Category Archives: City Clerk

Once Again The City Of Los Angeles Was Pushed To The Very Brink Of The Precipice Of Batshit Insanity By Business Improvement Districts And Their Unhinged Obsession With Controlling Every Aspect Of Public Life In Los Angeles — And Unexpectedly Stepped Back And Just Said “No” — Is Holly Wolcott Going To Lose Her Job Over This?

As you’re no doubt aware, the City of Los Angeles has been trying for years to put together a proposed ordinance legalizing street vending.1 The problem, of course, is that business improvement districts and other zillionaire-associated pressure groups hate street vending with a passion that is so incomprehensible, so devoid of rationality, that no one can appease them. No matter what concessions the City gives them they want more. The absolutely unhinged nature of their psychotic demands are exemplified, e.g., in this tragic tale from the Westchester Town Center BID.

In March of this year the Central City Association distilled all these lunatic demands into a concise three page document. They include, among many other things, the ability to exclude street vendors from any part of the City for no reason, the ability to confiscate their carts if they look at the BID patrol crosseyed, the ability for property owners to veto their presence for no reason, and the requirement that street vendors pay extra money to business improvement districts for the privilege of operating within their boundaries.

Now, the City Council, usually willing to do whatever BIDdies ask them to do, has had to be somewhat more circumspect when it comes to street vending because of the intense public scrutiny. The state-level Democratic Party, e.g., has taken up general legalization as a social and economic justice issue, leading to the overwhelming passage of Ricardo Lara’s SB-946 a couple weeks ago.2 But more circumspect or not, they still have to give the BIDdies some respect or they’ll cut off their access to that rich source of campaign contributions.

This is probably why the Economic Development Committee asked the City Clerk to report back on how to make street vendors who operate within BIDs pay extra fees that would go to the BIDs as, I don’t know, like protection money or something. These report-backs typically reflect the deep psychosis of this City’s zillionaires, who really seem to think that their thoughts and feelings are objectively important rather than being only contextually important, with the context, of course, being campaign contributions.3

So what a surprise it was to learn that Holly Wolcott has filed a gem of a report, which calmly and decisively explains to the City Council that actually any such fee scheme would be illegal. What?! Wolcott explicitly suggests that if street vendors in BIDs create extra costs for the BIDs the BIDs can budget money to pay for them but they cannot legally force the vendors to pay.

Holly Wolcott, pretty famously, recently flipped out over the fact that the Venice Beach BID collected far more than a million dollars for 2017 and then didn’t actually do anything at all. She schemed successfully to force the BID to refund the unspent money, and, in the midst of a great deal of personal tension between the BIDdies and the Clerk’s office, the money was in fact refunded. Perhaps this uncharacteristically non-BID-agreeing-with report-back is more of the same? I’m not sure, but it sure is welcome. Turn the page for a transcription of Holly Wolcott’s peculiarly sensible report!
Continue reading Once Again The City Of Los Angeles Was Pushed To The Very Brink Of The Precipice Of Batshit Insanity By Business Improvement Districts And Their Unhinged Obsession With Controlling Every Aspect Of Public Life In Los Angeles — And Unexpectedly Stepped Back And Just Said “No” — Is Holly Wolcott Going To Lose Her Job Over This?

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Tara Devine Accuses Rita Moreno Of Harboring Prejudice Against The Venice Beach BID And Of Badmouthing Her And Her Damn BID To Property Owners — And Of Being Too Dumb To Understand BIDs And Of Not Being Able To Read — Rita Moreno Accuses Tara Devine Of Badmouthing The City To Property Owners — Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?! — Oh, And More On Tara Devine’s September 26, 2017 Surgery, The Swiss Army Knife Of Excuses For Nonperformance Of Contractual And Statutory Obligations

As you no doubt recall, in April 2017 I was forced by the weirdo intransigence of Ms. Tara Devine to file a writ petition against the Venice Beach BID because they could not, would not, comply with the damn public records act for essentially years on end. And in June Tara Devine started handing over records, with more handed over in July. She’s evidently producing a batch a month even though she promised more, because just the other day I got a set of 284 emails between her and the City of Los Angeles, and I published them as usual on Archive.Org for your edification and pleasure.1

