Panel delays decision on LAX concessions until Sept. 9


The Los Angeles City Council panel reviewing the contentious competition for new shops and restaurants at Los Angeles International Airport delayed a decision yet again, with members speaking out over the way the selection process is being handled.

The Board of Referred Powers postponed a decision until Sept. 9 to give City Atty. Carmen Trutanich more time to review conflict-of-interest allegations made by one of the losing bidders.

The session was punctuated by outbursts from Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who said he was sick of meeting delays and communications between various city officials about the process behind the scenes. “I’ve been nothing but frustrated by the back-channel crap that’s been going on here,” said Rosendahl, who represents the district that includes LAX.

Councilman Tony Cardenas said that it was not unreasonable for the panel to spend 45 days reviewing a complicated bidding process. Meanwhile, Councilwoman Janice Hahn said deals are not being made behind closed doors.

“I don’t want people to think this is some weird, secretive process,” Hahn said shortly before the panel went behind closed doors with its lawyers.

If approved, the proposed 10-year contracts would provide the first major overhaul of concessions at the airport since 1995, bringing in high-end ventures such as Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse and Border Grill.

Roughly a dozen complaints, many from companies that failed to secure a winning bid, have been filed in an attempt to force the contracts to be rebid. One losing bidder, HMS Host, contends that two winning bidders had financial ties to companies that helped airport officials conduct their search process.

The targets of those charges called the accusations incorrect, legally unsound and part of a larger delaying tactic.

Despite those comments, council members said they were willing to offer more time to look over the allegations. “It’s about making sure that we have the strongest legal foundation to stand on when we make a decision,” Councilman Ed Reyes said.

Times staff writer Ching-Ching Ni contributed to this report.