Category Archives: Homeless Issues

A Motion In City Council Asks The HHH Citizens’ Oversight Committee To Recommend Ways To Speed Up Development Of Housing For The Homeless, Creating An Unacknowledged But Not Unexpected Conflict Of Interest For Members Kerry Morrison And Blair Besten, Whose Salaries Are Paid By Real Estate Developers For The Express Purpose Of Advocating For Their Interests With The City

In November 2016 the voters of Los Angeles approved Measure HHH, which provided a huge amount of funding for housing homeless people. The measure also created a Citizens’ Oversight Committee, putatively for the purpose of making sure the money was well-spent. Subsequently, Eric Garcetti appointed Hollywood BIDdie and famous mayoral pookie-pie Kerry Morrison and some other people to the Committee and the City Council appointed Downtown BIDdie and famous José Huizar pookie-pie Blair Besten to the Committee.

These appointments meant that 2 of 7 committee members work for business improvement districts,1 which was bad enough in itself given that one of the main purposes of BIDs is to banish the homeless from their districts and to basically waste public money in the form of their assessments while doing that. But on Wednesday matters got immeasurably worse.

What happened is that Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Mitchell Englander introduced a motion proposing to expand the remit of the CoC to include making

comprehensive recommendations to the Homelessness and Poverty Committee regarding changes to the permanent supportive housing process and funding structure to enable a more expedited delivery of homeless housing.

That is, the Committee is now charged with weakening the funding process and the permitting and building approval process for projects that will help house the homeless. This sounds superficially like a good thing, but there’s at least one huge problem with it. Blair Besten’s employers, Kerry Morrison’s employers, are huge commercial property owners and developers and weakened processes are their bread and butter. They know exactly how to turn weakened processes into strengthened profit margins.

At least some of them, e.g. Ruben Islas, make immense amounts of money from building and owning housing for the homeless. Blair Besten has lobbied the City intensively on relaxing zoning codes and on granting psychotically expansive tax breaks to such developers. This new proposal, therefore, would grant Blair Besten and Kerry Morrison the power to make recommendations directly to City Council on issues that they are already paid by developers and property owners to lobby the City over.
Continue reading A Motion In City Council Asks The HHH Citizens’ Oversight Committee To Recommend Ways To Speed Up Development Of Housing For The Homeless, Creating An Unacknowledged But Not Unexpected Conflict Of Interest For Members Kerry Morrison And Blair Besten, Whose Salaries Are Paid By Real Estate Developers For The Express Purpose Of Advocating For Their Interests With The City

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Update On Using CPRA To Get Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups: In Theory It’s Working Fine, But In Practice Not So Much


Previous installments in this series:


LA Sanitation getting honored in City Hall in 2015.  Just one time maybe they could try cleaning up 200 N. Spring Street and catering a meal at a homeless encampment instead of the other way around.  We'd all be better off, friends.
LA Sanitation getting honored in City Hall in 2015. Just one time maybe they could try cleaning up 200 N. Spring Street and catering a meal at a homeless encampment instead of the other way around. We’d all be better off, friends.
This morning I have to report to you two developments in my ongoing project to use the California Public Records Act to get the City of Los Angeles to publicly release advance notice of its planned cleanups of homeless encampments. First of all, on October 31 I made yet another request for various kinds of records dated in the future. On November 8, Letitia Gonzalez sent me a number of items, which I’ll share with you below. You may recall that Letitia was responsible for my one success so far in this project, sending me notice on September 28 of a cleanup on September 29. However, this time, not so much. After the break there’s a list of what she sent, what I asked for, and what I think it means.1 There are also some emails from the Central City East Association (part of the material published on Thursday) showing that LA Sanitation does give advance notice of cleanups in some cases.
Continue reading Update On Using CPRA To Get Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups: In Theory It’s Working Fine, But In Practice Not So Much

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Kerry Morrison’s Fallibility Exposed Publicly By Park La Brea News As Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition Move To Hollywood Salvation Army Is Finalized But She (Almost) Keeps Stiff Upper Lip. Mitch O’Farrell, On The Other Hand, Still Doesn’t Get This Whole “Free Country” Thing…

444px-salvation_army_world_war_i_posterAt least since February 2016, the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition has been publicly discussing a move away from its long-time ground zero at Sycamore and Romaine. Of course, Ms. Kerry Morrison does not like this one bit and, in her rage,1 in May, went off in a tizzy crying to Salvation Army Board member Hank Hilty, whose family owns the Northeast corner of Third and Fairfax,2 and to the Salvation Army Southern California chief-directorate-for-something-or-another in Long Beach, saying something like “Hey fellow zillionaires! We don’t like this so can you please put a stop to it?”

