Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Slithers Out From Her Habitual Under-The-Rock Lair And Spews Toxic Lies About Venice Beach BID Before Los Angeles City Council

Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine seeping toxic waste from every pore at the August 23, 2016 meeting of the Los Angeles City Council.
Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine seeping toxic waste from every pore at the August 23, 2016 meeting of the Los Angeles City Council.
Shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine, of shadowy BID consultantcy Devine Associates, slithered up out of the depths in which she habitually dwells to make a rare public appearance before the Los Angeles City Council on August 23, 2016, pleading for the Councilmembers to give life to the stitched-up-out-of-corpse-parts monster known as the Venice Beach BID which she’s been nurturing in her subterranean lair for many months now.

Even though the victory of her cause was a foregone conclusion, the dramaturgical conventions of the ritual ceremony that’s habitually performed in the John Ferraro Council Chambers in place of genuine democratic debate require that she pretend to be making reasoned arguments. She could as easily have recited the alphabet, assuming she is able to recite the alphabet, without affecting the success of her cause, but instead she chose to make checkable statements, all of which, as it happens, were lies. You can watch her whole little song-and-dance here and, as always, there’s a complete transcription after the break.

Good morning, Councilmembers.
OK, perhaps not everything she said was a lie.

Herb Wesson to TD: Identify yourself!
Herb Wesson may not be able to pay his mortgage on time, but he runs a tight Council meeting.

Uh, Tara Devine.
We here at MK.org are as fair and as balanced as any other fair and balanced news source. When our subjects say something true, we don’t hesitate to showcase it. As far as we’ve been able to determine, her name is, in fact, Tara Devine. However, given that she seems to be named after a famed white supremacist monument and she’s advocating publicly for white supremacy, it’s surprising that she’s so open about it.

Note that we’re going to skip her next few sentences because they don’t make factual claims and also they’re too weirdly disconcerting for us to address calmly. E.g. it’s unclear when Venice became the kind of place that inspires people like freaking Steve Heumann, who’s been at this shit for more than a quarter of a century, to hire consultants and lobbyists to make semantically empty statements like “Venice is controversy because Venice is passionate.” Evidently that has happened, though. Maybe that’ll be the slogan of the BID’s first marketing campaign?

There will be no BID police, just ambassadors, like in Berkeley.
There will be no BID police, just ambassadors, like in Berkeley.

There will be no BID police force, just ambassadors.
Here we get to the real problem. The Downtown Berkeley1 Association made the same argument in the East Bay Express in 2012:

John Caner, CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association, said that much of the frontline enforcement work under the sit/lie law would be delegated to “ambassadors” rather than to Berkeley cops. Ambassadors are employed by merchants’ associations. Caner foresees a system in which ambassadors would quietly shoo homeless people away from the city’s main commercial districts, making them cleaner and more pedestrian-friendly, while creating an uptick in foot traffic to bolster local businesses

This led famously in 2015 to DBA ambassadors beating the shit out of a homeless man and getting caught on camera doing it. So yeah, maybe Tara Devine is telling the truth about there being only BID ambassadors, but clearly it doesn’t matter what they’re called.

Which brings us to the second problem with this statement. Once BIDs are formed, no one can control what they do. The City Clerk refuses to even enforce BID contracts,2 BID security isn’t overseen by the LA Police Commission as are all other private security patrols in Los Angeles, BIDs can spend years making false arrests on the basis of nonexistent laws with no consequences, and so on. So even if Tara Devine’s claim about ambassadors meant what she wants us to think it means, it doesn’t matter. It’s non-binding and if they change their mind on the first day of the BID and decide to have stormtroopers like we do in Hollywood, or if all of a sudden Mike Bonin decides he wants BID cops patrolling the Boardwalk at night like Mitch O’Farrell did earlier this year in Hollywood, no one would be able to do anything about it.

Tangentially, Tara Devine’s origin story is intimately related to BID policing. In 2008 she was employed as the director of business and government affairs at the freaking death star of downtown BIDs, the most corrupt organization East of San Pedro Street, the Central City East Association. In January of that year she sent around an invitation to a conference on Policing Skid Row featuring such totalitarian heroes as Bill Bratton, Andrew Smith, and her shadowy BID consultant boss at-the-time Estela Lopez speaking on such LEO-porn topics as “Lessons of Skid Row: Implications for Public Space and Order.”

