Tag Archives: BID Renewal

Remember In 2017 When Tara Devine Was The South Park BID’s Renewal Consultant? — For A While It Seemed That The Petition Drive Was Lagging And That The BID Would Have To Go To Manual Billing For Year One — BID Treasurer Bob Buente Blamed Tara Devine For This — Publicly Proclaimed Himself To Be “Not A Tara Fan” — And Also Congratulated Himself Cause He Didn’t Yell At Her On The Phone! — And When Tara Failed Ellen Salome Riotto Stepped In! — Saved The Damn Day! — And Was Rewarded Just Like A Real Life Fairy Tale!

Remember when Jessica Lall left the South Park BID after Carol Schatz’s hand popped up out of out of that lake and handed Jessica Lall control over that weaponized slice of zillionaire mob-rule known as the Central City Association? And Ellen Salome Riotto came up out of nowhere like Dick Whittington and his damn cat to assume the holy mantle of interim South Park BID Zeck Dreck?1

And around that time, for whatever reason, twisted little Parkie minion Katie Kiefer was the boss of South Park BID’s CPRA efforts. And the power went to her head, or she had not yet realized that Carol Freaking Humiston was working through her own weirdo anger issues rather than giving prudent advice to her clients, or something. And in those dark days the South Parkies were a very model for CPRA-obstructionist BIDdies.

But, you know, I keep trying, because they have important information out there in the Park. And I am pleased to announce that those dark days are past! Now, under the enlightened regime of Ellen Salome Riotto, now promoted to most expressly non-interim Zeck Dreck, the records are pouring in! And there are no nonsensical copypasta exemption claims of the aggressively psychotic sort Katie Kiefer was so very damn fond of! And the first batch is prepped and available! It’s about 800 emails from the hidden vaults of BID Board treasurer Bob Buente! And you can see all of them right here on Archive.Org!

And friend, there are a million good stories in there. Some of them are monumentally important, but those will have to wait till later. In this episode I want to share with you an objectively trivial but subjectively delicious little slice of gossip about shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine and her ultimately dissatisfied BID renewal clients over at South Park2 and how her failure led to Ellen Salome Riotto’s promotion.

And now I yammered on for so long that you’ll have to turn the page just to find out what is the subject of the damn post. One of the pitfalls, one of the pleasures, of writing without an editor to boss me about!
Continue reading Remember In 2017 When Tara Devine Was The South Park BID’s Renewal Consultant? — For A While It Seemed That The Petition Drive Was Lagging And That The BID Would Have To Go To Manual Billing For Year One — BID Treasurer Bob Buente Blamed Tara Devine For This — Publicly Proclaimed Himself To Be “Not A Tara Fan” — And Also Congratulated Himself Cause He Didn’t Yell At Her On The Phone! — And When Tara Failed Ellen Salome Riotto Stepped In! — Saved The Damn Day! — And Was Rewarded Just Like A Real Life Fairy Tale!

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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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Emails Between Studio City BID Director John Walker And Disgraced BID Consultant Slash Civil Engineer Ed Henning Shed Some Newish Light On The BID Renewal Process — E.G. Lawsuits Against BIDs Have Greatly Complicated Matters But Ed Henning Is “In constant touch with the attorneys defending the City BIDs” — The Agreement Between Henning And The BID Sheds A Lot Of Light On The Still-Unresolved Question Of Whether BID Consultancy Is Lobbying

As I mentioned the other day, I recently received a huge set of emails from the Studio City BID.1 This is an interesting time to be looking at their correspondence, because the SCBID is set to renew in January 2020, so the process is just now getting started. And although I haven’t had time yet to prep the whole multiGB release for publication, I did get this set of emails between John Walker and Ed Henning ready, along with all the attachments.

Ed Henning, you may recall, is a civil engineer and popular BID consultant. He recently handled the San Pedro BID‘s renewal. He did the engineering report for the South Los Angeles Industrial Tract BID in 2015, the South Park BID in 2017, and, most famously, for the Venice Beach BID establishment in 2016. His work on that last project was so shoddy that it led to a Venice resident filing a complaint against Ed Henning with the California Board for Professional Engineers.2

And, as it turns out, he is also handling the entire renewal for the SCBID, at an estimated total cost of no more than $18,900.3 And although John Walker’s email conversation with Ed Henning was only tangentially responsive to my CPRA request,4 I got a really good set of records.

