HPOA to Oppose O’Farrell/Ryu Motion on Tree-Trimming. Kerry Morrison: This is Overkill. John Tronson: I’m Having a Fundraiser for Mitch; I will Talk to Him. Mark Echevarria: What the Fuck is a Tree Surgeon?! Hurr Hurr Hurr

The Hollywood Property Owners Alliance supports laws that prioritize the view on the right over the view on the left.
The Hollywood Property Owners Alliance supports laws that prioritize the view on the right over the view on the left.
Maybe you remember in January when Outfront Media illegally, immorally, and with reckless disregard, vandalized a bunch of trees in Silver Lake. Well, that’s smack in the heartland of Mitch O’Farrell world, so the CM and his compatriot David Ryu introduced a motion directing the Bureau of Street Services to figure out how to prevent this kind of horror in the future (the full council file CF 15-0467-S4 is here). It’s a little off-topic, but nevertheless interesting, to note that Outfront is a client of megalobbyist Veronica Perez, at whom Silver Lake residents directed a lot of justified rage on Facebook and elsewhere about this issue in March.

Well, in April, BSS came back with a list of proposed amendments to the City tree-trimming ordinance, and they mean to put some teeth into it, and as we know, our old friends the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance just hate to have to follow any laws at all since, they think, laws are what criminals break and we’re not criminals.

HPOA staffies Kerry Morrison and Matthew Severson, who propound the views of their masters with a level of passion that only the paid flunkies of zillionaires seem to be able to muster, frame it as a matter of more misdirected and incompetent government regulation. Real-estate zillionaire, BFF of Kerry Morrison, and revealed plagiarist John Tronson is gonna talk to Mitch about it at the fundraiser next week. Mark Echevarria, boss of Los Angeles spiritual/cultural nexus Musso & Frank, proves that you don’t have to be a genius to run a holy site by chuckling over the fact that he’s never heard of tree surgeons. It’s just yet another display of ignorance, privilege, and conspiracy to bribe public officials; business as usual at the HPOA. You can watch the whole thing here, see a complete transcription after the break, and turn the page for line-by-line commentary.


Matthew Severson: …you’ve got a couple of sheets in the packet that show some proposed changes to the City’s tree trimming ordinance, which we are very concerned about, considering we trim all of the trees along the walk of fame once annually. It’s close to 400 trees and the permitting process to get that done as it is now is already difficult. The City is proposing to tack on about five or six other layers of bureaucracy on top of the process. A billboard company trimmed some trees in Silver Lake illegally and the community was very upset so the City is trying to figure out how to stop that from happening but we don’t believe the recommendations as proposed are the right way of doing that. There are still a lot of things we don’t know yet, which is why we don’t have a draft letter ready for you to review, but one thing that’s very scary is that they’re proposing a two hundred permit fee per tree as we understand it so far so that’s a huge cost that we would be…

Did you read BSS’s list of proposed amendments? I don’t know where “five or six other layers of bureaucracy” is to be found outside of the fevered imagination of Matthew Severson. What they’re proposing is to have an arborist on site when trees are being trimmed, to fund this with permit fees, and to allow BSS personnel to issue citations for violations of the tree-trimming laws. Now, in general it’s a good thing to have arborists on site when trees are being trimmed. Arborists cost money. Self-funding laws are a good thing. If the BID is exempted from this requirement, there won’t be enough money to pay for the arborists that would have to be hired.

Furthermore, BSS says that they process about 1700 permits per year, so if that figure and Mr. Severson’s figure of 400 trees are both accurate, the HPOA is responsible for about 25% of the privately trimmed trees in the City. Their not having to pay the fee would therefore cripple the whole proposal and ruin it for the entire City of Los Angeles. Of course, that they’d take this position is not surprising. They don’t care about anything other than their BID1 but, just like people without children still have to fund public schools, they must be made to pay anyway.


Kerry Morrison: Yeah, it doesn’t…it penalizes the law-abiding BIDs you know and whatnot. They’re trying to go after the van that comes in at midnight with no markings on the truck and comes in and hacks a tree under a billboard and drives off. And that’s you know what precipitates…those folks aren’t gonna follow this
[self-righteous chuckling sound]…[unintelligible comment] so I’d like, we’d like to oppose it and say like we have some other ideas. Like we have seen those trucks pull into the neighborhood and start trimming trees. We know they don’t have permits. Who do we call? You know, can LAPD be called? You know, can we take a picture and take a picture of the license plate and then there could be some infraction. Those are the rogue tree trimmers that they’re trying to go after. This is overkill. Not only do they want two hundred dollars per tree but you have to take a picture of every tree before you trim it and a picture of every tree after you trim it.

This is a constant theme of Kerry Morrison’s. It’s like she thinks that there is this separate class of people called criminals, and laws should apply only to criminals. She and her friends aren’t criminals, so they should be able to break the law, or the laws should be rewritten so that she and her friends are excluded. It’s so backwards and un-American. It’s like she slept through high school civics. It’s just like when she confessed to violating LAMC 41.18(d), presumably because that law only applies to homeless people. Or when she helped shoot down a revision to the City Lobbying Ordinance because she and her BID are law-abiding, so there shouldn’t be a law against what they do.2 And did she miss that part in the proposal that will let BSS cite violators? I suppose the facts don’t matter to aggrieved zillionaires.


