I started scrutinizing the three major Hollywood business improvement districts in late 2014, and soon discovered that the so-called BID Patrol, armed security guards employed by Andrews International under contract to the two BIDs managed by the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, that is to say the Hollywood Entertainment District BID and the Sunset & Vine BID, was responsible for more than one thousand custodial arrests of homeless residents of Hollywood every year.
And these arrests were1 ugly affairs. They involve harmless people, like ice-cream vendors, being handcuffed, forced into SUVs, and chained to a bench, sometimes for hours. There were 2,682 such arrests in 2007, a number of such shocking incomprehensibility that I published a four volume set of photographs of these victims in order to provide some means of visceralizing the sheer incredible magnitude.
So it was a welcome discovery indeed to find out that in 2015, almost certainly as a result of my scrutiny, BID patrol arrests dropped 70%, from 1,057 to 313. Circumstances beyond my control have, maybe you’ve noticed, limited my ability to write about the HPOA, but I recently obtained arrest rate statistics for 2016 and 2017, and they show an even more precipitous drop in arrests in the two HPOA BIDs, with only 152 custodial arrests in 2016 and only 131 in 2017.
East Hollywood BID quarterly reports 2012-2016 — BIDs are required by their contracts with the City to submit quarterly reports with updates on how they’ve been spending their money.3 These are useful to have on hand for reference. There’s nothing in these that stands out right now, but I haven’t read them carefully yet nor even looked at all of them.
Media District emails with the City of LA — And also a few from the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance folks, although nothing substantial. Again, it’s essential to have this material on hand for reference. There doesn’t seem to be much of special interest here, although there’s a lot more evidence of Rita Moreno’s uncharacteristically activist style as a BID analyst with the Clerk’s office, which is abstractly a good thing, although certainly she’s not going to be an activist if it upsets the BIDs too much.
Media District emails about Andrews International Security contract — The Media District BID is in the process of hiring infamous private security monolith Andrews International as its security provider, to begin July 1. These are some emails about the process. The most interesting things here are the attachments, which include A/I’s standard contract as well as proposed pricing matrices and so on. Andrews International famously runs the infernal Hollywood BID Patrol for the even-more-infernal Hollwood Property Owners Alliance just North of the Media District, so everything about them is interesting. There is much more material to come regarding this matter, and I will write about it in detail as it comes in, but it’s essential enough that I thought I’d better publish what I had immediately.
Meanwhile, the latest piece of evidence in the ongoing saga of the registration of BID Patrols with the Police Commission comes from a huge release of emails by the Fashion District BID2 These span the time from July 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017 and are mostly between BID staff and the City of Los Angeles.3
There is an awful lot to write about here, but today I just want to highlight this interesting December 2016 email from FDBID operations director Randall Tampa to Eugene Shin, who’s the Police Commission investigator who’s handling the registration project. Randall Tampa sees the bigger picture here. It’s not a loss for BIDs who want to be free of any kind of oversight by the City, but a win for higher quality governance for everyone in Los Angeles:
I totally agree and support the police commission (and you) in your efforts to assure that only qualified personnel are patrolling the streets of Los Angeles.
In his email, Randall Tampa explicitly relates this opinion to his own experience as a police officer, proving yet again that people with experience in matters usually are much saner and have much more robust insights into how to regulate them. Most of the BIDs in our fair City are run by a bunch of cop-loving wannabes4 who are essentially see City governance as some kind of bizarre role-playing game, like Zillionaires versus Homeless, or whatever, rather than as an arena where wisdom and experience are far more essential than zillionaire-itude.
Lincoln Heights has a unique take on the issues involved in banning people without kids from a playground:
Limiting teenager and young adult access to swings and limited park space in areas where there is already limited access to green open space is unfair to our young adult population. If a 17 year old wants to swing on a swing or study in the grass under a tree, they should not be prevented from doing so. In Lincoln Heights, there is already limited activities for teenagers and denying them the use of park space is discriminatory There is no differentiation between playgrounds and the grass that surrounds it.