The emails contain discussions of Ed Henning’s fees, of the various tasks to be completed in the renewal process, of the wisdom of the SCBID’s adding more territory to their BID, of how various lawsuits against BIDs in Los Angeles have complicated the renewal process and of how Ed Henning is being coached by the defense attorneys in those cases on how to modify his Management District Plans and Engineer’s Reports to withstand challenges, and so on.

This is invaluable information for students of the BID consulting process. Turn the page for links, transcriptions, and discussion!
Continue reading Emails Between Studio City BID Director John Walker And Disgraced BID Consultant Slash Civil Engineer Ed Henning Shed Some Newish Light On The BID Renewal Process — E.G. Lawsuits Against BIDs Have Greatly Complicated Matters But Ed Henning Is “In constant touch with the attorneys defending the City BIDs” — The Agreement Between Henning And The BID Sheds A Lot Of Light On The Still-Unresolved Question Of Whether BID Consultancy Is Lobbying

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San Pedro BID Renewal Petition Drive Materials Available Including Blank Petitions And Information Sheets

This is just a quick note to announce the availability of a first batch of renewal materials from the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID. They’re available here on Archive.Org. These are from the petition phase, where property owners holding $1 more than 50% of the total assessed value have to petition City Council to renew their BID. I’m collecting material like this as part of a long-term project to send out countermailings when BIDs send out mailings in favor of establishment or renewal. They uniformly send blank petitions on which the only choice is to vote yes. See this sample, for instance.1

I think it would be reasonable, effective, and entertaining to send out petitions on which the only choice was no. Of course, the way the petition phase of BID renewal/establishment is structured, not voting is the same as voting no, but nevertheless, it would be politically valuable to see that property owners have a choice. In order to carry out this plan, it will also be necessary to have quick access to natively formatted copies of the mailing lists that the BIDs use. They have historically been exceedingly reluctant to give up this information.

You may, e.g., recall the fact that it took me five months of nagging Miranda Paster at the City Clerk’s office to get her to give me the mailing list for Venice Beach.2 In that case as in every other case where I’ve actually managed to obtain mailing lists, it came too late to be useful. But at some point, and this is the main reason this is a long term project, I will have convinced the BIDdies3 that they have to hand over mailing lists promptly so that they’re still politically useful.

Naturally, when sending out alt-petition forms, it will be necessary to send out alt-propaganda. Just take a look at the San Pedro BID’s info sheet that they sent out along with the petitions. Count the lies. Imagine an alt-petition that not only invites property owners to vote no on the BID but also informs them what their money’s really being spent for like, e.g., to to keep criminals from getting arrested because they can’t put out their own damn dumpster fires!

Every BID wastes its money on exactly that kind of nonsense, never publicized. This kind of campaign probably won’t stop any BIDs, but it may well increase the protest rate, which would be interesting indeed! And turn the page for links to all the items with a little bit of commentary.
Continue reading San Pedro BID Renewal Petition Drive Materials Available Including Blank Petitions And Information Sheets

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Why Are BIDs In Los Angeles Allowed To Pay For Their Renewal Out Of Current Assessments? It Seems To Be Some Kind Of Pernicious Circular Reasoning And May Well Violate The Law

I’m presently working on a number of fairly involved projects which relate to the establishment and renewal processes for BIDs. There’ll be more news on that later, but, tangentially, in the course of my research I’ve noticed that BIDs that are up for renewal tend to state the fact in their Annual Planning Reports (“APRs”). Just for instance, here’s the Fashion District’s 2017 APR. In there, on page 3, you can see BID renewal under the heading “Management/City Fees (Zones 1-9): $487,795.00 (10.67%).”

It’s only recently that I’ve come to understand the importance of these APRs. First of all, BIDs in California are required by State law to produce them. According to the Streets and Highways Code at §36650(a):

The owners’ association shall cause to be prepared a report for each fiscal year, except the first year, for which assessments are to be levied and collected to pay the costs of the improvements, maintenance, and activities described in the report.

In the laconic dialect of the law, this seems to say that assessments are to be spent on “improvements, maintenance, and activities” if and only if they are listed in the APR. This is one reason these APRs are essential to understanding the operations of BIDs. They’re explicitly forbidden from spending money on matters not listed in the APR and they’re explicitly required to carry out matters that are listed. This is possibly part of the reason why the City exercises hyperspecific control over the content of APRs even as they categorically refuse to exercise any control whatsoever even over overt malfeasance by BIDs.

