A Sacramento lawyer is challenging the $1.2 billion One Beverly Hills condo and hotel project, claiming that ex-Mayor Barry Brucker violated ethics policies by lobbying on behalf of the project’s Chinese development firm, the Wanda Group.
Attorney Gary Winuk made the accusations in a letter to public officials, the Los Angeles Times reported. He is threatening to sue to stop the project.
“Having former public officials be compensated to continue work on a project they voted for is unconscionable,” he wrote.
Winuk said that he was writing on behalf of himself and other “individual City of Beverly Hills residents.”
When Brucker was mayor of Beverly Hills in 2008, he voted to approve the hotel and condo development at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard, when it was under a different ownership. Two years after he left City Council, he registered as a lobbyist for the project, now owned by Wanda Group.
Brucker resigned as a lobbyist for Wanda last month, after his involvement was discussed at a council meeting.
He told the Times that he did not think One Beverly Hills was subject to the lobbying rule, since the ownership and project details at 9900 Wilshire changed three times since he voted.
Wanda spokesman Eric Rose said he’s suspicious of the “ridiculous” letter and suggested that it was driven by the opponents of One Beverly Hills.
“We find it highly suspect when a letter from an attorney in Sacramento, who is refusing to identify his client, sends a letter that is both factually and legally incorrect against the only major development project in Beverly Hills that is following the City’s environmental review process,” he said in a statement.
One Beverly Hills, which calls for a 134-room boutique hotel and 193 luxury condos, is one of two major projects in the Beverly Hills pipeline. Next door, hotelier Beny Alagem’s Beverly Hilton hotel is in the planning stages and his Waldorf Astoria is already under construction.
Beverly Hills City Atty. Laurence Wiener told the Times that even if Winuk’s claims are substantiated, they would not “bring the whole process to a screeching halt.” He added that ultimately, the fate of the project will be up to City Council. [LAT] — Cathaleen Chen