AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s latest court action to stop a proposed development targets real estate projects vetted by Los Angeles Council member Jose Huizar, who faces numerous federal corruption charges.
AHF is suing the city to prevent it from spending money or taking action to “facilitate, review, process, or see to completion” projects that Huizar or former Councilmember Mitch Englander had influence over, according to the Los Angeles Times. Englander pleaded guilty in March to obstructing a corruption investigation involving City Hall, including alleged bribes from developers.
AHF noted that Huizar and Englander violated California law when they weighed in on the real estate projects in question, because both officials had financial stakes in the proposed developments, according to the report.
The now suspended council member was until late 2018 the chairman of the Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee, As the Downtown L.A. council member, he held almost complete power over the fate of proposed development projects in the neighborhood.
Given Huizar’s deep involvement in development proposals, a halt could affect numerous pending and under-construction projects across the city. AHF named four projects in particular but also claimed “it is highly likely that the approvals of other real estate projects are similarly tainted.”
AHF President Michael Weinstein, called for a “top-to-bottom review” of PLUM Committee decisions to determine if they were affected by Huizar’s alleged corruption. AIDS Healthcare has fought numerous development projects and initiatives citywide, and was also a key driver behind the push to expand rent control statewide.
Huizar faces 34 criminal counts related to an alleged $1.5 million pay-to-play scheme, in which developers showered him with money and gifts in exchange for project approval. Huizar this week pleaded not guilty to the charges. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch