San Fernando Valley Business Journal

L.A. Councilmembers Propose Ban on Developer Contributions

By Business Journal Staff Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Three L.A. city councilmembers on Tuesday proposed banning contributions to council campaigns from developers with projects currently or recently before the city.

The motion introduced by councilmembers David Ryu, Joe Buscaino and Paul Krekorian also would consider whether to expand the city’s definition of developer to include building contractors and subcontractors. Both Ryu and Krekorian represent Valley districts on the Council.

The motion comes after a controversy involving mall developer Rick Caruso, whose company owns the Americana at Brand in Glendale and the Commons at Calabasas. The developer is seeking Council approval of a 20-story residential tower near the Beverly Center.

“The best way to restore trust in government is to avoid even the appearance of a conflict,” Ryu said in a statement. “By introducing sweeping reforms, we will work to restore Angelenos’ faith in the city’s ability to fairly review and approve major development projects. We need a campaign finance system that limits the influence of big-pocketed developers, and instead empowers thousands of small donors to have their voices heard.”

Ryu ran for council two years ago on a platform of not accepting contributions from developers.

News of the proposed ban on developer contributions was welcomed by proponents of Measure S, the “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative” on the March 7 ballot.

“The motion by several City Council members this morning is nothing short of a guilty plea about City Hall’s corrupt backroom deals to help developers continually ignore our zoning laws and build as big and as tall as they wish,” Measure S campaign director Jill Stewart said in a statement.

But Stewart called the reforms only a “quarter loaf.” In the same statement, she called for a ban on developers contributing money to lobbyists and a ban on developers making contributions to officeholder account funds set up by councilmembers.