Category Archives: Business Improvement Districts

A Bunch Of Emails Between The Los Feliz Village BID And The City Of Los Angeles Reveal A Number Of Interesting Issues, Not Least Of Which Is City BID Analyst Giving The BID Legal Advice On CPRA Requests Contrary To Holly Wolcott’s Position That This Does Not Happen

The other day I received a big pile of emails between the Board of the Los Feliz Village BID and people at the City of Los Angeles. They’re available here on Archive.Org. Note that the BID produced these by using some kind of bulk forwarding utility for Gmail to send these to their attorney, uniquely repetitive chair of the famed Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Jeffrey Charles Briggs Esq.

Attorney Briggs then exported the forwarded emails as MSG files and passed them along to me. Unfortunately this process mangled the metadata and made it more trouble than it seems to be worth to sort and rename the files by date and time. Sr. Briggs seems to be willing at least to consider instructing his clients to provide actual exact copies of emails in the future, but for now we’ll work with what we got, especially since the whole process has taken more than six months to get to this point. Anyway, turn the page for discussion of a few highlights.
Continue reading A Bunch Of Emails Between The Los Feliz Village BID And The City Of Los Angeles Reveal A Number Of Interesting Issues, Not Least Of Which Is City BID Analyst Giving The BID Legal Advice On CPRA Requests Contrary To Holly Wolcott’s Position That This Does Not Happen

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Venice Beach BID Still Not Operational Despite The Fact That Their Contract Was Attested More Than Two Months Ago — Mark Sokol Sent Out A Letter, Likely Ghosted By Tara Devine, Two Weeks Ago Begging For Patience And Donations And Offering A Freaking Unmonitored Email Account For Consolation!

It’s been a long, long year for the Venice Beach BID, friends. Last August they had their first hearing but due to generalized arrogance they messed up the process and so the City Attorney called a do-over, which happened last November. For undisclosed reasons it took until June of this year for their administration contract to get signed and as of today they still have not commenced operations.

And evidently the property owners are getting restless out there on the very West side, because on July 31, Mr. Venice Beach himself, Mark Sokol, sent out a letter to the property owners (transcription after the break) begging their forbearance, asking them if they had any office space to donate, and telling them they weren’t going to get any money back even if the BID didn’t start working until freaking December cause that’s the way they roll.

And if you have questions you’re welcome, according to this letter, to send them to admin@venicebeachbid.com even though, and I am not making this up, no one checks that account. Just as an aside, not in the letter, but you may have more luck with tara@venicebeachbid.com or marksokol@hotmail.com or mark@mphotel.com or carl@lambertinc.com or sheumann@sidewalkent.com. Property owners were also offered a chance to sign up for a mailing list, although signups seem to be closed now. Anyway, there’s a transcription after the break, and I’m not sure what it all means, but it seemed important to publish it.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID Still Not Operational Despite The Fact That Their Contract Was Attested More Than Two Months Ago — Mark Sokol Sent Out A Letter, Likely Ghosted By Tara Devine, Two Weeks Ago Begging For Patience And Donations And Offering A Freaking Unmonitored Email Account For Consolation!

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Apparently The City Attorney Of Los Angeles Has Opined That Business Improvement Districts Can’t Spend Money On Things That Aren’t In Their Management District Plans Unless The Plans Are Amended — At Least That’s What Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Said In 2012 And Why Would She Lie About That?

When business improvement districts in California are created, it’s required by the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994 at §36622 to file a so-called management district plan (MDP) with the City. This is meant to describe exactly what the BID is going to spend its money on, and it’s incorporated into the City’s Ordinance of Establishment, by which means the BID is created. It must be approved by the City Council, and the City has the power to revise it at will. The law makes it pretty clear that BIDs are actually forbidden from spending money on activities that aren’t in the MDP, although this facet of the law is generally ignored by the City.

And I’m presently working on a project that requires a close reading of invoices submitted by Tara Devine1 to the South Park BID over the years, which I obtained last month as the fruit of a CPRA request.2 Although 2012 is outside the timeline I’m working on, I was fascinated to note that Tara Devine seems to have been engaged by the South Park BID to actually write that year’s annual planning report3 for them. One of the things that she billed for in the course of performing her contract to do so Tara Devine billed for was a conversation with accounting firm RBZ, since merged with Armanino, and the subject of that conversation was wholly new to me:
Continue reading Apparently The City Attorney Of Los Angeles Has Opined That Business Improvement Districts Can’t Spend Money On Things That Aren’t In Their Management District Plans Unless The Plans Are Amended — At Least That’s What Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Said In 2012 And Why Would She Lie About That?

