LA’s push to control developer donations advances

A ban would start for a developer when a project application is submitted, and last until a year after its approval

Los Angeles City hall and Councilman David Ryu
Los Angeles City hall and Councilman David Ryu

Los Angeles officials advanced the plan to restrict real estate developers — or anyone seeking the city’s approval for a building project — from making political donations. The move comes amid continuing scrutiny of real estate’s role in city politics, and follows last fall’s FBI raid of City Council Jose Huizar amid pay-to-play allegations.

A City Council committee this week asked the city attorney to draft versions of a ban on such contributions, the Los Angeles Times reported. When complete, the full Council will consider giving final approval.

The ban would start for a developer when an application is submitted, and it would last until a year after the project has been approved. Councilman David Ryu, who proposed the ban, also recommended a similar halt to contributions from other potential donors. Those would include property owners who want city approval for projects that would add more than 4,000 square feet of residential space or 15,000 square feet of commercial space.

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Proposed rules from the Ethics Commission would also ban donations from businesses, and only allow individuals to donate. But that would require voter approval.

Both proposals forwarded to the Council would also restrict “behested payments,” which are contributions for charitable or governmental causes that were solicited by politicians, according to the Times.

The proposed ban is not new, but it gained new life after FBI agents raided Huizar’s offices in November. No charges have been filed related to the investigation, but a commissioner of the Board of Public Works later resigned. [LAT]Gregory Cornfield