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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Monday, March 7, 2011

On LaBonge's Watch, the price of Cahuenga Peak went up a factor of 10

Over the weekend, a tidy summary of fiscal malfeasance related to the purchase of Cahuenga Peak and attributed to Tom LaBonge appeared as a comment by "Informant" on Ron Kaye's blog.

Although "Informant" is incognito, we know that Informant's summary is indeed the chain of events that transpired with the bloated selling price of Cahuenga Peak. However, we're not so sure about the fraud alleged by Informant regarding the "Save the Peak" campaign.

We've mentioned the insane increase in the cost of the Cahuenga Peak property before on this very blog:
That in itself is enough come tomorrow to vote LaBonge straight out of office.

Here's the comment as originally published:
By Informant on March 6, 2011 3:26 PM

Someone mentioned the Hollywood Sign Fraud. This matter has been turned over to the authorities. Labonge knows it was a fraud, but he continues to make it. LaBonge is a fool hardy person indeed.

This story is so long -- I will try to be brief.

Until LaBonge came into the picture in 2002, the Cahuenga Peak (which is northwest of Mt Lee where the H Sign is located) was unsaleable. After 9-11, Mt. Lee with the H Sign and with the sensitive telecommunications on top became matters of national security. Cahuenga Peak is 140 feet higher than Mt. Lee so a rocket launcher could easily cripple LA's telecommunications, e.g. the LAPD. That was a good reason to not sell Cahuenga Peak.

Nonetheless, in 2002 LaBonge allowed the Cahuenga Peak to be sold to a Chicago real estate speculator for $1.6 M who was free to sell to anyone in the world.

Yes, we were fortunate that the land was not resold. In 2010, LaBonge proposed to buy the Chauenga Peak for $12.5 M. The peak still was of national security interest, but that never bothered LaBonge. The only possible buyers were the City, the County, the state, or the feds. No one in their right mind would allow the land to be sold to just anyone. That strict national security limitation on the land surely held down the price. But no, not for LaBonge. None of the appraisals mentioned national security. Thus, LaBonge agreed to pay the developer $12.5 M.

Here comes the fraud. LaBonge could not find enough dupes to pay $12.5 M for land that was basically worthless. Then the Bait and Switch Scam. They draped huge SAVE the PEAK cloths over the Hollywood Sign and starting a world wide fraud that the Hollywood Sign was in danger of being torn down or and/or having a large development around it. That was fraud upon fraud upon fraud.

Cahuenga Peak is an entirely different mountain. There was ZERO danger to the Hollywood Sign in any way. To the extent any homes could be built on the peak to the northwest of Mt. Lee, one might see one or two homes on the ridge. Of course, one can see huge telecommunications towers right above the H Sign.

LaBonge then involved school children in the Bait and Switch scam by having nearby elementary schools support the SAVE the PEAK Bait and Switch Scam. Most the kids knew that Cahuenga Peak is one mountain and that Mt. Lee is another place altogether. It was like telling people they are buying a Cadillac and delivering Pinto.

But the developer, Fox River Financial, made out like a bandit.

For a while, LaBonge had taken down his postings about the SAVE the PEAK. Now he is desperately trying to have 15 years in office, his lie about Saving the Hollywood Sign comes out again. The truth is that the Hollywood Sign was never in any danger whatsoever. LaBonge could not raise the money to buy an additional 140 acres so he perpetrated a worldwide fraud to raise the money from people who did not know the difference between the Cahuenga Peak and Mt. Lee.

People have known about LaBonge's Bait and Switch scam for almost one year, but his opponents did not use it in their campaigns. Now, LaBonge himself is promoting his fraud as a reason to re-elect him. Since LaBonge has introduced his Bait and Switch scam into the campaign, people have the right to present the truth.