DROPPED: A two-decade development feud in Malibu came to an abrupt close when developer Trancas PCH dropped its lawsuit against the city. The developer had planned to build more than 50 condos and a dozen houses on 35 acres of undeveloped land near Trancas Canyon Road; it had obtained tentative approvals for the development from Los Angeles County in 1984. But when Malibu was incorporated in 1991, the city became responsible for its own land-use permits and never gave Trancas the green light. Malibu’s City Council officially disapproved the subdivision in 2003. Trancas filed suit against the city, challenging that decision, and sought to force Malibu to accept the 1984 approval by the county. Now that Trancas has dropped the lawsuit, that county subdivision approval is effectively dead.
LIT UP: Michael Hayden’s critically acclaimed 270-foot light sculpture “Generators of the Cylinder” has been relit in downtown L.A.’s Jewelry District after sitting dark since 2008. Hayden, who became a household name when he created a now-iconic neon sculpture in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, created “Cylinders” to be used with a hidden computer and infrared sensors that reflect the movements of people walking by, turning them into rainbow swirls of light. For its resurrection, the building’s co-owners hired Michael Grosswendt of All Coast Construction. Grosswendt selected specialty fabricator Damion Gardner of Damion Gardner Designs to disassemble, clean and reassemble Hayden’s work.
INVESTED: Google Inc. and Fidelity Investments have invested $1 billion in Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., giving them a combined stake of almost 10 percent. The funding bumped SpaceX’s valuation up to $10 billion, and will allow the Hawthorne rocket maker to continue its research on space transport, reusability and satellite manufacturing. Investing in SpaceX brings Google closer to its goal of providing Internet access to remote areas. The tech giant already has Project Loon, a network of balloons designed to connect people to the Web in hard-to-reach areas of the world.
BANKRUPT: Wet Seal Inc., a Foothill Ranch clothing chain, could not catch a break even after shuttering 338 shops, and has filed for bankruptcy. West L.A. investment bank B. Riley Financial Inc. has reached an agreement to provide $20 million in debtor-in-possession financing to the embattled teen retailer. Wet Seal closed most of its stores during a rough business environment for shopping malls, where most of its stores are located. The company still operates 173 stores in 43 states. B. Riley has agreed to provide a $20 million term loan, including a $5 million block to be made available at closing, to help fund the company’s operations during bankruptcy proceedings.
COMPETITION: The Los Angeles Taxicab Commission has passed a measure that will require taxicab drivers in Los Angeles to use mobile apps similar to Uber and Lyft by this summer. The order requires every driver and cab to sign in to a city-certified “e-hail” app by Aug. 20 or face fines of $200 a day. The number of passengers picked up by L.A. taxis dropped steeply in 2014 as ride-hailing apps became the go-to for many residents looking for a quick lift.
SHUT DOWN: City of Industry drug and supplement manufacturer Health One Pharmaceuticals Inc. has been closed after allegations brought by the Food and Drug Administration that it sold unapproved drugs, as well as supplements that were prepared, packed or held under conditions that did not meet regulations. The shutdown was part of a consent decree reached with the Department of Justice under which Health One has been barred from operating until the company takes a number of steps to improve its compliance with federal law. In a statement, the Department of Justice said the company’s president, Richard S. Yeh, had agreed to shut down the business.
INFLATED: An audit conducted as part of Ontario’s legal battle to gain control of LA-Ontario International Airport, operated by Los Angeles World Airports since 1967, found that the city of L.A.’s asking price is at least $181 million higher than the airport’s worth. L.A. officials are asking $400 million for what they say is an asset, but an audit of airport financial records, conducted by accounting firm Ernst & Young, indicates that LAWA has invested much less than what it claimed.
CASHIERED: Joel Barry Gillis, 74, president of Nationwide Automated Systems Inc., pleaded guilty last week to perpetrating a 13-year Ponzi scheme that defrauded nearly 2,000 investors of more than $100 million. His partner in the scheme, Edward Wishner, the company’s 76-year-old vice president, pled the week before. The government said the pair enticed investors to pay about $12,000 each to buy an ATM, leasing the machine back to NASI in return for a payment of 50 cents for each transaction the unit processed. In fact, prosecutors said, only a few of the ATMs existed; payments to early investors were made not from transaction proceeds but from ATM purchases by later investors. The men each face up to 80 years in prison.
UNSPOOLED: DreamWorks Animation SKG last week announced the departure of two top executives and the impending layoff of 500 employees after more struggles at the box office. In a regulatory filing, the Glendale studio said the downsizing will force it to take a pretax restructuring charge of $290 million. It also said Chief Operating Officer Mark Zoradi and Chief Marketing Officer Dawn Taubin will leave the company by March 31. The company’s vice chairman, Lewis Coleman, will leave the board by Jan. 30.
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