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Los Angeles Times

Thursday March 14, 2013

L.A. Housing Activist Says AEG Will Still Carry Weight At City Hall

Los Angeles Times - L.A. NOW

Fair-housing activist Larry Gross said Thursday that even without chief executive Tim Leiweke, the company that built Staples Center and LA Live downtown will still be a City Hall heavyweight.

Reacting to the news Leiweke had parted ways with Anschutz Entertainment Group, Gross said the company and Leiweke won influence with elected officials by donating to political campaigns.

"They have a lot of money they can throw around," said Gross, executive for the Coalition For Economic Survival. Leiweke, he said, "essentially was able to get whatever he wanted. The City Hall power structure really bent over backward to accommodate the development going on" downtown.

Gross said he doesn’t expect the influence of AEG to diminish with Leiweke’s departure, in part because the company has the money to make City Hall listen. "The fact is AEG’s influence will continue," he said. "They’ll just continue with someone else."

He said Leiweke ignored concerns about how low-income communities would be affected by the NFL stadium proposal -- which would place the structure next to Staples Center -- until a coalition of anti-poverty groups filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a state law written for AEG that limits legal challenges against the stadium to a 175-day period. A settlement deal reached by AEG and the coalition led to a promise that a $15-million trust fund would be created for low-income housing in the area and nearly $2 million in traffic- and air-pollution-control measures would be taken.

"It took the threat of a lawsuit to get them to negotiate around the impact of the stadium on affordable housing and displacement," Gross said.

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