The True Facts About the May 28, 2015, Community Sidewalk Vending Meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall Revealed Here (With Audio) for All to Hear and Judge and Opinionate Upon! Part 1: Alyssa Van Breene

The Boyle Hotel at 101 N. Boyle Avenue, appearing here because we don't have a picture of the Boyle Heights City Hall, which is about half a mile west on First Street from the corner of First and Boyle.
The Boyle Hotel at 101 N. Boyle Avenue, appearing here because we don’t have a picture of the Boyle Heights City Hall, which is about half a mile west on First Street from the corner of First and Boyle, that being the location of this building.
We recently wrote about Kerry Morrison’s description of the series of public meetings sponsored by the Chief Legislative Analyst of the city of Los Angeles regarding the framework for legalizing street vending that’s being studied by the City Council. Well, interestingly enough, it turns out that the Council’s Economic Development committee has a website set up devoted to the issue and found thereupon are audio recordings of three of the four meetings held to-date.1 Astute readers will no doubt recall Kerry’s description of these meetings:
there were a series of four hearings that the chief administrative office staff held on the… the sidewalk vending ordinance. … It’s just this kind of amorphous set of hearings, which were completely dysfunctional, disrespectful, and almost, um, resembled a circus.
Wanna know what "frabjous" means?  You gotta ask Mr. Humpty Dumpty, or look it up in the Dictionary, for God's sake.
Wanna know what “frabjous” means? You gotta ask Mr. Humpty Dumpty, or look it up in the Dictionary, for God’s sake.

Well, frabjous day, friends! We have listened to the first of these, held at the Boyle Heights City Hall on May 28, 2015, and clipped out some representative bits for your audiosthetic pleasure and we’re sharing them with you here. First listen to HPOA Board Member Alyssa Van Breene (transcriptions after the break if, like us, you’d rather read than hear):

Listened up? Good! Let’s take this nonsense one lie at a time, shall we?

Alyssa Van Breene, a liar, a sockpuppet, and a board member of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.
Alyssa Van Breene, a liar, a sockpuppet, and a board member of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.
  • Hi, Alyssa Van Breene, Hollywood Property Owners Alliance. Um, we manage the Hollywood Entertainment District Business Improvement District.
    Fine. These are actually the only true sentences in Alyssa’s entire speech. We’re putting them in here so we can be fair and balanced, like Fox News, our heroes.

  • …we work very hard to keep the sidewalks clean, safe, and hospitable for all pedestrians: tourists, workers, residents, and students.
    No. The BID works very hard to keep the sidewalks dangerous and inhospitable for many residents at least. First of all, the homeless residents of Hollywood are targeted for harassment, arrest, and worse by the HPOA’s BID Patrol. As quoth Steve Seyler, head Jänchoführer of the Big Bad BIDdies: “…we’re gonna start out with a nice approach, hey, please, time to get up, businesses are open, you gotta get off the sidewalk, we’re here to help you, you know, blah blah blah blah, please, please, pretty please, and then, you know, ultimately we’re going to put the cuffs on you…” Yeah, that’s working hard, but it’s not keeping anything hospitable. Furthermore, there are many non-homeless residents of Hollywood who don’t find the BID’s armed gunmen to be an element of hospitality. They’re terrifying. In fact, people who feel safer with gunmen around are generally fairly deluded about the nature of reality. Especially gunmen who, in defiance of common sense, professionalism, and basic training treat their weapons like toys. Sheesh.

  • Already pedestrians experience what can sometimes feel like an assault with all the attempts to capture their attention and their money. On a typical summer day one can be approached on every block by aggressive tour operators. In the most busy tourist zone there are dozens of street characters and CD vendors who have been known to shake down unsuspecting tourists.
    Seriously, who cares? This is what Hollywood is like. If tourists don’t like it, let them go to freaking CityWalk. It’s just a short subway ride away. If they don’t have enough sense not to get shaken down by CD vendors, they’re just gonna be shaken down. If the CD vendors are actually breaking the law, arrest them. All of this is a non sequitur anyway. What does any of this have to do with legal street vending? Nothing, that’s what.

  • We already have vendors selling food and merchandise on the Walk of Fame and the city seems overwhelmed by the prospect of enforcing the current laws on the books that prohibit vending.
    No, we don’t. This is a lie. The BID Patrol arrests street vendors immediately. They don’t just arrest them, they handcuff them and destroy all their merchandise. They arrest them hard-core.

  • We can only imagine that if sidewalk vendors were to take up residence on every block along the Walk of Fame an already congested and sometimes chaotic situation would be made much worse.
    We can only imagine that a normally congested and entrancingly chaotic situation would be made much better. We just don’t understand why the BIDs hate urbanism, hate everything that makes this city wonderful, hate everything about the superabundant cup-overfloweth wildly hypergenerative overly generously vibrantly alive nature of Los Angeles. Why don’t they move back to America if they don’t like it here?

