Woodland Hills – West Hills – Calabasas
Carnahan Property Management News
By Dakota Smith, Staff Writer
Developers and real estate companies are pouring money into a campaign to raise the city’s sales tax by a half percent, according to a filing released Friday.
Anschutz Entertainment Group, whose downtown football stadium was approved last year by the city, donated $100,000 to the campaign. Developer J.H. Snyder gave $25,000.
Excel Property Management and the California Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee also gave money. So did Crewbase Knitware, a retail apparel company.
Lobbyist Harvey Englander, who is running the “Committee to Protect Public Safety, Yes On A, a Coalition of Business and Community Leaders” campaign, said about $400,000 had been raised to date.
Friday’s filing reflects about half of that amount, he said.
The contributions come months after the real estate industry successfully killed a proposed real estate tax ballot measure. Instead, they convinced the City Council to put a citywide sales tax increase on the ballot.
If approved by voters in March, the tax would raise L.A.’s sale tax rate a half percent to 9.5 percent.
The concentration of real estate-related businesses funding the campaign isn’t unexpected, said David Fleming, an attorney active in Los Angeles business and political groups.
“You get what you pay for at City Hall,” Fleming said. “These businesses are ponying up because they didn’t want to pay the (real estate) tax.”
Backers believe the sales tax will raise at least $200 million to help with the city’s ongoing budget deficit, and help restore police and fire department funding.
Englander downplayed the contributions from AEG and the other groups. A wide range of business and labor interests are funding the campaign, he said.
Last year, Council President Herb Wesson and other leaders were weighing a number of taxes to put before voters. The real estate industry, represented by Englander, lobbied against a proposal to increase the tax on real estate sales. They conducted their own polling showing the sales tax was more likely to pass.
Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, said he was convinced the company should donate after talking to Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, whom he called a personal friend. He said Beck asked him to support the tax.
“This has zero to do with political favors … this is about L.A. City, and without the sales tax, we’re going to have cuts to the Police Department and the Fire Department,” Leiweke said.
To reach out to potential donors, Wesson told the Daily News he personally calls would-be contributors. Wesson said he believed other industry leaders will also step forward to donate.
“It’s not just developers. I sit down, there is a list of front of me, and I call everyone on the list,” Wesson said.
Asked to reply to criticisms over special interests’ influence at City Hall, Wesson replied: “People always have criticisms, that’s life.”
Ed Johnson, spokesman for Wesson, declined to release Wesson’s phone call list of potential donors. He said it’s not public information.
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