And there is a lot of good stuff in this set, but first a little more background. You will, of course, recall that the Venice Beach BID, despite being funded by the City starting in January 2017, didn’t even have a Board meeting until January 2018 and didn’t begin providing services until many months after that. This series of egregious failures led to a great deal of tension between the BIDdies and the City. So much so that in May 2018 the BIDdies got called on the carpet at City Hall and were also forced, much against their will, to refund all the money they’d collected for 2017.

And it seems that, obviously at least in hindsight, these serious consequences in 2018 arose from a great deal of tension between the City and the BID in 2017. The text for today’s sermon is a series of emails from October of that year between Tara Devine and Rita Moreno of the City Clerk which demonstrates exactly that.

It all started when Rita Moreno asked Tara Devine why the BID didn’t even have a working phone, which was forcing the City to field the outpouring of complaints from property owners who had paid a ton of money but were receiving nothing for it. Tara Devine, as is her angry and unprofessional little wont, flipped out on Rita Moreno, and the whole vitriolic exchange with links and transcriptions is right after the break!
Continue reading Tara Devine Accuses Rita Moreno Of Harboring Prejudice Against The Venice Beach BID And Of Badmouthing Her And Her Damn BID To Property Owners — And Of Being Too Dumb To Understand BIDs And Of Not Being Able To Read — Rita Moreno Accuses Tara Devine Of Badmouthing The City To Property Owners — Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?! — Oh, And More On Tara Devine’s September 26, 2017 Surgery, The Swiss Army Knife Of Excuses For Nonperformance Of Contractual And Statutory Obligations

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In 2013 Kerry Morrison Told The City Council That Without City Oversight Of BID Compliance With The Public Records Act “It Is Very Possible That One Of The BID Boards Would Be Sued, Which Would Also Involve The City” — This Despite Decades Of Kerry Morrison’s Refusing To Have Her BID Be Overseen In Any Way — Protesting Any Proposed Oversight Schemes — And Repeatedly Violating The Brown Act And CPRA In Flamboyantly Intentional Ways

It seems that in 2013 the City was considering transferring BID management functions away from the City Clerk to some to-be-created Office of Imaginary Money-Shuffling Practices or suchlike nonsense. Obviously it didn’t happen, but nevertheless we’re still as lucky as can be to have recently discovered a copy of a letter written by Ms. Kerry Morrison, chock-full of her characteristically narcissistic stylings, in support of keeping BIDditude with the Clerk.

Her unwritten point is that the Clerk’s BID unit is already firmly under the thumb of the BIDs,1 and any change would be detrimental to the BIDs, therefore no change should be made, whatever the needs of the City, and these she really does not deign to consider, might be. Her written points are more prosaic, and except for one of these the interest mainly lies in counting her weirdly nonconscious invocation of cliches.2

Her sole interesting point, and it’s interesting mostly for the way it highlights her absolute indifference towards the truth, has to do with one of our favorite topics on this blog, which is the intersection of BIDdology with the Brown Act and the Public Records Act:

Because of litigation that our BID was involved in at the turn of the century, the boards that manage BIDs are now subject to the Public Records Act and the Brown Act. The City Clerk’s staff helps to ensure compliance. Absent this oversight, it is very possible that one of the BID boards would be sued, which would also involve the city of LA.

Unfortunately I don’t have the time to dissect the unselfconsciously sprinkled self-satisfied hermeneutics of this lil cupcake of a prose poem, However, let’s move past the break and consider some of the inaccuracies and omissions. And, of course, there’s also a transcription of the whole damn letter.
Continue reading In 2013 Kerry Morrison Told The City Council That Without City Oversight Of BID Compliance With The Public Records Act “It Is Very Possible That One Of The BID Boards Would Be Sued, Which Would Also Involve The City” — This Despite Decades Of Kerry Morrison’s Refusing To Have Her BID Be Overseen In Any Way — Protesting Any Proposed Oversight Schemes — And Repeatedly Violating The Brown Act And CPRA In Flamboyantly Intentional Ways

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Jose Huizar, David Ryu, and Paul Koretz Introduce Motion In Council Ordering City Clerk To Report Back On How To Hire Everyone Counts To Run Online Voting Pilot In Ten Neighborhood Council Elections In 2019

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.

