Los Angeles Times Investigates Developer Rick Caruso’s Money Trail

The Los Angeles Times yesterday took a probing look at billionaire developer Rick Caruso’s political donations as he seeks special zoning favors from L.A. City Hall to build a 20-story luxury housing high-rise next to the Beverly Center. The Coalition to Preserve L.A., which sponsors Measure S, first reported about Caruso’s troubling money trail in February.

As the Coalition previously learned, the L.A. Times also found that Rick Caruso “has been a reliable benefactor at Los Angeles City Hall, giving donations big and small to the city’s politicians and their pet causes.”

The L.A.Times wrote that “Caruso, known for the Grove and other shopping destinations, has donated to all but one of the city’s 17 elected officials. His charitable foundation provided $125,000 to a nonprofit set up by Mayor Eric Garcetti. And his companies recently gave $200,000 to the campaign for Measure M, the sales tax hike Garcetti championed in last month’s election.”

The Coalition to Preserve L.A. also sounded the alarm about Rick Caruso’s huge contribution to Garcetti’s non-profit.

In addition, the L.A. Times noted: “Add in money from his employees and his family members, and Caruso-affiliated donors have provided more than $476,000 to the city’s elected officials and their initiatives over the past five years, according to contribution reports.”

The newspaper added: “Now, Caruso wants Garcetti and the council to approve a 20-story residential tower on La Cienega Boulevard, on a site where new buildings are currently limited to a height of 45 feet. Opponents of the project view Caruso’s donations with alarm, saying the steady stream of contributions has undermined their confidence in the city’s planning process.”

Indeed. Rick Caruso’s king-sized political donations is just one example of developers giving major cash to L.A. politicians to get special City Hall favors in backroom deals to build mega-projects in neighborhoods that are usually protected by the city’s zoning rules.

It’s why residents across L.A. know that the city’s planning and land-use system is rigged, broken and unfair. Ordinary people suffer the consequences of City Hall’s backroom deals: more gridlock traffic, ruined neighborhoods and the displacement of longtime residents, including senior citizens on fixed budgets and working- and middle-class Angelenos.

To start the process of reforming L.A.’s broken and rigged system, neighborhood leaders and citizens across L.A. are supporting Measure S, once known as the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. The measure’s sensible reforms return power back to residents so they can have a greater say in how their communities are shaped and developed.

Vote Yes on S on March 7.

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