And just watch her little speech on the matter from May. See how her affect just screams competence, omnipotence, every-kind-of-cence-but-common-sense? Well, according to the Park La Brea News, the Food Coalition’s move is a done deal and they will start serving meals there on January 1st. So much for Kerry Morrison’s back-channel-zillionaire-solidarity methodology. But does she just admit that she’s been trying to stop this development for almost a year now and has failed utterly? Nope! She’s quoted right in the article, speaking as if from her metaphorical dais, that imaginary place of calm, controlled, power. Also sprach die Königin von Hollywood:

“[The GWHFC and Salvation Army] don’t perceive it will be much of a net increase of people coming to Hollywood, but we will have to see. I don’t necessarily buy that,” Morrison said. “The concern is not about the meal program, it’s what happens before and afterwards. When you are embarking on a project like this that is not self-contained, it is going to have implications for the surrounding neighborhood. We definitely will be watching. We will be tracking to see if there is any increase [in homeless people coming to Hollywood]. If we are 60 days into it and there is no impact, then we are golden.”

The tacit assumption here is that anyone cares whether or not she is “golden.” In fact, if anyone at all cared, she would have been able to stop the whole thing in January, when she first started tracking it, or in May, when she first started whining about it in public. But she couldn’t, so why would she be able to now? She’s putting up a good front, but she’s putting up a front.

And that’s not all! Note how she says that ” We definitely will be watching. We will be tracking to see if there is any increase [in homeless people coming to Hollywood].” Well, she’s talking about the BID Patrol watching, obviously, and that presents an interesting legal problem for her. Also, recall that CD13 Councildude and Darth Four-Eyes Mitch O’Farrell has been trying to get the Food Coalition shut down since about 20 minutes after he took office in 2013. He has something silly to say about the whole thing too. Read on, friends, for details!
Continue reading Kerry Morrison’s Fallibility Exposed Publicly By Park La Brea News As Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition Move To Hollywood Salvation Army Is Finalized But She (Almost) Keeps Stiff Upper Lip. Mitch O’Farrell, On The Other Hand, Still Doesn’t Get This Whole “Free Country” Thing…

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Update On Attempts To Use CPRA To Get LA Sanitation To Provide Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups

Los Angeles Public Works building at 1149 S. Broadway.
Los Angeles Public Works building at 1149 S. Broadway.
Last Summer it occurred to me that it should be possible to use the California Public Records Act to get advance notice of City of LA homeless encampment cleanup actions. After an inordinate amount of bitching and moaning on my part, three weeks ago they actually handed over a schedule one day in advance. Since then, though, the person who gave me that record has been removed from my case1 and the new person assigned to it, Veretta Everheart, Senior Management Analyst with the Department of Public Works, is as obstructionist as everyone else I’ve dealt with at LA Sanitation (although perfectly friendly and delightful to deal with). In other words, no new advance schedules have been forthcoming.

On a slightly hopeful note, though, Veretta Everheart did actually tell me explicitly that they weren’t going to give me advance schedules.2 The reason she gave is that they “are living documents” which are “not retained.”3 Although she doesn’t say so explicitly, this is evidently a nod in the direction of an exemption enumerated in CPRA at Section 6254(a), which states that it’s not required to release

Preliminary drafts, notes, or interagency or intra-agency memoranda that are not retained by the public agency in the ordinary course of business, if the public interest in withholding those records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Now, if this is actually what she’s claiming,4 it’s probably not going to fly. First of all, even if these calendars are in fact drafts, there’s a solid argument that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in withholding. In fact, there’s no discernable public interest in withholding these.5 Not only that, but all of these calendars, drafts and preliminary versions included, are, in fact, retained, making the applicability of this exemption even more implausible.
Continue reading Update On Attempts To Use CPRA To Get LA Sanitation To Provide Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups

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A Bunch Of Interesting New Documents: City Attorney, LA Times, And Sanitation Reports From Encampment Cleanups

This is just a quick announcement of some interesting new collections of records, with minimal commentary. First of all, there’s a collection of emails between City Attorney spokesman1 Rob Wilcox and various L.A. Times Reporters. You can get the whole batch here:

