In the wake of their colleague Jose Huizar’s corruption indictment, Los Angeles city councilmembers are mulling changes to the development and approval process.
Council President Nury Martinez introduced three motions to “close loopholes that corrupt individuals might use to their advantage,” according to Commercial Observer.
A federal grand jury indicted Huizar on 34 counts related to what prosecutors allege was a pay-to-play scheme he ran through his position as councilmember for Downtown L.A. and chairman of the council’s powerful planning and land use committee.
Prosecutors allege Huizar accepted $1.5 million in cash and gifts from four developers in exchange for favorable treatment throughout the council review process. Huizar’s positions gave his input on developments arguably more weight than any other councilmember.
Councilmember Mitch Englander was also charged and pleaded guilty to obstructing a public corruption investigation in relation to the Huizar probe.
Huizar pled not guilty. His trial is set for June 2021.
One of Martinez’ motions would introduce a ballot measure that would direct the city to update its zoning code to limit the entitlements that developers can request beyond what is allowed by as-of-right zoning, according to the Commercial Observer.
L.A.’s outdated zoning code means a large portion of projects require entitlements. It’s become common for developers to seek — and receive approval for — entitlements far beyond what is allowed by zoning.
Another motion would send “high-value” development proposals from the City Planning Commission directly to the City Council for consideration, instead of first going to the PLUM Committee.
A third motion would require contact between developers and city council offices to be made part of the public record. [Urbanize] — Dennis Lynch