MOTION-- The United States Department of Justice recently filed several criminal indictments against
Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar, former City Councilmember Mitchell
Englander, and several other former City employees, among others. These indictments
contain allegations that real estate developers, business owners and their agents gave cash,
cash equivalents, lavish gifts and other benefits to these councilmembers and other City
employees with the intent to induce these public officials to violate their duties of trust to
the people of Los Angeles.
Several individuals entered plea agreements in federal court admitting the use of fraud and
bribery to induce public officials to unlawfully streamline, assist, and vote in favor of
approvals and entitlements for certain real estate development projects in the City.
The facts alleged in the indictments and admitted in the plea agreements clearly identify at
least four specific major residential and commercial development projects in downtown
Los Angeles that were involved in the alleged bribery scheme, including projects near the
L.A. Live entertainment complex, in the Arts District, on Hill Street, and on Figueroa Street.
These projects are located at 940 S. Hill Street ("Project C”), 926 W. James M. Wood
Boulevard ("Project H”), 1020 S. Figueroa Street ("Project D”), and 520 S. Mateo Street
("Project M”) (collectively, the "Projects”). The Projects are either at various phases in the
entitlement process and thus not yet approved, or otherwise have been approved but are
not yet complete.
The indictments and plea agreements call into question the integrity of the City's land-use
decision-making and approval process for the Projects. The facts stated in those
documents clearly suggest that the accused City officials conspired with those seeking
approval of the Projects in allowing their votes and other official actions to be purchased.
Not only does such conduct constitute an egregious breach of these officials' duty of loyalty
to the City and its residents, it also calls into question whether the City would have granted
any of the approvals of the Projects on the merits, in the absence of corruption, fraud and
The people of Los Angeles, as well as honest developers and those seeking to invest and to
do business in the City, deserve to have confidence that they can rely on fairness, honesty,
equity and transparency in the City’s land use decision-making processes. The current
status of approvals of the Projects calls that confidence into question.
In order to allow reassessment of these approvals, Councilmembers Krekorian and Harris-Dawson introduced a motion on June 30, 2020 calling for recommendations from the Chief
Legislative Analyst, in consultation with the City Attorney, the Department of City Planning
and the Department of Building and Safety, regarding potential suspension of any
certificate of occupancy and reconsideration of any and all discretionary approvals or
entitlements for the Projects. The City Attorney has prepared a draft ordinance providing a
mechanism for such reconsideration and/or suspension, and that draft ordinance is
awaiting the Council's consideration and action.
The Department of Building and Safety, upon advice of the City Attorney, has placed holds
on the Projects referenced in the indictments and plea agreements. It is appropriate for the
Department of Building and Safety to place these holds to allow the City Council an
opportunity to consider the draft ordinance and any other steps to be taken by the City to
preclude the Projects from moving forward where there is a reasonable likelihood that
approvals have been obtained through corruption or fraud. These holds are necessary in
order to restore faith in the City's land use processes, restore transparency and fairness in
those processes, and prevent corrupt persons from profiting from illegal actions.
I THEREFORE MOVE that the Council INSTRUCT the Department of Building and Safety to
perform the following actions:
1) Continue the holds that it has in place on the projects identified in the indictments
and plea agreements as Project C, located at 940 S. Hill Street, and Project H, located
at 926 W. James M. Wood Boulevard, for a period not to exceed 45 days from the
date of adoption of this Motion, unless extended by further action of this Council at a
public meeting; and
20 Initiate holds on two other projects identified in the indictments and plea
agreements as Project D, located at 1020 S. Figueroa Street, and Project M, located at
520 S. Mateo Street, or on any other projects identified in the indictments and
agreements, for a period not to exceed 45 days from the adoption of this Motion,
unless extended by further action of this Council at a public meeting.
I FURTHER MOVE that the Council INSTRUCT the Department of Building and Safety to
initiate holds, not to exceed 20 days, on projects identified in any future indictments, plea
agreements or other documents made public by the Department of Justice or other
prosecutorial agency, where the facts asserted in such documents present a reasonable
likelihood of potential corruption or fraud, and to notify the City Council within two
business days of initiating such a hold for the purpose of affording the Council at a public
meeting the ability to extend the hold for a total number of days not to exceed 45 days from
the initial Department hold, unless further extended by Council action at a public meeting.
I FURTHER MOVE that the Council REQUEST that the City Attorney submit to the Council
File assigned to this motion the indictments and plea agreements referenced herein, and
any other relevant background information, so that appropriate evidence is available to the
Council and the public in consideration of such the requested holds on the Projects.