Report Details Large Scale Lobbying In Los Angeles

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, City News Service

Hollywood skyscrapers, billboard advertising laws and a major development by an entertainment company were among the most-lobbied issues at City Hall during the first three months of the year, according to a report that will be presented Thursday to the city Ethics Commission.

New York-based developer Millennium Partners and Millennium Partners LA shelled out $480,460 on the services of two lobbying firms to promote its proposed 4.47-acre skyscraper project in Hollywood, the most spent by any outside company during the year’s first quarter, according to the report.

The $664 million project, called Millennium Hollywood, could result in 500 residential units and 200 luxury hotel rooms housed in two towers flanking the 13-story Capitol Records building in Hollywood.

NBCUniversal paid two lobbying firms a total of $331,648 for community outreach and advocacy of its $1.6 billion Evolution Plan, which includes upgrades to the company’s film production facilities, improvements to Universal Studios and new office space. The City Council approved a development agreement with NBCUniversal in February.

Billboard company CBS Outdoor paid $205,513 to lobbyists to advocate for their interests in outdoor advertising regulation, according to the report. City officials have been discussing new legislation for handling digital billboards. Another outdoor advertising company, Clear Channel Outdoor, paid at least $121,451 on lobbyists at City Hall.

In April, CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel were ordered by a Superior Court judge to turn off nearly 100 digital billboards that were part of an invalidated 2009 settlement agreement with the city.

Meanwhile, Summit Media, a billboard company that challenged the settlement in court and was not allowed to put up digital signs, also retained lobbyists, spending $85,108 during the three-month period.

According to the ethics report, outside groups spent a total of $9.6 million on lobbyist services from January through March.

Other outside groups paying top dollar for City Hall lobbying included:

—McCormack Baron Salazar, which has affordable housing projects in Highland Park and Taylor Yard;

—Tower Lane Properties Inc., for permit processing on the Tower Lane property in Benedict, Canyon;

—Champion Real Estate Co., for the Highland Selma Venture Project and the Hollywood Cherokee Apartments;

—Target Corp., for approvals on a property at 5520 Sunset Blvd; and

—JMB Realty Corp., for the 37-story Century City Center dining and retail, office space, residential and transit plaza project.

All of the top lobbying clients have development projects they want approved by city leaders.

The top 10 clients of lobbyists listed in the report made up 16 percent, or $1.5 million, of the total spent. Some of the high-profile clients that did not make the list include:

—AEG, which spent $132,836 on two lobbyist firms, one of which was handling LA Live projects;

—USC, which spent $38,994 and recently signed an agreement with the city for the $1 billion University Village, a residential and retail project on a 12-acre property near the school; and

—BNSF Railway Co., which recently received council approval for a near-dock rail yard project, the Southern California International Gateway, and paid $20,000 to a lobbyist.

Lobbyists also raised $189,923 for city elected officials and candidates running for mayor, controller, attorney and council seats in the March 5 and May 21 city elections, according to the report. Lobbying firms also served as conduits for $50,134 in political contributions.

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June 13, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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