Today I have two new sets of documents to announce. First, the South Los Angeles Industrial District BID recently dropped Universal Protection Service1 as its security provider and hired StreetPlus to replace them. This seems to be a trend amongst our LA BIDs, probably encouraged by the fact that unlike UPS and Andrews International, StreetPlus specializes in BID security rather than security in general.
Other recent switchovers are the Downtown Center BID, the Historic Core BID, and both South Park I and II. Also the HPOA switched its cleaning contract to StreetPlus last year. This company is turning out to be a crucial player in the LA BID game, so I’ll be focusing some attention on them from now on. The first fruits of this are the 2016 proposal and resulting contract between StreetPlus and the SLAIT BID. There are some ancillary materials included there as well. This material is not only intrinsically interesting, but it has a lot to tell us about security in other BIDs. There’s some discussion and some more links after the break.
Also, I have 29 emails between Lisa Schechter of the Hollywood Media District BID and Kerry Morrison/Devin Strecker of the HPOA. These are mostly negatively interesting for their extreme lack of content. I’m guessing this is due to them switching as much of their communication as possible to phone calls and other off-the-record media. This, in turn, demonstrates, I’m still guessing, the feeling that my constant CPRA requests have engendered amongst local BIDs that they are operating in a minefield.
Here’s the story so far: In November 2015 the BID Patrol attacked a homeless man while in the process of arresting him. It really looks like excessive force, so, at the direction of Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the Police Commission, in September I submitted a complaint to him and also to Kerry Morrison.2 As I reported two months ago, the Police Commission agreed to investigate my complaint, and assigned it to Officer Ernesto Vicencio.
Watch and listen here1 to an interminable discussion at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Directors of the Central Hollywood Coalition2 about how to pay the increasing cost of the armed BID Patrol while, at the same time, maintaining or expanding dedicated “homeless outreach” services, also provided by Andrews International. In particular, staff is asking the board to approve a 5% increase in the A/I budget for next year to cover salary increases and so on.
Here are some numbers. A/I pays its BID Patrol officers $31.50 an hour.3 Almost certainly the BID is paying A/I significantly more than that. Also note that base pay for A/I unarmed officers is $13 per hour. In other words, armed officers cost about 2.5 times as much as unarmed officers. If A/I’s markup to the BID is a percentage of its HR costs then this ratio will hold constant regardless of what the BID is actually paying.4 Now, most BIDs in the City of Los Angeles do not have armed security. In fact, as far as I can tell, the two HPOA BIDs run by Kerry Morrison are the only BIDs that do.5 We have written before about Kerry Morrison’s disturbing and utterly disproportionate love of guns, and that’s probably enough to explain her insistence on armed security despite the high cost.6 And the cost is very high. According to the Sunset & Vine BID’s 2015 independent audit, the BID paid $805,608 for security out of total annual expenditures of $1,542,735.7
Earlier this afternoon I spoke with Ernesto Vicencio, who is an LAPD investigator assigned to the Police Commission. He told me that the City Attorney either has sent or will soon send a letter to all Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts informing them that their security patrols are required to register with the Los Angeles Police Commission per LAMC 52.34.
This incredibly welcome development is a direct result of my discovery in the Summer of 2016 that it was likely that BID security registration had inadvertently ceased in 2000 due to an oversight. I don’t believe I mentioned it at the time, but in addition to writing a number of posts on the subject, I also sent a petition to the Police Commission asking them to look into the matter and to conclude that BID security ought in fact to register with them.
According to Officer Vicencio the City Attorney has decided to implement this request.1 This development is hugely important, not least because LAMC 52.34 requires private patrol services to have a procedure for investigating citizen complaints. It also grants the Police Commission a great deal of regulatory power over the activities of security patrols who are required to register.
Which brings us to the second stunning and absolutely unexpected thing that Officer Vicencio told me. You may recall that I recently reported on what seemed like a clear use of excessive force by members of the Andrews International Hollywood BID Patrol. Well, about three weeks ago I submitted a report on this matter to Kerry Morrison of the HPOA and also to the Police Commission, as instructed by the Commission’s executive director, Richard Tefank.