This is the very shortest of notes to announce that on Thursday esteemed councilcreeps Huizar, Ryu, and Koretz introduced a motion in Council ordering the City Clerk to report back in 60 days about the feasibility of hiring discredited election software vendor Everyone Counts to run an online voting pilot program in 2019 to be used in ten neighborhood council elections. The associated council file is CF 1022-S3.

Of course you will recall how the morally bankrupt Jose Huizar forced through a last-minute ordinance allowing online voting to be used in last year’s Skid Row Neighborhood Council subdivision election for the sole purpose of stealing the election. This is famously now the subject of a monumental lawsuit.

Since then responsibility for administering NC elections has been removed from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and given to the Clerk’s office. The Clerk, famously, has way higher standards for election security than DONE, so it’s disconcerting to see City Council ordering them to continue to deal with the shady and discredited Everyone Counts. Anyway, turn the page for the complete text of the motion. This one definitely bears watching.
Continue reading Jose Huizar, David Ryu, and Paul Koretz Introduce Motion In Council Ordering City Clerk To Report Back On How To Hire Everyone Counts To Run Online Voting Pilot In Ten Neighborhood Council Elections In 2019

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It Appears That The City Of Los Angeles Will No Longer Sign Petitions For BID Establishment Or Renewal Until 50% Of Non-City Petitions Have Come In — If True This Would Be A Radical Change In The City’s BIDscape — Just For Instance The Venice Beach BID Would Never Have Been Established — San Pedro Would Never Have Been Renewed — If This Is True It Would Seem To Be Impossible For Venice Or San Pedro To Renew Again In Their Present Forms

I just wrote this morning on the surprising fact that it seems the LAUSD will no longer automatically approve BID establishment/renewal petitions. This in itself is a monumental development, which may make it somewhat more difficult for BID establishment to happen. The emails on which that earlier post were based, between staffers at the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID and various parties including their renewal consultant Don Duckworth, are available here on Archive.Org, are an extremely rich set, and there is much of interest in there.

Now, recall that in order for the City to move forward with the BID renewal process it’s required by the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994 for the proponents to collect petitions in favor of renewal signed by property owners holding more than 50% of the proposed assessed value, which is known in the jargon as 50%+.1 Hitherto, in accordance with an ordinance adopted by the City Council in 1996, the City of Los Angeles would always sign petitions for establishment.

However, at least according to what is clearly the most consequential item in this release, and one of the most consequential records in my entire collection, which is this May 1, 2018 email from BID consultant Don Duckworth to BLQ BID staffers Moises Gomez and Rebecca Drapper, that policy may no longer apply. Therein Duckworth is informing his clients of the status of their ongoing petition drive. Up until May 1, Don Duckworth and the staffers working with him had taken the City’s support for granted, as would be expected. However, that morning, says Duckworth, everything changed:

The City Clerk’s Office informed me this AM that the City Petitions count
[sic] not be counted until the overall total of all other Petitions was 50% or more. (That’s a new practice.) This does affect our methodology for completion of the Petition Drive as shown below. We still have some work to do!

If this is accurate, and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be, it raises two monumental questions. First of all, how is it legal for the Clerk to adopt a policy like this without City Council approval given that it seems to contradict the 1996 policy, which was approved by the City Council? I am in the process of investigating this and I’ll get back to you on it if I learn anything.

Second, what will happen to BIDs with extraordinarily high proportions of City property, included by BID proponents to take advantage of the City’s automatic approval policy? The BLQ BID only has around 2.5% City property in it, so it wasn’t hard for the proponents to get to 50%+ without the City’s petitions.

