Tag Archives: Arts District

OK, Estela Lopez Doesn’t Like Paul Solomon And Yuval Bar-Zemer, We Get That. But (A) Are We In Freaking Junior High School? And (B) Why Is This Any Of Miranda Paster’s Freaking Business?? And (C) Why Is Miranda Paster Soliciting Defamatory Statements About Property Owners And Passing Them Around To Random BID Directors, E.G. Freaking Laurie Hughes??!

Friend, you gotta just click to enlarge because it’s only possible to minimize this issue so much and still have it make sense!
If I have learned anything about L.A. BIDs in my many years of deeply immersive anti-BID scholarship, it’s that they are run by a bunch of freaking short-sighted intellectually impaired amateurish morons, made mean and stupid by their wealth, who hire mean and stupid people to do their mean and stupid bidding and that the City government of Los Angeles, which thrives and grows fat on mean and short-sighted zillionaire stupidity, likes it this way.

And the story I’m here to tell you this morning certainly does not contradict that narrative, but it adds a surreal tinge of unprofessional immature junior-high-schoolistic tattle-tale-ing that I really haven’t seen before. In short, a guy named Paul Solomon bought some property in the Gateway to LA BID. Executive Directrix Laurie Hughes, thinking she recognized his name, asked Miranda Paster for the scoop on him. Miranda Paster emailed freaking Estela Lopez for more info. Estela Lopez, evidently still smarting from the whole Arts District debacle, which put her out of a job in 2013, flipped the fuck out, defamed Paul Solomon every which way, and Miranda Paster facilitated, solicited, and encouraged the whole mess. You can read the entire email chain here. And you can turn the page for an introduction to the cast and crew, a discussion of the issues, and, of course, a transcription of the salient bits of the PDF.
Continue reading OK, Estela Lopez Doesn’t Like Paul Solomon And Yuval Bar-Zemer, We Get That. But (A) Are We In Freaking Junior High School? And (B) Why Is This Any Of Miranda Paster’s Freaking Business?? And (C) Why Is Miranda Paster Soliciting Defamatory Statements About Property Owners And Passing Them Around To Random BID Directors, E.G. Freaking Laurie Hughes??!

Share

So Many New Documents! CD13 and HPOA Emails, Arts District BID Shenanigans, Miranda Paster In The Ivory Tower, Carol Schatz’s Pet Baby BID Gets Audited, Venice Beach BID And The State Of California!!

Deputy Dan Halden thinking about breakfast with Kerry and the boys at the Brite Spot. If you don’t want to be depicted as a cartoon, stop acting like a cartoon. It’s that simple.
Good Lord, there’s too much to describe, but this is a rich, rich set of documents. I spent more than two hours at City Hall this morning scanning this nonsense, and here it is, in the rawest possible form. There are gems in that mine, friends, but until I have time, you’ll have to scratch them out your own self. For now they’re all up on our Archive.Org account. There’s stuff about the Venice Beach BID, and Carol Schatz‘s lil baby, the Downtown Center BID got audited in 2013, Daniel Halden and Kerry H. Morrison are up to their usual dimwitted antics, Miranda Paster collaborated on a grant with a bunch of longhair sociologists at TAMU, and the freaking Arts District freaking redux!! Here’s a list with links and brief descriptions:
Continue reading So Many New Documents! CD13 and HPOA Emails, Arts District BID Shenanigans, Miranda Paster In The Ivory Tower, Carol Schatz’s Pet Baby BID Gets Audited, Venice Beach BID And The State Of California!!

Share

Central Avenue Historic BID May Provide Insight Into The Process By Which BIDs Evolved From Whatever They Were Originally Conceived To Be Into Weaponized Shock Troops Of The Zillionaire Real-Estate Power Elite

Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, consultant to the Central Avenue Historic BID, speaks at the November 2, 2016 meeting of the Board of Directors.
Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, consultant to the Central Avenue Historic BID, speaks at the November 2, 2016 meeting of the Board of Directors. I apologize for the crappy image quality. I didn’t plan to film.
After I spent some time looking into the Central Avenue Historic BID in the context of potential political goals for the post-approval Venice Beach BID, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about this newborn BID.1 The meetings are held at CD9’s district office at 4301 S. Central,2 so on a very pleasant evening last Thursday, I took the 210 out of Hollywood to MLK and Crenshaw, where I boarded the 705 to Central and Vernon from whence a couple blocks North on Central to watch the Board of Directors conduct their business.3 The meeting was scheduled to start at 5:30, but that evidently included some preliminaries, because when I got there at about 10 to 64 they hadn’t started yet.

