Sea Breeze developer

Los Angeles Times Exposes How Sea Breeze Developer Used Campaign Cash to Get City Hall Favors

In Archive by Patrick Range McDonald

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times published a damning, in-depth report about Sea Breeze developer Samuel Leung and his associates who greased L.A.’s rigged development approval system with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions that benefited City Council members and Mayor Eric Garcetti. He sought City Hall favors for a 352-unit residential mega-project known as “Sea Breeze” that the City Planning Commission had rejected.

The L.A. Times pulled out all the stops — six reporters worked on the story, flashy graphics are featured on the website and a data base was created that provides more information about the contributions. It’s the kind of hard-hitting, fact-driven, eye-opening news feature that should prompt an investigation by the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office corruption unit.

We strongly recommend reading the article about the Sea Breeze developer, titled “A $72-million apartment project. Top politicians. Unlikely donors. Who wrote the checks to elected officials weighing approval?”

Now, the Coalition to Preserve L.A. and its supporters aren’t surprised by the L.A. Times’ Sunday bombshell. In fact, we believe the paper should have been covering soft corruption among developers and City Hall politicians much sooner.

Because for months, week after week, our citizens’ movement has rolled out the hard facts about the millions of dollars deep-pocketed developers spend on campaign contributions, slush funds, officeholder accounts and politically connected lobbyists as they seek profitable spot-zoning favors for mega-projects that end up destroying neighborhood character, creating gridlock traffic and causing wide displacement of lower-income and middle-class Angelenos.

By the way, our opposing campaign that’s funded by billionaire developers never, ever mentions the obvious influence peddling that’s going on at City Hall. Neither do the developers’ apologists. It’s as if developers never seek to change city zoning rules and manipulate a broken planning and land-use system that favors the fat cats over ordinary people.

But the Times report shows that’s obviously case, and we’ve published numerous stories that offer proof as well. This is not just one bad-apple developer doing something shady while everyone else plays by the rules. To wit:

  1. NoHo West in North Hollywood, where developers spent hundreds of thousands in campaign and lobbyist cash to get City Hall favors for a luxury housing mega-project;
  2. The same goes for the Westside luxury housing mega-project known as Martin Expo Town Center;
  3. And there’s the luxury skyscraper in Koreatown that Mayor Eric Garcetti pushed through against the wishes of the City Planning Commission;
  4. There’s also the Cumulus luxury housing mega-project in South L.A. — the developers again spent hundreds of thousands in campaign and lobbyists money to get profitable spot-zoning favors from City Hall;
  5. And there’s billionaire developer Rick Caruso and his luxury housing skyscraper known as “333 La Cienega.”

As one can see, developer’s seeking spot-zoning favors from the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti is happening across Los Angeles — and developers are raking in millions upon millions in the process while longtime residents get displaced, streets get more clogged with traffic and neighborhoods get ruined.

It’s why a citywide solution that’s the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative is desperately needed — developers and L.A. politicians need to be reined in and the playing field needs to be leveled.

Read about the Sea Breeze developer in the L.A. Times and check out its database. It’s all there, and you’ll see — L.A.’s broken and rigged planning and land-use system must be reformed.

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