First Known Instance Of Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Involvement In BID Formation Revealed By Emails Between Rampart Neighborhood Prosecutor Andrew Said And Wilshire Center Director Mike Russell About How To Get A BID In Westlake

It’s well known in the anti-BID community that the City of Los Angeles is fully committed to the completely false story that a BIDs is formed by a spontaneous upswelling of property owners, uninfluenced by the City and completely outside of the City’s power to direct. Of course, as I said, this is a lie, and there’s plenty of evidence that it is a lie. State law not only gives the City the absolute right to determine everything BIDs do with their money but the City is not shy about exercising this right when necessary.

And there are plenty of concrete proofs that it’s actually the City of Los Angeles that creates BIDs. From then-CD13-rep Jackie Goldberg’s tireless efforts to form a BID in Hollywood in the mid 1990s to Eric Garcetti’s and Mitch O’Farrell’s almost decade-long quest to put together a BID in Echo Park to CD9 repster Curren Price’s strongarmed extortion of a South LA car dealership to get seed money for a BID along MLK Blvd. to CD11 rep Mike Bonin’s mendacious little flunky Debbie Dyner Harris’s multi-year involvement with the Venice Beach BID formation effort, the City is the motivating force, I’d venture, for every damn BID we have now and are gonna have in the future.

But every case I know of has involved the local Council District. This isn’t just my imagination, either. It’s reflected in these BID formation guidelines, published by the Los Angeles City Clerk‘s BID office, which state unequivocally that the BID formation process begins when: An individual, or a group of individuals (“proponent group”), or a Councilmember, desires to investigate the possibility of establishing a BID in a given area.

Consequently, what a surprise it was to find a set of emails between Andrew Said, who is neighborhood prosecutor for the Rampart Division, and Mike Russell, director of the Wilshire Center BID, which feature Andrew Said asking for Mr. Mike’s advice on how to start a BID in Westlake. The emails, which are part of a larger set I received yesterday,1 are available here on Archive.Org. Turn the page for transcriptions and some more discussion of what this might mean.

The story begins on September 12, 2017, when Andrew Said emailed Mike Russell:

Subject: BIDs
From: Andrew Said <andrew.said@lacity.org>
Date: 09/12/2017 11:04 AM
To: mike@wilshirecenter.com

Hi Mike,

I have few questions for you:

I’m working on a plan for a BID for the Westlake area. Who do you usually work with in the Clerk’s Office or any other city agency that has been helpful? Who is the best person to talk to about BID formation?

[I deleted some fascinating but not salient stuff about sidewalk cleaning and Islam here]

Thanks,
Andrew

Andrew Said, Deputy City Attorney
Neighborhood Prosecutor – Rampart Division
Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney
Safe Neighborhoods & Gang Division

Mike Russell wrote back right away,2 and a few days later Andrew Said thanked him:

On Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 11:19 AM, Wilshire Center BID <info@wilshirecenter.com> wrote:

Hi Andrew,

I usually work with Rick Scott or Miranda Pastor [sic] from the City Clerks office. I myself do have some experience in BID formation and have worked at a couple of BIDs in and outside of the City of LA. Please keep me in the loop, I would be happy to help.

[More fascinating but presently irrelevant material about the sidewalks removed]

Thank you,

Michael Russell
Executive Director
Wilshire Center Business Improvement District (WCBID)

And that’s where things stayed until November 3, 2017, when Andrew Said performed a thread resurrection with this message:

Subject: Re: BIDs
From: Andrew Said <andrew.said@lacity.org>
Date: 11/03/2017 10:40 PM
To: Wilshire Center BID <info@wilshirecenter.com>

Hi Mike,

At the last meeting, I spoke to you about the need for a Business Improvement District in Westlake. What are the chances of expanding Wilshire Center BID to include Westlake?

Andrew

sent from my phone

This is fascinating. First of all, two months later and evidently Andrew Said has gotten nowhere with starting a Westlake BID from scratch. Hence he’s thinking about an involuntary anschluss of Westlake onto the Wilshire Center BID.

Now, in the City’s narrative, the people who run the Wilshire Center BID are an independent private corporation whose activities, decisions, policies, and so on, are completely independent of the wants, needs, and desires of the City of Los Angeles. So why should they annex a huge eastern area to their already-functional BID just to further some obscure policy goal of the City’s? No reason is why, and that line of thought is reflected in Mr. Mike’s reply a few days later:3

On Nov 6, 2017 10:24 AM, “Wilshire Center BID” <info@wilshirecenter.com>
wrote:

Hi Andrew,

I know there was some interest in this idea a few years ago, but nothing came of it.

