As you may know, I recently visited the North Figueroa Association as part of my ongoing attempt to understand just what the heck the zillionaires of Los Angeles are thinking.1 Well, I didn’t figure it out this time, but my reception by the NFA was so freaking bizarro that I thought I’d better spend a little more time looking into the background of this shadowy gang of zillionaire culture warriors.
If you ever want to understand what a given business improvement district is up to, the first thing you should look at is the management district plan. This document is required by the Property and Business Improvement Law of 1994, specifically at §36622, and must contain a sufficiently detailed description of everything the BID proposes to spend money on. The easiest way to locate these is via the City Clerk’s map of L.A. BIDs. Each BID’s description contains a link to its MDP. Here’s the Highland Park BID’s MDP.
In this interesting2 document we find a list of the kinds of things that the BID means to spend its security money on: The presence of the Security Program is intended to deter such illegal activities as drug dealing, public urination, indecent exposure, trespassing, drinking in public, prostitution, illegal panhandling, illegal vending, and illegal dumping.
Now of course, sane human beings understand that street vending is not like these other things. Sure, it’s illegal,3 but nevertheless it’s part of the human fabric of Los Angeles and the laws against it are selectively enforced only at the mere whim of zillionaires. There are street vendors everywhere in this City where there aren’t BIDs and no one, not even the cops, seems to be upset. Normal people are thrilled!
It’s really hard to imagine a serious, sane, socialized human being who doesn’t understand that people selling fresh fruit or tacos cooked to order on a street corner are very different from crack dealers, creepers who expose their genitalia to children, or people who shit on the sidewalk.4 It’s quite strange that the NFA doesn’t get this. But they really, really don’t. Read on for details!
As I was saying, not only do they not get it, they take not getting it to a whole other level. Further down in their MDP, they actually set aside money5 to fund the fact that, as they put it, “District trucks are called to assist LAPD to dispose of illegal food vendors’ inventory.” This is more than the usual zillionaire creepiness.
Sure, street vendors are breaking the law. If you’re an ordinary average asshole maybe you think that means they deserve a ticket, but confiscating their stuff on behalf of the LAPD is beyond ordinary, beyond average. This is a quantum asshole leap. It’s a hitherto unsuspected dimension of asshole. In fact, it is the kind of thing the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance is famous for, and they’re well known to be the quintessential Platonic form of asshole amongst BIDs in the City of Los Angeles.
Now, MDPs are written for terms lasting from five to ten years. Thus the state legislature, in its infinite and incomparable wisdom, didn’t want to lock BIDs into activities that may become outdated. Thus the PBID law, in particular at §36650, requires that BIDs file a so-called annual planning report. The annual planning report functions as a way for BIDs to reaffirm their commitment to their previously planned activities, or else to discard some of them as no longer important.
The Highland Park BID’s MDP was written in 2010. Perhaps they’ve reconsidered their evil ways? Well, no. If you take a look at the Highland Park BID’s two most recent APRs, the 2017 APR and the 2018 APR6 you will see precisely the same language about the security force deterring vending and the maintenance force helping the cops dispose of the property of street vendors.7 So they’re not rethinking their position on this.8
In closing I just want to remind you that the Fashion District BID is also famous for helping the LAPD confiscate the property of street vendors. In fact, they’re so famous for it that in 2015 a bunch of street vendors sued the damn BID.9 If the Highland Park BID is really actually involved in helping the LAPD confiscate stuff from street vendors, perhaps they’ll get hauled up before a federal judge as well. If there’s time, that is, before Senator Ricardo Lara’s sanity in street vending bill crushes the hopes and dreams of these inhuman zillionaires once and for all.
- It turns out that it’s probably not possible to understand what they’re thinking. The more I observe the zillionaire tribe and their henchies the more I believe that they’re not actually thinking at all, they’re just reacting. And it appears from the outside as if they are thinking because they have armies of relatively competent minions both inside City government and out who are dedicated to discerning what the zillionaires desire, cleaning it up so that it makes some kind of marginal sense, and then marshalling all the vast resources at their command to bring these semi-articulated feverish zillionaire nightmare delusions into actual existence as social, political, financial policy. Anyway, that’s my working theory right now. Let me know in the comments if you have any evidence that tends to contradict it.
- Interesting is a relative term here. They write these MDPs in the densest prose possible, I believe on purpose in order to deter people from actually reading them. But they’re interesting once you know what to look for. Also they’re interesting because the law actually forbids BIDs from spending money on stuff that’s not articulated in the MDP (or in the annual update to the MDP, called the annual planning report). What a thrill it is to catch a BID spending money on illegal (for them) activities! If only anyone at the City cared enough to investigate these matters.
- Actually it’s mostly illegal as part of a zillionaire conspiracy to create a web of arbitrary, selectively enforceable laws that can be used to trap and destroy all the enemies of zillionairity. Obviously drinking in public and public urination are the same. Probably indecent exposure is as well when it’s used against the homeless in order to ramp up public urination charges. And illegal panhandling? I don’t actually believe there is such a thing, thanks to the first amendment. There may be panhandling that Zillionairelandia has agreed to treat as illegal which, for the most part, amounts to the same thing. Even given all that street vending is very, very different.
- No matter what good reasons they have for doing so.
- Just listing an activity in the management district plan constitutes setting aside money for that activity. If it’s not in there they can’t spend money on it, and if it is in there they have money that they can spend on it.
- These are approved at the end of the previous year, which is why the date in the filename is a year earlier than the year to which the APR applies.
- You’ll also see that the entire damn APR is copied straight out of the MDP, showing that the zillionaires on the NFA board are not only evil, but they’re also really freaking lazy.
- Of course, assuming they’re thinking at all which, as I’ve said, is not bloody likely.
- I wrote a bunch of stories about this over the years but it seems to have dropped off my radar. In January of this year it was being settled, and I don’t know what’s up with it right now.