Category Archives: City Clerk

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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!

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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!

Share

Mike Bonin Told Taylor Bazley To Ask Rita Moreno If It Was Possible To Remove “A Specific Affordable Housing Development From The BID” — Rita Moreno Wrongly Told Him It Was Not Possible And Cited Tara Freaking Devine In Support Of Her Incorrect Theory — Yet Again The City Of Los Angeles Cedes Its Lawful Authority To BIDdies For Nefarious Reasons Of Its Own

Remember at the end of the hearing at which the City Council established the Venice Beach BID in November 2016 CD11 repster Mike Bonin told the audience that he was going to help get residential-use properties out of the BID. Listen to him here, and here’s what he said:

And I would just say one final thing to those who talked about the fact that they have properties that are zoned commercial but are used as residential. As I said when I met with
[unintelligible] recently, I am happy to help those folks get their properties rezoned as residential properties.

Bonin reneged on that promise, and since then he’s been parroting Tara Devine’s mendacious theory that there’s no way for commercially zoned properties to be removed from a BID even though the PBID law very clearly states otherwise.1 It empowers the City Council to lower assessments and/or to remove properties from a BID for any reason or no reason at all.2

Mike Bonin is so committed at this point to hewing to Tara Devine’s bizarre interpretation of the law that he even lets her respond to press inquiries on the matter using his name. And the City Clerk, Ms. Holly Wolcott, is also all-in on this theory, even though it’s provably wrong, wrong, wrong. So presumably her staff in the Clerk’s office are also true believers.

Thus it was not much of a surprise to learn from this January 2018 email exchange between CD11 Venice field deputy Taylor Bazley and City Clerk BID honcho Rita Moreno that Bonin was still obsessed with finding legal support, no matter how shaky and wrong it might be, for never ever removing any property from the BID ever.3

The short version is that Taylor Bazley wrote to Rita Moreno and was all can we remove a particular affordable housing project from the BID?! And Rita Moreno, who is evidently not even worried about getting popped for the unlawful practice of law, was all no way Taylor!! Properties can’t be removed from the BID for any reason whatsoever until the end of the BID!!

And to support her position she quoted a bunch of wrong-headed contradictory nonsense from Tara Devine! Anyway, there’s a transcription of the email thread and some commentary after the break, so read on, friends!!
Continue reading Mike Bonin Told Taylor Bazley To Ask Rita Moreno If It Was Possible To Remove “A Specific Affordable Housing Development From The BID” — Rita Moreno Wrongly Told Him It Was Not Possible And Cited Tara Freaking Devine In Support Of Her Incorrect Theory — Yet Again The City Of Los Angeles Cedes Its Lawful Authority To BIDdies For Nefarious Reasons Of Its Own

Share

Beachslapped!! — Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott Wrote To Mark Sokol And Tara Devine On April 18, 2018 Stating That More Than $1.3 Million Of The Venice Beach BID’s Unused 2017 Assessments Will Be Refunded To Property Owners Starting In July 2018 — A Monumental Development Considering The City’s Extreme Reluctance To Get Involved With Overseeing BIDs At All

At their March 9, 2018 meeting the Venice Beach BID Board of Directors discussed refunding some or all of the $1.8 million collected from property owners in 2017, most of which is unspent because the BIDdies took so long to get moving. You can read the minutes here, and there’s a transcription of the salient item after the break.

It appears from the minutes that the BID only agreed to inquire of the City whether a refund was possible. However, when City Clerk Holly Wolcott responded to the BID’s inquiry in an April 18, 2018 letter, she wrote as if the refund was a done deal. And since her office controls the money, it seems that it is a done deal. Wolcott says that refunds will issue beginning in July 2018.

This strikes me as yet another vote of no confidence in the beleaguered Venice Beach BID as run by Mark Sokol, Tara Devine, and the rest of their horrow-show crew. Although it’s well-known that under Wolcott the City of Los Angeles has essentially been completely unwilling to police BID activity in any way, she seems to be coming around to the idea that there’s something really, really wrong in Venice. There are transcriptions of everything after the break.
Continue reading Beachslapped!! — Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott Wrote To Mark Sokol And Tara Devine On April 18, 2018 Stating That More Than $1.3 Million Of The Venice Beach BID’s Unused 2017 Assessments Will Be Refunded To Property Owners Starting In July 2018 — A Monumental Development Considering The City’s Extreme Reluctance To Get Involved With Overseeing BIDs At All

Share

City Clerk Holly Wolcott’s New-Found Willingness To Enforce BID Contracts Revealed As The City Of Los Angeles Put The Venice Beach BID On Blast For Contract Violations In March 2018 — Wolcott Threatened A Disestablishment Hearing If Missing Material Weren’t Submitted By Deadline — Tara Devine Was All Not My Fault, Everybody’s Fault But Mine — BID Analyst Rita Moreno Was All Shut It, Tara, Obviously You’re A Liar — On April 30, 2018 Tara Devine Claimed That All The City’s Demands Were Met — Maybe So, Tara, But You’re Still A Liar!

Well, friends, if you’ve been following the saga of the Venice Beach BID for what seems like forever but has only been at least in the most recent iteration about two years, you’ll know all about how BID ED Tara Freaking Devine is not only overpaid as a BID consultant but she’s a liar and a damned liar and a lawbreaker and a damned lawbreaker and it took her and her white supremacist board of directors freaking forever to get their BID up and running.

Now, this kind of behavior on the part of a BID is bad enough, but from the City’s point of view the only really bad part is that the BID started 18 months ago and they’ve been collecting money from the property owners and they’re not spending it on the activities they’re meant to spend it on. Oh yes, and BIDs are also required to submit quarterly reports to the City and, this last by the actual state law regulating BIDs, an annual planning report to the City as well.1

And you surely won’t be surprised to learn that by March 19 of this year the damn BID hadn’t done any of that stuff at all. But what is surprising is that the City of Los Angeles decided to actually enforce their contract and the law. In furtherance of this worthy goal City Clerk Holly Wolcott sent VBBID boss honcho Mark Sokol a zinger of a letter stating that the BID was out of compliance and they had better get their act together quickly or else the City was going to hold a hearing to disestablish the BID per the PBID law at §36670.

Maybe this marks the start of a new policy, where the City of LA will actually encourage or maybe even force BIDs to follow the damn law. They’ve been absolutely unwilling to do this when it comes to CPRA compliance, but more recently have shown some teeth e.g. with respect to the contractual requirement to publish newsletters. Anyway, whatever’s going on there’s a transcription of Wolcott’s letter after the break and, as an extra special bonus, some discussion of some astonishingly whiny emails by Tara Devine about the noncompliance letter.
Continue reading City Clerk Holly Wolcott’s New-Found Willingness To Enforce BID Contracts Revealed As The City Of Los Angeles Put The Venice Beach BID On Blast For Contract Violations In March 2018 — Wolcott Threatened A Disestablishment Hearing If Missing Material Weren’t Submitted By Deadline — Tara Devine Was All Not My Fault, Everybody’s Fault But Mine — BID Analyst Rita Moreno Was All Shut It, Tara, Obviously You’re A Liar — On April 30, 2018 Tara Devine Claimed That All The City’s Demands Were Met — Maybe So, Tara, But You’re Still A Liar!

Share