.

In fact, the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. City Council, Mayor Eric Garcetti and numerous neighborhood groups all agree that reform is desperately needed.

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Developers and their politician pals will do anything to defeat our movement and continue their wrong-headed policies. But together, we, the citizens, can create the change that L.A. needs!