Christopher Thornberg

Beacon Economics’ Christopher Thornberg Is Secretly Paid by Developers to Kill Reform

In Archive by Patrick Range McDonald

On October 11, at a Los Angeles City Council meeting, Christopher Thornberg, the founding partner of Beacon Economics and a popular talking head, chose not to reveal a little known, yet important fact — he’s a paid campaign consultant for the developer-funded campaign that seeks to kill reform of L.A.’s rigged development approval process.

You see, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a March 2017 ballot measure that’s sponsored by the Coalition to Preserve LA, seeks a much-needed fix of L.A.’s broken planning and land-use system. Even Mayor Eric Garcetti agrees it should be revamped.

But the Coalition to Protect L.A. Neighborhoods and Jobs, the misleadingly named campaign that’s funded by billionaire developers and L.A. business interests, is hell-bent on maintaining the status quo for developers, smashing anything that gets in the way of huge profits. Miami-based Crescent Heights and Australia-based Westfield are major funders of that anti-reform campaign.

Enter Christopher Thornberg, who’s often quoted by the Los Angeles Times and other news outlets and a founder of the L.A.-based research firm Beacon Economics.

According to the city’s Ethics Commission, Beacon Economics and Thornberg have been hired by the Coalition to Protect L.A. Neighborhoods and Jobs as a high-priced campaign consultant. So far, between April 1 and September 30, 20116, Beacon Economics has been paid $30,000.

Now cut to October 11 at L.A. City Hall inside Council chambers. An articulate, glad-handing Christopher Thornberg shows up in front of the L.A. City Council to deliver a presentation about the economic health of L.A.

“It’s nice to be back today,” says Thornberg, “particularly to present all sorts of wonderfully good news.”

He makes a strong sell for more development in L.A. — and says that the reforms in the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative must be stopped.

“We know the propositions that are coming up,” he says. “We know the rules that people are trying to put into place…My only last message to you is: Please, don’t allow them to win.”

Christopher Thornberg adds, “You are seeing a growing interest in urbanization…it’s the dense, urban cities that are growing. And that’s a wonderful opportunity for the city to capitalize on.”

Defeating the reform movement that’s the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative and building more luxury development will also help wealthy developers — the people who are paying Thornberg’s bills — reap millions upon millions in profits. And often at the expense of lower-income and middle-class Angelenos.

But does Thornberg disclose to citizens who are watching the Council meeting that he’s a paid consultant for the anti-reform campaign funded by billionaire developers? Nope. Never.

That’s how things work at City Hall, where lack of transparency, backroom deals and soft corruption are the norm. And that’s why citizens across L.A. are joining the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative movement.

Join the Coalition to Preserve L.A. by clicking here right now to donate any amount you wish, and follow and cheer our efforts on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. You can also send us an email at for more information.

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