However, some BIDs, and the Venice Beach BID and the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID are two of the most egregious examples, don’t seem to have any hope at all of hitting 50% approval without the City’s petitions. What will happen to BIDs like this when they come up for renewal? Turn the page for more detailed analysis and some speculation!
Continue reading It Appears That The City Of Los Angeles Will No Longer Sign Petitions For BID Establishment Or Renewal Until 50% Of Non-City Petitions Have Come In — If True This Would Be A Radical Change In The City’s BIDscape — Just For Instance The Venice Beach BID Would Never Have Been Established — San Pedro Would Never Have Been Renewed — If This Is True It Would Seem To Be Impossible For Venice Or San Pedro To Renew Again In Their Present Forms

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Rita Moreno Thinks The “Boundaries Of A BID Must Be Contiguous” — Misty Iwatsu Agrees!! — No! Wait! Rita Moreno Thinks “There’s No Legal Requirement That The Boundaries Be Contiguous”! — Whichever It Is, We Think That Rita Moreno (A) Is Practicing Law Without A License And Ought To Stop It Right Now Cause It’s Illegal And She’s Confusing Everybody And (B) Does Not Know What The Word “Contiguous” Means

OK, I’m sorry, this post is on kind of a technical subject, but I think it’s important and also it reveals a kind of weird off-handed incompetence amongst the City Clerk’s BID analyst staff that I think is worth memorializing. The central issue is whether the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994 requires a BID to be in one piece. I’m going to use the technical term “connected” here.1

It’s not just an idle question, either. You may recall that the proposed Hollywood Route 66 BID runs up Santa Monica Blvd. from Vine Street to Hoover Street. The problem is that Vermont Avenue crosses Santa Monica right in the middle of that stretch, and every building that touches Vermont is already included in the East Hollywood BID.

Regardless of what the PBID law has to say about connectedness of BIDs, it’s very, very clear on the fact that BIDs can’t overlap.2 Hence commercial buildings on both Santa Monica and Vermont must be excluded from the Hollywood Route 66 BID, which leaves its territory disconnected. Plausibly, also, the EHBID could cede those buildings to the Route 66 BID, but, interestingly, doing so would leave the EHBID disconnected, so nothing would be gained. Here’s a copy of the map if it’ll be useful.

Thus a correct understanding of what the law allows is essential for the formation of at least that BID, and probably others in the future. And I’m not a lawyer, but I read the whole damn PBID law about a zillion times and the connectivity of a BID is not mentioned in there at all. It’s my not-a-lawyer understanding that if a law doesn’t explicitly forbid something then that something is allowed.

But the famous Rita Moreno of the City Clerk’s Neighborhood and Business Improvement District division didn’t agree with me in 2017! Then she did agree with me in 2018! And Misty Iwatsu spent some time in 2016 babbling on about the matter and thought 2017 Rita Moreno was right! And Rita Moreno didn’t just think, she advised! And it strikes me that her advice looked an awful lot like practicing law without a license, which is illegal in California!3

And of course you want to see details! And primary sources! Turn the page and there they are!!
Continue reading Rita Moreno Thinks The “Boundaries Of A BID Must Be Contiguous” — Misty Iwatsu Agrees!! — No! Wait! Rita Moreno Thinks “There’s No Legal Requirement That The Boundaries Be Contiguous”! — Whichever It Is, We Think That Rita Moreno (A) Is Practicing Law Without A License And Ought To Stop It Right Now Cause It’s Illegal And She’s Confusing Everybody And (B) Does Not Know What The Word “Contiguous” Means

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In 2016 Mike Bonin Promised To Rezone Properties To Remove Them From The BID — Which He Never Did — Now He’s Rezoning Properties In The Palisades For Nefarious Reasons Of His Own — Venice Beach BID Ballots Available! — Showing Spoiled And Late Ballots As Well! — Five Years Worth Of Weekly Clerk Reports On BIDs!

