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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Onni donated $50K to Jose Huizar-tied group before vote on Times Mirror Square

The group supported Richelle Huizar's bid to succeed her husband at City Hall
February 07, 2019 03:00PM

Council member Jose Huizar and a rendering of Onni Group’s Times Mirror Square project

Onni Group donated $50,000 to a campaign committee tied to Los Angeles City Council member Jose Huizar in September, two months before his colleagues approved Onni’s redevelopment of the Times Mirror Square property in Downtown L.A.

The Canadian developer donated the money to Families for a Better Los Angeles, which held at least two fundraisers featuring Huizar last year, according to the Los Angeles Times. Huizar is at the center of an FBI investigation into potential corruption involving City Hall officials and major developers working in the city.

The donation came as Onni was fighting an effort to landmark a 1970s-era building at the complex, which was the long-time home of the L.A. Times newspaper. Onni plans to demolish the building to make way for a 750,000-square-foot mixed-use complex.

The City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee voted against landmarking of the William Pereira-designed building in late November, clearing the path for Onni’s plan. A few weeks later, the full City Council upheld that vote.

By that time, Council President Herb Wesson had removed Huizar as chair of the PLUM Committee, following an FBI raid of Huizar’s home and office.

Huizar sent an aide to testify in support of Onni’s plans for Times Mirror Square, which sits in his district.

Huizar does not appear in paperwork for Families for a Better Los Angeles, but he was involved with raising funds for the committee, donors told the L.A. Times. Some said they donated to support his wife Richelle’s bid to succeed him as Council member for District 14. She dropped that bid in November following the raid.

There is no indication that the donation or Onni Group is of interest to federal investigators, who have stayed mum about the nature of the probe. A search warrant dating from last summer that was made public in January listed a number of City Hall figures, developers, and developments as being of interest to the investigation. [LAT]Dennis Lynch