The desire to form or expand a BID really needs to come from the property owners in the area and the community. I would be happy to sit down and discuss this with anyone interested.

We would need to have a conversation with any of the large property owners in the area and Councilmemeber [sic] Gilbert Cedillo’s office.

Thank you,

Michael Russell
Executive Director

Wilshire Center Business Improvement District (WCBID)

And Andrew Said, suave and insightful political operative that he evidently is, knows when he’s beaten:

Subject: Re: BIDs
From: Andrew Said <andrew.said@lacity.org>
Date: 11/06/2017 11:15 AM
To: Wilshire Center BID <info@wilshirecenter.com>

Thank you, I will keep my eyes open for suitable candidates.

Andrew

sent from my phone

So that’s the new information. For as-yet unknown reasons, a neighborhood prosecutor is trying to start a BID in Westlake without even having discussed it with Gil Cedillo or any property owners whatsoever. Of course, I have no solid evidence about Andrew Said’s motives or who in the City government is backing this effort. But I can certainly speculate.

First, it’s clear that the City of Los Angeles is in favor of gentrification. Not, probably, because they care so much one way or the other, but because their major campaign donors are real estate developers, and developers make huge amounts of money from gentrification in the form of skyrocketing rents, capital appreciation of their land on a cosmic scale, and so on. The fundamental principle of politics in Los Angeles is that whatever makes developers happy makes the City government happy.4

The City has two main tools it uses to facilitate gentrification. These are gang injunctions and BIDs.5 Both function to make the gentrifying population feel safer in the neighborhoods they’re moving into, which handles a potential problem that the involved developers aren’t able to solve on their own.

This is why we often see new BIDs proposed for neighborhoods that have had gang injunctions for a while. The gang injunction allows the shock troops of the LAPD to pacify the new6 territory and then the BIDs are brought in to provide softer and fuzzier “security” for the new residents. Echo Park is a good example of this cycle, as is the much more famous case of Venice.

There’s no question that Westlake is gentrifying, and it’s no surprise. Given its location it’s been clear for years that this was going to happen. And they’ve had gang injunctions there since forever,7 so clearly it’s time for a BID. It’s true that as City Council members go, Gil Cedillo, in whose district Westlake is, is kind of a renegade. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he wasn’t really a big BID supporter.

Maybe this is why the City Attorney, who’s pretty famous for charging forward with pro-gentrification initiatives, is getting into the BID formation business. But I don’t know whether or not Cedillo’s ever-so-slight willingness to actually think for himself8 extends to BIDs or not. In any case, as all journalists9 know, dog bites man is not news, but City Attorney forms BID would seem to be.


Image of Andrew Said is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. It was cobbled up outta bits and pieces from this picture of Andrew Said with Bloombergian bullshit dispersion vector and worldwide icon of zillionaire-flunky urbanists Jeanette Sadik-Khan and also this picture of Westlake.

  1. All of which are available here on Archive.Org.
  2. For some reason yet to be determined, Mike Russell didn’t give me copies of all the relevant emails, so, e.g., his response on September 12, 2017, was not included in the document dump. It’s visible in Andrew Said’s September 18 reply, though.
  3. The same problem as noted above is happening here. Mr. Mike’s actual email is missing from the production and its contents can only be gleaned from down-chain in Andrew Said’s reply. As I said, I’m in discussions on this with Mr. Mike and will report back here if and when I have any information.
  4. I apologize for the sketchy nature of this argument. I’m working on fleshing it out and hope to post on it in detail. It’s slow going, though. It seems that my talents lie much more in mockery and exposure of embarrassing facts than in synthetic urban science. It’s coming along, though, never fear.
  5. I’m going out on a limb here and will predict that BIDs will play an even more outsized role in the City’s pro-gentrification efforts than they have in the past now that federal judge Virginia Phillips has bravely, righteously enjoined the City of Los Angeles from enforcing almost all of their damn gang injunctions. As an aside, the gang injunction case, Youth Justice Coalition v. City of Los Angeles, is turning out to be super-fascinating. I’m going to start covering it here, but it’s taking a little while to get organized. Meanwhile I started a page on Archive.Org for it, and already you can obtain the monumental order that Phillips issued on Thursday last.
  6. New in the same sense that the Americas were new to the Europeans who showed up after 1491.
  7. I can’t actually find a source that tells how long gang injunctions have been active in Westlake. It’s been a while, though. As an aside, I put all the LAPD’s gang injunction maps up on Archive.Org. Westlake is in Central Bureau, and the map showing it is here.
  8. I’m thinking of his push to legalize street vending, which must have used up more or less all of his political capital.
  9. Among whom I’m reasonably proud not to number myself.
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