Anyway, take a look at the agenda. You can see that they’re talking about the kind of things that one would expect BIDs to talk about from, e.g., reading the Wikipedia page on BIDs,5 like branding and marketing, cleaning the streets, having Halloween events, and so on. And watch this short clip of the meeting.6 That’s Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, the BID consultant, who also seems to be functioning as executive director, talking about some kind of partnership the BID’s working on with Hollywood Community Housing Corporation involving affordable housing at the corner of Central and Jefferson.7

Allan Muhammad, security director for the Central Avenue Historic District BID.
Allan Muhammad, security director for the Central Avenue Historic District BID.
And then you can watch here as BID security director Allan Muhammad introduces his employees, and then they proceed to hand out sample Halloween bags to everyone in the room. They didn’t once discuss custodial arrests, handcuffs, social engineering, mass relocations, self-aggrandizing 5150 holds, or any of the other hard-edged tactics of which the City’s older and ever so much more dangerous BIDs are so enamored. And even though I only got 15 minutes on tape of the 90 minutes I was there8 they didn’t really have anything objectionable to say even during the parts of the meeting I didn’t record. They talked about parking, they talked about their phone bills, they talked about how it was hard for the BID to patronize local businesses because they mostly only accepted cash.9

Could this be what a BID looks like as BIDs were intended to look? Well, the very question is based on a false assumption. And there were foreshadowings of bad news to come. And on the way home, and for the last few days, it’s got me thinking about what BIDs were meant to be,10how BIDs11 evolve under selective pressure, and how it’s probably inevitable that this BID is going to end up like the worst of the Downtown BIDs, the worst of the Hollywood BIDs. The short version is that BIDs probably started out as helpful tools, but as a wise woman once said, “every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.” So turn the page if you’re still interested…
Continue reading Central Avenue Historic BID May Provide Insight Into The Process By Which BIDs Evolved From Whatever They Were Originally Conceived To Be Into Weaponized Shock Troops Of The Zillionaire Real-Estate Power Elite

Share

What To Press For After The Venice Beach BID Is Approved

palm_trees_at_venice_beachBecause it will be approved. We know that. But we also know that Mike Bonin might be susceptible to political pressure. He even thought about moving the hearing date, presumably in response to political pressure and cogent criticism. Maybe the same tactics can help improve what’s presently looking like it’ll be yet another version of the worst that this City’s BIDs in Hollywood and Downtown have to offer. So here are some things which might be attainable politically and which might help mitigate some of the worst excesses to which BIDs are prone.

First of all, maybe you remember the recent tumult over the Arts District BID. If not, there’s a1 version of the story here. In short, some property owners got a judge to dissolve the BID, there was a big fuss about getting a new BID formed, and in order to settle the controversy, José Huizar stepped in and brokered a compromise involving the composition of the Board of Directors. As the L.A. Business Journal put it:

City Councilman José Huizar, whose district includes the neighborhood, on Tuesday announced that the Arts District Community Council Los Angeles has agreed to drop its application to create a BID and support an application sponsored by a group called Arts District Los Angeles. The ADLA, in turn, agreed to give Community Council representatives at least four seats on an expanded 23-member board. In addition, the area’s homeowners association will get three additional seats on the board.

If Huizar can negotiate seats on the Arts District BID Board, Mike Bonin can certainly change the composition of the Board of Directors of the Venice Beach BID if he wants to.2 The composition of the Board is a political matter which can be influenced by political tactics. The Arts District dissenters got four seats out of 23, not enough to change things, although by no means an empty victory. A vote, four votes, is not nothing in such a closed-off political entity. Another moral is that the homeowners association got seats on the Board. That is, Huizar got people who live in the BID a voice on the Board. This is also not trivial.

