Billboard companies, for which West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip is a major source of revenue, and one of the city’s largest vendors are major donors to City Councilmember John Duran’s campaign for L.A County Supervisor.
An analysis of campaign donations by CityWatchLA notes that Duran has received $34,500 from billboard companies. Duran is one of eight candidates for the 3rd District seat, now held by Zev Yaroslavsky, and is widely considered one of the three top contenders.
Duran received $20,000 from Ace Outdoor Advertising, $10,000 from Regency Outdoor, $2,000 from Total Outdoor and $1,000 from Branded Cities according to the CityWatch report. Duran also accepted a donation of $1,000 from J. Keith Stephens, owner of LA Outdoor Advertising, one of several parties in a lawsuit alleging violations of signage laws of the City of Los Angeles. Ace, which owns three major billboards on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, was a major supporter of Duran in his race for re-election in 2011 to the West Hollywood City Council. It donated $10,000 to the Friends of West Hollywood Committee to Elect John Duran and the company and its executives donated another $3,000 directly to the Duran City Council campaign. Regency Outdoor donated $13,000 to the “Friends” committee for Duran last year.
Neither Sheila Kuehl nor Bobby Shriver, the other leading candidates in the supervisor race, received donations from billboard companies according to CityWatchLA. However it noted that Los Angeles County’s campaign contribution reporting system, widely criticized for making it difficult for the public to get access to contribution records, makes available online only reports of so-called “late contributions.” Those are contributions of more than $1,000 made within 16 days of an election.
Those records that are available online show that Duran’s contributors include city vendors and developers that need the City Council’s approval of their projects. Among the largest of those is Arakelian Enterprises, owner of Athens Services, which West Hollywood pays $918,000 a year for trash pickup services. Athens also has what is, in effect, a franchise to pick up trash from apartment buildings in West Hollywood, whose owners are required to pay it for that service. Various members of the Arakelian family have donated a total of $13,500 to the Duran campaign for supervisor according to records currently available.
Council members Duran and Jeffrey Prang and Mayor John D’Amico have been staunch opponents of proposals by John Heilman that would limit the influence of lobbyists for private companies who also raise campaign funds for council members. Also, when Athens last year asked the Council to extend its contract for 15 years without putting it out to bid, D’Amico, Duran and Prang voted to ask the city to analyze Athens’ proposal rather than put the contract out to bid, which Heilman and Councilmember Abbe Land argued might result in a lower bid from a competitor. Athens’ current contract with the city expires in 2016.