Under intense scrutiny by the FBI, powerful City Councilmember Jose Huizar has been stripped of his chairmanship of the city’s controversial “PLUM” Committee, whose members take large donations from developers and then grant those same developers large financial favors.
The inappropriate backroom deals enrich developers and substantially fatten their bottom lines, by granting developers exemptions from land-use rules to build far bigger and taller buildings than the zoning allows.
“We’re glad to see Jose Huizar placed on the sidelines while the authorities pore over thousands of pages of documents seized at his home and various city offices,” said Jill Stewart, executive director of Coalition to Preserve LA. “We hope the FBI takes a close look at pay-to-play within the PLUM Committee and on the entire City Council. Luxury housing developers today use L.A. as a giant playground of massive profits, displacing people and ruining the environment.”
The Coalition issued a March 2017 study of the “pay-to-play” system and found developers are showering City Council members with cash, and then get to “play” a closed-door game with city officials, manipulating the land use rules. Read the report here, at the Coalition to Preserve LA website.
In private meetings, the study found, City Council members help developers find ways to get around zoning rules to erect massive buildings — mostly luxury housing — even while accepting cash from the same developers, for their political campaigns.
The study is titled, “Pay to Play in the City of Los Angeles: Money Goes in, Favors Go Out, We all Pay the Price: Who do L.A. City Leaders Work For?” It found that closed meetings go on for months between developers, City Council members, their own personal staffs, and Department of City Planning staff. Then, a “news” story is released to the public and Neighborhood Councils, announcing a “new development” proposal.
“In fact, the public is informed when the development deal is all but done,” said Stewart. “Communities are forced into an adversarial role by this non-transparent, money-driven, sleight-of-hand by the City Council. And the PLUM Committee plays a key role.”[Photo: Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar was stripped of his power on the land-use committee amidst an FBI investigation. Photo Credit by Charlie Kaijo]