MS: Yeah, and they’re planning to hire two tree surgeons to actually physically come out and inspect the trees before and after, so…

Mark Echevarria: What qualifies you to be a tree surgeon, I wonder?

[Generalized moronically privileged chuckling]

Mark Echevarria. It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.3

Matthew Severson: And you know our tree trimmers are certified arborists as it is, so…

See, Matthew, you might as well say that your contractor is a certified contractor so the City doesn’t need to send out a building inspector to your jobsite. The point is that the City has an interest in making sure its trees aren’t being butchered by unscrupulous or incompetent tree-trimmers. Even if your tree trimmers are certified tree surgeons4 they don’t have sufficient incentives to do a good job at all times. They need some oversight. Just like super competent contractors also need some oversight. It’s just too tempting to cut corners, at least sometimes. This is the reason that the City has inspectors for all its contracts5 even if the contractors are certified whatevers. It’s why the City has a Bureau of Contract Administration. The policy is, and this is the only sane thing to do, which may explain why the HPOA doesn’t get it, to hire qualified people and then independently verify that they’re doing the work. And make them pay for it through permits. It’s basic.


John Tronson: Well, I’m hosting a fundraiser for Mitch on the 27th, so I’ll talk to him about it.

The coup de grace here, John. You and your zillionaire friends are giving Mitch O’Farrell a bunch of money and you don’t even know enough to keep your mouth shut about the influence this buys you? You’re not doing your buddy Mitch any favors by talking out of school about your thinly veiled quid pro quo plans.


Matthew Severson: And then the last item, the action would be a little bit different on this one, but you’ve got a couple of sheets in the packet that show some proposed changes to the City’s tree trimming ordinance, which we are very concerned about, considering we trim all of the trees along the walk of fame once annually. It’s close to 400 trees and the permitting process to get that done as it is now is already difficult. The City is proposing to tack on about five or six other layers of bureaucracy on top of the process. A billboard company trimmed some trees in Silver Lake illegally and the community was very upset so the City is trying to figure out how to stop that from happening but we don’t believe the recommendations as proposed are the right way of doing that. There are still a lot of things we don’t know yet, which is why we don’t have a draft letter ready for you to review, but one thing that’s very scary is that they’re proposing a two hundred permit fee per tree as we understand it so far so that’s a huge cost that we would be…

John Tronson: [unintelligible]

MS: …so yeah, we’re concerned. We brought this to the BID Consortium’s attention. So we’re gonna try and rally the troops and come up with a recommended revision as related to what the BIDs do. So I think the motion we’re seeking is approval to oppose the proposal.

JT: Is it in fact Mitch O’Farrell’s office that [unintelligible]

MS: I’m waiting to hear back from their legislative team, but we just found out about this on Tuesday, so there’s a lot of unknowns still.

Unidentified Interlocutor: Do we know how fast it’s moving?

MS: So I believe it’s being heard on the 26th of this month.6 Yeah, BSS is going to be hearing this at the committee level. So right now things are just kind of the City’s first response to Mitch’s motion for additional information, so I do think that there’s still time to give our input.

Kerry Morrison: Yeah, it doesn’t…it penalizes the law-abiding BIDs you know and whatnot. They’re trying to go after the van that comes in at midnight with no markings on the truck and comes in and hacks a tree under a billboard and drives off. And that’s you know what precipitates…those folks aren’t gonna follow this [self-righteous chuckling sound]…[unintelligible comment] so I’d like, we’d like to oppose it and say like we have some other ideas. Like we have seen those trucks pull into the neighborhood and start trimming trees. We know they don’t have permits. Who do we call? You know, can LAPD be called? You know, can we take a picture and take a picture of the license plate and then there could be some infraction. Those are the rogue tree trimmers that they’re trying to go after. This is overkill. Not only do they want two hundred dollars per tree but you have to take a picture of every tree before you trim it and a picture of every tree after you trim it.

MS: Yeah, and they’re planning to hire two tree surgeons to actually physically come out and inspect the trees before and after, so…

Mark Echevarria: What qualifies you to be a tree surgeon, I wonder?

[Generalized moronically privileged chuckling]

MS: And you know our tree trimmers are certified arborists as it is, so…

Monica Yamada: [unintelligible, asks how much a permit is now]

MS: Today it’s no fee for a tree trimming permit, so…

UI: How much?

MS: It’s no fee. So the two hundred fee is to pay for these proposed two tree surgeons…

John Tronson: Well, I’m hosting a fundraiser for Mitch on the 27th, so I’ll talk to him about it.


Before and after version of Silver Lake trees is from this petition on Change dot org demanding accountability for tree vandalism in Silver Lake. I’m using it under a claim of fair use and on the assumption that the Silvery Lakies won’t mind.

  1. And, obviously, the zillionaire-residential districts in which they make their homes; Windsor Square, Pacific Palisades, and so on. But no political process affects those anyway.
  2. This is an interesting case, because she and her strange BIDfellows seem to have assumed that the current Lobbying Ordinance doesn’t apply to them now, but in fact it does.
  3. Albert Einstein said that, at least in some possible world.
  4. Arborist = Tree Surgeon, kids.
  5. Except for its contracts with BIDs, strangely enough. Those are completely unsupervised. For now, anyway. It’s another MK.org project. More news when I have it.
  6. The 26th is a Sunday. It’s coming before Council on the 28th.
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