Category Archives: Venice Beach BID

Update On The Willingness Of The California Board For Professional Engineers To Read And Consider Complaints Against Engineers Who Prepare Reports For BID Establishment — According To Boss Honcho Ric Moore They Not Only Will Read And Consider Them But He Personally Will Review And Clarify The Findings Of His Enforcement Staff — It’s Hard To Know If This Is Excellent, But It Is Way, Way, Way Better Than Nothing!

As you may know, I’ve been working on getting the California Board for Professional Engineers, which regulates the profession of engineering in California, to accept complaints against the engineers who write reports supporting BID formation. At first the Board’s position was that the preparation of such reports didn’t even constitute the practice of engineering and therefore all such complaints should be rejected a priori. After a few months of discussion, the Board seemed more entrenched than ever in this disappointing position.

However, in the last week or so, the Board, in the person of Executive Director Ric Moore, seems to have softened its position somewhat. In this email,1 Moore has made what strike me as two significant concessions:2

◈ Ric Moore stated that all complaints to the Board are read and responses reflect the actual factual allegations in the complaint.
◈ He also said that if the person filing the complaint doesn’t believe that this happened he, Ric Moore, will clarify and address the concerns.

This certainly is welcome news, and Ric Moore’s statements have had at least two immediate consequences. First, the Venice resident who filed the original complaint against BID engineer Ed Henning took Moore up on his officer to clarify and address concerns. Second, because Moore has committed his agency to reading all complaints and responding based on the factual allegations, I have determined to submit my own complaint against Ed Henning. I hope to have this done within four weeks, possibly sooner.

And I have updated this Archive.Org page with the additional emails (dated April 16 and 17, 2018). Turn the page for links to the new emails, transcriptions of all or part of the salient ones, and possibly a little more discussion of the issues.
Continue reading Update On The Willingness Of The California Board For Professional Engineers To Read And Consider Complaints Against Engineers Who Prepare Reports For BID Establishment — According To Boss Honcho Ric Moore They Not Only Will Read And Consider Them But He Personally Will Review And Clarify The Findings Of His Enforcement Staff — It’s Hard To Know If This Is Excellent, But It Is Way, Way, Way Better Than Nothing!

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The California Board For Professional Engineers Not Only Continues To Refuse To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Involved In BID Formation Even Though They Have No Written Policy To That Effect But Now, After An Initial Show Of Considering Reasonable Counterarguments To Their Unwritten Policy, Have Been Reduced To Intransigent Stalling And Clueless Unprofessional Mockery

Before a business improvement district can be formed, the Property and Business Improvement District law at §36622(b) requires that a licensed engineer prepare a report supporting the assessment methodology. At least in Los Angeles these reports are pro forma copy/paste monstrosities that are completely unrelated to any actual facts. Now, engineering in California is regulated by the Board for Professional Engineers, and one of their duties is to investigate complaints about unprofessional conduct.

So last year, after the utterly despicably disheartening process of approving the Venice Beach BID came to its tragic end, a resident, fed up with the nonsense promulgated by civil engineer Ed Henning in his report,1 filed a complaint against him with the Board. Amazingly, his complaint was closed unread because, as he was told in a letter by Jackie Lowe, the enforcement analyst who wrote to him, the Board does not consider the preparation of engineer’s reports for business improvement districts to constitute the practice of engineering.

They claim that it’s not within their jurisdiction and, in her letter announcing the close of the investigation, Jackie Lowe told the complainant that “Historically, our Board has deemed these “tax assessment” reports not civil engineering work.” This struck me as being reflective of a Board policy, which was so unexpected that after learning of it I sent a CPRA request to the Board asking for records related to this policy decision.2 After all, if there’s a policy, it ought to be written down so that it can be analyzed and, if appropriate, disputed.

After they ignored me for a long time, their enforcement manager Tiffany Criswell answered and propounded the usual line of nonsense about why they weren’t going to fulfill my request.3 Furthermore, she informed me that there was no written policy stating that the preparation of these engineering reports didn’t constitute the practice of engineering.

Basically she claimed that the Professional Engineers Act, which is the establishing law for the Board, forbade them from investigating anything which wasn’t explicitly defined in the law as the practice of engineering. She seemed to claim that creating a policy was forbidden. That they had to work only from the language of the law.4 I argued that it was pretty clear from the language of the Act that preparing engineer’s reports for BIDs constituted the practice of engineering as described in the Act. Strangely, she seemed to actually listen to my argument. She told me that she would look into it and get back to me.

