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COUNCIL, MAYOR AGREE ON AIR-RIGHTS VETO.

Byline: KERRY CAVANAUGH

Staff Writer

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will have the power to veto transfers of air rights downtown under a compromise plan announced Tuesday that will allow developers to buy unused air space over the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The ordinance would let developers buy the space and construct the actual buildings elsewhere. But Villaraigosa had vetoed the measure last month, saying it did not give him authority to reject individual projects.

The ordinance is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the city through the sale of air rights and allow the development of several new skyscrapers.

"These are decisions that could literally reshape the skyline of downtown Los Angeles," said Matt Szabo, spokesman for Villaraigosa. "The mayor strongly supports the policy objectives, but felt that decisions of such great magnitude should have appropriate checks and balances."

After several days of negotiations, Councilwoman Jan Perry, chief proponent of the measure, agreed to rewrite it and give the mayor the right to override council approval of air-rights transfers.

" ... This is a good process of checks and balances," Perry said.

The council will vote on the amended ordinance today. Villaraigosa's office said he will sign it.

The ordinance allowing the transfer of floor-area rights has been on the books since 1988. Under it, the mayor has not had veto authority.

But with a building boom downtown, city leaders spent 18 months rewriting the complicated law to make it easier for developers to buy some of the 9 million square feet of unused air space over the convention center and transfer it to their projects.

The air rights can only be used in downtown L.A. Money from the sale of Convention Center air rights will be put into a public benefits trust fund for parks, affordable housing and other amenities within two miles of any new high-rise.

The move will help create green space and other infrastructure needed downtown, local Neighborhood Council President J. Russell Brown said.

"We think this is a great asset to continue to spur downtown development," he said.

Central City Association of Los Angeles President Carol Schatz urged the council to move quickly on the new ordinance.

"We want to use it while we still have a market that is interested in building," Schatz said.

kerry.cavanaugh(at)dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 4, 2007
Words:388
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