An ethics complaint filed against a city building official overseeing the planned Millennium Hollywood skyscraper project "appears to confirm our worst fears" that the project "was rigged from the get-go," a spokesman for the project's opponents said today.
The complaint, filed by a project opponent, alleges the son of Department of Building and Safety Manager Raymond Chan worked for Sheppard Mullin, the law firm representing project developer Millennium Partners.
John Schwada, a spokesman for a coalition of neighborhood groups suing the city over the approval of the project, said Sheppard Mullin was the "legal guru" and "chief lobbyist" for the developer.
Sheppard Mullin spent more than $400 million lobbying on behalf of Millennium Partners during the first half of 2013, according to city ethics filings.
Chan's son, Jeremy, was a paid intern at the firm from January until May, the Los Angeles Times reported on its website. An attorney at the firm told The Times the firm was aware Chan's son was interning there and took care to put up an "ethical wall between him and any work that Sheppard Mullin did that involved Building and Safety."
A spokesman for the Department of Building and Safety declined to comment on the complaint.
This is not the first time conflict of interest claims have dogged the project, which has been approved by the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti. Earlier this year, then-Planning Commission President Bill Roschen had to abstain from voting on the Millennium Hollywood project because he was its main architect.
Despite approval by city leaders, the project, which includes 35- and 39- story towers flanking the historic Capitol Records building, cannot move forward without a go-ahead from Building and Safety officials.
Those same city officials are waiting on studies into whether the Hollywood earthquake fault lies underneath the project site. Project opponents who filed the lawsuit contend city officials and the developers' engineers knew of the potential earthquake risks but failed to reveal them in the environmental impact report that went for a vote before the City Council.
-City News Service