But one of the City’s newest BIDs, the Central Avenue Historic District BID, suggests an even more promising goal, one which would go a long way toward making something not so bad out of the presently horrifying prospect of the VBBID.
Continue reading What To Press For After The Venice Beach BID Is Approved

Share

Miranda Paster, Subverter Of Arts District BID Alternatives: Some Of What $3000 Bought The BIDs of Los Angeles Over The Years And How She Got Temporarily “Bumped” Due To Allegations Of Conflict Of Interest

I can't find any usable pictures of Miranda Paster, so here's another picture of Holly Wolcott!
I can’t find any usable pictures of Miranda Paster, so here’s another picture of Holly Wolcott!
Miranda Paster is the director of the LA City Clerk’s Neighborhood and Business Improvement Division (NABID), which administers the City’s BID program. Her job description (updated in February 2014) includes among her duties presenting at the conferences of the International Downtown Association:1 …deliver formal presentations, including analyses and recommendations, to the City Council and its Committees and International Downtown Association Conferences…

The story begins in 2011,2 when BIDs gave Miranda Paster $3000 to attend the IDA’s 2011 annual conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Take a look at this collection of emails and records of payments from 2011. These show that less than two weeks before the conference started, Paster was scrambling to get the money together to attend, but that she already had a commitment from the BIDs to pay $3000 (a log of the actual payments is included there). It seems that in 2011, Paster’s attendance at this conference was a new thing for her, as the financing was arranged in such a hurry. I’m guessing that at this point presenting at this conference was not yet part of Paster’s official duties. It’s a rare bureaucracy indeed which will not pay its employees’ expenses to carry out their duties. So the BIDs paid, buying at least a sense of obligation.

Unfortunately, IDA records of the 2011 conference don’t seem to show what Paster did there, but by the 2012 conference, held in Minneapolis, she was a panelist. This is interesting in itself. The panel, moderated by Rena Leddy, now of the Fashion District BID but then of Progressive Urban Management Associates, or PUMA,3 was entitled How Cities Encourage BIDs: Trends and Challenges.4 Here is a copy of a Power Point summary of the session, which is astonishing in its own right.5

Now, you may not be familiar with the story of the destruction and resurrection of the Arts District BID. It began in 2011 when Yuval Bar-Zemer of Linear City development initiated a campaign against the BID based on the theory that BID assessments used for marketing campaigns didn’t benefit assessed property owners in any way allowed under state law.6 A court case ensued, and in May 2013 Superior Court judge Robert O’Brien ordered the BID to dissolve.
Continue reading Miranda Paster, Subverter Of Arts District BID Alternatives: Some Of What $3000 Bought The BIDs of Los Angeles Over The Years And How She Got Temporarily “Bumped” Due To Allegations Of Conflict Of Interest

Share

A Crucial Open Question in Anti-BID Theory: Where Does the City Clerk Get the Authority to Sign Pro-BID Petitions Before the BID is Approved? Arts District BID Episode From 2013 Highlights City’s Hypocrisy On This Issue and Collusion With Carol Schatz

Holly Wolcott, Clerk of the City of Los Angeles, in June 2015.
Holly Wolcott, Clerk of the City of Los Angeles, in June 2015.
UPDATE: This problem is now solved. Let’s work on fixing things!

Roughly, the process for creating a new BID goes like this: Some property owners hire a consultant who collects petitions in favor of the BID. When petitions adding up to more than 50% of the total assessments in the proposed district are on hand, they’re submitted to the City Clerk, who then takes the matter to City Council.1 One interesting aspect of this is that City-owned parcels in the proposed district are voted in exactly the same way that privately owned parcels are. That the City always votes in favor of BIDs is well-known, although see below for an episode where the City actually opposed a BID proposal.2 In fact, part of the consultant’s job seems to be to gerrymander as much City-owned property into the BID as possible so as to minimize the requisite number of agreeable private owners. The City Clerk, currently Holly Wolcott, is somehow authorized to sign petitions on the City’s behalf for City-owned parcels.