And elsewhere in the law, specifically at §36622(k)(2), we find a statement of the infamous “special benefits” requirement for property-based BIDs:

In a property-based district, the proportionate special benefit derived by each identified parcel shall be determined exclusively in relationship to the entirety of the capital cost of a public improvement, the maintenance and operation expenses of a public improvement, or the cost of the activities. An assessment shall not be imposed on any parcel that exceeds the reasonable cost of the proportional special benefit conferred on that parcel. Only special benefits are assessable …

So BIDs are required to spend money on activities listed in the APR and all money they spend must be spent on special benefits to the property owners. Therefore the presence of BID renewal as a fundable activity in the APR implies that BID renewal in itself must be a special benefit to the property owners.
Continue reading Why Are BIDs In Los Angeles Allowed To Pay For Their Renewal Out Of Current Assessments? It Seems To Be Some Kind Of Pernicious Circular Reasoning And May Well Violate The Law

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Relatively Complete Set Of Records Pertaining To Ongoing San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID Renewal Process Reveals Hitherto Unknown Details About Costs, Hours, Contract Terms, Etc. Heralding Plausible Case Against Edward Henning For Failure To Register As A Lobbyist But Not, Unfortunately, Against The BID Because They’re Not Paying Him Enough

Last month I learned that the San Pedro BID was paying Edward Henning $20,000 to handle their BID renewal process. This discovery was independently interesting, but also important for my ongoing research project of learning everything possible about BID consultancy with the ultimate goal of shopping as many BID consultants to the City Ethics Commission as possible, mostly for violations of LAMC §48.07, which requires that “[a]n individual who qualifies as a lobbyist shall register with the City Ethics Commission within 10 days after the end of the calendar month in which the individual qualifies as a lobbyist.”

In this clause, someone “qualifies as a lobbyist” when they, according to LAMC §48.02 are “compensated to spend 30 or more hours in any consecutive three-month period engaged in lobbying activities.”1 Note that today I’m mostly skipping the argument that BID consultancy qualifies as lobbying activities, but you can read about it in excruciating detail here.

Part of the evidence that I obtained last month were these two invoices from Edward Henning to the SPHWBID. As you can see, they span the time period from March 2016 through December 12, 2016 and bill for a total of 75 hours. That’s roughly 7.5 hours per month if distributed evenly across the billing period. This is not enough evidence to show that Edward Henning was required to register. In fact, if he did work about 7.5 hours a month he would not have been so required.

It’s precisely that issue that today’s document release shines some light on. The other day, San Pedro BID executive directrix Lorena Parker was kind enough to send me over 100 emails to and from Edward Henning.2 At first I thought I’d be able to pick out 3 consecutive months in which Edward Henning was compensated for 30 hours by assuming that the number of emails in a month was proportional to the number of hours worked. This didn’t pan out for a number of reasons, not least because I don’t yet have emails between Edward Henning and the City of LA that weren’t CC-ed to Lorena Parker. I can tell from internal evidence that there are some of these,3 and I have a pending CPRA request for them, but they’re not yet in hand.

Read on for more detail on the unregistered lobbying case as well as a new theory that I thought at first might actually get the BID itself in some trouble rather than just the consultant. I don’t think it’ll work out in this particular case, but it has interesting implications for the future. Bad scene for the BIDdies and lulz4 all round for humanity!
Continue reading Relatively Complete Set Of Records Pertaining To Ongoing San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID Renewal Process Reveals Hitherto Unknown Details About Costs, Hours, Contract Terms, Etc. Heralding Plausible Case Against Edward Henning For Failure To Register As A Lobbyist But Not, Unfortunately, Against The BID Because They’re Not Paying Him Enough

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Urban Place Consulting Charged Palisades BID 62% Less For Establishment Than They Are Charging Fashion District For Renewal, $21K vs. $55K. The Resulting Linear Model Suggests That Each Additional Parcel Adds Around $18 To The Price Of BID Consultancy, But Comparison With San Pedro Casts Some Doubt On Accuracy

This chain of emails from December 2015 reveals that the Pacific Palisades Business Improvement District paid Urban Place Consulting $21,000 for guiding the establishment process and an additional $4,000 to the consulting engineer.1 This is yet another piece of the BID consultancy puzzle that I’ve been trying to decipher since it became clear that almost certainly BID consulting qualified as lobbying under the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance and that almost all of the qualified consultants were breaking the law by not being registered with the City Ethics Commission like, e.g., Tara Devine.2

And this small piece of evidence is especially valuable given the fact that by now it’s essentially impossible to coax records out of the Palisades BID. They’ve even hired a lawyer specifically to thwart my requests, as if the bred-in-the-bone intransigence3 of PPBID ED Laurie Sale, which presumably they’ve already paid for, weren’t enough in itself.

