The city of Los Angeles could lose up to $3 million if it sells a block of
land to two politically influential businessmen after spending $6 million in
voter-approved bond money to buy it for use as an animal shelter, officials
Members of the City Council's Public Safety Committee demanded a written
report to explain why the city used its powers of eminent domain to force a
furniture maker to sell the South Los Angeles parcel so the city could build
an animal shelter — only to now propose selling it to a competing furniture
Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who has received $1,000 in political
contributions from Francisco Pinedo and Alba Pinedo, co-owners of Cisco Bros.,
has been leading the push to have the parcel sold to Cisco so the company can
expand its furniture mart.
Parks argued Monday that the property would be better used by Cisco to create
economic development and jobs for the area, given that another city-owned
property nearby is available for the animal shelter.
Councilman Jack Weiss, chairman of the five-member panel, was concerned that
the city went ahead with its condemnation process even though the second
property, which was purchased with police bond funds, could have been used for
"It's a multimillion-dollar switcheroo for no reason at all?" Weiss
"The city could have saved millions of dollars" by purchasing the
other parcel to begin with, Weiss said. "And it wouldn't have condemned
an existing business."
Weiss was responding to comments by Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller,
who said the city would probably get $3 million to $5 million for the
property, in the 5900 block of South Western Avenue, far less than the $6
million it spent to buy the site, relocate the furniture business and pay the
firm an additional sum for goodwill.
Miller said a final purchase price would depend on a new appraisal of the
property, which has not been done.
In addition, Miller acknowledged that the change of location for the animal
shelter would require more delays and a redesign of the project, which
officials estimate could add $5 million to its $12-million estimated cost.
The panel agreed to seek an analysis of the legal and financial issues raised
by the proposal before deciding whether to move the animal shelter one block
away to city-owned land at 6000 S. St. Andrews Place.
Despite misgivings, the panel recommended that the city suspend work on the
shelter project until the analysis is completed.
Based on the financial analysis, the council would be able to decide whether
to sell the Western Avenue property to Cisco Bros., a firm that has
contributed $17,600 to City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and other key city
officials in the last five years.
Officials said the city attorney's office has tentatively ruled that even
though the St. Andrews Place land was purchased by the city with police bonds,
it can be used for the animal shelter because it has already served its
purpose as a temporary headquarters for the 77th Street Division while a new
police station was under construction.
Parks asked that the financial analysis look at the jobs that would be created
if the Western Avenue site were to be used for the expansion of Cisco's
Charlotte Laws, president of the group Directors of Animal Welfare, called on
the council Monday to abandon the idea of selling the Western Avenue property
to Cisco and instead build a shelter on the site.
"This is an improper manipulation of eminent domain," Laws told the
"The beneficiaries of this sweetheart deal have contributed to the
campaigns of Rocky Delgadillo and others," she said.