Update: A day after the following post, the Mayor’s office announced that Ms. Lee was asking that her name be withdrawn from consideration for appointment to the commission.
A new mayor’s appointments to boards and commissions don’t usually stir up much fuss, but Eric Garcetti’s naming of a real estate company executive to the West L.A. Area Planning Commission has raised the hackles of community leaders who spent considerable energy during the past decade doing battle against the blight created by unpermitted billboards and supergraphic signs.
Jaime Lee, CEO of Jamison Realty, one of the largest commercial property owners in Southern California, was nominated by Garcetti to the five-member commission that holds hearings on real estate developments in an area including West L.A., Brentwood, Bel-Air, Pacific Palisades, Westchester, Playa Del Rey and Venice. The company allowed illegal supergraphic signs to be put up on several of its buildings, according to a 2011 lawsuit filed by the city against Skytag, one of the most aggressive of the companies that draped huge, multi-story advertisements on the walls of buildings along major L.A. thoroughfares.
That lawsuit was settled earlier this year when Skytag agreed to pay a $1.2 million fine. In 2008, Skytag, Jamison, and other property owners sued the city for the right to put up supergraphic signs on dozens of buildings. Those lawsuits, which sought to declare the city’s ban on off-site and supergraphic signs unconstitutional, ran aground when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the city had the right to ban the signs.
City officials said the vinyl and fabric signs, some as much as 12 stories high and either attached by bolts and cables or by an adhesive, were a safety hazard because the installations weren’t inspected and the windows of building tenants were often covered, creating a potential problem for firefighters in the event of a fire. Among the Jamison-owned buildings displaying supergraphics were Macy’s Plaza and the California Market Center downtown, and office buildings at 4929 and 5455 Wilshire Blvd.
Lee’s nomination, submitted by Garcetti on Nov. 25, was scheduled to be voted on by the City Council’s Planning Committee yesterday. However, after community activists sent protesting emails to committee members and the offices of the mayor and councilmembers Mike Bonin and Paul Koretz, who represent the area served by the commission, the vote was postponed.
Lee is the daughter of David Lee, a South Korean immigrant and physician who began investing in commercial property in the Koreatown area in the early 90’s. According to her resume, the company founded by her father now manages more than 20 million square feet of property.
According to City Ethics Commission reports, Jaime Lee donated $2,600 to Garcetti for his 2013 mayoral campaign. Her father and his wife donated a total of $5,200 to the campaign, and persons identified as executives or employees of Jamison donated another $9,750.
Lee currently serves as a member of the city’s Industrial Development Authority. She was appointed in 2012 by City Council President Herb Wesson.Dennis Hathaway