Is Mike Bonin A Liar Or A Fool? Which Is Holly Wolcott? Tara Devine? They’ve Acted As If There Was No Effective Way To Remove Residential Properties From The Venice Beach BID Without Rezoning When They Must Or Should Have Known That State Law Explicitly Empowers City Council To Do So Unilaterally

Did Mike Bonin lie about his ability to remove properties from the Venice Beach BID? Or did he just not care enough to read the law governing BID formation? Or both?
One of the most contentious issues in the very, very contentious formation of a business improvement district in Venice has been the existence of properties with commercial zoning that are used solely for residential purposes that were included in the BID and therefore assessed. This is the basis of a recently filed lawsuit against the City as well as a significant number of other protests against the BID.

For instance, in May 2016, Venice homeowner1 Louis Traeger wrote to the City protesting the inclusion of his home in the BID. On June 1, 2016 Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott answered him, stating:

In address of your request to remove said property from the proposed Business Improvement District, the City Clerk does not have the authority to remove or add properties in a Business Improvement District. However, we will forward your request and this information to the Engineer conducting the survey and analysis for the creation of the Venice Beach Business Improvement District.

Further, you requested notice of any hearing concerning the approval of the Venice Beach Business Improvement District in order to submit your written opposition. If your property is ultimately included within the Business Improvement District boundaries, a notice of the City Council hearing date will be mailed to you. At the hearing, an opportunity will be provided to protest the establishment.

Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott whispering secrets to Councildude Mitch Englander on November 8, 2016. She tells the truth, and nothing but the truth, but no how, no way, are you telling the whole truth, Ms. Holly.

As far as I can tell2 what Holly Wolcott says is the truth and it’s nothing but the truth, but it is in absolutely no way at all the whole truth. Her statement that “the City Clerk does not have the authority to remove or add properties in a Business Improvement District” is true. When she follows it up with a statement that she will “forward your request and this information to the Engineer conducting the survey and analysis” she is certainly creating the impression that ONLY the engineer is empowered to remove properties. This is not true. It’s really badly not true, as I will demonstrate below.

On July 27, 2016 Holly Wolcott wrote to Venice homeowners William and Laura Kuel making essentially the same argument, but with this additional twist:3
Continue reading Is Mike Bonin A Liar Or A Fool? Which Is Holly Wolcott? Tara Devine? They’ve Acted As If There Was No Effective Way To Remove Residential Properties From The Venice Beach BID Without Rezoning When They Must Or Should Have Known That State Law Explicitly Empowers City Council To Do So Unilaterally

Bunches of New Media District BID Documents And More Evidence Of This Blog’s Popularity Among City of LA Employees

Photograph of busted light in the Media District taken by Media District BID Executive Director and preconviction malfeasant Lisa Schechter.
This is just a quick announcement of some new documents from the Hollywood Media District BID. We have the BID’s 2014 and 2015 tax returns as well as minutes from all Board and Committee meetings from February through December 2016. I also got a ton of emails from Laurie Goldman and Lisa Schechter to and from the City of L.A. They’re not ready to make available yet, though. The Media District BID, alone among all BIDs of whom I request records,1 provides emails to me in native .eml format. This is absolutely ideal for my own research for a number of reasons, but it does create some obstacles in distribution.2 Hence I’ll be making those emails available as necessary and will put them all on the Archive if I ever manage to get a batch eml to PDF converter working properly.3

Anyway, you can find the new material:

And turn the page for a quirky little item showing our eternal popularity amongst City of LA employees!
Continue reading Bunches of New Media District BID Documents And More Evidence Of This Blog’s Popularity Among City of LA Employees

Mitch O’Farrell Deserves Any Amount Of Bad Press For Sucking Up To Kerry Morrison About Kids And Adults In Playgrounds But The Recent L.A. Times Editorial And Subsequent Internet Freakout Criticizing Him Are Kind Of Off Base

Mitch O’Farrell in a strip-mall somewhere yelling about something.
Our work on Selma Park has been getting a lot of action over the last couple days since the L.A. Times published this editorial criticizing a recent motion of O’Farrell’s. The Times puts it thus:

City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell has proposed barring adults unaccompanied by children from entering playgrounds. It’s an effort, he said, to keep city parks “free of creepy activity.” Who wouldn’t want to ban creepy activity or creepy people from playgrounds?

