Although I don’t really have time to cover land use issues here, sometimes they have an intersection, however tenuous, with public records activity. Also, since BIDs are universally in favor of all development, no matter how illegal or stupid it might be, and they talk about it incessantly at their meetings in between planning to deport homeless people to Manzanar or whatever, it seems useful to collect some material on these issues here. One such instance is the stupidly huge development at 8150 Sunset Blvd.,1 recently approved by the LA City Council over the objections of freaking everybody.
So an organization called Fix the City2 sued the City on Thursday3 over various aspects of the 8150 Sunset project.4 I’m going to collect the filings on this case, starting with the verified petition filed Thursday, and you can get them via the menu structure or also:
On July 20, 2015, Steve Seyler sent Kerry Morrison an email containing a report on a homeless man whose initials are RB. Seyler stated that RB had not been seen by the BID Patrol for 18 months preceding July 15, 2015. Furthermore, there was an active court order forbidding RB from returning to the Hollywood Entertainment District, and thus the BID Patrol called the LAPD and had him arrested on that date. Four days later, on July 24, 2015, Kerry Morrison wrote to Seyler asking him to have the BID Patrol collect some information on RB because “[t]here is some effort underway to move RB towards a conservatorship.” Kerry doesn’t say whose effort it is, but she’s clearly involved in it and she certainly doesn’t say it’s not her making the effort.
Flash forward to September 2015. On the 15th of that month Seyler emailed Morrison and former LAPD Hollywood Station captain Peter Zarcone discussing RB’s conservatorship hearing, scheduled for September 16, 2015:
Kerry any ideas on who else I can call? We only get one shot at this so I don’t want to waste this chance.
Today’s post concerns a series of emails between Kerry Morrison and two Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutors in 2014. These are part of a larger set of emails which we published some time ago. The BID, of course, is paranoiacally hyperphobic about drinking in public by the homeless, even as they celebrate, revel in, and sing hosanna in the highest to the use, misuse, abuse, of alcohol, even in public, when done by the non-homeless population of Hollywood. That’s not news. What is news is the weirdly obsessive length that newly-appointed-in-2014 Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutor Jackie Lawson turned out to be willing to go to to accomodate Kerry Morrison’s paranoid hyperphobias. There’s a lot of background here, so please bear with us.
The documented part of our story begins on January 28, 2014,1 with an email from Kerry Morrison to then-Hollywood-Neighborhood-Prosecutor Andre Quintero, inviting him to a BID-sponsored summit meeting the purported motive for which was “[t]o reduce the incidence of daytime public drunkenness in the Hollywood Entertainment Disctrict and Sunset & Vine BID.” In particular, Kerry calls Andre’s attention to item 4, asking that he “maybe … could be prepared to share some background on” “…laws governing alcohol sales and alcohol use.” Note well that there’s no word out of Andre regarding any of this. And the rest of the agenda is worth reading, but there’s nothing there, really, beyond the usual paranoid ravings about panhandlers and public inebriation with which we’re so familiar.
Well, here is a bunch of emails, which we obtained from the Los Angeles City Attorney using the California Public Records Act, between BID employees Smilin’ Joe Mariani and Kerry Morrison and various people that work for the City of Los Angeles. We join the story when Joe writes to Gary Benjamin, who is eyeglass-fashionista Councilguy Mitch O’Farrell’s something-or-another for what-passes-for-planning-at-200-Spring-Street. It seems the boys met up in early September 2014 at an HPOA “Streetscape2 Committee” meeting, giving Joe a pretext to renew the big ask:
Great seeing you today at the Streetscape Committee meeting. As I mentioned, if you can please follow up with GSD3 and ask when our lease will be ready for the Cherokee space we would appreciate it [sic]. According to our vendor we are supposed to be off the Selma parking lot by the end of September, so the sooner we can move in the better.
So the BID needs some space and they’re going to lease it from the city. So far, so good. After all, they’re a public agency created by the city to do the city’s work. On September 9, 2014, Gary responds, saying he’ll check into it. On September 23, 2014, Gary announces that there’s a little problem. Says Gary:
I have some bad news regarding the prospect of getting the lease in a timely manner. I checked in with the General Services Department (GSD) a couple weeks back and they said they were still not authorized to issue the lease, despite the approved Council motion.4 This seemed ridiculous to us, as the language of the motion came from Rene Sagles5 and he assured us the motion would be sufficient. GSD staffers were aware of the motion as it moved through the ITGS6 Committee, and yet they raised no red flags. In the last week, I’ve been in further communication with GSD, the City Attorney’s office and Rene Sagles. Apparently, DOT have not been following City standards regarding lease of space for some time now. Recently the City Attorney took note of this issue and has forced them to undergo a more rigorous public solicitation RFP process. Your lease process has dragged on for so long because of a lack of communication between DOT and GSD and a general uncertainty among the bureaus about how to proceed.
I now have Melody McCormick of GSD working with DOT and the City Attorney to draft a new “sole source” motion that will explain why the normal RFP process was not followed and why the HPOA should get this lease. They have told me they can have the motion ready by the end of the week. We will work to waive it from ITGS committee and get it approved at Council next week ideally. Then the City Attorney will need to draft the lease. It will still be another month, at the earliest, until the lease will be issued. I’m really sorry about all this confusion and for losing time pushing forward a motion that was insufficient.
Stories of the rich and powerful abusing intellectual property laws to stifle free expression, shut down criticism of their terroristic conspiracies against humanity, lock away little old ladies because their grandkids misuse bittorrent, wantonly slaughter cute lil bunnies, and so on, are as common in the tech press as dandelions on the expansive and suspiciously green lawns of Hancock Park before the gardeners show up on Thursday morning.
The emails are available here. There’s a lot of chaff, as usual, but a lot of tasty morsels as well. My colleagues will certainly be giving this material the fine-toothed comb treatment in the future, but I thought it’d be nice to announce the availability of the documents to satisfy your hunger and thirst for the truth which, as is well-known, shall set you free.
Picture of famed future president and California attorney is, according to Wikimedia, in the public domain. Take that, Helen Gahagan Douglas!
A collaborative denunciation of Business Improvement Districts in Hollywood