Corruption Is Behind Rick Caruso’s Tower, Residents Say

UPDATE: In a rare flipflop prompted by pressure from the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (Measure S) to halt backroom favors granted to developers who shower City Hall with cash, City Council members Paul Koretz now opposes Rick Caruso’s tower near Beverly Center as “too tall.”

Our campaign has published endless stories about the river of money and lobbying, wining and dining that flows to City Hall elected leaders from developers including Caruso. After giving, wealthy developers are routinely granted dramatic favors to bend LA’s zoning rules to the point of breaking.

Koretz last night backed away from his support for the many City Hall favors that let Caruso’s get around sensible zoning. Caruso’s massive structure would tower over the community of Beverly Grove and Cedars-Sinai Hospital and cripple traffic on the badly jammed intersection.

Billionaire developer Rick Caruso came under more fire on Thursday for his controversial plan to build a 20-story luxury housing tower on a traffic-jammed intersection across from the Beverly Center. At a press conference at the proposed site, nearby residents denounced Caruso’s high-rise and soft corruption at L.A. City Hall.

“Today we are calling on elected officials of Los Angeles to immediately cease the pay-to-play policies of spot zoning that have become so pervasive in our city,” said Keith Nakata.

The press conference (watch the video below) comes a day after an explosive Los Angeles Times story looked into Rick Caruso’s king-sized contributions to L.A. City Hall elected officials, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in political money from Caruso and his associates.

While doling out the big bucks, Caruso has been seeking special spot zoning favors from L.A. politicians so he can build a 20-story luxury tower on the gridlocked corner of La Cienega and San Vicente boulevards in a neighborhood that does not allow the construction of such a tall building under city zoning rules.

Rick Caruso’s glitzy high-rise, known as “333 La Cienega,” will be more than two times the height of the Beverly Center.

The Beverly Wilshire Homes Association also released a statement yesterday, noting that the “current system for obtaining those zone changes is a ‘pay to play’ scheme of campaign contributions and donations to elected officials’ pet funds.”

It added that Caruso’s mega-project “violates existing height limits. This project, if approved, would set a precedent that could open the door for other developers to request the same entitlements.”

The Coalition to Preserve L.A., the sponsor of Measure S, has been sounding the alarm about Caruso’s luxury tower since last February, reporting that the developer has personally given ten of thousands in campaign money to numerous L.A. politicians.

Rick Caruso’s spreading around of cash at L.A. City Hall to get what he wants is an all-too-common practice among developers — they and other major players in the real estate industry have shelled out at least $6 million in campaign contributions to L.A. politicians since 2000.

It’s why neighborhood leaders across Los Angeles support Measure S, which seeks to reform the city’s broken, rigged and unfair planning and land-use system.

Vote Yes on S on March 7.

 


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