This editorial prompted a massive ongoing freakout on Reddit, followed by O’Farrell’s feckless denial on Twitter and moving from there to a blog post by the incomparable Lenore Skenazy, then on to Slate, and then everywhere. And the way the Times describes the issue is certainly frightening:

But what O’Farrell is proposing goes far beyond targeting worrisome activities that, in most cases, are already outlawed. It would bar any adult from sitting on a bench, exercising or otherwise enjoying public space near
[a] playground unless he or she brought a child along. Is this really necessary?

One of the legitimate, Recreation and Parks Commission approved, signs at Selma Park stating that use of the playground is restricted to children and caregivers. The sign cites LAMC 83.44 and Penal Code section 653g, neither of which actually exists.

According to the Times, Mitch O’Farrell proposed this motion because Hollywood residents complained about drug dealers in some park. But Mitch O’Farrell is famous for confusing Kerry Morrison and her dimwit BID buddies with residents of Hollywood. He thinks they’re his constituents even though none of them live in Hollywood. He’s made this error with respect to tour bus regulation, and also street characters, and also Hollywood nightclubs. In each of these cases, “Hollywood residents” has turned out to be code for “Kerry Morrison.”

So even though I don’t yet have documentary evidence to back it up, my best guess is that this story about Hollywood residents complaining about a park is O’Farrell-speak for something like the following chain of events: Kerry Morrison and her armed flunky Steve Seyler bitched and moaned about the HPOA’s illegal signs being removed from Selma Park.1 O’Farrell then probably asked the City Attorney how to ban grownups from the park again. Probably the City Attorney told him at that point that it wasn’t possible, because it’s not, and probably it also came up at this point that the City’s official signs banning adults without kids from actual demarcated playgrounds were really outdated, given that neither LAMC 83.44 nor Penal Code section 653g actually exist.

Of course, not only is it certainly illegal to cite people for violating repealed laws, but it’s almost certainly illegal for the City to post signs threatening to cite people for violating them in order to keep them out of places that they legally have the right to be. So Kerry Morrison and Mitch O’Farrell, faced with the possibility of the removal of even the official signs,2 settled, I’m thinking, on the very motion that is currently undergoing two minutes hate from the Internet.

And the motion the Internet is hating on is a scary thing indeed. But it’s not the motion O’Farrell actually made. In its entirety the real motion says:3
Continue reading Mitch O’Farrell Deserves Any Amount Of Bad Press For Sucking Up To Kerry Morrison About Kids And Adults In Playgrounds But The Recent L.A. Times Editorial And Subsequent Internet Freakout Criticizing Him Are Kind Of Off Base

Save Valley Village Vote-Trading Lawsuit Against LA City Council Dismissed With Prejudice Despite (Or Perhaps Because Of) Entirely Truthful Yet Delightfully Unhinged Pleading Filed By The Good Guys

Morning in Valley Village in 2007.
In September, local activist group Save Valley Village filed suit against the City of Los Angeles and the City Council alleging in their petition that

The Councilmembers of the Los Angeles City Council operate according to an agreement, i.e. The Vote Trading Pact, not to Vote No on any Council Project in another council district and said agreement by its very terms requires reciprocality, also called mutuality, whereby the agreement not to Vote No by one Councilmember is given in exchange for the other Councilmember’s not to vote No on a Council Project in his/her council district.

