LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — An Anschutz-backed group, the South Park Business and Community Improvement District, has sparked controversy in California after being approved for a state grant of $30 million to improve the area around AEG's L.A. Live entertainment complex.
According to the LA Times, the legislation governing access to these state funds was modified and "tailored to Anschutz's purpose" just hours before the legislative session ended last year. The funds are drawn from a pool of $2.8 billion that was apportioned after after voters gave the state permission to borrow for the purposes of affordable housing. Before the modifications, the grants were unavailable to business improvement projects.
According to the times, applications from nearly 100 affordable-housing projects in neighborhoods described as needy were passed over in the first round of funding. Some critics have objected to funds being earmarked for improving, (some say gentrifying) an area around a business.
"It's extremely disappointing that under served areas don't seem to be able to compete, while really well-financed entities are able to get these public subsidies," Maria Cabildo, president of the East Los Angeles Community Corp told the LA Times. "These dollars should go where the need is, and that area doesn't seem to have the same need."
AEG has objected to this characterization, spokesman Michael Roth pointed out that the money wasn't going to AEG. "The money isn't coming to us," Roth told the Times "We will wait to see how the [business district] spends it."
This appears to be something of a dodge however as the Times reports that AEG is the principle funder of the South Park Business and Community Improvement District with Lisa Herzlich, the secretary-treasurer of the District's board also being the managing director of AEG's L.A. Live project.
The District has said that they plan to use the money for "streetscape" improvements along a three-mile stretch of Figueroa Street such as sidewalks, curbs and streetlights. L.A. Live is included in the area. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers