The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

The Wicked Witch of the Southeast corner of Wilshire and Hope giving instructions to her flying monkeys.
Recall that I’ve been tracking the hysterical, irrational opposition of LA’s business improvement districts to the ongoing process of legalizing (some aspects of) street vending in the City since the Spring of 2015. A truly astonishing level of bitching and moaning in 2015 stalled out the whole process for most of 2016 because, I believe, everyone was too freaking sick of the whining and the carefully orchestrated lying on any number of occasions and the City just needed a rest.
A man arrested, transported, and handcuffed to a bench by the Andrews International BID Patrol in Hollywood for selling umbrellas on the street. At least it appears that this horror show is over, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there are even more loopholes and it’s not over at all.
Until the November election of Donald Trump and his subsequent threats to deport essentially anyone, U.S. citizen or not, who’d ever smiled while thinking of eating a taco spurred the Council into action on at least the small part (small but in no way insignificant) of the plan to decriminalize illegal street vending so that, no matter how much trouble the zillionaires might cause the heladeros, at least they wouldn’t be subject to arrest and subsequent deportation. That bit seemed urgent enough to pass Council outright, and even the anti-vending forces of the zillionaire elite seemed to realize that they were just going to be exposed as the nasty little mean creeps that they are if they fought back on this particular issue. However, the Council put off acting on an actual legalization framework until later.

But recall, as I reported in January, the instructions for the report-back were altered from the original, and quite sensible,1 request for

A process to create special vending districts to be initiated by Council, the Board of Public Works, or petition (with signatures from 20 percent of property owners or businesses in the proposed district), based on legitimate public health, safety and welfare concerns that are unique to specific neighborhoods with special circumstances.

to a request for language

Providing the City Council the ability to opt out of certain streets by Council action.

At that time I didn’t understand yet how this had all taken place, but now I’ve accumulated enough documentary evidence that it’s possible to sketch out a picture. The short version is that in December 2016, Suzanne Holley, at that time acting Executive Director2 of the Schatzian horror show known as the Central City Association of Los Angeles, wrote a letter to the City Council telling them to make the change. This was distributed to the BIDs via the BID Consortium. They all told their pet Councilmembers to change it. It got changed, and all the BIDs rejoiced, some of them quite publicly. The consequences of this are going to be horrific, and whatever street vending framework gets put in place will be DOA. Details and evidence after the break.

The first piece of evidence is this December 1, 2016 letter from Suzanne Holley to the City Council. In particular, note the statement about opting out:

The language surrounding the establishment of a “special vending district” is ambiguous and gives us great concern. It can be interpreted that, in order to establish a more restrictive special vending district, a community must find that specific public health, safety and welfare concerns exist. This language is extremely subjective and opens this provision up for abuse. We believe this process to establish a special vending district must be more straight-forward and clear. We believe strongly that the required 20% threshold be retained but that the public health, safety and welfare language be removed.

See how the CCALA is claiming to find ambiguity where none actually exists? The language requiring that specific public health, safety and welfare concerns must exist before vending can be banned is perfectly clear. Its purpose was to prevent the kind of bullshit wheeling-dealing that passes for the normal political process in Los Angeles. With that language, e.g., Kerry Morrison would have to give actual reasons for wanting to ban street vending from Hollywood Boulevard and they would have to be more substantial than her usual nonsense about tourists running a freaking “gauntlet.” Now she’ll just have to stamp her little foot and toss her little curls and Mr. Mitch will ban them out of hand.3

This letter from CCALA was distributed to all BIDs in the City the very next day via this email by Jasmine Ramos of the Fashion District BID. As is usual practice with these dimwits, the CCALA letter is attached, along with an invitation to the usual zillionaire plagiarism:

If you choose to take a position on the new street vending framework that calls for citywide sidewalk vendor,
[sic] please see the attached letter from CCA and feel free to use it as a template for your own letters.

Well, use it for a template evidently they did do, because, as we’ve seen, precisely this change, in fact, something quite a bit more than what they asked for, appeared in the amended motion that the Council passed in January. As an interesting aside, note that on page two of that email we see that our old friend, the thuggish Rodriguez Strategies flack known as Jessica Borek, who’s been coordinating the anti-vending effort, along with her shady boss Matt Rodriguez and his shady little flacktory, Rodriguez Strategies, since at least the beginning of 2015. She and Rodriguez have been doing this without registering as lobbyists with the City Ethics Commission.4

The fact that this was even better than what they asked for was reflected in two uber-sycophantic letters that hit the Council file later that same day, one from Kerry Morrison and one purportedly from her bow-tied lap-minion, Smilin’ Joe Mariani.5 And are the BIDs waiting until there’s an actual law written and the City Council actually passes it before rejoicing at their victory? They are not. We have already seen this dynamic in action in the Palisades.

Well, I recently received yet another example, this time from the Figueroa Corridor BID, as part of a megadump of almost 20 years worth of Board minutes at the hands of their Executive Director Aaron Aulenta.6 At their their meeting of February 14, 2017, Aaron Aulenta briefed the Board thusly:

A. Aulenta explained side walk vending and the council approval. A lot of BID’s
[sic]7 to create restricted or no vending districts. 20% of business can sign petition to opt out of vending in their district.

Again we have the (completely warranted) confusion between what the Council has instructed the various report-backs to consider and what is actually going to be implemented. But with these folks, it doesn’t matter that they confuse it. They will get what they want. The most interesting thing that Aaron Aulenta let slip here is that a lot of BIDs are already planning to ban vending in their territories. This before the law is even passed. The timing here suggests that Aaron Aulenta is bringing news from the BID Consortium meeting of February 9, 2017. At that meeting the attendees were updated on sidewalk vending. Also, at all of the BID Consortium meetings something called “Information Sharing” is on the agenda. No doubt at this particular one they all chortled in their joy at having sneaked this huge loophole into the law and shared how they’d all been reassured by their pet Councildudes and Dudette that they wouldn’t have to have vendors if they didn’t want them.

This is a really sad situation, though. First of all, it’s absolutely characteristic of our City Council to insert some nullifying clause like this into what ought to be a momentous piece of legislation, thus turning it into just another source of braindead short-sighted patronage. The law will allow vending except where a single Councilmember randomly decides it should not. The no-vend zones will include every single BID. The BIDs are expanding across the City in every direction on every major commercial corridor to such an extent that vendors will end up trapped into zones bounded on all sides by BIDs that they’re not even going to be allowed to cross over.

Does this sound extreme? Consider that East Hollywood BID honcho Jeff Zarrinnam is working on establishing a BID around Hollywood and Western, stretching on Western all the way from Franklin to Melrose, and another, the Route 66 BID, along Santa Monica Boulevard from Hoover to Vine. If you know the area you’ll realize that (a) it is absolutely rich with street vendors now, and (b) they will be trapped within the megablock bounded by Vine and Western, by Santa Monica and Melrose as well as on the megablock between Western and Vermont, between Hollywood and Santa Monica and again between Santa Monica and Melrose.

Vending will be allowed in the residential interiors but not on the main commercial boundaries. Will vendors even be allowed to cross the streets? The whole City is going to end up balkanized into vending-allowed interior residential zones cut off from one another by Council-blessed private security vendor-harrassers. This is going to happen purely as a result of the dimwitted willingness of Councilmembers to placate various pressure groups without thinking through the consequences at all. It will never cease to amaze me how they never ever consider that they’re acting on History’s stage in one of the world’s great cities, not in the relative obscurity of half-witted six-fingered freaking East Jesus, CA.

Instead of having a law that everyone can understand, live by, plan their lives around, we’re going to have another fercockt mishegoss like the freaking RV parking laws, which the Council passed to great fanfare on the one hand, and is now in the process of completely dismantling block by freaking block for no purpose more noble than to feed the endless appetite of lawless business interests for more and more and more control. What a freaking shame it is. But a surprise, it is, unfortunately, not at all.


Image of Suzanne Holley without her habitual fleshtone concealer is ©2017 MichaelKohlhaas.org. Image of arrested umbrella seller is a public record.

  1. Mostly sensible. The part about the businesses and/or property owners signing off but no input for residents really rankles, especially given the absolutely insane rants spewed forth on the subject by jittery little psychopath Carol Massie of the Sunset & Vine BID.
  2. After Ms. Horror Show herself, Carol Schatz, had retired, but before Ms. Baby Horror Show herself, Jessica Lall, had taken over.
  3. Cause whatever baby wants, baby gets!
  4. But they may yet regret that decision; stay tuned!
  5. Although almost certainly also written by Ms. Kerry Morrison her own self, as chock full as it is of characteristically weirdo Morrisonianisms such as “one size fits all” and more obsessing about freaking newsracks.
  6. I haven’t been working with Aaron Aulenta long enough to come up with a suitable epithet for him. He’s a little hot and cold, a little sane, a little psycho. Sometimes he sounds like Suzanne Holley (cold, psycho), sometimes like Estela Lopez (cold, sane), sometimes like Laurie Hughes (sane, no particular temperature). We’ll see, I suppose, once I have time to start attending this BID’s meetings. It’s a particularly interesting case because of how intertwined they are with USC, another notorious source of line-crossing security guards, or perhaps they’re sworn officers, patrolling public streets and interfering with the civil rights of everyone in sight.
  7. Are apostrophes really that hard, friends? Really?
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