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LA developers still spending millions lobbying for major projects

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After a record year, lobbying firms keep raking in funds from developer clients

View looking down on towers
Olympia developer City Century spent $220,000 on lobbying fees in the first three months of 2017.
Courtesy City Century

As new development continues to reshape neighborhoods across Los Angeles, the builders of some of the most ambitious projects spend millions of dollars each year lobbying city officials for their support

A report from the city’s ethics commission, released earlier this month, shows that lobbying firms collected about $13.9 million from clients in the first three months of 2017. Of the ten highest-paying customers, eight were developers, and a ninth—Crespi Carmelite High School—paid lobbyists to advocate for a major campus redevelopment project.

In 2016, lobbyists collected a record-shattering $61.9 million from all clients, and money continued to pour in this year. LA firms made nearly $400,000 more in the first quarter of 2017 than during the same period last year, when pressure was mounting from anti-development groups supporting the Measure S ballot initiative.

What projects are lobbyists pushing for lately? Here are a few that developers have spent the most money on:

6399 Wilshire Boulevard: Construction on this project got started this summer. It will transform an 11-story office building in Beverly Grove into an AC Marriott Hotel with 176 guest rooms. Developer Seaview Investors, LLC paid out $239,960 in lobbying fees for the project.

Olympia: One of the biggest LA projects in the works right now, this three-tower development would add 1,367 units of housing, 20,000 square feet of restaurant space, and 20,000 square feet of commercial space to a site across the street from LA Live. Developer City Century, LLC (a subsidiary of Shanghai-based development firm ShengLong Group) gave lobbyists $220,000 to push for this project and others planned in the Downtown area.

Figueroa and Pico hotel: This Convention Center-adjacent development would bring two towers with 1,100 hotel rooms to the corner of Figueroa Street and Pico Boulevard. It’s developer Lightstone Group’s first LA project and they’ve spent $185,273 on lobbying fees to help carry it forward.

Other projects developers are pushing hard for include a Culver City mixed use project that greatly impressed the city’s planning commissioners, the futuristic Berggruen Institute in the hills of Brentwood, and the continuing operation and possible expansion of AEG’s LA Live complex.