And listen, when disputing anything at all with a government agency at any level, this counts as a win. So I waited. Heard nothing. Asked what’s up. She said later. Waited. Asked what’s up. She ignored me. Waited. Asked what’s up and CC-ed her boss, the inimitable Mr. Ric Moore. He flipped out and wrote me a weirdly sarcastic email full of malcriado scare quotes and other instances of bitterly bureaucratic sarcasm.

This email convinced me that, even though every aspect of the process remains unresolved, it’s time to publicize matters. Hence this post. The discussion is unavoidably technical, which is why the details are after the break, along with links to and transcriptions of most of the emails involved. As I said in the footnotes already, though, all the emails are available here on Archive.Org.
Continue reading The California Board For Professional Engineers Not Only Continues To Refuse To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Involved In BID Formation Even Though They Have No Written Policy To That Effect But Now, After An Initial Show Of Considering Reasonable Counterarguments To Their Unwritten Policy, Have Been Reduced To Intransigent Stalling And Clueless Unprofessional Mockery

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Full Recording Of Yesterday’s Venice Beach BID Meeting Now Available For Scholarly Analysis And Weekend Hatewatching!

This is just the briefest of notes to announce that, thanks to a faithful friend of this blog, I’m able to make available a complete recording of the April 13, 2018 meeting of the Board of Directors of the Venice Beach Business Improvement District. I will watch this 90 minute monstrosity this weekend and report back on highlights, but I wanted to provide links as soon as possible. It’s available both on YouTube and also on Archive.Org.

Like I said, I haven’t watched it yet, but my first impression after skimming around in the depths of this invaluable item is that President & CEO Tara Devine is even more unhinged than I had originally thought, and that’s saying an awful damn lot.
Continue reading Full Recording Of Yesterday’s Venice Beach BID Meeting Now Available For Scholarly Analysis And Weekend Hatewatching!

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Judge James Chalfant Issues Final Judgment In Okulick Petition Against The Venice Beach BID — The News Is Not Good, Friends, Even Though It Seemed Last Month Like It Was Going To Be


I created a page on Archive.Org to collect pleadings from the Okulicks’ case, and you can find it right here. Unfortunately right now I only have the original petition and yesterday’s tentative ruling, since adopted as final. This article from the Times is also useful background.

Yesterday afternoon the final hearing in the Okulick’s lawsuit against the Venice Beach BID took place before Judge James C. Chalfant in Department 85 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. One of the petitioners’ claims was that BIDs don’t give any special benefits to property owners whose parcels are zoned commercial but are used solely as owner-occupied residential.

Last month, it seems, Chalfant agreed with the petitioners, stating in his tentative ruling at that time that:

The Petition for writ of mandate is granted in part. Only the portion of the assessment directed to properties used by their owner exclusively as their residence is unlawful. A writ shall issue directing a refund of that portion of the assessment and Petitioners are entitled to a declaratory judgment to that effect. In all other respects, the Petition is denied.

However, it seems that the respondents, i.e. the City of Los Angeles and the Venice Beach BID, convinced him to hold off on making this ruling final to allow for another round of briefing just on the specific part where he found in favor of the Okulicks. I don’t have copies of those briefs, but yesterday’s hearing consisted of the oral argument surrounding them. Whatever the City of LA put in its brief did the nasty trick, evidently.

By yesterday Chalfant had changed his mind completely, and nothing that the petitioners’ lawyer, the brave, the honorable Geoffrey T. Stover, could say would sway the judge. Turn the page for the money quote from yesterday’s bad news tentative ruling and a little bit of amateur discussion based on notes I took at the hearing.
Continue reading Judge James Chalfant Issues Final Judgment In Okulick Petition Against The Venice Beach BID — The News Is Not Good, Friends, Even Though It Seemed Last Month Like It Was Going To Be

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Video Clips Of January 5, 2018 Meeting Of Venice Beach BID Board Available — In Conjunction With December Letter To Property Owners These Clips Suggest That They’re Egregiously Violating The Brown Act — President Tara Devine Is Even More Horrifically Offensive, Irritating, Mendacious, And Reprehensible Than Hitherto Suspected

As you may recall, the Venice Beach Business Improvement District putatively began its existence on January 1, 2017. However, the BID did nothing whatsoever for most of its first year except cash its zillion dollar checks from the City. In late December 2017 the BID finally announced a public meeting both through a letter sent to property owners on December 22, 2017 (there’s a transcription of this PDF at the bottom of the post) and via an email sent to the BID’s MailChimp list on January 2, 2018.