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110 New Emails Between The City of LA And The East Hollywood BID Reveal Essentially Nothing About Anything, As Do The BID’s Bylaws — Also A Bunch Of Advertising Slash Branding Bullshit From The Fashion District Is Easy To Mock But Not So Informative After All

Ah, friends, just another desultory announcement of yet another batch of public records obtained from our friends at the BIDs, the meaning of none of which is yet clear, but we don’t let that worry us here in MK-dot-Org-landia. Everything happens for a reason, as they say, and I’m sure all this junk is no exception and some day it will prove to comprise crucially important pieces in puzzles whose very existence is as yet undiscerned. But for now I’m just announcing its existence, and do with it what you will. Anyway, here’s what I got:

  • Emails between the East Hollywood BID and the City of LA — March 2017 through July 2017. There are 110 emails here, attachments are attached to the emails, it’s amazing how empty of content this batch is. About 84% of them consist of Nicole Shahenian trying to get people to use her new email at ehbid.org. I don’t know for sure but I’d bet money that she made this switch because of my CPRA requests. Also, Aram Taslagyan’s replacement as CD13 East Hollywood field deputy introduces himself herein, but I already forgot his name.

And turn the page for the rest of the junk and more random commentary!
Continue reading 110 New Emails Between The City of LA And The East Hollywood BID Reveal Essentially Nothing About Anything, As Do The BID’s Bylaws — Also A Bunch Of Advertising Slash Branding Bullshit From The Fashion District Is Easy To Mock But Not So Informative After All

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San Pedro BID Renewal Petition Drive Materials Available Including Blank Petitions And Information Sheets

This is just a quick note to announce the availability of a first batch of renewal materials from the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID. They’re available here on Archive.Org. These are from the petition phase, where property owners holding $1 more than 50% of the total assessed value have to petition City Council to renew their BID. I’m collecting material like this as part of a long-term project to send out countermailings when BIDs send out mailings in favor of establishment or renewal. They uniformly send blank petitions on which the only choice is to vote yes. See this sample, for instance.1

I think it would be reasonable, effective, and entertaining to send out petitions on which the only choice was no. Of course, the way the petition phase of BID renewal/establishment is structured, not voting is the same as voting no, but nevertheless, it would be politically valuable to see that property owners have a choice. In order to carry out this plan, it will also be necessary to have quick access to natively formatted copies of the mailing lists that the BIDs use. They have historically been exceedingly reluctant to give up this information.

You may, e.g., recall the fact that it took me five months of nagging Miranda Paster at the City Clerk’s office to get her to give me the mailing list for Venice Beach.2 In that case as in every other case where I’ve actually managed to obtain mailing lists, it came too late to be useful. But at some point, and this is the main reason this is a long term project, I will have convinced the BIDdies3 that they have to hand over mailing lists promptly so that they’re still politically useful.

Naturally, when sending out alt-petition forms, it will be necessary to send out alt-propaganda. Just take a look at the San Pedro BID’s info sheet that they sent out along with the petitions. Count the lies. Imagine an alt-petition that not only invites property owners to vote no on the BID but also informs them what their money’s really being spent for like, e.g., to to keep criminals from getting arrested because they can’t put out their own damn dumpster fires!

Every BID wastes its money on exactly that kind of nonsense, never publicized. This kind of campaign probably won’t stop any BIDs, but it may well increase the protest rate, which would be interesting indeed! And turn the page for links to all the items with a little bit of commentary.
Continue reading San Pedro BID Renewal Petition Drive Materials Available Including Blank Petitions And Information Sheets

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In Which I Present A General Argument That BID Consultancy Is Lobbying Activity In Order To Simplify And Regularize The Process Of Reporting BID Consultants To The Ethics Commission For Failure To Register

It’s a long term project of mine to turn in as many BID consultants as possible to the City Ethics Commission for failing to register as lobbyists. So far, though, I’ve only managed to report Tara Devine for her work on the Venice Beach BID because the work is so involved. Such a report has two essential components:

  1. An argument that BID consultancy satisfies the definition of lobbying activity found in the the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.02.
  2. An argument that a specific BID consultant was paid for sufficiently many hours over sufficiently few months to trigger the registration requirement found in the MLO at LAMC §48.07(A).

It occurred to me recently that the first argument will be the same for all BID consultants, and that therefore it would be possible to streamline the reporting process by writing it up in a generic format that would apply to any given BID consultant. So that’s what I did, and you can read the result here. I will be using this to make a number of complaints against BID consultants in the near future, which I will report on here.

Meanwhile, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can find explanations of everything after the break, along with a fairly detailed summary of the argument that BID consultancy qualifies as lobbying under the MLO.
Continue reading In Which I Present A General Argument That BID Consultancy Is Lobbying Activity In Order To Simplify And Regularize The Process Of Reporting BID Consultants To The Ethics Commission For Failure To Register

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Annals Of Gentrification Porn — Bad: The Fashion District Closed Off A Street Downtown To Have A Freaking Dinner Party — Worse: They Hired Professionals To Make A Short Pornographic Video Of It — Worst Of All: This Evidently Seems Normal To Them (?)

Just when you think it can’t get any weirder out there in BIDlandia, well … it does! You may recall last month’s revelation that the Fashion District BID paid some Berkeleyites almost $20,000 to study Santee Alley and report that, inter alia, Latinos are confused by lobster rolls. Well, in a similar yet far stranger vein, just the other day, the incomparable Rena Leddy1 sent me a video, paid for and produced by the BID, of a dinner party they had in the street last October.

