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L.A. Times Building Could Be an Unintended Casualty of Councilman Huizar’s Legal Troubles

9:26 AM PST on December 5, 2018

    Courtesy of Minnaert/Via WikiCommons

    [dropcap size=big]N[/dropcap]evermind Councilman Jose Huizar’s career. An unintended casualty of the FBI investigation into Huizar’s alleged legal and ethical shenanigans could be the historic-cultural preservation of the former Los Angeles Times building on First and Spring.

    As he faces investigation, Huizar was stripped of his assignment as chair of the powerful Planning & Land Use Management (PLUM) committee at City Hall. Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson – Huizar’s replacement as PLUM chairman – has referred decisions concerning the committee’s hearing on the iconic downtown building to Huizar’s office, according to emails obtained by L.A. Taco.

    This could be problematic because Huizar is no longer on the committee.

    At contention is the committee’s decision to recommend splitting historic-cultural monument designation for two buildings from the 1930s and 1940s, and rejecting that designation for the Times Mirror Building addition which was completed in 1973. Preservationists want the entire complex protected.

    RELATED: How FBI Agents Raided the Office and Home of Boyle Heights Councilman Huizar

    L.A. Times complex/Photo by Elizabeth Daniels.
    L.A. Times complex/Photo by Elizabeth Daniels.

    The former Times Mirror Co. headquarters was designed by architect William Pereira. Pereira designed several landmarks in Los Angeles, such as CBS Television City in the Fairfax District and the spacey flying saucer-shaped Theme Building in the heart of LAX.

    “The planning schedule and everything, [they said] just go back to Huizar’s team, even though he is no longer head of the PLUM and not part of PLUM anymore,” said Richard Schave, a resident of El Sereno and preservationist leading an effort to preserve the Times complex.

    Who's in charge? Harris-Dawson or Huizar?

    Last month, Rachel Bashier, Harris-Dawson’s deputy chief of staff, referred a request to postpone a committee hearing on historic-cultural preservation to Huizar’s planning deputy Azeen Khanmalek, according to the emails. “If you have any questions, please refer them to Azeen,” Bashier told Schave in an email dated November 20.

    Khanmalek even appeared before the PLUM committee on behalf of Huizar, suggesting the committee split the HCM designation. That’s exactly what the committee did, voting unanimously in favor of the decision.

    “My point to all of this, is that I think Huizar had decided months ago to do the unprecedented, which is to split the nomination,” Schave told L.A. Taco. “This was never put on the table as a possibility in any of the exhaustive communications I have had with [Huizar].”

    The Globe Lobby/Photo by Daniel Hernandez.
    The Globe Lobby/Photo by Daniel Hernandez.

    RELATED: He's Giving the Final Tours of the L.A. Times Historic Downtown Headquarters ~ After 35 Years

    [dropcap size=big]H[/dropcap]uizar appears to still to hold major influence over a committee he’s not even supposed to be on, leaving people wondering who is in charge, Harris-Dawson or Huizar?

    “We consult with any council office about an agenda item in their district, and refer questions and comments from stakeholders to that office as well,” Bashier told L.A. Taco, when asked why the Harris-Dawson was referring this matter to Huizar’s deputy chief of staff Khanmalek.

    But emails make it seem like Huizar’s team is still in charge.

    In a November 20 exchange between Khanmalek and Schave, Khanmalek says he, not Bashier, is managing PLUM’s agenda. “I am the point of contact in the office for PLUM items. I've received your emails and Lynell has forwarded your emails to me as well. I will let you know if it is possible to extend to 12/4 as soon as possible.” Lynell Washington is the director of planning for Harris-Dawson.

    “Unfortunately, the case needs to be heard by 11/27, because the case's time to act expires, and it needs to go to the full council for a vote. 11/27 is the latest it can go to PLUM to accommodate this timeline,” Khanmalek responded.

    RELATED: Councilman Jose Huizar Shows Up For Work but Refuses to Answer Questions About FBI Raids of Office, Home

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