Eli Broad (Photo: Forbes)

Eli Broad, Los Angeles’ leading philanthropist, is asking the city and county to give him a piece of property downtown for an art museum to house his collection — a museum he’s offering to build and endow. As they consider that request, the Board of Supervisors, the City Council and other agencies of local government should base their decisions not on what is best for Broad but on what best serves the public. And they should approve this deal.

There is no direct cost to the public in Broad’s proposal. He is offering to spend $100 million to build a museum, and then to contribute an additional $200 million to endow it so that its operating costs will be privately paid as well. But that’s not to say it’s entirely a freebie: By giving Broad the land for the museum via a 99-year lease at $1 a year, the public loses the chance to develop it in other ways — retail, for instance, or housing — that could generate sales and property taxes.

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Los Angeles Times

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