Also I have a full set of reports2 from the Bureau of Sanitation on the cleanups of three homeless encampments on March 22, 2016. It took almost three months for them to hand over this material, which won’t surprise anyone who’s been following my recent interactions with them. This is likewise available from:

I don’t presently have much to say about the sanitation reports. At this point I’m collecting as much material as possible in order to (a) figure out what kind of material is available so that I’ll be able to make focused, effective requests in the future, (b) learn what kinds of arguments they make against handing over records so that I can make focused, effective counterarguments against them, and (c) understand all the players in the HE3 game and the roles they’re playing. I hope to be able to synthesize all of this at some point, but meanwhile I want to make the records available because I know smarter people than I are also reading them.

But I do have this and that to say about the emails,4 and after the break you will find commentary and links to interesting individual instances.
Continue reading A Bunch Of Interesting New Documents: City Attorney, LA Times, And Sanitation Reports From Encampment Cleanups

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Newly Available Emails From CD13 May Shed Some Light On City’s Procedures For Breaking Up Homeless Encampments. Also Glossary Updates And Some Fragmentary Information On The City’s Encampment Cleanup Authorization System

This (decontextualized) image from an email to CD13 staff suggests that despite the City's rhetoric on the matter, their policy towards people living in encampments is not all sunshine and outreach.
This (decontextualized) image from an email to CD13 staff suggests that despite the City’s rhetoric on the matter, their policy towards people living in encampments is not all sunshine and outreach.
My recent success in using CPRA to get advance notice of an encampment clean-up from the City reminded me that I had a number of emails to/from Council District 13 organizing such operations between January and April 2016 that I still hadn’t prepared for publication.1 So I spent this morning getting them into shape and putting them up on the Internet. This material sheds new light on the City’s still-mysterious encampment-breaking system. Also, some of the attachments to these emails reveal crucial information about the computer database(s) used by the City to coordinate the process. I discuss this matter, along with some other issues, after the break. Meanwhile, here are the locations of these emails:

Also, I added a few new terms to our glossary to help you read the emails, which are decidedly acronym heavy.2 These are CES, CSI, HE, PATH, and M&O. You can see the new definitions after the break (as well, of course, as via the menu structure or on the page itself). After the break I also discuss some fragmentary information about the City’s so-called Encampment Cleanup Authorization System.3
Continue reading Newly Available Emails From CD13 May Shed Some Light On City’s Procedures For Breaking Up Homeless Encampments. Also Glossary Updates And Some Fragmentary Information On The City’s Encampment Cleanup Authorization System

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How I Got Advance Notice Of This Morning’s Clean-Up Of A Homeless Encampment At 4490 DeLongpre And What Happened There, Along With A Bunch Of Information About Encampment Clean-Ups In July, August, and September

Two men carrying their possessions South on Lyman Place in advance of a LASAN clean-up of their encampment on Thursday, September 29.
Two men carrying their possessions South on Lyman Place in advance of a LASAN clean-up of their encampment on Thursday, September 29.
This summer, thinking about the important role that LACAN’s pictures and video of LA Sanitation’s aggressive clean-ups of homeless encampments downtown have played in e.g. Mitchell v. Los Angeles, it occurred to me that it ought to be possible to get advance notice of encampment cleaning actions from the City via the California Public Records Act. Well, like everything involving CPRA, it turned out to be far more complicated than one might expect in advance.

Amazingly, Sanitation did supply me with materials. It was just the part about getting them in advance of the clean ups that was difficult. On August 5 I asked for the first time. On August 17 they asked for an extension. On September 13, after a certain amount of wheedling on my part, they sent me material for July and August, and a few days later, partial material for September. Still nothing in advance, though:

The most important ones are the “HE Conf”1 documents. Those represent confirmed locations of clean-ups by Council District for the given month. They also reveal the suspected but, to my knowledge, unproven fact that locations where clean-up is requested by the Council District are given priority over other locations.2 I will be requesting these for the past as well as for the future. I think that mapping this data and otherwise analyzing it will provide important insights into the City’s mostly unarticulated-in-public policies towards the homeless, as well as deeper understanding. And understanding this world is fine. But the point3 is to change it.
Continue reading How I Got Advance Notice Of This Morning’s Clean-Up Of A Homeless Encampment At 4490 DeLongpre And What Happened There, Along With A Bunch Of Information About Encampment Clean-Ups In July, August, and September

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