But the petitions must be signed before City Council can pass an ordinance of intention to form the BID. For instance, in the case of the proposed Venice Beach BID, consultant Tara Devine submitted the signed petitions to the Clerk before June 24, 2016. City Council passed the Ordinance of Intention on July 1, 2016. But see these pro-BID petitions for City parcels, signed by Holly Wolcott on June 15, more than a week before Council voted to authorize the BID process. Of course the City always favors BID formation, but where does the Clerk derive the authority to sign these? It can’t be from the Council vote, which happens afterwards. There must be a law or a rule or something authorizing this. I haven’t been able to find it yet, although I’m sure it exists.
Continue reading A Crucial Open Question in Anti-BID Theory: Where Does the City Clerk Get the Authority to Sign Pro-BID Petitions Before the BID is Approved? Arts District BID Episode From 2013 Highlights City’s Hypocrisy On This Issue and Collusion With Carol Schatz

Share

John Tronson in Van Nuys: Money doesn’t talk, it swears1

John Tronson at the Joint Security Committee meeting on April 9, 2015, giving a performative demonstration via mouth-closure that he’s not, at the moment the picture was taken, lying.
The city of Los Angeles has been holding public hearings to gather input on possible frameworks for legalizing street vending. Yesterday we began discussing the June 11 meeting in Van Nuys by considering Kerry Morrison’s statement. Today we move on to John Tronson. You can listen to his statement here or after the break, where a transcription is also available. Audio of the entire meeting is available here. We’re just going to look at John’s statement one piece at a time.

Good evening. My name is John Tronson. I’m a member of the Hollywood Entertainment District, which is a property-owner based business improvement district in Hollywood.

All these people start off by saying something true. It’s meant to lull your suspicions. Don’t let it.

Some people think that because they pay taxes with their own money, the taxes they pay are still their own money after they’re paid. If they start taking this idea too seriously they’re likely to wake up one morning to find a bunch of people wearing this badge while knocking down their door with a battering ram.

We spend three and a half million dollars a year of our own money to clean the streets of Hollywood, to trim the trees, to provide additional public safety and paint out graffiti.

The way a property-based BID works is this: If the majority of the property owners in a district agree, the city adds an extra assessment to their property tax, keeps some part of the money raised for administrative overhead, and distributes the rest back to the BID to spend on specific kinds of services in the district. There are two important points to remember. First, a BID can be established over the objection of individual property owners. Only a majority need approve. Second, once a BID is established, the assessment is no longer voluntary. It is compulsory. Non-payment is punishable by the full range of state action2 up to and including violent confiscation of property. In other words, this assessment, once paid, is a tax. After all, income tax might be considered voluntary in this same sense. The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution was put in place by elected representatives, so in a way, the people to be taxed consented to the taxation. But now that it’s in place, income tax is no longer voluntary, just as BID assessments are no longer voluntary. This is consistent with the standard definition:

Al Capone, yet another guy who confused "taxes" with "his own money" and had to have the distinction explained to him in a fairly forceful manner.
Al Capone, yet another guy who confused “taxes” with “his own money” and had to have the distinction explained to him in a fairly forceful manner.

Tax: A compulsory contribution to the support of government, levied on persons, property, income, commodities, transactions, etc., now at fixed rates, mostly proportional to the amount on which the contribution is levied.3

Now, everyone who pays taxes has, at one point or another, thought of that money as still their own. But really, it’s not. Try telling a cop not to give you a ticket because you pay their salary with your “own money.” Try telling a professor at UCLA they have to give your kid an A+ because it’s your “own money” that supports them. It’s a losing argument. Taxes, once paid, belong to the public, not to the people who paid them. BID assessments are taxes. BID assessments are public money. Now, as to John’s statement about what they do with that public money, it’s true as far as it goes. That’s not all they spend the money on, but they do spend it on that. We won’t argue. Onward!
Continue reading John Tronson in Van Nuys: Money doesn’t talk, it swears1

Share