According to the incomparable Gale Holland, writing in the L.A. Times, the initial balloting shows that the Skid Row Neighborhood Council has been defeated by a slim 62 vote margin. The NC election was the subject of extensive and disgusting opposition on Facebook and elsewhere.1 The fix was in, though, as the City Council voted a few weeks ago to allow online voting in this NC election only, according to Gale Holland. In a striking performative demonstration of the digital divide, the traditional paper ballots were 183 to 19 in favor of the SRNC, whereas online ballots were 807 to 581 against.
The NC proponents also suspect that the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council misused city funds to campaign against the election.2 Anyway, evidently a challenge is planned based on these considerations. The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, overseer of the City’s neighborhood councils, is notorious for the number, length, and vituperativity of its appeals, so this process promises to be, at least, interesting.
News of a settlement in the momentous lawsuit brought by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles on behalf of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, the LA Catholic Worker, and a number of individuals over the confiscation of homeless people’s property by BID and by City, has been rumbling around PACER for about one year now. Well, yesterday evening, the first concrete details of the ongoing settlement process arrived. The parties filed a joint report indicating that concrete terms had been reached with both CCEA and the City of Los Angeles. The City of LA part still has to be approved by City Council, but according to the document, this is likely to happen within 45 days.
L.A. voters recently approved Measure HHH, which will fund homeless services via the sale of $1.2 billion in bonds. Last December the City Council approved the creation of a citizens’ oversight committee to monitor the expenditure of this vast sum of money. That committee consists of seven people, three appointed by the Council and four appointed by the Mayor. The Mayor doesn’t seem to have nominated anyone yet, but last Friday the Council, in CF 16-1060-S1, nominated their three. The only weirdo in the bunch is Blair Besten, executive directrix of the Historic Core BID downtown.
As tragic as the demise of Venice has been to watch over the last five years or so, it turns out that she still has some life in her. If anyone had asked me five years ago which neighborhood of Los Angeles might successfully oppose a BID, I would have said Venice without even having to think about it. But the last half-decade, what with sociopathic techbros of both sexes in possession of orders of magnitude more money than sense buying every sliver of land in sight and thereby running the prices up into the stratosphere even as they’re hogging the waves with their irremediably Barneyfied GoPro equipped styrofoam surfboards, zillionaires remodeling the canals into a nightmare AirBnB horror show, stupid fucking restaurants that…evidently leave me speechless, all this had driven me into what I thought was an inescapable well of cynical despair with respect to the fate of this dearest of all areas of our City.
Well, tonight the Clerk’s office placed a petition with 169 signatures of Venice residents opposing the formation of a BID there and, just like that, my hope in Venice is restored! They oppose it articulately, wisely, and for all the right reasons, too:
We, the undersigned, oppose the establishment of a Venice Beach Business Improvement District (BID). We believe in public control of public resources and oppose the privatization of those resources. We support renters’ rights, both for residential and commercial renters, and oppose taxation without representation. BIDs impose taxes that renters often pay, but which landlords decide upon. BID private security forces have a track record of infringing on the rights of our lowest-income neighbors, especially those people who are unhoused. We oppose private security fources controlled exclusively by commercial and industrial interests when their impact will affect the entire community, especially those disenfranchised from BID governance.
A recent trip to the lovely City Archives on Ramirez Street, my absolute favorite of all city agencies,1 yielded up a bunch of really interesting stuff from 2001–2003. So much so that I started a new page for it. It took me three hours to look through two boxes of BID records (out of more than 400), so I’m sure there will be much more of this stuff to come. There’s a list of some highlights after the break, but check it!
In 2003 the BID’s expiring security contract with Burke Security, the predecessor of Andrews International, was put out for bids. Aaron Epstein, yes, the same one whose nuclear bomb of a lawsuit established the subjection of BIDs to both the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, thereby making this blog possible, and a large group of his fellow Hollywood BID stakeholders2 sent a letter to then-mayor James Hahn complaining that they:
believe[d] that the District’s board of directors and executive director have not conducted a fully open and competitive process to ensure that property owners receive the finest security service for the lowest competitive price (the current two year contract exceeds $2 million). Moreover, we believe that the board and executive director have failed to be objective in the process and have allowed the contractor, Burke Security, to function in ways that do not provide the maximum benefits to the property owners and merchants.
According to an order that just hit PACER, the parties in the LA Catholic Worker and LA Community Action Network suit against the Central City East Association and the City of Los Angeles are meeting on April 5 to discuss settling the case. You may recall that a hearing on an application for contempt was already set for that date. According to Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Wisterich, who’s handling discovery matters in the case, and whose order postponed the hearing:
The court has been informed that a settlement conference has been scheduled for April 5, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. To allow the parties to devote their full attention to exploring the possibility of settlement, the hearing is continued to May 4, 2016, at 11:00 a.m.
On Monday, March 21, 2016, there was a hearing on the plaintiffs’ application to have the City of Los Angeles held in contempt for its failure to comply with discovery orders in the ongoing lawsuit against the City and the CCEA over the illegal confiscation of the property of homeless people. Recall that the plaintiffs asked the Judge to award them more than $40,000 in fees and to declare that the City was at fault as a punitive measure.
Well, the order resulting from that hearing just hit PACER, and the plaintiffs got some but not all of what they asked for. In particular, they were awarded $38,818.49 in fees. Judgement on the rest of the plaintiffs’ requests was deferred. There will be another hearing on April 5, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. in in Courtroom 690 of the Roybal Building, presumably after which the rest of the matters will be decided. According to the order, by 48 hours in advance of the hearing,
The City is directed to complete its production, serve supplemental responses to the requests for production, respond in writing to the questions asked in plaintiffs’ March 15, 2016 letter from Myers to Whitaker, serve a complete and detailed privilege log, file and serve a report describing the status of its compliance with this and other court orders, and pay the sanctions awarded by this order…