How Ellen Riotto And Wallis Locke Of The South Park BID Conspired With Michael Shilstone Of The Central City Association, Kevin James Of The Board Of Public Works, Lee Zeidman Of Staples Center, And A Bunch Of AEG Worldwide Stooges — Including Shelby Russell — To Encourage People To Call LAPD On Vendors And Hang Up Anti-Vending Signs Around LA Live — With A Generous Special Bonus Helping Of My Steaming Hot Amateur Theories On Why The Damn Signs Are Illegitimate And Will Ultimately Be Mostly Removed If Not Completely

The other day LA Taco tweeted out this picture of a no-vending sign near Staples Center and a lot of people were angry and confused. This is the story of how and why1 those signs appeared recently. The story begins with Ricardo Lara‘s monumental Sanity in Street Vending Bill, passed by the California Legislature last year over the strident objections of zillionaires and their BIDdie minions all over the state. The law essentially legalized street vending everywhere, while leaving some really minimal regulatory powers to cities.

One of the regulatory powers that the law allows is the establishment of no-vending zones. But these can’t be established on a mere whim, or just because people hate vendors. Rather any such restriction must be “directly related to objective health, safety, or welfare concerns.”2 But the City of Los Angeles never met a loophole that it couldn’t stretch into a six lane freeway at the behest of the local zillionaires, and our esteemed Councilmembers jumped all over this one.

They went into an embarrassing frenzy of zillionaire-pleasuring and directed the City Attorney to figure out how to establish no-vending zones everywhere any BID or anyone else with enough influence asked them to. The list ended up including the Hollywood Bowl, the Venice Boardwalk, most of Hollywood Blvd, and, of interest to us today, the area around Staples Center.

Lara’s bill took effect on January 1, 2019, so prior to that, in preparation for what they saw as the impending Vendorgeddon, zillionaires all over the City began preparing for vigorously psychotic enforcement of these last few no-vending zones they’d managed to preserve, at least for now. As I said, today we’re focusing on Staples Center, but I’m sure the same kind of thing is happening in all the putative no-vending zones.

I’ve managed to uncover two distinct phases of the process so far. In early January 2019, Ellen Riotto of the South Park Business Improvement District, in which Staples Center situates, notified businesses in the no-vending zone and encouraged them to call LAPD on vendors. A little later, around January 20, 2019, Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center and member of the board of directors of the South Park BID, used his considerable political power, focused by his flunky Riotto, to harangue City staff about the need for superexponentially increased anti-vending enforcement along with no-vending signs.

He also threatened to hire private security to enforce anti-vending laws on public streets if the City didn’t start enforcing the law itself. And all this focused power ultimately had its effect with the placement of the signs, as we have seen. I don’t presently know if enforcement was in fact stepped up, but I am continuing to look into the matter. Turn the page for a detailed account along with links to and transcriptions of selections from the relevant emails.

So on December 21, 2018, Michael Shilstone, who’s another damn minion with Carol Schatz’s nightmare horror show, the Central City Association, got in touch with Kevin James, president of the Board of Public Works, about the no-vending zone around Staples Center. James sent Shilstone a map of the no-vending zone, and Shilstone forwarded on to Ellen Salome Riotto of the South Park BID, who sent it around to her staff for action.3

SPBID Commo Czarina Wallis Locke jumped right on that shit and asked Riotto should she, like, do anything about it? Like tell the businesses in the damn red zone that they were in the damn red zone?! Riotto checked in with Shelby Russell of AEG Worldwide, which seems to run the Staples Center,4 and Russell agreed to notify LA Live businesses if Riotto would notify the others.

So Locke drafted a missive telling business owners in the red zone that no vending was allowed there and encouraging them to call the LAPD if they saw any vendors at all. In case you were wondering, this is the kind of people we’re dealing with at the South Park BID. People who think it’s not just OK but that it’s actually a good idea to call the police on street vendors. Here’s what Locke said to Riotto:

Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2019 14:11:52 -0800
Subject: Re: Staples Center
From: Wallis Locke <wallis@southpark.la>
To: Ellen Riotto <ellen@southpark.la>

Draft here:

Subject: Street vending restricted zone

Hi,

LA City’s new street vending regulations went into effect at the start of the year. Because of its proximity to L.A. LIVE., your property falls within the restricted zone, and street vending is not allowed. Please reference the attached map for exact boundaries. The LAPD is the enforcing agency and should be called if vendors are selling in the restricted area. If you need assistance with crowd control, call our safety team (866) 560-9346.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Wallis Locke

Director of Communications & Policy

Riotto thought that Locke’s draft was too unfriendly, so she redrafted it. But she didn’t think it was unfriendly to the vendors who they were encouraging people to call the police on! Riotto kept the part about the police in her friendly draft and encouraged businesses to “contact” them about vendors rather than calling them per Locke. She also made a few annoyingly mannered changes of the sort that quasiliterate people seem convinced make them sound more educated, like changing Locke’s “not allowed” to “prohibited” and “need” to “require”.

