Peter Zen, president of the Los Angeles Convention Center Commission, has resigned from the panel after opponents protested his involvement in legal action challenging the proposed construction of a hotel next to the center.
Mayor James K. Hahn appointed Zen to the commission more than a year ago, but he was a lightning rod for criticism during his tenure as president.
More than 30 community activists attended the commission's meeting Wednesday, alleging that Zen has a conflict of interest. Although he denies a conflict, Zen said late Wednesday that he had told Deputy Mayor Troy Edwards that he would resign from the commission, effective March 31.
"If everyone feels that there is a conflict, then the way to address that is to step down and not let Mayor Hahn take any more flak for this," Zen said. "I feel I do not want the mayor to be burdened."
A group of business and labor leaders, including William Luddy, executive director of the Carpenters/Contractors Cooperation Committee, first called last month for Zen to quit. They said that, as operator of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, Zen had a conflict in trying to stop the city from building a competing hotel next to the Convention Center.
Zen said Wednesday that he had simply filed a legal brief questioning the city's providing public subsidies for a hotel and had done so only after the city asked a court to validate the creation of a special corporation to provide tax-exempt financing for the project.
Critics, Zen said, "don't understand: I am not suing the city; the city is suing me."