Well, the meeting took place, although I was not able to attend. The indefatigable Margaret Molloy recorded some selections, though, and has published them on her YouTube Channel. I have not watched all of them yet, but I’ve watched some of them, and it’s not a pretty sight, friends. These Venice BIDdies are a bunch of bad, bad babies.

So here’s what I have for you tonight. After the break, along with the promised transcription of devious little chump Mark Sokol’s letter to property owners, there’s also a reproduction of Margaret’s directory of these clips along with direct links through to them. Also there’s a transcription and a little bit of accompanying discussion of this particular clip, in which President Tara Devine explains how and why she and her fellow bad BIDdies on the board egregiously violated the Brown Act in the months leading up to this January meeting. Read on!
Continue reading Video Clips Of January 5, 2018 Meeting Of Venice Beach BID Board Available — In Conjunction With December Letter To Property Owners These Clips Suggest That They’re Egregiously Violating The Brown Act — President Tara Devine Is Even More Horrifically Offensive, Irritating, Mendacious, And Reprehensible Than Hitherto Suspected

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The California Board For Professional Engineers Explicitly, Openly, Refuses To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Who Produce Crack-Headed Nonsensical Reports For BID Formation , With Venice Beach Being A Prime Recent Example, Even Though The Legislature Clearly Intended Some Oversight — This Is An Overt Abrogation Of Their Duty But At Least It Explains The Submoronic Lobotomized Quality Of The Damn Reports

NOTE: This post turned out to be a lot more complex than I’d originally planned, so here’s a TL;DR:

  1. New BIDs are required to submit a report written by a state-certified engineer explaining why their boundaries and assessments make sense.
  2. Ed Henning, the engineer for the Venice Beach BID, submitted this totally nonsensical report.
  3. One of the same Venice residents who is suing the BID filed a complaint against Henning with the California Board for Professional Engineers alleging that Henning made up a bunch of stuff and otherwise acted incompetently in the report’s preparation.
  4. The Board rejected this complaint with this letter, claiming that they do not consider the preparation of BID reports to be within their jurisdiction. There’s a transcription of this PDF at the very end of this post.
  5. This is yet another example of how no one in the government, state or local, is willing to regulate BIDs at all or hold them accountable for anything.

My recent post on the East Hollywood BID in relation to one of the purposes of the Management District Plan for BID operations, focusing in part on some of the esoteric technicalities of the Property and Business Improvement District Act as it did, reminded me of another topic touching on PBID technicalities I’ve been meaning to write on for a few months now but have not yet, until today, gotten around to dealing with.

One of the required elements of the process of forming a property based BID, imposed by the PBID Law at §36622(n), is:

… a detailed engineer’s report prepared by a registered professional engineer certified by the State of California supporting all assessments contemplated by the management district plan.

This subsection actually incorporates a requirement imposed on all special assessment districts1 by the California Constitution at Article XIIID(4)(b), which imposes the same requirement in slightly more general language, having as it does to apply to any kind of special assessment:

All assessments shall be supported by a detailed engineer’s report prepared by a registered professional engineer certified by the State of California.

Now, these engineers’ reports which go along with BID formation are particularly interesting documents. First they’re interesting because they’re so mind-numbingly boring. My feeling is that if people write stuff this tedious and impossible to read they’re almost certainly hiding something, which is already of intrinsic interest. Second, they’re interesting because of the sheer unexpected variety of the nonsensical bullshit straight-facedly included in them, about which I’ll have more to say at a later date.
Continue reading The California Board For Professional Engineers Explicitly, Openly, Refuses To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Who Produce Crack-Headed Nonsensical Reports For BID Formation , With Venice Beach Being A Prime Recent Example, Even Though The Legislature Clearly Intended Some Oversight — This Is An Overt Abrogation Of Their Duty But At Least It Explains The Submoronic Lobotomized Quality Of The Damn Reports

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Venice Beach BID To Hold First Public Meeting On Friday, January 5, Inaugurating Both A Quantum Freaking Leap And A Sea Freaking Change In The Illegal Freaking Bullshitization Of Venice — Please Attend And Tell These Shameless, Already-Being-Sued, Law-Flouting Creeps What You Think Of Their Nonsense — Also, If You’re Able To Film The Meeting, Please Do So!

Perhaps you recall that the infamous Venice Beach Business Improvement District has been nonoperational for an entire year after the second-time’s-a-charm reapproval by City Council, whose blindingly arrogant indifference to both law and decency necessitated this expensive and amateurish do-over.