This is just a short note to announce various random records that have come into my possession over the last few days. First of all, due to the brilliant work of an intrepid CPRA warrior,1 at last we have access to the complete set of ballots used in the Venice Beach BID formation process. You can get a PDF spool of all of these right here on Archive.Org.2 It’s interesting to see that the City didn’t redact these ballots at all, not even the signatures. Compare these with the petitions, which they released in 2016.

Also today I’m announcing NBID reports from 2013 on, obtained by a brave citizen of Los Angeles and subsequently made available to me. We’ve seen some of this material before, but only through 2016. There is a ton of interesting material here, and I’ll be writing on it from time to time in the future. Meanwhile, here’s a sample of what these Clerk BIDdies were up to during the week of May 29, 2018:

Processed Venice Beach refund affidavits; Performed ownership and mailing address updates for the three upcoming PBID renewal mail outs of Melrose, BLQ-Pico and Historic Core; Researched and processed returned mail ballots for the 3 PBID renewals currently out to ballot of Arts District, Fashion District and Hollywood Entertainment District and some for the finalized Tarzana PBID election that were recently returned; Compiled BID Application wish list for the meeting with Systems.

And finally, you will recall that after the November 2016 hearing at which the Venice Beach BID was established Mike Bonin promised the world to BID opponents, or at least this:

As I said when I met with you folks recently, I am happy to help those folks get their properties rezoned as residential properties. And I’m happy to meet with those folks and would even be willing to initiate a zone change from my end to make it a little less expensive and more helpful.

It’s been almost two years now, and Mike Bonin has broken his promise. No one in Venice is getting rezoned. But it’s not because Mike Bonin can’t rezone. Just take a look at this motion introduced today in Council by Mike Bonin. In it he directs City staff to rezone some neighborhood in the Palisades because of some zillionaire hillside house voodoo.

And this motion is explicitly inspired by a bunch of similar rezoning in Laurel Canyon and elsewhere so it’s just a service that councilpets provide to their zillionaire constituents. So, people of Venice, are you wondering why Mike Bonin couldn’t get your properties rezoned like he promised he would? Well, it’s not because he can’t. It’s because he won’t. Turn the page for a transcription of this dire little slab of you-know-what.
Continue reading In 2016 Mike Bonin Promised To Rezone Properties To Remove Them From The BID — Which He Never Did — Now He’s Rezoning Properties In The Palisades For Nefarious Reasons Of His Own — Venice Beach BID Ballots Available! — Showing Spoiled And Late Ballots As Well! — Five Years Worth Of Weekly Clerk Reports On BIDs!

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Two Very Interesting Records For Release — The Contract Between The City Of Los Angeles And Civitas Advisors For Establishment Of The Hollywood Route 66 BID — Shedding Light On Intersection Between BID Consulting And Lobbying — Also On Exactly What Role The Engineer Plays In Establishment Process — And February 2018 Feasibility Report Produced By Civitas

There seem to be two distinct ways that BIDs get started in Los Angeles. One is that a bunch of property owners want to start one, they talk to their council rep or the City Clerk, hire a consultant, and go through the process we’ve all come to know and love. But it seems that sometimes the City takes the initiative, they hire their own consultant, and as part of their duties, the consultant puts together a proponent group.

That seems to be what’s going on with the infamous Echo Park BID, and it’s also the way that the Hollywood Route 66 BID is being formed.1 Both of these establishments are being handled by OG2 BID consultancy Civitas Advisors. And as you may recall, a good citizen of Los Angeles recently supplied me with a massive set of emails between Civitas and the City Clerk‘s office.3

And buried amongst the interminable babbling about God-knows-what-all4 I uncovered a couple of really interesting gems. First, there is the contract between the City and Civitas for establishing the Hollywood Route 66 BID, and second there is a feasibility study for the BID prepared by Civitas in February 2018.5 Both of them have a lot to tell us about how BIDs get started and function in Los Angeles! Turn the page for excerpts and discussion.
Continue reading Two Very Interesting Records For Release — The Contract Between The City Of Los Angeles And Civitas Advisors For Establishment Of The Hollywood Route 66 BID — Shedding Light On Intersection Between BID Consulting And Lobbying — Also On Exactly What Role The Engineer Plays In Establishment Process — And February 2018 Feasibility Report Produced By Civitas

