Something for everyone

first_img160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, using his powers as a top-notch peacemaker, scored another successful dispute resolution over the weekend, avoiding a serious threat to plans for a downtown Convention Center hotel and entertainment complex. Peter Zen, the owner of of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, was threatening to sue to stop the city from giving a $270 million subsidy to a private developer to build a hotel that might drain away his business. Or, rather than sue, he said he might launch a ballot initiative to ask the voters to decide. Enter Villaraigosa, whose reputation as a negotiator grew after he headed up the group of elected officials who ended the Metropolitan Transportation Authority strike two years ago. Soon a deal was in the works. In exchange for dropping his challenge to the Convention Center deal, Zen was given approval to turn one-third of the Bonaventure’s 1,200 rooms into condominiums. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Villaraigosa’s impressive deal-making skills aside, there’s something troubling about the ease with which the mayor was willing to barter city regulatory power – approval for a massive condo conversion – to settle a dispute between two private parties. Now, the city of Los Angeles is helping two wealthy businessmen make even more money, and for what? Building and land-use policy should be based on what’s good for a particular area and for the city, not on what helps mitigate a fight between power brokers. There was no public input, no going through the required channels to get approval for this condo plan, no thoughtful consideration of the impact on the city at large. Now, it’s possible that condos will benefit Los Angeles, which always needs more residential development to accommodate its expanding population. But it’s certain that this deal greatly benefits the usual players in the city – the developers and political insiders and the mighty unions. Zen gets 400 condos; developers of a downtown complex, l.a. live, get a publicly subsidized, massive hotel to funnel guests to their new businesses; and the hotel workers union gets job protection for three years. What do the other 4 million Angelenos get? More investment of their taxes in the downtown money pit. New mayor, but same old L.A. business as usual. last_img

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