Well, they’re operational now, friends! Yesterday morning the VBBID CEO, AKA President-For-Life Tara Devine, transmitted in interstate commerce1 an announcement of the BID’s first-ever meeting. Here are the documents involved:

The meeting is on Friday morning at 10 a.m. If you’re able and willing to attend and film the entire meeting, which is your absolute right under the Brown Act, please do so, as various prior commitments prevent me from attending. If you’d like some tips on how to film Brown Act meetings effectively, please get in touch!

Meanwhile, turn the page for a critical analysis of selections from these woefully deficient documents as well as some special bonus info on how and why President Tara Devine and her co-conspirators are so arrogantly outlaw.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID To Hold First Public Meeting On Friday, January 5, Inaugurating Both A Quantum Freaking Leap And A Sea Freaking Change In The Illegal Freaking Bullshitization Of Venice — Please Attend And Tell These Shameless, Already-Being-Sued, Law-Flouting Creeps What You Think Of Their Nonsense — Also, If You’re Able To Film The Meeting, Please Do So!

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President Tara Devine Begged Fashion District To Hire Her For BID Consulting At $72,000 But They Hired UPC At $55,000 Instead Even Though Estela Lopez Really Loves President Devine And Steve Heumann Had “Front Row Seat” To President Devine’s Work In “Impossible” Venice — President Devine Admits Against Interest That Purpose Of BID Consulting Is To “Effectuate Approval” Of Municipal Legislation

As you may recall, I’ve been studying the relationships between BIDs and the consultants they hire to guide them through the process of establishing or renewing their BIDs. As part of this work I discovered, e.g., that the Fashion District BID is paying $55,000 to FDBID Executive Directrix Rena Leddy’s former employer Urban Place Consulting for renewal services. But before the Board hired UPC they, acting as the fiscally responsible grownups they are, for whatever reason, presumed to be, solicited proposals from the City’s various BID consultants.

And, although it’s probably not such a surprise given how few BID consultants there are in this City, it turns out that famously shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine submitted a proposal! She didn’t get the job, though, possibly because her bid was almost $20,000 higher than UPC’s. And there are many things to be learned from this document, not least of which is the fact that Tara Devine, utilizing the grammatical voice known technically as “unhinged third person,” refers to herself throughout as “President Tara Devine.”1

The most important information in the document, though, has to do with the scope of services, which contains crucial information for my ongoing project of turning BID consultants in to the Ethics Commission for failing to register as lobbyists. One necessary element of the registration requirement, found in the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance,2 is that a lobbyist be employed “…for the purpose of attempting to influence municipal legislation on behalf of any person.”3

BID renewal requires the City Council to pass two distinct ordinances,4 and this fact is a key element of my my general argument that BID consulting is lobbying. But how much more effective than me arguing for this position to just have President Tara Devine admit herself, in her own words, that when a BID hires her as a consultant they are hiring her to get some legislation passed. Given this admission against interest, she’ll have a hard time arguing that she’s not a lobbyist:

Coordination with City Clerk, HCED Chair, Council President, and Council District 14 to effectuate scheduling and approval of:
o Ordinance of Intention
o Ordinance of Establishment
o Prop 218 Ballot Issuance

Anyway, the whole document is well worth your time to read, although most of it’s merely mockable rather than substantial. Turn the page for transcriptions of some selections, including a bunch of risible testimonials from President Tara Devine’s cronies in BIDlandia and their comments, as filtered through her considerable third-person ego, about her work in Venice and elsewhere.
Continue reading President Tara Devine Begged Fashion District To Hire Her For BID Consulting At $72,000 But They Hired UPC At $55,000 Instead Even Though Estela Lopez Really Loves President Devine And Steve Heumann Had “Front Row Seat” To President Devine’s Work In “Impossible” Venice — President Devine Admits Against Interest That Purpose Of BID Consulting Is To “Effectuate Approval” Of Municipal Legislation

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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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News Flash! Venice Beach Property Owners Association Contract With The City Of Los Angeles To Administer The Venice Beach BID Was Attested Yesterday (But As Of Right Now Is Not Available Online)

Game on in Venice!
UPDATE: The signed contract is now available online.

There’s not much to say here. It’s Contract number C-129375, and I assume a PDF of it will show up at that link at some point in the future. I also assume that this means that the Venice Beach BID is finally going to commence operations, so let’s get ready for action, friends!
Continue reading News Flash! Venice Beach Property Owners Association Contract With The City Of Los Angeles To Administer The Venice Beach BID Was Attested Yesterday (But As Of Right Now Is Not Available Online)

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