In October the City filed a demurrer,1 and then in the last couple weeks there have been a number of documents filed, leading up to the Court’s dismissing the case with prejudice.2 It’s a pity in one sense, because this is precisely one of the ways in which the City Council is corrupt. It ought to be against the law, and if the Court is correct in its ruling that there presently are no laws which it’s against, then such a law needs to be written. That it should be written is self evident. How to write it, how to enact it, these are not such easy questions to answer. Turn the page for links to all the recent filings, including the judge’s detailed ruling on why he dismissed the case as well as excerpts from the tragically, beautifully loony and also fairly convincing petitioners’ memorandum in opposition to demurrer.3
Continue reading Save Valley Village Vote-Trading Lawsuit Against LA City Council Dismissed With Prejudice Despite (Or Perhaps Because Of) Entirely Truthful Yet Delightfully Unhinged Pleading Filed By The Good Guys

Venice Residents File Suit Against City of L.A. Over Venice Beach BID!! Arguments Underlying Petition Will Have Broad Progressive Implications If Successful

There’s no place on earth like Venice, so why shouldn’t the destruction of BIDs in California begin in Venice?
A couple weeks ago, a group of brave and determined residents of Venice filed a writ petition against the City of Los Angeles and the Venice Beach BID asking the court to set aside the ordinance that created it, to force the City to redraw the BID’s boundaries in accordance with the law, and, most interestingly, to order the City to contest the assessments levied against City-owned properties in the BID. You can read a copy of the initial petition:

  • Here — direct download
  • Or here — on the new dedicated page, also available through the menu structure above.
  • Or here — directly from static storage; see the titles better!

They argue that their residential properties will get no special benefits from the BID, which violates the California Constitution. They argue that many of the proposed activities of the BID, specifically the security program, are inherently incapable of providing special benefits. And most interestingly from the point of view of general anti-BID theory, they argue that the City has a duty to its citizens to scrutinize the BID plan to be sure that City-owned parcels included in the BID actually benefit from being in the BID, and that by rubber-stamping the BID proposal, the City has abdicated this duty. If this argument succeeds it will shake the very foundations of BIDs in Los Angeles, which rely to various extents on the automatic yes votes provided by City-owned property. This automatic approval, by the way, was set up in 19981 via Council File 96-1972 which, in pertinent part, includes a directive to:

REQUIRE the City Clerk to sign off on Proposition 218 ballots and support petitions for property-based BIDs, unless the Council directs otherwise.

Anyway, this is an exciting and welcome development, and all of us here at MK.Org thank the plaintiffs and their lawyers for filing this petition. There are a few excerpts that caught my eye along with my usual uninformed and amateur commentaries after the break if you’re interested.
Continue reading Venice Residents File Suit Against City of L.A. Over Venice Beach BID!! Arguments Underlying Petition Will Have Broad Progressive Implications If Successful

Morrison Family Missionary Position Revealed! Mr. Kerry Morrison Admits Morrison Family Moved To South Central Hollywood To “support … the [Morrison] family’s mission to contribute and to participate in LA’s urban renewal,” To Which Ivan Illich Says “Yanqui Go Home!”

This is not a picture of Peter Zarcone, it is a picture of Mr. Kerry Morrison.
This is not a picture of Peter Zarcone, it is a picture of Mr. Kerry Morrison.
We have written before about about how Ms. Kerry Morrison presents herself as a missionary bringing the blessings of zillionaire-table-crumbs to the homeless population of Hollywood. And, given the proper understanding of Mother Teresa, it’s true that she is an awful lot like the Caudilla of Calcutta.1

And none of this is really a secret. For instance, here are more than 30 pages of emails from Kerry Morrison to various coreligionists extolling the virtues of Christian love for one’s City, praying for one’s City, serving one’s City as a “Christ Follower,” and whatnot. And there’s a long and vital tradition of this kind of thing in Christianity, to be sure. E.g. compare Paul’s letter to the Hebrews 11:9-10 on how Abraham’s faith led him to leave his home and live like a stranger for the sake of finding the City of God:

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

A typical house in Windsor Square, to whence the Morrison family moved, the better to missionaryize you, fellow Angelenos! (Note: this is a picture of Eric Garcetti’s house, not Kerry Morrison’s house. We have neither a picture of Kerry Morrison’s house nor plans to obtain one because we’re not stalkers).

