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Real estate developers give big to L.A. sales tax measure

The developer of a proposed downtown Los Angeles football stadium and the company behind two planned apartment towers in Koreatown have provided roughly two-thirds of the funds for the campaign to pass a half-cent sales tax increase in the March 5 election, according to a report released Thursday.

The committee for Proposition A reported that it had raised $185,000 by Jan. 19, $100,000 of it from stadium developer Anschutz Entertainment Group. The City Council, which is seeking the tax hike to address a $220-million budget shortfall, approved AEG’s proposed stadium last year, which involves the demolition and reconstruction of a section of the city’s Convention Center.

An additional $25,000 came from 3150 Wilshire LLC, a company created by real estate developer J.H. Snyder Co., which is building two residential towers -- one 23 stories and the other 29 -- at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in Koreatown. Two years ago, the city provided $17.5 million in financial assistance for the project, which is located in a district represented by council President Herb Wesson.

Kacy Keys, senior vice president of J.H. Snyder, said she did not know who asked her company to donate. But she lavished praise on Wesson, who launched the sales tax campaign last fall, saying he had been “very helpful” in getting her company’s project in Koreatown off project off the ground.

“I know this [ballot measure] is Herb’s effort and we wish Herb well,” she said.

Wesson was not available to comment.

But Jack Humphreville, who signed the ballot argument opposing the sales tax hike, said big donors to Proposition A had received “special treatment” from Wesson and the council. Making those contributions "is a cheap price for these special interests to pay,” he said.

The city provided a $12.5-million loan for J.H. Snyder's Koreatown development that can be repaid, in part, from new property taxes generated by the project, Keys said. An additional $5-million loan came from the city’s redevelopment agency and does not need to be repaid until the developer sells or refinances, she said. 

Excel Paving, a company that has received city contracts in recent years, gave $25,000. So did Crew Knitwear, a Los Angeles-based apparel company.

A $10,000 donation came from a political action committee representing the California Assn. of Realtors. Real estate groups lobbied successfully last fall to stop Wesson and his colleagues from pursuing a ballot measure that would increase the tax on property sales.

Wesson and his colleagues went with a sales tax hike proposal instead.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

twitter/davidzahniser

 
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