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LETTERS

Casden Project Proceeds With City Council's Help

August 15, 2004

Alan Casden's latest outrage is not that he shoved his wife at a posh bar mitzvah, openly mocked his brother or sued his partners and his own lawyers, as reported last Sunday ("L.A. Developer Clashes but Keeps On Building," Aug. 8).

What The Times failed to report was that this Wednesday, Casden expects the City Council to approve his self-serving scheme to obliterate half of Glendon Avenue for three years, wipe out a public sidewalk and destroy dozens of metered parking spaces in Westwood, just so he can dig a private tunnel under a public street to enrich himself by millions and serve his private luxury apartment complex and private garage.

How does a near-billionaire get the city to give him what I believe amounts to a free private tunnel in violation of both public and private easements? Ask Westwood Councilman Jack Weiss, who received more than $34,000 in campaign contributions from more than a dozen Casden associates.

According to November's grand jury indictment of Casden's vice president and 13 subcontractors, and Times reports, more than $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions were funneled to Weiss, City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and two others "in a continuing attempt to improperly influence future real estate, financial and business decisions by the city of Los Angeles in favor of Casden Properties."

What does the public get in return for this multimillion-dollar gift of a tunnel from Weiss and the city to Casden? Nothing. Not a single extra parking space. No two-hour validated parking. No public benefit that I can find.

Despite numerous meetings, letters, phone calls, signs, banners and petitions, Weiss does not care that this gift to Casden will cause serious disruption, loss of business and permanent damage to scores of Westwood businesses and property owners, including my own 40-year-old business on Glendon.

Rather than negotiate a fair deal so businesses and the public receive equal benefits for this massive public subsidy to Casden, Weiss is putting businesses in the unfair position of having to sue the city and Casden to protect our private easements.

This is also a huge missed opportunity for Weiss and the City Council to take action to significantly increase Westwood's public parking while Casden digs his giant hole, as the city did in Hollywood.

Westwood's merchants should not be put in the position of having to beg our councilman to protect us against a developer's shameless greed. Weiss should be serving his constituents, not Casden.

The overwhelming majority of Westwood business owners oppose this outrageous scam. We are angry with our councilman for orchestrating this giveaway to his campaign benefactor and getting nothing in return. Casden is a shrewd businessman. His investment in Weiss is paying off royally.

Marcus Rosner

President

Morgan & Co. Jewellers and Westburton Antiques

Westwood

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