And of course it’s well known to students of Hurricane Kerry that she lives in zillionaire enclave Windsor Square, where she brushes shoulders or whatever with zillionaire lackey and fellow resident Eric Garcetti.2 And living in Windsor Square no doubt means many things to many people, but never ever ever would we ever have thought that it could be construed as an Abrahamic sojourn “like a stranger in a foreign country” for the sake of “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Newly discovered information reveals, however, that that’s precisely how Ms. Kerry Morrison sees it.
Continue reading Morrison Family Missionary Position Revealed! Mr. Kerry Morrison Admits Morrison Family Moved To South Central Hollywood To “support … the [Morrison] family’s mission to contribute and to participate in LA’s urban renewal,” To Which Ivan Illich Says “Yanqui Go Home!”

Mark Ryavec: the notion that police act as gentrification agents is “a bunch of radical bullshit.” LAPD Captain Cory Palka: “I showed [that developer], through public safety, that we can help him develop and prosper as he invests in Hollywood”

Cory Palka giving a performative demonstration of the fact that Mark Ryavec is not only a slavering psychopath, he’s also either clueless or a liar or both.
A few weeks ago, Rory Carroll published an excellent article in The Guardian on how the City of Los Angeles has used gang injunctions as a tool of gentrification in Venice. Of course, this is not news to anyone who’s been paying attention since the injunction began in 2000. Even at the time it seemed clear that the injunction was a response to the wave of gentrification that began in Venice in the late 1980s and underwent unprecedented acceleration through the 1990s. Of course, everyone who’s smelting gold out of the housing stock of Oakwood in a blast furnace fueled by the burning bodies and lives of the poor people, the dark-skinned people, fed into the hopper by the LAPD, denies this every which way.

And these arguments have been repeated so often I have nightmares about them. “The cops would never ever do such a thing.” “There’s no conspiracy to chase out darkies.”1 And so on and on and on. But Venice’s own muse of slavering psychopathy, the very king of the gentrifiers, the universally acknowledged whitest man in Venice, Mark Ryavec himself, has distilled all of them, every last threadbare tin-foil-hat characterization, into one bitter pithy little ball. As Rory Carroll puts it:

For Mark Ryavec, head of the Venice Stakeholders Association, the notion that police act as gentrification agents is “a bunch of radical bullshit”.

Well, first of all, it’s not actually bullshit.2 The arguments against the idea that the City uses the LAPD to promote gentrification are mostly based on the (probably) factual assertion that (a) the City never mentions gentrification as a purpose for the gang injunctions and (b) that the assertions they make in support of the injunctions have to do with very real problems of violent crime (real at the time when the injunctions are being sought, anyway). There are a number of problems with this line of reasoning.
Continue reading Mark Ryavec: the notion that police act as gentrification agents is “a bunch of radical bullshit.” LAPD Captain Cory Palka: “I showed [that developer], through public safety, that we can help him develop and prosper as he invests in Hollywood”

In 2015 Bonin Aide Debbie Dyner Harris Sought To Leverage “Extremely Unusual” Outsized City Assessment For Venice Beach BID Into Voting Seat On Board Of Directors But City Attorney Said No! Freaking! Way! Conflict! Of! Freaking! Interest!

Debbie Dyner Harris, uncaptioned.
I’ve written before on how the City of Los Angeles arranges for itself to be lobbied by BIDs for various reasons. Now it appears that even this usual arrangement wasn’t enough for Mike Bonin and Debbie Dyner Harris at CD11 with respect to the Venice Beach BID. In particular, during the formation process, in December 2015, Dyner Harris emailed Miranda Paster asking if she could have a voting seat on the BID Board of Directors:

Hi Miranda, how are you? I hope all is well. I am checking on something we had discussed a while ago, but I can’t find in my notes. I wanted to confirm whether or not the City, as 1/3 paying member of the BID,1 is allowed to be a voting member on the BID board.

