Jose Huizar and a rendering of the project (Getty, City Market LA)
A citywide community benefits fund that a developer contributed to is facing scrutiny because it is controlled by the office of disgraced Councilmember Jose Huizar. Federal authorities last month charged the once powerful Los Angeles councilman with racketeering for accepting $1.5 million in bribes from developers in exchange for steering through their projects through.
Now, the City Council could redirect money away from that fund, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The money in question is part of a deal struck with City Market of Los Angeles, developers of the $1 billion City Market mixed-use project in the Fashion District, according to the Los Angeles Times. The local developer agreed to pay $9.8 million toward city community benefits as part of the project’s approval in 2018.
That year, the L.A. City Planning Commission recommended the money go toward affordable housing, transit and street improvements and other services. But a Huizar-led Council committee amended the deal to direct the money to a fund controlled by his district office. At the time, Huizar led the Council’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management committee.
Federal authorities have made no indication that City Market of Los Angeles is accused of any wrongdoing, according to the report.
Last month, Mayor Eric Garcetti vetoed the development agreement but didn’t mention the two-year-old probe into Huizar in his reasoning. A week later, the FBI arrested Huizar.
The federal government alleges that Huizar ran a “criminal enterprise” by accepting lavish bribes and favors from real estate developers who had projects pending before the city. Since the FBI indicted Huizar, several councilmembers signed on to a motion asking the city attorney to review development projects that the Huizar-led committee had approved under, including a $700 million hotel and condo project downtown. (LAT) — Dennis Lynch