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In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

Regular readers of this blog are well aware that business improvement districts in California are subject to the California Public Records Act and to the Brown Act by virtue of the Property and Business Improvement District Law at §36612, which states explicitly that BIDS … shall comply with the Ralph M. Brown Act … at all times when matters within the subject matter of the district are heard, discussed, or deliberated, and with the California Public Records Act … for all records relating to activities of the district.1

Also, maybe you recall that the standard contract that BIDs sign with the City of Los Angeles contains2 a clause basically repeating this requirement. There’s a transcription of this section after the break. So in March 2016, faced with blatant disregard of the CPRA by the Downtown Center BID, I wrote to the City Clerk, Holly Wolcott, asking her to enforce the terms of the City’s contract with this obstructionist BID.

And on March 14, 2016, she wrote back to me, stating pretty clearly that she wasn’t going to make sure that BIDs complied with the Public Records Act. Again, there’s a transcription of her response after the break, but her main argument was that the City wasn’t obligated by the contract to consider whether a given BID was complying with the CPRA.

And I thought that was the end of it, but I just recently discovered that actually, it’s likely that the City took my argument much more seriously than anyone was letting on. So seriously, in fact, that in April 2016 the City Attorney completely rewrote the standard contract between BIDs and the City to eliminate all language about CPRA and the Brown Act!
Continue reading In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

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Last Friday, May 18, Devine And Heumann Got Called On The Carpet At City Hall To Get Yelled At By Wolcott, Hoppes, Moreno, Bazley, And Possibly Molnar! — We Have A Copy Of The Refund Affadavit Letter Being Sent To VBBID Property Owners! — As Of This Wednesday, May 23, Tara Devine Still Hadn’t Submitted The Freaking Annual Planning Report — Moreno Coming At Her All Salty! — And Rightly So!

A bunch of new documents for you this morning, friends! You can look through the whole pile of them here on Archive.Org, and read on for some selected gems!

First of all, recall that the Venice Beach BID is being required by the City to refund most of the money collected from property owners in 2017 because they were too damn arrogant and/or incompetent to actually do anything other than pay themselves salaries with the almost two million dollars the City handed over to them.1

You can read this copy of the letter to property owners along with instructions for filling out the necessary affadavit. This was scheduled to be sent out on May 11. What’s more interesting, though, is this email exchange from May 8 between Tara Devine and Rita Moreno about when this letter was to be sent. First Rita Moreno emailed Tara Devine at 3:20 p.m. and said:

Hi Tara,

For your information, attached is the notice and instructions that will be mailed out on Friday. Also included will be the actual Affidavit and the return envelope.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Rita

A mere seven minutes later2 the shadowy one fired off this intemperate reply:

Thank you. To clarify, we want to sit down before anything is mailed . It is important that we understand the entire process.

I’m working now to schedule something as early as possible next week. (Monday is launch, so it can’t be Monday.)

Amazingly, Tara Devine does not seem to understand that she’s not in charge of this situation. She and her BIDdies out in Venice have messed up far, far beyond what’s acceptable to the City, and it takes an awful lot to get to that point. She does not have the leverage to set terms. Which is essentially what Rita Moreno said to her in reply.

Turn the page to read that reply as well as the story of Tara Devine and Steve Heumann’s May 18 meeting at City Hall with a bunch of angry City officials and the story of how as of this Wednesday, May 23, Tara Devine still hasn’t gotten that damn annual planning report in!
Continue reading Last Friday, May 18, Devine And Heumann Got Called On The Carpet At City Hall To Get Yelled At By Wolcott, Hoppes, Moreno, Bazley, And Possibly Molnar! — We Have A Copy Of The Refund Affadavit Letter Being Sent To VBBID Property Owners! — As Of This Wednesday, May 23, Tara Devine Still Hadn’t Submitted The Freaking Annual Planning Report — Moreno Coming At Her All Salty! — And Rightly So!

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