The Los Angeles City Council voted today to take $9.8 million from a development agreement for a project located in suspended Councilman Jose Huizar's district and dedicate it to public benefit projects.
Mayor Eric Garcetti vetoed the development agreement in June, saying that the funds should not go into a Council District 14 public benefit trust fund, but should be set aside for affordable housing, homeless health services and improvements to streets and public transportation.
"This will ensure a balanced and appropriate allocation of these important community benefit funds within Council District 14 to be provided in conjunction with the approved development," Garcetti said in his veto letter.
The project is the City Market of Los Angeles, located at 1057 S. San Pedro St., and ancillary locations are part of it. City Market is a 10-acre site across portions of four blocks in downtown to be constructed over a 25-year period, and developers agreed to put $9.8 million toward a public trust in Council District 14.
The City Council voted unanimously in June to immediately suspend Huizar, hours after his arrest on a federal racketeering charge stemming from a wide-ranging bribery investigation, therefore he was not able to vote Wednesday on the use of the funds.
Huizar, 51, is accused of accepting $1.5 million in bribes from developers in exchange for his support of downtown building projects. He was stripped of all his committee assignments in November 2018, following FBI searches of his home and offices.
Before his suspension, he agreed to scale back his legislative activity at the request of Council President Nury Martinez, as he said he did not want to "be a distraction."
Garcetti made no mention of the FBI investigation in his veto letter. In a letter to the City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee in July, Craig Lawson & Co. LLC, consultants representing City Market, said they had no problems with the reallocation of funds for different public uses.
"We continue to be supportive of the allocation to uses that the mayor and the council determine to be the most important and beneficial to the community," the letter stated. "We respectfully urge the expedited approval of a revised development agreement to allow the City Market project to proceed as quickly as possible to facilitate housing, jobs and economic development, as well as to provide public benefits, in these challenging times."
According to city documents, City Market will include about 945 multiple residential dwelling units, 210 hotel rooms, 294,641 square feet of commercial space and 224,862 square feet of retail floor area, which will include restaurants, bars, event space, wholesale uses and a cinema with about 744 seats.
The campus will also include more than 312,000 square feet of corporate/educational campus floor area. Proposed building heights would range from three to 38 stories.