Hollywood activist Bob Blue has played the key role in raising questions about the Community Redevelopment Agency giveaway of millions of dollars in public money to fund an office building at 1601 N. Vine for a developer bedeviled by lawsuits and bankruptcy as he tries to profit from runaway production.
On Thursday, the CRA cleared the way for the deal to go forward for developer Hal Katersky and his Santa Monica-based Pacifica Ventures by unanimously agreeing to a $1.1 million settlement paid by taxpayers and the developer to get Molly’s Burgers to move from the site.
That’s a lot of money for a hamburger stand.
But the CRA had no qualms in approving it in a closed meeting and offering no rationale in public for its action. Not a single word was spoken in public by board members or staff to justify this controversial action on a controversial project that has been widely criticized here and on City Watch LA. Just a perfunctory voice vote.
The video shows the board going into closed session after CRA head Chris Essel announced she has a conflict of interest and has to recuse herself on a series of awsuits involving another controversial project involving abuse of eminent domain laws and subsidies to a developer with questionable financial credentials.
After the closed session, Katersky’s lobbyist Bill Delvac dismissed all questions about the 1601 N. Vine St. project as nonsense without going into detail.
Bob Blue spoke briefly, referring to his detailed letter of objection (Blue-Objections.pdf) and supporting documents that question the whole deal.
“The Vine Street Tower (Project) raises many legal, fiduciary, and ethical questions
especially in light of heightened public awareness after the scandal in the City of
Bell,” Blue’s letter says in part.
“The terms and conditions of this agreement and previously approved agreements should be overturned. Furthermore, the CRA/LA should launch an internal audit to determine how this project was allowed to continue and implement “lessons learned” to make sure that proper oversight, due diligence, fiduciary responsibility, and proper risk management is carried out on this and future projects.
“The number and magnitude of the issues raised by this project are so great that
they warrant a full investigation by an independent law enforcement agency
including a detailed audit of the entire matter leading up to these items being
brought before you.”
Delvac was apparently more persuasive since the board agreed with him without explanation, without even engaging any of the issues that Blue raised.