  • Finally, we have many restaurants and small businesses that depend upon the tourist trade to pay their bills, their payroll, taxes, insurance, rent, and the BID assessments that are passed through to them. This puts them at a serious disadvantage.
    If this lady is going to drive you out of business, you probably not ought to be in business in the first place.  There's certainly no reason to expect the government to continue shackling her just so you can overcharge tourists for hot dogs.
    If this lady is going to drive you out of business, you probably not ought to be in business in the first place. There’s certainly no reason to expect the government to continue arresting her, shackling her, imprisoning her, fining her, and possibly deporting her just so you can overcharge tourists for hot dogs. Why don’t you get a real job?

    Finally, at least, we have an argument that addresses a real issue rather than being yet another ataxophobic cri de coeur. It’s still wrong, though. One of the great functions of a free market is to allocate resources in the most efficient manner possible. The role of government in this process is to keep the market free of distortions that don’t serve public policy interests. There is, of course, a great deal of debate on what public policy interests justify intentional market distortions, but we think the BIDs are going to have a great deal of trouble finding anyone serious who seriously thinks that the economic survival of a bunch of souvenir stores on Hollywood Boulevard who might be driven out of business by someone selling t-shirts from a cart or a bunch of overpriced hot-dog stores selling five dollar cups of lemonade to Canadians are amongst those that do. If those stores get driven out of business it’s by definition good for the people of California. Stores will open that make better use of the resources (presence of tourists, prime location, etc.). It’ll even be better for the property owners since if the underperforming businesses go under they’ll be able to raise the rents on their new tenants. Everything will be better for everyone. The government of the city of Los Angeles does not exist to arrest, shackle, imprison, fine, and deport human beings just to keep overpriced pizza slice restaurants in business so their owners don’t have to get a real job. Note that we’re not ignoring Alyssa’s (possibly cryptic) claim about the pass-through of BID assessments. We’re planning a whole post on that subject and will address it then.

  • There may be communities in our city who want more liberalized sidewalk vending. Hollywood is not one of those communities.
    When Alyssa Van Breene says “Hollywood” she doesn’t mean the real Hollywood, she means the Hollywood that lives in the imaginations of the zillionaire bubble-dwellers of the HPOA. At least her colleague, the jittery little psychopath Carol Massie, has the sense to understand that actual people who live in actual Hollywood might want street vending legalized and that the interests of the business-dudes might not align with the interests of actual people. Alyssa Van Breene, HPOA, you are not Hollywood. You may be in Hollywood, but you’re surely not of it. Pffft!

When we started writing this post, we didn’t anticipate having so much to say. We’re going to break this up into a series. Next up is Devin Strecker. If you want to listen to the rest of the clips or (God forbid) the whole meeting, we’re embedding them here for you:

Devin Strecker:

Nicole Shahenian:

Pro-street-vending speaker who supports his family:

Another pro-street-vending speaker who leads a chant:

Cynthia Anderson-Barker of the National Lawyers Guild:

The whole damn two hour meeting:


Transcription:
Alyssa Van Breene: Hi, Alyssa Van Breene, Hollywood Property Owners Alliance. Um, we manage the Hollywood Entertainment District Business Improvement District. Our BID covers 1.6 miles along Hollywood Boulevard and we work very hard to keep the sidewalks clean, safe, and hospitable for all pedestrians: tourists, workers, residents, and students. Our sidewalks are among the most densely packed in the city of Los Angeles. Already pedestrians experience what can sometimes feel like an assault with all the attempts to capture their attention and their money. On a typical summer day one can be approached on every block by aggressive tour operators. In the most busy tourist zone there are dozens of street characters and CD vendors who have been known to shake down unsuspecting tourists. We already have vendors selling food and merchandise on the Walk of Fame and the city seems overwhelmed by the prospect of enforcing the current laws on the books that prohibit vending. We can only imagine that if sidewalk vendors were to take up residence on every block along the Walk of Fame an already congested and sometimes chaotic situation would be made much worse. Finally, we have many restaurants and small businesses that depend upon the tourist trade to pay their bills, their payroll, taxes, insurance, rent, and the BID assessments that are passed through to them. This puts them at a serious disadvantage. There may be communities in our city who want more liberalized sidewalk vending. Hollywood is not one of those communities. Alyssa Van Breene, Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, thank you.

  1. Note that there are two more meetings being held in August 2015. See here for dates, times, and places.

Image of Boyle Hotel is released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 and has been released into the wild by its creator, Bruce Boehner, via Wikimedia. Image of Humpty Dumpty is by John Tenniel and is in the public domain due to being so darned old. We got it from Wikimedia like we always does. Image of Alyssa Van Breene is a public record, produced by the HPOA, and appears here under a theory of either fair use or the evident and probably true fact that public agencies can’t stifle discourse about matters of public interest by asserting copyright in public records. We’ll keep acting as if this is true until a judge tells us it’s not, OK friends? Image of handcuffed bacon dog lady is a public record as it was snapped by the BID Patrol in the process of their arrest of her.

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