The City of West Hollywood has updated its registry of lobbyists, at least one of whom has sparked controversy by also managing the campaigns of City Council members before whom he represents his commercial clients. Many of the lobbyists, who must register with the city by the end of May each year, are major donors to council members’ election campaigns. For the most part, the clients are not locally owned businesses but real estate developers looking to gain council approval for projects in West Hollywood.
The City Council agreed in March to form an ad hoc committee composed of council members John Heilman and Jeffrey Prang to examine issues related to lobbyists and their involvement in political campaigns and report back to the council in September. That agreement came after Heilman introduced a resolution that would prohibit lobbyists from serving as campaign consultants. Councilmembers John Duran, whose recent re-election campaign was managed by lobbyist Steve Afriat, and John D’Amico abstained from that vote.
The registry shows Seymour Consulting Group with the largest number of clients with WeHo interests. Its lobbyist registered with West Hollywood is Jeffrey A. Seymour. Seymour Consulting is based in Westlake Village. Its clients with West Hollywood interests include:
- Arman Gabay / Charles Co. of West Hollywood, which engaged Seymour in May 2011 to lobby for its interests in developing the Melrose Triangle area.
- Combined Properties, of Beverly Hills, which engaged Seymour in 2005 and has used the firm to lobby for its commercial/residential development projects under construction at La Brea and Fountain avenues and La Brea Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.
- GLJ Properties of Carlsbad, which hired Seymour last year and for whom the firm lobbies for GLJ’s proposed commercial and residential project at 7141 Santa Monica Blvd. at the site of Faith Plating.
- Monarch Group of La Jolla, which engaged Seymour in 2007 and uses the firm to lobby for the projects at La Brea and Fountain avenues and Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain that it shares with Combined Properties.
- Karma Development Co. of Los Angeles, which engaged Seymour in 2005 and uses the firm to lobby for the Sunset Millenium project on Sunset and La Cienega boulevards.
- Equinox, the gym at 8950 Sunset Blvd., which engaged Seymour this year to lobby for an expansion of its facility.
- Phillip Nahar of West Hollywood, who engaged Seymour to lobby for an undisclosed project.
- Mani Brothers Real Estate Investment of Los Angeles, which engaged Seymour in 2005 and uses it to negotiate billboard projects on Sunset Boulevard.
- Soho House West Hollywood, which engaged Seymour in 2010 and last year convinced the city to let its top-floor club remain open until 4 a.m. despite complaints about noise from residential neighbors.
- Solo Capital of Beverly Hills, which contracted with Seymour in 2010 and uses it to lobby for its proposed commercial and residential project at West Knoll and Santa Monica Boulevard.
- Marriott International of Bethesda, MD, which hired Seymour in 2012 to lobby for approval of its proposed Marriott Edition hotel and nightclub at Sunset Boulevard and Doheny.
- Jason Illoulian of Los Angeles, a real estate developer who hired Seymour in 2012 for various unspecified consulting services.
- Pebblebrook Hotel Trust of Bethesda, MD., which hired Seymour in 2012 to represent the Mondrian Hotel, which faced a campaign from residential neighbors to close its Skybar outdoor nightclub because of loud noise.
- Christopher Shane of West Hollywood, who engaged Seymour in 2012 to lobby for a change of use permit to permit off-site advertising on an existing billboard.
The lobbying firm with the second largest list of clients with West Hollywood interests is the Afriat Consulting Group, whose principal, Steve Afriat, has been involved in the management of campaigns of all current West Hollywood City Council members except for John D’Amico. Afriat lobbyists registered with the city include Steve Afriat, Aaron H. Green, Christopher Bowen, and Jaime Rojas. Afriat Consulting is based in Burbank. Its clients with current issues or issues likely to come before the City Council include:
- Pacific Design Center, whose owner, Charles Cohen, has reached an agreement with the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority that gives him exclusive right to negotiate a deal to redevelop the MTA garage on Santa Monica Boulevard just east of San Vicente. Cohen has proposed building a large shopping mall there.
- Republic Services, the city’s former waste management contractor. That contract now is held by Athens Services, which is negotiating to extend its West Hollywood contract by five years without the city sending it out for other bids.
- Marriott International, which proposes to build a hotel and nightclub on Sunset Boulevard at Doheny.
- Ace Outdoor Advertising, an owner of billboards on Sunset Boulevard.
- W-Bel Age, which is negotiating with the city for renewal of its conditional use permit for property owned at 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd just south of Sunset.
Paul Hastings, the Los Angeles law firm, has the third largest list of clients with West Hollywood interests. Hastings lobbyists registered with the city are Jeffrey Haber, Edgar Khalatian and Michael Lytzen. Hastings clients include:
- IAC, which Hastings represents regarding land use issues.
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which Hastings represents regarding land use issues.
- Combined Properties, based in Beverly Hills, which has projects under construction at La Brea and Fountain avenues and La Brea Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.
- Townscape Partners, based in Beverly Hills, which is involved through its ownership of Beverly Blvd. Associates in a controversial effort to get the city to approve a conversion of the former ICM headquarters at 8899 Beverly Blvd. west of Robertson into a mixed-use building and to build additional residential units nearby.
- Solo Capital of Los Angeles, which is seeking city approval of an unspecified development project.
Other lobbying firms and their registered lobbyists and clients include:
Latham & Watkins, the Los Angeles law firm, whose registered lobbyists are James Arnone, Duncan Joseph Moore and David F. Thompson. Its clients include Pacific Design Center; Marriott International, 9040-9056 W. Sunset Blvd., 1018-1022 N. Doheny Dr., 9031-9041 Harratt St; Maimonides Academy, to provide advice on land use issues.
Gene Smith and James Litz of West Hollywood, who represent United Valet of Culver City, a parking service, in its effort to obtain parking use permits, and Urth Cafe of West Hollywood, which is attempting to get permission to expand its restaurant on Melrose Avenue at Westmount.
Marathon Communications of Los Angeles, whose registered lobbyists are Richard Lichtenstein and Brian Lewis. Marathon has been engaged by Beverly Blvd. Associates, the entity comprised of Townscape Partners and Angelo Gordon & Co., a New York City investment firm that owns 8899 Beverly Blvd. Another client is Avalon Bay Communities of Newport Beach, which has engaged Marathon for help in its effort to build the Movietown Plaza project on Santa Monica Boulevard.
James Litz of West Hollywood, who represents Micky’s, the West Hollywood bar, on parking and land use issues and United Valet on parking issues.
Mark R. Edwards Consulting Group of West Hollywood, which is representing residents opposed to the proposed redevelopment of 8899 Beverly Blvd.
Wayne Avrashow, an Encino lawyer, who represents Joseph Shooshani in his effort to get city approval of a mixed-use development at Sunset Plaza at 8410 Sunset Blvd. east of Olive.
Southern California Edison of Santa Monica, whose lobbyist is Mark Olson.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, whose lobbyist is Deborah Kallick of the San Francisco-based Sutton Law Firm.