PRESS RELEASE: Councilmember Ryu Introduces Anti-Corruption Legislation

LOS ANGELES - Councilmember Ryu introduced two motions today to establish an office to investigate and enforce anti-corruption laws in Los Angeles and reform how building projects are approved in City Hall. Following the approval of his developer dollar ban in December of 2019, new allegations of corruption and pay-to-play politics have come to light, making clear the need for increased oversight and structural reform in Los Angeles.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

May 19, 2020

Contact for Councilmember Ryu:

Mark Pampanin

mark.pampanin@lacity.org

213.407.7616

 

Councilmember Ryu Introduces Anti-Corruption Legislation

Motions aim to reform City Charter, create Office of Accountability and Transparency 

LOS ANGELES - Councilmember Ryu introduced two motions today to establish an office to investigate and enforce anti-corruption laws in Los Angeles and reform how building projects are approved in City Hall. Following the approval of his developer dollar ban in December of 2019, new allegations of corruption and pay-to-play politics have come to light, making clear the need for increased oversight and structural reform in Los Angeles.

“Corruption is alive and well in City Hall," Councilmember Ryu said. "We need strict oversight and sweeping reform to root it out. The public has lost faith in their local government, and we need reform and stronger checks and balances to change the culture that has fostered pay-to-play politics in Los Angeles. While laws alone may not stop a crime, we must dismantle the system that gives City Council far too much influence over planning and land use decisions.”

"Every Angeleno deserves an honest, transparent and accountable City Hall and I will do everything in my power to make sure that is the case," said Councilmember Paul Koretz, who seconded both motions. "Corruption in any form is unacceptable and has no place in Los Angeles. Democratic government rests on the public's trust and it is our duty to uphold that trust. " 

The first motion would establish an office of Anti-Corruption and Transparency that would act like an Inspector General for the City of Los Angeles. The office would have the power to subpoena city documents, compel testimony from city staff and elected officials, and be staffed by independent auditors and investigators with a mission to prevent fraud, corruption and misconduct. Similar oversight offices have been established in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia. The LA office would focus in particular on planning, land use and development, and construction approvals before the City. 

The second motion seeks to remove City Councilmembers’ power to override and rewrite land use decisions made by the City Planning Commission. It seeks a charter amendment to be placed on the November ballot to strike Section 245 (e) from the City Charter, which allows the City Council to overwrite the actions of planning commissions. Though rarely used, even the threat of a “245” rewrite gives City Councilmembers far too much leverage over building approvals - and private developers an incentive to influence a Councilmember’s actions. This amendment would instead align the City Council’s oversight of planning commission decisions with the authority and process in place for all other city commissions - allowing for a simple up or down vote and returning the matter to the commission if necessary. 

Councilmember Ryu has championed campaign finance reform since 2015, when he first announced legislation to prohibit developer contributions in local elections. After numerous attempts to pass the legislation, including testimony before the Ethics Commission and the support of an independent legal memo, Councilmember Ryu’s developer dollar ban was finally passed into law in 2019. Councilmember Ryu called that law “not the last step - but the first” at the time, and urged more reform going forward. 

Read the Office of Anti-Corruption and Transparency motion here.

Read the motion to reform City Council influence over planning decisions here.

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Assistant City Council President Pro Tempore David E. Ryu represents Los Angeles’ 4th Council District which includes Griffith Park, Sherman Oaks, Toluca Lake, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Miracle Mile, Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Larchmont and portions of Koreatown and Van Nuys.


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