Today and yesterday a few things happened with respect to this process. Today the parties filed a status report with the court announcing that the settlement process was on track but they needed until December 30 to work out the details. This was closely followed by an order from Judge André Birotte extending the time as requested.
More interestingly, though, yesterday the City Council went into closed session to discuss the terms of the settlement.2 They passed this motion authorizing the expenditure of $150,000 to fund the settlement, at least some of which is going, with good cause, straight to Carol Sobel. Interestingly, and the reason’s not clear, Mitch Englander voted against the motion.
The monumental lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the Fashion District BID for their abominable treatment of street vendors was set for trial in January. However, papers filed with the court yesterday announce that the plaintiffs have reached a settlement with the City and as soon as it’s approved, a process which can take many months for it to work its way through Committees and Council, they will drop the case against both the City and the BID. Hence they asked Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell to put the calendar on hold until the settlement is approved.
I know the headline sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The L.A. Times reported on it this morning, although their article, as is their wont, did not mention business improvement districts at all, and, at least briefly, I thought they were kidding. But this is the Los Angeles City Council we’re talking about, and they were not. Huizar and Price first made a motion to legalize street vending in November 2013, three years ago, and, over the last three years we have been subjected to an endless stream of hysterical, mendacious, probably illegal, lobbying by the BIDs and their ideological allies against the very idea. They even managed to get the Times itself to accept their misbegotten point of view as somehow legitimate. In response to this outpouring of unregistered lobbying behavior,1 the City Council essentially responded by ignoring the issue,2 as you can see from the council file, which has no official City action since October 2015, until yesterday, when Curren Price and Joe Buscaino slapped this little number on the table. It’s a letter, which does indeed refer, albeit obliquely, to Darth Cheeto himself:3
Despite the undeniable division and polarization that exists in our country right now, there is one common characteristic that is shared by Americans of every gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status and political party: our entrepreneurial spirit. We value the notion that everyone deserves the opportunity to start a small business, on a level playing field, with failure or success determined by our own talent, hard work, and perseverance. At an early age. we teach our children concepts like overhead, profit, and loss by encouraging them to sell Girl Scout Cookies, candy bars, and lemonade. Yet, if they sell any of those on a public sidewalk in Los Angeles, they are committing a crime of the same seriousness as drunk driving.
They go on to urge the Council to go ahead and legalize street vending because otherwise Trump has already won, and I can’t say that I disagree:
Recent talks about changes to our nation’s immigration policy, including threats to deport millions of undocumented immigrants – starting with those with criminal records – has created significant fear amongst our immigrant communities. Continuing to impose criminal misdemeanor penalties for vending disproportionately affects, and unfairly punishes, undocumented immigrants, and could potentially put them at risk for deportation.
Furthermore, Buscaino and Price claim that:
The core question the Council must answer is whether sidewalk vending poses a threat so grave to public health, safety, and welfare that it is worth continuing to expend limited police and prosecutorial resources enforcing a citywide ban.
A number of new documents have been filed in the National Lawyers’ Guild’s suit against the City of Los Angeles and the Fashion District business improvement district for their disgraceful treatment of street vendors. Here’s a list, followed by my usual uninformed commentary:
Joint Rule 26(f) report — This is a surprisingly interesting document. It’s evidently required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f), which regulates pretrial discovery agreements. For our purposes, though, it also seems to require that all the parties lay out their views of the case. This is especially interesting with respect to the Fashion District, which, even though it did answer the complaint, did so in a completely vacuous manner. There’s some substance here, and I discuss it after the break.
Court Order re: Scheduling Conference — Here Judge O’Connell cancels a settlement conference that was to be held Monday, orders that the parties complete the dispute resolution process by December 4, 2017, and file a joint report on it within 7 days of its conclusion.
This is just a quick note to memorialize the fact that, after the City of Los Angeles filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against it and the Fashion District BID brought by a number of downtown street vendors, tonight Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell filed a 16 page order denying everything, which of course means that the case will go on.4 The standard for denying a motion to dismiss is essentially that the plaintiff “…pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” The Judge found that they had, so the case will go on. Recall also that there was a hearing on the City’s motion scheduled for Monday, November 21. O’Connell canceled this hearing because “the Court deems this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument of counsel.” That’s gotta hurt.
Good evening, Friends! I haven’t had time to write much recently and I won’t have time for another day or two because the latest installment in the MK.Org LAMC 49.5.5 project is turning out to be more complex than I’d anticipated. I expect to have it done with by the end of this week. This is just a short interim post to announce some new records.
A request to reschedule the settlement conference in the Street Vendors v. City of LA and the Fashion District BID just hit PACER. A settlement conference was scheduled for tomorrow before magistrate judge Charles Eick, but:
The Defendant City of Los Angeles advised Plaintiffs’ counsel earlier today that the City needs additional time to consider the revised settlement proposal by the Plaintiffs.
The request states that the earliest possible time for the rescheduled conference would be July 18, 2016, but that the Fashion District BID’s lawyer hasn’t gotten back to everyone with confirmation that this date will suit. If you’ve been following the story, you may remember that July 18th is also the date that Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell shifted the defendants’ response deadline to, so something’s got to give.
Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles — Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down!