FROM David Zahniser
Secret deals between LA neighborhood groups and developers When developers want to build something in LA, often they have to set aside a slush fund for neighborhood groups. That money is paid out to these groups to buy their support. But where does the money go?
Shady campaign money with ties to a big developer Sea Breeze is a $72 million apartment complex planned near the Port of L.A. Last year, city council members unanimously approved it with no discussion. They went against the recommendation of their own planning commission. Now the LA Times has found hundreds of campaign donations from people connected to the developer totalling more than $600,000 to local politicians. But some of those contributors had no idea they’d donated to these politicians, raising the specter that the developer made the contributions in their name without their knowledge.
L.A. OKs Controversial Hollywood Development The L.A. City Council has approved the much fought-over Palladium development project in Hollywood to move forward. The two mixed-use towers could rise as tall as 30 stories over Sunset Boulevard behind the Hollywood Palladium. The project has been at the heart of a big fight over density in L.A. What happens now that it has the go-ahead from the council?
Trash Poses a Threat in El Niño El Niño is here. The first in what’s expected to be a series of rainstorms hit early this morning. The rest of the week is supposed to be even wetter. That could mean hazards like slick roads and mud flows … and trash. L.A. has struggled for years to manage its massive amount of roadside garbage. Now it’s more than an eyesore; it’s also safety threat. Photo by Stephen Conn
The Mobility Plan Gets Another Look at LA City Hall Several projects approved by the LA City Council have recently been stopped by lawsuits — after they were already under way. They include a 22-story apartment building, a Target shopping center and two skyscrapers called the Millennium Towers. Now the Council may rescind, revise and re-enact its controversial Mobility Plan 2035 , in hopes of preventing the same thing from happening again.
L.A.'s New Transportation Plan The Los Angeles City Council is on the verge of approving a transportation plan called 'Mobility Plan 2035.' It's supposed to get people out of their cars and cut traffic over the next 20 years. But opponents say the plan could backfire and end up increasing traffic.
Outgoing L.A. City Council Members A new era begins this week for the L.A. City Council: the two newest LA Council members take their seats, replacing two of the oldest. David Ryu and Marqueece Harris-Dawson take over for Tom LaBonge and Bernard Parks, who are both retiring after more than 40 years in city government. It’s hard to think of two more different politicians: LaBonge, the genial team player and Parks, the sharp contrarian. What are their legacies? And what’s in store at city hall after they’re gone?
It's Time for Los Angeles to Clean Up Its Act Los Angeles has 1000 trashcans to cover 502 square miles. San Francisco has three times as many receptacles for one-tenth the space. Maybe that's one reason LA is getting an international image for "a constant state of uncleanliness." City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana commissioned a 47-page study he wants to result in a sweeping overhaul of efforts to combat illegal dumping — from litter to furniture to construction waste. You can share your photos of how trashed — or how tidy — your neighborhood is using the hashtag " Curb Trash LA ."
Boosting Turnout in LA Elections Voters in Los Angeles County will head to the polls on Tuesday. They’re set to cast ballots for City Council, School Board and Community College District Board members. And then there are also a couple of charter amendments that would change when we hold local elections, with the goal of boosting voter turnout.
Outside Money in Local Elections Angelenos hopefully know there’s an election next week. Seven city council seats and three school board seats are up for grabs, and a couple of charter amendments are on the ballot that would move election day to line up with state and national timelines -- a move intended to increase voter turnout. Last time, the rate was just 23 percent of registered voters. Special interests, on the other hand, are clamoring to get involved in the election. From a billboard company to an apparel manufacturer, firefighters and labor groups, money is flowing into these campaigns. What do all these outside parties want?
L.A. City Council Salaries Candidates campaigning for L.A. city council seats have been criticizing councilmembers’ high salaries. Councilmembers are the best-paid in the nation compared with other big cities. They make a minimum of $184,610 per year. That’s more than the governor. More than members of Congress. And almost twice as much as California state lawmakers. At the same time, the city has a budget crunch, and mayor Eric Garcetti -- who makes more than $235,000 a year -- is negotiating with unions to put off pay raises, have workers pay part of their healthcare premiums, and reduce pensions.
LA’s Trashy Streets The end of the year brings a time of renewal. Out with the old, in with the new! And apparently, a lot of Angelenos are taking that to heart. Our streets and sidewalks are regularly littered with furniture, televisions, mattresses and other discarded items. The city’s trash problem has gotten so bad in recent years, officials say it’s damaging L.A.’s “brand.” We hear from one reporter who’s looked into why our garbage is piling up, and what the city is doing about it.
The Pros and Cons of Hotel Subsidies in LA Today the LA City Council took another step in approving subsidies for a major hotel development project downtown. The Frank Gehry designed Grand Avenue Project will bring housing restaurants and a 4 star hotel to a site across from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The developer would be allowed to pocket at least $140 million in hotel tax revenues over the next 25 years, and the Council could pave the way for future hotels to keep millions in tax revenue as well. Dave Zahniser is a staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times.
Downtown Tax Breaks The Los Angeles City Council is considering giving 180 million dollars in tax breaks to two luxury high-rise developments downtown, even-though big-name developers and investors are already backing the projects.
Hollywood NIMBYs The city council has to pay out nearly $2 million in legal fees to three Hollywood neighborhood groups. This after a legal fight over new density zoning rules went in favor of the groups. And it turns out there’s almost always one lawyer behind all these fights.
What does the Paris terrorist attack mean for Europe? There was another terrorist attack in Paris Thursday. A police officer was killed, two other officers were wounded, and the shooter was killed. Officials are calling the attack terrorism. There have been more than a half dozen terrorist attacks in France over the past two years.
Trump cuts protections for ICE detainees, and Alaska saves Obamacare With the crackdown on illegal immigration, jail space is becoming harder to find. So the Trump administration is cutting back some of the regulations on immigrant detention centers. Also, when it comes to healthcare, Alaska’s insurance marketplace was on the brink of implosion until the state came up with a plan to save Obamacare.
Elif Batuman: The Idiot Selin, the heroine of Batuman’s autobiographical first novel, The Idiot, is an 18-year-old Harvard freshman of Turkish-American descent. Set in 1995, the novel observes the rise of internet culture.
North Korea tests more missiles, Turkey's president gains more power Early Tuesday morning, North Korea tested another intercontinental ballistic missile. It blew up shortly after take-off. But North Korea keeps working on a nuclear missile that could reach the U.S. Also in Turkey, a close vote has given sweeping new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey is an important Western ally in the region, but its leader is becoming increasingly authoritarian.