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Valley Focus

Granada Hills : Home Depot Lobbying Cost Bank $112,181

June 30, 1995|KAY HWANGBO

A bank spent more than $100,000 in the first three months of this year to lobby the city of Los Angeles for permission to build a Home Depot at the corner of Chatsworth Street and Zelzah Avenue, according to a city report released Thursday.

Coast Federal Bank spent $112,181 to hire a public relations company, a law firm and an engineering company to lobby the City Council for a zoning change that would allow it to build a shopping center at the 16 1/2-acre site in Granada Hills, according to the city Ethics Commission's First Quarter 1995 Lobbyist Report.

The companies hired by Coast were Greer/Daily Inc., a public relations firm, Latham & Watkins, a law firm, and Spindler Engineering.

Coast withdrew its proposal to build the Home Depot, but did get the zoning change, allowing it to subdivide its land into four parcels.

The bank spent more on city lobbying activities than any other company did in the first three months of this year, according to the report, which lists lobbying firms' political contributions to City Council members as well as the firms' expenses in lobbying the city.

Also among the top 10 spenders was Browning-Ferris Industries, which spent $56,220 in an unsuccessful attempt to add an access road to the Sunshine Canyon Landfill, and Pacific Pipeline Systems, Inc., which spent $39,245 to seek the right to build an oil pipeline through the northeast San Fernando Valley.

The information may be interesting to community activists who often fight large development projects and whose own lobbying resources probably pale by comparison, said commission spokesman Bruce Aoki.

"It's important to know that the people making these decisions are being lobbied by these forces, and that's the kind of money behind these decisions," Aoki said.

The City Council approved Coast's zoning change Feb. 24, clearing the way for the bank to sell its land, the site of its administrative headquarters, to as many as four stores. The bank had originally wanted to sell two-thirds of its property to Home Depot, but backed down in the face of neighborhood protests that the store would clog nearby streets and create traffic hazards.

Coast spokesman David Porges, who was contacted late in the afternoon, declined comment.

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