GUEST COMMENTARY-Just eighteen months prior to handing over (in a below-market private sale) the keys to an old firehouse (photo above) bordering Richard Weintraub’s proposed development site for Sportsmen’s Landing, the City slapped Mr. Weintraub with a $1.6 million lawsuit to recover several years’ worth of taxes that he, as a hotel owner, was required to but did not pay.
Mr. Weintraub was quite effective at enforcing the first part of the law (requiring guests to pay the tax,) but when it came to turning the tax money over to the City, he was considerably more lax. No worries, though. On a motion from Councilmember Krekorian, the City agreed to Weintraub’s low-ball settlement offer—a 37% discount from what the City originally sued for.
Apparently, that wasn’t enough special treatment for Mr. Weintraub, who, on July 15, 2015, told a group of Studio City residents that “in thirty years of doing this, this has been the least pleasant project I've had to deal with, and the least pleasant group of people, I've had to deal with.”
No comment -- except to say that it’s time for the City to 1) close the loophole practice of selling City surplus property in “private sales” instead of public auctions and 2) put a shorter leash on the City Council’s power to hand-out amnesty-like lawsuit settlements to “well-connected” but law-breaking individuals.
Meanwhile, things just keep getting worse. Last week a formal complaint I filed with the City Attorney protesting the City Council’s blocking of testimony from residents opposed to the Sportsmen’s Landing development was rejected without coherent rationale.
Trust me … it won’t be the last word.
(Eric Preven is a Studio City based writer-producer and public advocate for better transparency in local government. He was a candidate in the 2015 election for Los Angeles City Council, 2nd District.) Photo: CBS News LA. Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.