In an editorial in this morning’s Times about the Venice Beach BID it is stated:
Even during the day, when the municipal code against sitting, lying or sleeping on a sidewalk or street is enforceable, the BID ambassadors would be required to call the police or city employees to enforce it, according to the city attorney’s office.
Of course, in the ordinary meaning of the word “enforce” this is demonstrably not true. In Hollywood, the BID Patrol, operated by Andrews International Security on behalf of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance which manages two local BIDs, arrests people for violating the despicable LAMC 41.18(d) on an exceedingly regular basis. They handcuff them and either forcibly transport them in a private vehicle to the police station or else wait on-scene for LAPD to arrive to complete the arrest process.
This might charitably be interpreted as waiting for the police to enforce the law in the sense that the LAPD has to issue citations. But the difference to the arrested person, who is handcuffed, forced into a private car or made to sit or lie shackled on the sidewalk until the cops show up to cite them out, is nonexistent. If that’s what Mike Feuer’s office meant by what they apparently said to the Times Editorial Board then shame on them for being so disingenuous. If they meant something else, it wasn’t true. And shame too on the Editorial Board for not investigating that easily refuted claim.
UPDATE: I just received this email, sent yesterday by Rob Wilcox at the City Attorney’s office to Carla Hall at the L.A. Times, stating explicitly that:
Only peace officers or authorized city employees could enforce that section of the ordinance [LAMC 41.18(d)]. BID employees would not be able to enforce.
He doesn’t give a reason, but his statement is demonstrably untrue. I wonder what he meant by it? State law requires police to accept custody of anyone who’s arrested by a private person, and allows private persons to make arrests for any violation of the criminal law.
After the break you will find links to actual BID Patrol arrest reports from 2015 for violations of LAMC 41.18(d).3 Also, here is a horrific video showing what one of these BID Patrol arrests looks like in reality rather than in the delusional fantasy world evidently inhabited by the City Attorney and the LA Times Editorial Board. Here’s a representative sample from one of the reports:
A short time later, we observed MARLOW place his belongings on the ground then lay on the sidewalk. We made contact with MARLOW and informed him he was in violation of 41.18 (d) LAMC- Sitting on public sidewalk. MARLOW refused to comply with our request to stand up and became verbally confrontational with BID officers. MARLOW proceeded to stand up and walk in and out of traffic on Hollywood Blvd. MARLOW also walked away and returned 3 times and was verbally confrontational towards BID Officers. We waited for additional units and FB2 and ED-30 arrived on scene. MARLOW was pulled to the ground by BID Officers in order to safely handcuff him.
And here’s another one:
We then contacted the subjects (one later identified S/ Mull) that were physically blocking the sidewalk with his property and bicycle sidewalk, a violation of 41.18 (d) LAMC- (Blocking, Sitting, Sleeping on the Sidewalk). The subjects admitted that they were not supposed to block the sidewalk per prior BID officers warnings from the past.
We advised S/ Mull that we were placing him under “Private Person’s Arrest”, per 837 Penal Code – (Private Person’s Arrest – Authority To Arrest / see attached form) for 41.18 (d) Los Angeles Municipal Code – (Sitting/lying/sleeping on sidewalk). Mull was immediately handcuffed (adjusted / doubled locked) for his safety and comfort, as per policy.
We then escorted Mull to our patrol vehicle and was seated on the rear passengers side. He was seat belted (adjusted / secured) for his safety and comfort, as per policy.
We then transported him to the Hollywood and Highland substation, per 847 PC. When then met with LAPD Officers Lawrence and Gonzalez (6FB1) for a citation release.
After tonight’s Sunset Vine BID Board Meeting Steve Seyler, Joe Salazar, and the angry guy pictured in this video, who is obviously a close personal friend if not a relative of Seyler’s, blocked the front door of HPOA headquarters so that our correspondent would have had to walk through them to leave. It wasn’t completely obvious that they were waiting there to hassle him, but pacifism über alles is everyone’s motto around here, so he asked Devin Strecker if he could go out the back door and the ever-courtly Strecker walked back there with him and let him out.