Incidentally, the CCEA also has safety ambassadors rather than BID police, and not only are they currently being sued for the reprehensible actions of their ambassadors towards the homeless, but they have been sued many times before, and will doubtless be sued many times again. The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles already has the Venice Beach BID in its crosshairs, so it won’t be long before the lawsuits start. So yeah, Tara Devine, maybe your BID is only going to have ambassadors, but what freaking difference does that make?

Only ineligible properties are excluded from the boundaries.
Here she’s talking about the shameless gerrymandering-in of City properties that was done with the evident connivance of CD11 to ensure that the BID was approved. And of course only ineligible properties are excluded. If they’re ineligible, they can’t be included. This is another empty tautology, tossed out to create the impression that BID opponents don’t understand the technical details. But really, read the freaking engineer’s report if you have the stomach for it. All it says is that the City parcels were included because they were included.

The public property within the BID defines the area. Excluding it would exclude the very heart of Venice.
A bunch of freaking parking lots in the Venice Boulevard median define Venice? That’s news to everyone. For whatever reason the new LAPD substation where the Pavilion used to be has a bunch of quotes from Venice poets about what Venice is, what Venice means, and so on. And finally we learn that actually what defines Venice is some tattered parking lots in the middle of the freaking street. The very heart of Venice is parking lots. That didn’t used to be true, but maybe now that the zillionaires are running everything it actually is true. Thanks, Tara Devine!

More than 58% of property owners signed their petitions.
Since everyone involved in the BID creation process is so secretive it’s impossible to evaluate this statement. But isn’t it strange how these BID proponents switch back and forth between counting the number of ballots and counting the ballots weighted by assessed value depending on which better supports their cause? In fact it doesn’t matter how many property owners signed their ballots in favor or against if the sum total of their assessments is smaller than that of the fewer owners opposed to them. 99% by number could be on one side, and if the other 1% had higher assessed values they would prevail. So 58% signing is meaningless without context, which makes it a lie even if it’s based on some actual fact.

We have met with all known opponents who would meet with us.
This is flat-out not true.

A [unintelligible] property owner who could not attend today reminded me of this quote. “Every adversity carries with it the seed…”
Kids, if you ever have to speak in public, don’t read freaking quotes. The only commendable part of this is that she didn’t attribute it to freaking Albert Einstein like most of these BIDdies do. Or maybe she was about to attribute it when the buzzer rang and Herb Wesson kicked her out. It’s better that we will never know.

This is your host, Michael Kohlhaas, signing off for now!


Tara Devine: Good morning, Councilmembers. Will all those in support of the BID please stand…

Herb Wesson: Identify yourself!

TD: Uh, Tara Devine. Uh, will all those in support of the BID please stand briefly? Venice is controversy because Venice is passionate. You will not see perfect unity in here today because that is not Venice. But what you will see is a massive, first-of-its-kind, commitment by property owners to a [unintelligible; thoughtful??] solution to intractable issues. There will be no BID police force, just ambassadors. Only ineligible properties are excluded from the boundaries. The public property within the BID defines the area. Excluding it would exclude the very heart of Venice. More than 58% of property owners signed their petitions. Every owner has been mailed twice. We have met with all known opponents who would meet with us. A [unintelligible] property owner who could not attend today reminded me of this quote. “Every adversity carries with it the seed…”

[Timer sounds]

Herb Wesson: Thank you.


Image of Tara Devine is ©2016 MichaelKohlhaas.org.

  1. This is instructive because the situation in Berkeley is so similar to what’s happened in Venice over the last 75 years or so. Beats gave way to hippies gave way to hipsters gave way to yuppies gave way to zillionaires and their freaking chambers of commerce, who have packaged up the dead-but-still-twitching remains of the genuine culture over which they’ve paved in the name of property values and…we could go on for ever here.
  2. We’ve mentioned this a number of times but haven’t been able to write about it in detail yet. It’s coming, it’s coming.

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