The AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday to stop the city from moving forward on development projects overseen by two city councilmen accused of corruption.
AHF is asking the court to rescind or restrain building permits granted by the city of Los Angeles during the times Councilman Jose Huizar and/or former Councilman Mitch Englander sat on the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
“The weed of corruption must be pulled out by its roots or will grow back quickly,” AHF President Michael Weinstein said. “We have attempted now for years to get reform and to stop the corruption that we are seeing, and neither the mayor or … the council have acted in a significant way.”
The lawsuit names the city of Los Angeles, the City Attorney’s Office, Mayor Eric Garcetti, the City Council and the property developers as defendants.
Suspended City Councilman Jose Huizar pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges alleging he ran a $1.5 million pay-to-play scheme in which developers were shaken down for cash bribes and campaign donations in exchange for his help getting high-rise projects through the city’s approval process.
On July 7, former City Councilman Mitch Englander pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge for obstructing an investigation into whether he took cash, escort services and other gifts from a businessman involved in major development projects in the city.
Tom Myers, an attorney for AHF, said the projects approved by the councilmen could end up displacing people.
“There are real harms that people are going to suffer, and if these things are not done or approved in the public interest, then they need to stop,” Myers said.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, said the office is reviewing the complaint and had no further comment at this time.
Two projects named in the lawsuit that were overseen by at least one of the councilmen on the PLUM Committee are a residential complex that was approved to be constructed at 1020 Figueroa St. and a 35-story tower planned for the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles.
But the lawsuit seeks to halt any progress on any projects that the councilmen oversaw. Englander was on the PLUM Committee during the same years Huizar was the chair. Englander stepped down from his council position in 2018, while Huizar was stripped of his committee positions after FBI agents raided his home that same year.
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