Tag Archives: Central Avenue

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

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

Hollywood Property Owners Alliance Board Member Alyssa Van Breene: Financial Beneficiary of a Century of Poison-Saturated Environmental Racism in South Los Angeles

Standard Plating Company at 826 E. 62nd Street, Los Angeles.  Like the Hollywood Gower Plaza, this property has been in Alyssa Van Breene's family for four generations.  She's not bragging about it on the internet, though, possibly because, rather than being associated with glamor and glitz it's associated with poisons saturating the land and the groundwater.
Standard Plating Company at 826 E. 62nd Street, Los Angeles. Like the Hollywood Gower Plaza, this property has been in Alyssa Van Breene’s family for four generations. She’s not bragging about it on the internet, though, possibly because, rather than being associated with glamor and glitz, it’s associated with poisons saturating the land and the groundwater.
When first we met Ms. Alyssa Van Breene, round about the middle of 2015, she was out in Boyle Heights, shooting off her privileged mouth about street vending and how it must be forbidden because she and her strange BIDfellows “…work very hard to keep the sidewalks clean, safe, and hospitable for all pedestrians: tourists, workers, residents, and students.” Make a note of that “clean” bit. It’s going to come up again later.

When next we met Ms. Alyssa Van Breene she was boasting in her Board bio that her family had owned the northeast corner of Hollywood and Gower for four freaking generations, as if this were some kind of accomplishment to be proud of, predicated as it was and is on the white supremacist real estate policies that made Hollywood what it is today.

The human face of white supremacy, hypocrisy, and wanton saturation of the earth and water of South Los Angeles with poisons.
The human face of white supremacy, hypocrisy, and wanton saturation of the earth and water of South Los Angeles with poisons.

And when last we met Ms. Alyssa Van Breene, she was sitting in a room watching, not protesting, a gang of her white supremacist BID buddies laughing it up with Cowboy Cory Palka of the LAPD’s Hollywood Division about how fucked up South Los Angeles is. And really, this is how we meet her every month, as the HPOA plots to turn its BID Patrol into a tool for the LAPD to avoid civilian oversight, as they arrange the destruction of their own records to avoid criticism, as the BID Patrol continues to arrest the homeless merely to harass them, as they plot and plan to keep arresting street vendors, not to mention illegally destroying their wares, and so on. Her silence, obviously, equals her consent.
The famous four-generation Dulgarian/Van Breene strip mall at Hollywood and Gower is the non-toxic side of Alyssa Van Breene's holdings.
The famous four-generation Dulgarian/Van Breene strip mall at Hollywood and Gower is the non-toxic side of the holdings of Alyssa Van Breene’s people.

But we had assumed, without evidence or even much thought, that her destructive activities were confined to Hollywood, that yes, she was willing to oppress non-zillionaires by arresting them, mocking them, and chasing them out of Hollywood, but that that was the extent of the damage.

So what a surprise it was when the almighty Google turned us on to the fact that her mom, Dickie Van Breene (née Dulgarian) and her uncle Duke Dulgarian (and a bunch of other Dulgarians, but they don’t concern us here) were sued every which way but loose in 2013 in Federal Court by Kamala Harris and the California Department of Justice for illegally dumping a bunch of poisonous shit at a nickel-chrome plating factory in on East 62nd Street in South L.A. that they all inherited down the generations along with the Hollywood and Gower property, the economic benefits of which inure to Alyssa Van Breene just as surely as do those of the famous strip mall. You can read the initial complaint here, and it has some interesting history in it:
Continue reading Hollywood Property Owners Alliance Board Member Alyssa Van Breene: Financial Beneficiary of a Century of Poison-Saturated Environmental Racism in South Los Angeles

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

Exuberance, Freedom, Commerce, Blossom in Rare DTLA BID-free Zone

The RAND corporation, imagined as the Pied Piper, plays the tune called by the one who pays, while happy imaginary children under the influence of LSD obtained from Herman Kahn
The RAND corporation, imagined by Kate Greenaway as the Pied Piper, plays the tune called by the piper-payer while happily dancing imaginary children under the influence of LSD obtained from RAND-ite Herman Kahn frolic about
Like many superfluous, quasi-criminal, quasi-public institutions, the BIDs of Los Angeles are terrified that people will notice they’re a dangerous nuisance and proceed to abolish them. One symptom of this anxiety is a craving for academic justification stronger than the craving of tweakers for meth.

So one rich guy calls another rich guy and soon enough the RAND Corporation of Santa Monica, California, mostly famous for paying cold warrior par excellence Herman Kahn to analyze potential preemptive nuclear strikes on China while under the influence of LSD,1 has prepared a report on how beneficial the existence of BIDs is to the city of Los Angeles. TL;DR: Confuse correllation with causation and the tune that was called by the piper-payer ends up played by the piper.

BID free zone on the East side of Downtown Los Angeles
BID free zone on the East side of Downtown
We decided that we were going to do some research of our own. Luckily, the existence of a small sliver of land surrounding Olympic Boulevard between Central and Stanford is not claimed by any BID and thus allows us to analyze how beneficial the nonexistence of BIDs is to the city of Los Angeles. We obtained a small private grant and set out into the field.2 We think you’ll be interested in our results.
Continue reading Exuberance, Freedom, Commerce, Blossom in Rare DTLA BID-free Zone