Tag Archives: Commercial Zoning

On November 21, 2016 Blair Besten Told The City Of Los Angeles That Her Zillionaire Developer Bosses Were Ready To Gentrify And Build Out Skid Row And Listed The Kinds Of Zillion Dollar Handouts, Tax Breaks, And Zoning Giveaways They Wanted. Seven Weeks Later She Was Lobbying José Huizar In Opposition To Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation. This Is Not A Coincidence

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Gale Holland’s article in the Times for a more mainstream perspective.

Scott Gray of major Skid Row property owner Capital Foresight, likely behind-the-curtain string-puller for the covert anti-SRNC lobbying campaign, was famously quoted in the Downtown News in March 2017 with respect to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort to the effect that:

…the pending proposal to divide Downtown Los Angeles into separate geographic districts will have significant fiscal and far-reaching economic impact on the entire city

Anyone who attends to the shady world of Los Angeles real estate development can easily imagine in the abstract the kinds of things Scott Gray means, but there has hitherto been very little specific information about what he was talking about.

It turns out that in November 2016 Blair Besten’s megadeveloper bosses at the Historic Core BID had their heavy artillery aimed at Skid Row and had begun soliciting the usual array of sleazy under-table giveaways, such as tax abatements, relaxed zoning, and so on. It’s no surprise at all, then, that when the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee’s proposal was approved by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment in January 2017 they flipped out to the astonishing degree that they did. As always, documentation and highly detailed description after the break.
Continue reading On November 21, 2016 Blair Besten Told The City Of Los Angeles That Her Zillionaire Developer Bosses Were Ready To Gentrify And Build Out Skid Row And Listed The Kinds Of Zillion Dollar Handouts, Tax Breaks, And Zoning Giveaways They Wanted. Seven Weeks Later She Was Lobbying José Huizar In Opposition To Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation. This Is Not A Coincidence

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Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Unilaterally Removed A Commercially Zoned Parcel From The Venice Beach BID In 2015 And Then Told Unhappy Property Owners In 2016 That She Was Not Allowed To Remove Parcels From The BID If They Were Commercially Zoned

The Venice Post Office; zoned commercial. Now it’s in the BID! Now it’s out of the BID! Now it’s back in the BID!
I recently wrote in excruciating detail about how everyone involved with the BID formation process denies, almost certainly wrongly, that they have any power at all over which parcels are included in a BID. Thus, e.g., did Tara Devine inform unhappy property owner William Kuel in this email from August 2016 that his property, which is zoned commercial but used for residential purposes, must be included in the Venice Beach BID. She went so far as to tell him explicitly that “neither the Engineer nor I can remove your parcel from the proposed BID.” This phenomenon has been hugely controversial in the formation of the Venice Beach BID, and is the basis of a lawsuit filed against the City by Venice residents upset over the inclusion of their property in the BID.
Tara Devine leaving the lectern at a 2016 Los Angeles City Council meeting.

So what a surprise it was to find, buried amongst thousands of pages of nonsense in this latest pile of emails between Tara Devine and various employees of the City Clerk’s office, this June 30, 2015 missive from Tara Devine to a bunch of people, stating that she was unilaterally removing a commercially zoned property from the BID for, seemingly, no particular reason:

I will also re-send the database as we made one tiny change. After a discussion with Ed, we removed the federal USPS parcel (Venice post office.) It was on the edge of the BID and was not required for a contiguous boundary, so we just removed it from dbase and other docs.

Leaving aside the evident fact that Tara Devine doesn’t know the difference between contiguous and continuous, isn’t this interesting? She “just removed” a piece of property from the BID. And then a year later she was telling property owners that she didn’t have the power to remove parcels, and some of those property owners are now suing the City partially on the basis of this claim she1 has been pushing about her powerlessness. It will be interesting to see if this turns out to be evidence in the lawsuit!2 It’s extremely interesting to see that she told a bunch of City Clerk employees that she’d done this and not one of them questioned her ability to do it, which is in stark contrast to Holly Wolcott’s 2016 assertions that no one was empowered to remove properties.

Tara Devine’s justification for her unwillingness to exclude property has been that commercially zoned parcels cannot be removed,3 so perhaps this property isn’t zoned commercial? Well, good old ZIMAS will let us investigate this matter more thoroughly. This and some other issues with the property, including its current status with respect to BID inclusion, are discussed in painfully obsessive detail after the break.
Continue reading Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Unilaterally Removed A Commercially Zoned Parcel From The Venice Beach BID In 2015 And Then Told Unhappy Property Owners In 2016 That She Was Not Allowed To Remove Parcels From The BID If They Were Commercially Zoned

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