Lobbyists trying to influence Los Angeles city officials are enjoying another lucrative year, a new report from the Los Angeles Ethics Commission shows. The more than 400 lobbyists and lobbying firms registered with the city have raked in more than $13.5 million in the first three months of 2016.
Clients of nine of the 10 top highest paid lobbying firms were developers trying too woo support for for ambitious and, sometimes, controversial projects, the report shows.
(Lobbyists and lobbying firms are required to register with the ethics commission each year, and every quarter, they have to file reports disclosing how much they were paid, and by whom, each city agency they attempted to influence, services provided, and the projects they're working on).
As KPCC notes, the amount reported so far this year is not quite as much as the $14 million earned by firms in the final quarter of 2015—but it does put the city on pace to spend more on lobbying in 2016 than in any previous year.
As construction spending soars to levels not seen in decades, so does the cost of trying to sway city officials. Below is a list of the five projects developers are spending the most money lobbying for so far this year.
Project: Crossroads of the World complex
Amount Paid: $220,660
What’s going on: This massive project would completely revamp Hollywood’s historic Crossroads of the World complex, adding eight new buildings including a hotel and two residential towers. It was the most-lobbied project during the first quarter of 2016 by a pretty wide margin.
Project: Palladium Towers
Amount Paid: $198,566
What’s going on: This project would give the Hollywood Palladium a makeover and add pair of mixed-use residential towers next door. It’s been incredibly controversial from the get-go and plans for the project served as an inciting spark for the fiercely anti-development Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. For now, all the lobbying seems to have paid off; in March, the city council approved height district and zoning changes needed to allow the project to continue.
Project: 8150 Sunset Boulevard
Amount Paid: $166,715
What’s going on: In 2015, Frank Gehry signed on to help redevelop the former site of the famous Garden of Allah on the Sunset Strip. Gehry was brought in after residents cried foul over initial plans for the project, and it seems developer Townscape Partners is sparing no expense to make sure the new plans won’t have to be scrapped as well.
Project: Alexan South Broadway
Amount Paid: $132,006
What’s going on: The Alexan South Broadway is actually planned for the northeast corner of Hill and Ninth Streets and will bring 305 luxury apartments to Downtown—some of them as small as 400 square feet. Residents of the neighboring Eastern Columbia Building, however, are worried that the tower will block views of that building’s iconic clock and have started a petition to halt the project. Fighting against that kind of local resistance can be pricey.
Project: MLS Stadium
Amount Paid: $126,696
What’s going on: Demolition will soon begin on The Los Angeles Sports Arena, and replacing it will be a 22,000-seat stadium for the brand new Los Angeles Football Club (who are using the word "football" to describe what Americans usually refer to as soccer). With a strict timeline in place (the team expects the stadium will be complete by 2018), lobbying fees will likely help to ensure the project stays on schedule.
- Developers, billboard companies on record lobbying pace in LA [KPCC]
- Construction Spending in LA Could Hit $7 Billion by the End of the Year [Curbed LA]
- Proposed Ballot Measure Seeks to 'Preserve' an Outdated Version of Los Angeles [Curbed LA]