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Lobby

Lobby/15 inches/LK1st/mark2nd By ELIZABETH HAYES Staff Reporter It was a banner quarter for lobbyists. Sixty-three lobbying firms received $3.1 million in fees during the third quarter of 1998 the highest amount ever reported during a single calendar quarter in the city of Los Angeles, according to the city Ethics Commission. The number of registered lobbyists 170 also hit a new high since the city’s lobbying ordinance was amended in 1994, as did the number of clients, at 547. Lobbying expenditures amounted to $1.4 million during the quarter, which spanned the period from July 1 through Sept. 30. Keystone Towing topped the list, paying two lobbying firms $170,000 for work relating to the transfer of its official police garage franchise. Keystone, one of various towing companies that contract with the city, is being acquired by United Road Services, and it wants to transfer its franchise to the new owner. In keeping with an ongoing trend, half of the top 10 spenders were real estate developers. “The economy, particularly the real estate economy, has been fairly strong, so a number (of lobbying efforts) are real estate driven,” said Richard Lichtenstein, president of the L.A. political consulting firm Marathon Communications, which received $60,000 in lobbying fees in the third quarter from a pair of major developers. TrizecHahn Centers Inc. paid $151,266 to five firms for work related to its $385 million retail-entertainment project in Hollywood. The firms were Marathon, Allen, Matkins, Leck, Gamble & Mallory, McCarty Co., Planning Company Associates Inc., and Roger K. Van Wert. Hollywood Orange Land LLC spent $79,380 in lobbying fees related to its proposed 37,451-square-foot mixed-use commercial project on Hollywood Boulevard, next to the Mann’s Chinese Theatre. That project includes an Imax-type theater, restaurant and retail. The original plans required that 126 of the project’s 136 parking spaces be provided at an off-site property owned by Hollywood Orange. But the Community Redevelopment Agency wants to acquire that parcel for the TrizecHahn project. Hollywood Orange, as a result, is seeking to satisfy the parking condition in TrizecHahn’s subterranean parking structure. Regent Properties, which has commercial projects in Westwood, Hollywood and West Hills, also was a big spender, at $72,468. Two other familiar names from past lobbying reports were among the top 10. JMB Realty Corp., which spent $71,908, plans to develop a 38-story office tower on Constellation Place in Century City. The City Council approved the project in June. And Porter Ranch Development Co., which is developing a shopping center in the San Fernando Valley, spent $71,518 on lobbying fees. Originally approved by the city in 1990, the project had entailed a 6 million-square-foot regional center with offices, hotel and retail space. But the developer has sought instead to build a community shopping center. Residents oppose the change. Charter Reform also appeared as a major lobbying issue. Los Angeles Business Advisors, a group of corporate executives, has objected to creating elected neighborhood councils vested with decision-making authority. The group paid Cerrell Associates Inc. $84,022 to lobby on its behalf. “People are finding it necessary to have lobbyists dealing with bureaucracy and elected officials,” said the firm’s chief executive, Joe Cerrell.

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