Much nicer, Ellen Salome Riotto! And much more educated! Personally, if I myself created the impression in one of your stakeholders’ small minds of violating some bullshit class warfare weaponized ordinance put in place at the behest of you and your creepy BIDdie buddies specifically for the purpose of oppressing me, well, I would feel ever so much better to have LAPD contacted about me than called on me! You’re a treasure of our City! We are so lucky to have really really nice and very very educated people like you funded by our public money and kowtowed to by our feckless not-that-nice City staff! But enough sarcasm.5 Here is Riotto’s much friendlier rewrite:

Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2019 15:49:37 -0800
Subject: Re: Staples Center
From: Ellen Riotto <ellen@southpark.la>
To: Wallis Locke <wallis@southpark.la>

Let’s make it a bit more friendly:

Subject: Sidewalk vending – restricted zone

Dear South Park BID Stakeholder,

We’re writing to inform you that LA City’s new sidewalk vending regulations went into effect at the start of the year. Because of its proximity to L.A. LIVE., your property falls within a “restricted zone” and street vending is prohibited. LAPD is the enforcing agency for any violations of the regulations and should be contacted if vendors are selling within the restricted area. If you require assistance with crowd control, please call our 24-hour service request line, (866) 560-9346.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

So much friendlier I could just plotz! And Wallis Locke, who knows which side her at-will employment arrangement is buttered on, replied precisely one hour later, lavishing praise on her superior officer Ellen Salome Riotto’s rewrite of her carefully crafted statement. She agreed that Riotto’s version was “much better” than her own work and said that she’d “pull the property owners tomorrow and cc you on the email.”6

Now on to the signs! Unfortunately the early record is presently fragmented, although I’m working on filling it out. From this email conversation between Lee Zeidman of Staples Center and Kevin James of the Board of Public Works, we can determine that sometime in December 2018 Zeidman asked James to hang up signs and also whether Public Works would be able to start enforcing the no-vending zone immediately beginning on January 1. Behold James’s response to that so-far-unobtained email, and see how deferential James is. Which poles do you want the signs on, Lee?? Don’t try this at home, dear reader, unless you too are a zillionaire!7

From: Kevin James <kevin.james@lacity.org>
Sent: Monday, December 31, 2018 11:02 AM
To: Lee Zeidman <lzeidman@staplescenter.com>
Cc: Jim Madsen <jmadsen@aegworldwide.com>; Danielle Snyder <dsnyder@staplescenter.com>; David Born <dborn@staplescenter.com>; Chris Modrzejewski (cm@m-consultants.net) <cm@m-consultants.net>; Martha Saucedo <msaucedo@aegworldwide.com>
Subject: Re: No Vending Signage

Hi Lee:

Happy New Year!

Regarding the questions from David Born that you sent over a few days ago, some will need to be answered by the City Attorney’s Office (e.g., Municipal Code questions, and signage specifics), and some by various Public Works bureaus (e.g., signage location and specifics).

I will let you know when I get those answers back from them.

In the meantime, you asked me if our enforcement team will be “out in full force” … “come January 1.” As of January 1, our BSS enforcement staff will be the same size that it has been all year. The funding for additional enforcement personnel will come in the next budget (which takes effect on July 1, 2019). There is a possibility that we will receive some additional funding for enforcement personnel in the current budget through the next quarterly “Financial Status Report” (FSR) (which will be much sooner than July). (I will let you know about that as soon as I find out about it).

The Bureau of Street Services (BSS) will be attaching their “No Vending” signs (along with the no vending zone maps) to street lighting poles. I spoke with Adel, the GM of BSS, today and he suggested that if there are specific street lighting poles where your team would like the signs to be placed, let me/BSS know and they will see what they can accommodate. Also, I’ve inquired about how soon BSS will have their signs ready to go, and I hope to get that answer on Wednesday.

Best,

Kevin

I don’t know what happened over the next three weeks, but on January 20, 2019 the issue came to some kind of inflection point in Lee Zeidman’s feverish mind. First, his security team8 sent a report about a hotdoguero’s cart catching fire:

And then on January 21, 2019, Staples Center security honcho David Born, who has an awful damn lot of letters after his name in his sig, emailed Zeidman with this report:

Subject: Calibash – Post Event Vending
From: David Born <dborn@staplescenter.com>
Date: 1/21/19, 12:40 AM
To: Lee Zeidman <lzeidman@staplescenter.com>
CC: Danielle Snyder <dsnyder@staplescenter.com>, David Avila <davila@aegworldwide.com>

Lee,

After the Calibash concert Saturday evening, we had the most amount of illegal vendors (food and T-shirt vendors) that I have seen at STAPLES Center.