In particular, because we already knew that Urban Place was charging the Fashion District $55,000 for renewal consulting and because it’s the first time we’ve known the rates that a single consultant is charging two different BIDs, it’s possible for the first time to attempt to model UPC’s fee structure. The gory details are available after the break, but the upshot it’s possible to estimate that UPC’s baseline fee for establishing/renewing an ideal BID with zero parcels in it is about $19,583 and that each additional parcel adds a little more than $18 to the cost of establishing/renewing the BID.
Continue reading Urban Place Consulting Charged Palisades BID 62% Less For Establishment Than They Are Charging Fashion District For Renewal, $21K vs. $55K. The Resulting Linear Model Suggests That Each Additional Parcel Adds Around $18 To The Price Of BID Consultancy, But Comparison With San Pedro Casts Some Doubt On Accuracy

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The San Pedro BID Is Paying BID Consultant Edward Henning Only $20,000 To Handle Their Impending Renewal. This Is 64% Less Than The Fashion District Will Pay Urban Place Consulting And 75% Less Than The South Park BID Will Pay Tara Devine. Why The Huge Variation In Compensation For A Job Whose Elements Are Delineated By The City?

You may recall that Edward Henning is an engineer who works with a number of BID consultants on BID establishment and renewal, writing the engineer’s reports required by Streets and Highways Code §36622(n). I’ve previously reported, e.g., that he seems to get paid about $9,000 for writing these things.1 Well, TIL that Ed Henning is also a BID consultant his own self!

The story begins with Lorena Parker, executive director of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID, sending me the contract that Ed Henning and her BID signed for consulting services, along with some ancillary information:

These materials are also available on the Archive, which is useful because of OCR and so forth. And that’s today’s goodies. Turn the page for discussion!
Continue reading The San Pedro BID Is Paying BID Consultant Edward Henning Only $20,000 To Handle Their Impending Renewal. This Is 64% Less Than The Fashion District Will Pay Urban Place Consulting And 75% Less Than The South Park BID Will Pay Tara Devine. Why The Huge Variation In Compensation For A Job Whose Elements Are Delineated By The City?

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Urban Place Consulting Set To Earn $55,712.20 For Dealing With The 2017/2018 Fashion District BID Renewal Process According To Contract, Which May Also Shed Light On The Intersection Between BID Consultancy And L.A.’s Muncipal Lobbying Ordinance

The Fashion District BID in Downtown Los Angeles is set to expire at the end of 2018. This means that they’ll be collecting petitions roughly in the first quarter of 2018 and going to City Council approximately in the Summer of 2018. The process is complicated for property-based BIDs and usually requires a consultant, and the consultant has to start early. The Fashion District is using Urban Place Consulting.1 Work began on the process in January 2017.

Thanks to the competence, kindness, and evident commitment to transparency of the Fashion District BID’s executive director, Rena Masten Leddy,2 we have copies of (at least most of) the FDBID’s contract with UPC3 as well as the first three months worth of invoices. You can get these:

Crucially, the contract reveals that the Fashion District will pay UPC more than $55,000 over the course of the two year process. The contract is supposed to include a schedule of hourly rates and the invoices are supposed to include an hourly breakdown, but, at least so far, they do not.

Apart from the general interest created by the essential role that BID renewal plays in the life cycle of BIDs, this kind of data is also crucial to my ongoing study of the intersection between the BID renewal process in Los Angeles and the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. Turn the page for a brief discussion of those issues as well as a brief outline of the renewal process itself.
Continue reading Urban Place Consulting Set To Earn $55,712.20 For Dealing With The 2017/2018 Fashion District BID Renewal Process According To Contract, Which May Also Shed Light On The Intersection Between BID Consultancy And L.A.’s Muncipal Lobbying Ordinance

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