The whole thing is not only deeply disturbing, it’s also embedded below the break for your edification if not your enjoyment.2 I put it below to calm the autoplay, which I can’t figure out how to eliminate. If you want to download it it’s available at Archive.Org as well.

And really, after you watch it, if you have any freaking idea at all why putatively mature adults would think it was a good idea to make a video like this, please let me know. It’s not just pornographic, it’s transparently so. I suppose it’s OK to be a self-satisfied narcissistic idiot, but why in the world does anyone want to announce to the world that they’re a self-satisfied narcissistic idiot? Seriously, this is why the Fashion District needs to get the homeless out of Downtown? So they can hold more zillionaire black masses like this one? Never gonna understand…
Continue reading Annals Of Gentrification Porn — Bad: The Fashion District Closed Off A Street Downtown To Have A Freaking Dinner Party — Worse: They Hired Professionals To Make A Short Pornographic Video Of It — Worst Of All: This Evidently Seems Normal To Them (?)

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Why Does Shadowy Anonymous United Downtown Have The Same Phone Number As The Central City East Association?

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

I reported a couple days ago that Liner LLP, the lobbying firm hired by the shadowy anonymous entity known as United Downtown for the purpose of killing the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation, had finally disclosed their client via their Q2 report. I didn’t realize then that Liner had also filed an amended 2017 registration statement showing United Downtown as a client, which they had previously failed to do.

And there’s a crucial detail in these disclosures that I missed. I was alerted to this matter by a source who spoke to me on condition of anonymity. Take a look at the disclosure statement. In particular, the phone number that Liner gives for United Downtown is (213) 228-8484. Now take a look at Central City East’s contact info (and here’s a screenshot should it become necessary). Their phone number is (213) 228-8484 as well! This would go a long way towards explaining the outsized role played by Estela Lopez in this fiasco as early as January 2017.
Continue reading Why Does Shadowy Anonymous United Downtown Have The Same Phone Number As The Central City East Association?

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In June 2017 The East Hollywood BID Board Of Directors Approved Minutes From Five Of Its 2016 Meetings. Here’s How I Think That Came About And Some Speculation On What It Might Mean

Maybe you remember that in March of this year I noticed that Nicole Shahenian, executive directrix of the East Hollywood BID, seems to have told the City of Los Angeles a lie with respect to the BID’s 2015 annual planning report.1 Briefly, the problem was that Shahenian submitted a letter to the City claiming that the Board had approved the report at its meeting of December 29, 2014, but my collection of minutes suggested that the Board had not met in December 2014.

This fact in itself seems to have some serious ramifications, my theories concerning which you can read all about in the original post. But the discovery of this ghost meeting led me to scrutinize my collection of EHBID minutes more closely. This closer look revealed that a number of meetings from 2016 seemed to have taken place but their minutes seemed never to have been approved by the Board. So in March 2017 I asked EHBID lawyer extraordinaire2 Jeffrey Charles Briggs Esq. for copies of all the ones that appeared to be missing.
Continue reading In June 2017 The East Hollywood BID Board Of Directors Approved Minutes From Five Of Its 2016 Meetings. Here’s How I Think That Came About And Some Speculation On What It Might Mean

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Fashion District BID Bylaws From 2003 Anticipate Los Angeles City Attorney Advising BID On Their Brown Act Obligations, Suggesting That Holly Wolcott’s Stance Against Requiring BIDs To Follow The Law Is A Recent Development

I’ve been collecting copies of bylaws from the property owners’ associations that run BIDs for a while now, and some interesting stuff has turned up. Most egregiously we have the cases of Brown Act violations actually written into the bylaws of the Larchmont Village BID and essentially the same problem with the Melrose Avenue BID. Well, the other day, Rena Leddy, executive directrix of the Fashion District BID, was kind enough to send me a copy of her BID’s bylaws, last amended in 2003, and very interesting they are, indeed!

For one thing, these bylaws reveal that, unlike every other BID that I know of, the property owners in the Fashion District elect their Board of Directors by direct weighted vote.1 Most BIDs seem to be run by self-perpetuating boards, in which the directors choose their successors without any input from anyone else. This is interesting, and may save the FDBID from the kind of stagnation and undue staff influence that one finds in so many of our local BIDs.2

Most interesting, though, are the two places in these bylaws where it appears that the BID didn’t know whether or not their rules would violate the Brown Act, so they wrote language stating that the rules only applied pending determinations of their legality by the City Attorney of Los Angeles. This contradicts the stance currently taken by City Clerk Holly Wolcott, who insists that BIDs are beyond the City’s power to control due to their status as private corporations. She refuses even to tell BIDs to perform explicit requirements of their contract. How strange, then, to see evidence that in 2003 the City Attorney of Los Angeles was making decisions about whether or not the Fashion District BID’s bylaws were Brown-Act-compliant.
Continue reading Fashion District BID Bylaws From 2003 Anticipate Los Angeles City Attorney Advising BID On Their Brown Act Obligations, Suggesting That Holly Wolcott’s Stance Against Requiring BIDs To Follow The Law Is A Recent Development

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