Our deployment at the end of the event included eight LAPD officers and numerous security officers on the exterior. On-duty LAPD was also on the exterior. Our teams did our best to keep the vendors off the sidewalk but were ultimately overwhelmed with their numbers. The food vendors were lined up on the property, blocking guest egress points. After our LAPD and security officers responded to a physical altercation on exterior, many of the hot dog vendors immediately came onto the sidewalk outside of Figueroa and 11th Street doors.

Please see the link to the videos that I took after the event.

https://aegworldwide-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/dborn_staplescenter_com/Er5GE22Xs49DpQ8mWhOzCboBkQBRrbZLltjcUm-9YMI88g?e=SSOhCV

Thank you.

David Born, CPP, CSSP
Senior Director, Security
STAPLES Center
213-742-7252
dborn@staplescenter.com

By the way, at the time of writing that link was working. I recommend strongly that you watch the guy’s videos and, while watching, marvel at the special kind of psychopathy it requires to see all those happy people selling, buying, eating tacos and hot dogs and think something bad is happening rather than something wonderful, life-affirming, unique to our wonderful life-affirming City. But we have gangs of very special kinds of psychopaths running things around here, at least for now. Anyway, all this information, these movies, flipped Lee Zeidman out to the point where he fired off this little stinkbomb to Kevin James:

From: Lee Zeidman <lzeidman@staplescenter.com>
To: Kevin James <kevin.james@lacity.org>
CC: Jim Madsen <jmadsen@aegworldwide.com>, Danielle Snyder
<dsnyder@staplescenter.com>, David Born <dborn@staplescenter.com>, “Chris
Modrzejewski (cm@m-consultants.net)” <cm@m-consultants.net>, Martha Saucedo
<msaucedo@aegworldwide.com>, David Goldberg <david@agd-landuse.com>, “Ellen
Riotto” <ellen@southpark.la>
Subject: RE: No Vending Signage

Please see the attached outlook items and the videos from last night’s event including another report of a cart catching on fire which we believe is at a minimum the 3rd incident in the past 6 months. Unfortunately, whatever you have in place for enforcement is not working nor can we wait until July 1st for any additional proposed City funding to assist you with the issues. In order to protect our property and the safety and security of the patrons and employees who visit and work at LA Live/STAPLES Center we are forced to look at other options which may include putting out a public relations campaign warning the general public of the dangers of this illegal vending, the lack of enforcement and investigating hiring private security to protect our property, patrons and employees. More than happy to discuss but since January 1st our situation has gotten worse. Thanks.

See how our masters flex their muscles and get things done! We’re going to publicize the fact that there are illegal hot dogs at Staples Center! We’re going to hire private security to protect everybody but the damn vendors! As if everyone in the City didn’t already know about hotdogueros. As if Staples Center doesn’t already have private security.

And what does Lee Zeidman think his private security is going to do to vendors? Violating what’s left of LA’s vending laws after Lara’s coup de main isn’t a misdemeanor anymore, it’s just an infraction, and private security can’t do a damn thing about infractions. And what can Kevin James do? Well, not that much, but there are those signs! Here’s his response:

Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2019 14:42:57 -0500
Subject: Re: No Vending Signage
To: Lee Zeidman <lzeidman@staplescenter.com>
Cc: Jim Madsen <jmadsen@aegworldwide.com>, Danielle Snyder <dsnyder@staplescenter.com>, David Born <dborn@staplescenter.com>,
“Chris Modrzejewski (cm@m-consultants.net)” <cm@m-consultants.net>, Martha Saucedo <msaucedo@aegworldwide.com>, David Goldberg <david@agd-landuse.com>, Ellen Riotto <ellen@southpark.la>

Hi Lee. BSS informed me we are currently slated for mid-February for sign installation.

Kevin

Sent from my iPhone

Things are too far gone in Zeidman’s fragile psyche now for signs to placate him. He’s not having it. Thus spake Lee Zeidman:

From: Lee Zeidman <lzeidman@staplescenter.com>
To: Kevin James <kevin.james@lacity.org>
CC: Jim Madsen <jmadsen@aegworldwide.com>, Danielle Snyder <dsnyder@staplescenter.com>, David Born <dborn@staplescenter.com>, “Chris Modrzejewski (cm@m-consultants.net)” <cm@m-consultants.net>, Martha Saucedo <msaucedo@aegworldwide.com>, David Goldberg <david@agd-landuse.com>, “Ellen Riotto” <ellen@southpark.la>
Subject: Re: No Vending Signage

Unfortunately this goes beyond installing signs and is an issue of enforcement or lack of enforcement of the the new law by the City and Council Districts. I’ll let you know what action we plan to take, either a public campaign or hiring private security to protect our property, patrons and employees prior to implementing so you have a heads up. Thanks.

