A developer wants to build a building that’s taller than the local zoning allows, or has less parking than required. Maybe there are pesky historical structures on the proposed site or the new building will attract enough additional traffic to gridlock the streets around it. There are any number of reasons why a given building might not be allowed. It’ll still get built, though.
The developer will just have to pay hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars to the appropriate councilmember to get it approved. And these payments are inextricably integrated into our City’s building approval process. One might even suspect, and not without reason, that the ultimate purpose of zoning codes in Los Angeles is to induce developers to pay for exceptions to them.
And it’s not bribery, at least not the illegal kind. The CM doesn’t get to pocket the money. Instead it goes into one of the dozens of City trust funds set up specifically for receiving such monies. Just for instance, Mitch O’Farrell, CD13 repster, has one called the “Council District 13 Public Benefits Trust Fund.” It’s authorized by the Los Angeles Administrative Code at §5.414 ” for the receipt, retention and disbursement of gifts, contributions and bequests for the support of police and community activities within Council District 13.”
The fees are imposed on developers by the City Council at the behest of the relevant CM. To see an example of how this works take a look at CF 07-1379, wherein some developers sought permission to build another mixed-use monstrosity in Hollywood, this one at 1540 N. Vine Street.1 The developers got what they came for, which was Ordinance Number 178,836, authorizing construction. And in there, buried among other conditions, will be found paragraphs 26 and 27, stating how much money they’re going to give to Mitch O’Farrell in exchange for their zoning changes:
Continue reading A Detailed Analysis Of The Cash Flowing In And Out Of Mitch O’Farrell’s Public Benefits Slush Fund — Developers Pay Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars For The Privilege Of Building Out-Of-Code Projects — O’Farrell Spends The Money On Projects That Please His Political Supporters — It Seems Unlikely That There’s Any Net Benefit To Anyone But Zillionaires — This Is No Way To Run A City