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Thursday, Jan 26, 2023

Company Lobbying in Los Angeles Dipped in Third Quarter to $16.2 Million

Developers with projects pending in Los Angeles and other companies with business in the city spent $16.2 million to lobby various city agencies during the third quarter, according to a city lobbying report released Tuesday.

The dollar amount dipped down from the $16.9 million that developers and other businesses paid in lobbying dollars in the prior quarter and from the $16.5 million spent during last year’s third quarter, according to the report from the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. The dollars tracked don’t represent what businesses spent lobbying city agencies directly but what they paid to lobbying firms to represent them before the agencies.

Companies with development projects pending approvals before city agencies led the spending during the third quarter, and they accounted for the top 10 highest paying clients. That’s compared to previous quarters, when waste haulers, sign companies and other businesses were sprinkled through the top 10 lobbying spenders. The ethics commission report identifies which projects were the focus of the lobbying dollars, but not the amount spent on each project.

Tops in company spending during the third quarter was Atlas Capital Group, which spent more than $650,000 to lobby for approval of three major projects in and around downtown, according to the report: the College Station mixed-use project in Chinatown of 770 apartments and 51,000 square feet of retail space; the Alameda Square project, which would convert six historic buildings into 1.3 million square feet of creative office space called ROW DTLA; and a mixed-use complex in the Arts District with 430 residential units and 8,700 square feet of retail space.

Next was LaTerra Development, which spent $350,000 to lobby for approvals on several projects including Pinnacle 360, the planned redevelopment of the former Temple Community Hospital site in Historic Filipinotown into a four-story building complex with 221 units.

Another big spender was Lightstone Group, which spent $204,000 during the third quarter to lobby for approval of a 42-story hotel tower on Figueroa Street across from the Los Angeles Convention Center with 820 rooms, and $22,000 for another 25-story tower with an additional 310 hotel rooms.

Coming in fourth was Watermark Retirement Communities, which paid $240,000 to lobby city agencies to approve its controversial renovation of a retirement home in Westwood Village that threatened eviction of more than 100 seniors; ultimately the company revamped its plans and allowed the seniors to remain.

Koreatown developer Jamison Properties spent $201,000 to lobby on nine projects, almost all in Koreatown. The largest amount – $26,000 – was spent on a 16-story mixed-use tower planned for Wilshire Boulevard and St. Andrews Place.

Harvard-Westlake School spent $171,000 in lobbying fees to gain approvals to build a planned parking structure/athletic complex and a bridge across Coldwater Canyon Drive for its Studio City campus. Ultimately that project was shelved amid intense neighborhood opposition; the school instead opted to pursue construction of an athletic complex about a mile away.

Downtown law firm Liner was the highest paid lobbying firm during the third quarter, according to the lobbying report. Liner took in $1.78 million in payments from dozens of clients, including Greenland LA Metropolis in downtown, Jamison Properties and Watermark Retirement Communities.

Next was Englander Knabe and Allen, which took in $1.2 million from a wide range of companies, including BNSF Railway Co., Motorola Inc. and Waste Management Inc.

Land use law firm Armbruster Goldsmith & Delvac received $903,000 during the third quarter from more than 100 companies, including CIM Group, Johnson Development Co. and Walt Disney Co.

Ek, Sunkin, Klink & Bai and Craig Lawson & Co. rounded out the top five lobbying firms, receiving $836,000 and $823,000 respectively.

Economy, education, energy and transportation reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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