Miranda Paster replied a few days later, stating:

We opt out of sitting on the Board because it may appear to be a conflict of interest. We can sign the petition for a BID and we cast a ballot for the Prop 218 balloting. However, we do not sit on the boards and vote.

Debbie Dyner Harris doesn’t like this at all. She evidently really wants to be on this board!2
Continue reading In 2015 Bonin Aide Debbie Dyner Harris Sought To Leverage “Extremely Unusual” Outsized City Assessment For Venice Beach BID Into Voting Seat On Board Of Directors But City Attorney Said No! Freaking! Way! Conflict! Of! Freaking! Interest!

Some Money Is Even Too Dirty For Mike: A Look At One Of Bonin’s Recent Returned Campaign Contributions And Subsequent Trip Down A Lobbyist-Money Rabbit Hole

Mike Bonin making kissy-face with Eric Garcetti in 2013 just before laying waste to the canals like Godzilla laying waste to Tokyo.
The L.A. City Ethics Commission website is a marvelous repository of fascinating minutiae. It more than repays the kind of obsessive poring-over in which we here at MK.Org specialize. Today’s subject is the quarterly reports that every qualified candidate has to submit detailing their expenditures. You can find all of Mike Bonin’s here.1 In particular, take a look at his 3rd quarter report for 2016. On Schedule E, the list of expenditures, note that some items are labeled “Returned contributions.” No reasons are given for the returns, but at least in some cases it’s possible to track down at least some elements of the story via the Google.

For instance, consider the case of Shannon Murphy Castellani. She gave Mike Bonin $700 on June 14, 2016. Exactly four weeks later, on July 12, 2016, she registered with the Ethics Commission as a lobbyist.2 Now, section 470(c)(11) of the City Charter forbids candidates from accepting campaign contributions from registered lobbyists. It’s vague on the timing, and I don’t see that it actually explicitly prohibits someone from donating money and then registering as a lobbyist the very next day, but on the other hand, does Mike Bonin want to argue that case in public? Obviously not, so the best thing to do is to return the contribution. Just as obviously, the $700 itself isn’t so important. These people are all zillionaires, after all. It’s the good will that the $700 creates, and that lingers on after the money is returned.
Continue reading Some Money Is Even Too Dirty For Mike: A Look At One Of Bonin’s Recent Returned Campaign Contributions And Subsequent Trip Down A Lobbyist-Money Rabbit Hole

Marisa Tomei Implores City Council To Grant Historic-Cultural Status To Lytton Savings Building, 8150 Sunset Subject Of Not One, Not Two, But Three (So Far!) Lawsuits Against The City of Los Angeles (Plus A Special Bonus Lawsuit Against West Hollywood!)

Marisa Tomei: “Please honor this building and its architect, Kurt Meyer, with a Historic Cultural Monument designation.”
I reported briefly last week on the whole to-do about the City’s wanton approval of a Frank Gehry megaplex at 8150 Sunset and, more recently, on the extremely weird fact that the Council’s PLUM1 Committee forwarded proposed historic-cultural designation of the Lytton Savings building on to the full Council without a recommendation, even though CD4 Councilmember David Ryu explicitly favors the designation. This is just a brief update with links to more documents.

First, Marisa Tomei2 wrote a stirring letter to the City Council urging them to preserve the building. Don’t forget, the hearing is tomorrow! There’s an excerpt after the break, as always, if you’re PDF-averse. Also, the Coalition to Preserve LA recently reported that Fix the City had sued LA over 8150 Sunset. It turns out that there were two other suits filed at about the same time, making a total of three suits so far over this one project. The City Council is going into closed session tomorrow to discuss all three of them. Turn the page for links to the petitions (and Tomei’s letter).
Continue reading Marisa Tomei Implores City Council To Grant Historic-Cultural Status To Lytton Savings Building, 8150 Sunset Subject Of Not One, Not Two, But Three (So Far!) Lawsuits Against The City of Los Angeles (Plus A Special Bonus Lawsuit Against West Hollywood!)