Lee Zeidman
President
STAPLES Center, Microsoft Theater, LA LIVE
213-742-7255

And, preparing to make good on his threats to Kevin James, Lee Zeidman emailed Ellen Salome Riotto asking her to grease up an entryway through which he could slide smoothly into the bowels of power at 200 N. Spring Street. This kind of fluffery is one of the special provinces of BID staff. Here’s what Zeidman said to Riotto:

From: Lee Zeidman <lzeidman@staplescenter.com>
To: Ellen Riotto <ellen@southpark.la>
Subject: Fwd: No Vending Signage
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2019 15:55:43 +0000

Do I have CD9/14 email addresses where we believe they will actually read email below?

Lee Zeidman
President
STAPLES Center, Microsoft Theater, LA LIVE
213-742-7255

And after that I have a few emails between Zeidman, Riotto, and various flunkies at CD9 and CD14 trying to set up a meeting. You can read them here in the full collection on Archive.Org if you’re so inclined, but I don’t know what happened next. I have a request out for the other emails, and maybe something interesting will turn up. But I don’t suppose the details are that important. The fact is that the signs are up and they’re up at the behest of a bunch of death-worshipping sociopaths who, somehow, have gotten an extraordinary amount of power over the cultural life of our City.

Now, it may be that the whole enterprise is illegitimate. Don’t forget that Lara’s street vending bill which, by the way, was written explicitly in response to the appalling anti-vendor antics of these BIDdies, requires that vending can only be forbidden in an area on the basis of “objective health, safety, or welfare concerns.”9 It’s possible, I don’t know, that someone might be able to make a case for objective safety concerns with respect to vendors right on the sidewalk at Staples Center. I don’t think it’s possible, but maybe it is. But look again at that map. See how far out into the City this infernal red zone extends? It’s actually not plausible that all those blocks where vending is forbidden are the source of “objective health, safety, or welfare concerns.”

Especially because the vending ban isn’t time limited to when events are happening. How in the world is anyone going to prove that there are objective safety concerns with selling tacos on the northwest corner of Olympic and Flower at 2 p.m. on a non-event day but not on the southeast corner? It’s foolish, and I can’t see how it’s going to stand up in court. But until its tested it’s going to be enforced by power-addled BIDdie maniacs, so for now, anyway, there’s little to do but watch. Which is exactly what we’re doing!


Image of Ellen Salome Riotto is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and then there’s this Twitpix!

  1. Why only in the most mundane factual sense, like who arranged for them to be hung up. Not why in the existential sense, like why those freaking privilege-drunk morons thought that hanging up those damn signs was a good idea, or why these freaking running dogs of capitalism and their freaking minions at the freaking South Park BID have the political juice to get the City of Los Angeles to hang up those damn signs in the first place, or why zillionaires have managed to warp, distort, and weaponize our entire political and legal system so that no matter what the laws actually say, no matter for what purpose we grant power to public officials, no matter what’s right, good, and calculated to avoid another freaking popular uprising, no matter any of that, they still think it’s just OK to flex their teensiest political muscle and implement another hateful policy whose sole purpose is to revictimize their victims and make everyone else more miserable. That level of why-telling takes a kind of expertise I neither have nor seek. An expertise in wanton psychopathy.
  2. At Government Code §51038(b)(1).
  3. The emails on which this story is based are all available here on Archive.Org. Definitely read through them to get all the details, at least some of which I’m omitting here.
  4. Although these damn sinister megacorporate conglomerates all look alike to me, never have been able to tell them apart. It could very well be a whole nother damn sinister megacorporate conglomerate like Coca Cola or the Trump White House. And I guess they have their place in the world, but I’ll tell you, sure wouldn’t want one to move next door and marry my daughter.
  5. JK, never enough!
  6. Tangentially, when I see someone at a BID or other public agency subject to the CPRA refer to what’s obviously a record, like wherever or whatever Locke’s going to “pull the property owners” from, I ask for it immediately. The request is already out! The number of requests grows exponentially because the number of subjects for new requests is proportional to the number of filled requests. And the constant of proportionality is quite large.
  7. Not as far-fetched as you may think, dear reader. A hefty percentage of my readers are the zillionaires about whom I write. Well, them and their damn lawyers. Still haven’t been sued for defamation though, so at least there’s that!
  8. It makes me cringe the way these people use the word “team.” I’m using it here to make fun of them. I’m not explaining the joke in this footnote because I doubt your perspicacity, dear reader, but because I want to be sure that the targets of the joke understand that they’re being mocked. I do doubt their perspicacity, but even if I didn’t I’d still have this footnote here, since being mocked and then having it be publicly assumed that you’re not bright enough to know when you’re being mocked is exponentially more mocking than mere unenhanced non-metamockery. Take that, BIDdies!
  9. At Government Code §51038(b)(1).
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