The Hollywood Property Owners’ Alliance, which runs the major Hollywood BID, has a long and troubled relationship with the City of Los Angeles and tree regulations. For instance, remember when that billboard company illegally cut down all those trees in Silver Lake in 2016 and the whole City flipped out even to the extent of revenge vandalism? This crisis somehow catapulted Mitch O’Farrell and David Ryu into a rare moment of sanity and they initiated CF 15-0467-S4, in which they asked for report-backs from the City Attorney and the Bureau of Street Services on how to prevent future rogue tree removals.
And the Bureau of Street Services came in with a pretty strong set of recommendations, which included requiring before-and-after photos of tree maintenance done by private parties as well as requiring the presence of City tree surgeons. Well, as you may recall, the BID absolutely flipped out over this in their characteristically privileged manner, which included typically unsubstantiated claims of their unparalleled arboreal competence and even featured archetypal BID genius Mark Echevarria of Musso & Frank giggling like a six-fingered chucklehead cause he never heard of tree surgeons.1
And over the last two years the issue of the wanton destruction of our City’s trees has not died down. In fact it’s getting worse and worse. For a good overview see this fine article by Alissa Walker in Curbed LA. The unwarranted removal of trees has emerged as a significant social justice issue with serious ecological ramifications. And political action can save trees. But political action is impossible if the City sneaks around and removes trees covertly.
And of course, the City’s favorite way to sneak around and do anything covertly is to palm it off onto the damn BIDs.2 Thus it was no surprise to discover a newly released email conversation between Marisol Rodriguez and Dan Halden of Mitch O’Farrell’s staff and Kerry Morrison and Rich Sarian of the HPOA which shows that the BID is in fact involved in secret tree destruction in Hollywood with the advice and consent of CD13.
It’s pretty clear that these actions are shady. It’s plausible that they’re illegal. Turn the page for transcriptions of as much of the record as we have available.
Again, here’s the email chain. Note that we come in in the middle of this conversation, unfortunately.3 Anyway, on the morning of July 11, 2018, HPOA Operations Director Rich Sarian wrote to people whose names we can’t see4 but who probably included Marisol Rodriguez and Dan Halden of Mitch O’Farrell’s CD13 staff, and here’s what he said:
I have just confirmed with our tree team that they will be working tomorrow and Friday to have the two trees removed. Please let me know if you need anything else on our end.
Thank you both for your help with all this!
And then Marisol Rodriguez, conniving little twerp that she is, replied:
From: Marisol Rodriguez < email@example.com >
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 11:09 AM
To: Rich Sarian < Rich@hollywoodbid.orq >
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org : Kerry Morrison < Kerrv@hollvwoodbid.orq >
Subject: Re: Cherokee Ficus Trees.
Thanks, Rich. I will let BSS know so that they can schedule the crew either next weekend or the following.
Office of Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell
Next spake Kerry Morrison, displaying her characteristic hatred of life and of anything human in the world, expressed as joy in the slaughter:
On Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 11:46 AM, Kerry Morrison < Kerry@hollywoodbid.orq > wrote:
Marisol and Dan,
Such good news.
And before noon that same day the dirty deed was all arranged:
Subject: Re: Cherokee Ficus Trees.
From: Marisol Rodriguez <email@example.com>
Date: 07/11/2018 11:55 AM
To: Kerry Morrison <Kerry@hollywoodbid.org>
CC: Rich Sarian <Rich@hollywoodbid.org>, “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
I have confirnned with BSS that a crew is scheduled to repair the sidewalk the weekend of July 28th.
And there you go. The City is supposed to take care of our trees, but they’d rather cede their municipal power to BIDdies. BIDdies don’t live in the neighborhoods whose social fabric and structure they warp with their undue political power so they don’t care what happens to trees. Everything’s a problem to be solved in the cheapest way, which seems to involve chopping down trees.
The City ought to be overseeing this kind of thing, but they won’t. It’s an intractable civic problem, but it’s not a difficult one. The answer is that political matters should be decided by political processes and/or by officials subject to political pressure. BIDs are none of these things, so they shouldn’t be involved in destroying trees or any other matter whatsoever in the political realm. The problem, as I said, is not a hard one. But it is intractable because the BIDs, having been granted this great power by the City, won’t give it up easily, and the City won’t take it. So here we are, sweltering in the sun.
Image of Kerry Morrison is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and at one time in its brief lil life had something to do with this Kerry Morrison here.
- The BID’s point was that they trim all the damn trees in Hollywood and they have hearts of gold and would never harm a tree so why can’t they be free of all this government interference?! And, as usual, the merest hint of dissatisfaction from a BID was enough to kill the momentum, and that’s why the council file expired without any City agency even returning the last required report-back.
- Just for instance, they’ve used the Fashion District BID to covertly confiscate the equipment of street vendors. And they’ve used the Downtown Industrial District BID to covertly confiscate the worldly goods of homeless residents of Skid Row.
- The reason I don’t have all emails related to this matter is that Kerry Morrison, soon-thank-god-to-be-former zeck dreck of this Hollywood BID, cannot for the life of her comply with the public records act. She is so embarrassed by her own actions, it seems, that she has illegally changed the policy of her BID with respect to emails in such a way as to, she hopes and prays, thwart my records requests. She recently spent around a quarter of a million dollars of the public money that she controls fighting a CPRA petition and won no lasting victory. If she continues on the ill-chosen road she seems determined to travel, we’re going to end up right back in court. Note that that figure is not a joke. I will be writing about it in some detail soon, but until then you can see the list of transactions here and here. The first sheet, noting $200,000, was solely spent on the CPRA case. The second was for the CPRA case and indeterminate other matters, so I’m discounting most of it. Don’t forget to add in the $30,000 they paid my lawyer to settle the matter.
- Due to Kerry Morrison’s illegal refusal to release a copy of the relevant email.