Tag Archives: LADOT

Emails Between Keystone Towing General Manager Ed Arensdorf And CD12 Field Deputy Colin Crews — And LAPD Officer Benjamin Jones — And LADOT Staffer Brian Hartman — Provide A Rare Glimpse Into The Functioning Of The City’s RV Towing Machinery — And That Ultimately These Dwelling Places Are “Crushed” — No Conclusions Here But Some Illuminating Detail

I learned recently that the City of Los Angeles opposed a bill banning poverty tows in California for no better reason than that one single lobbyist asked on behalf of his clients, the Official Police Garage Association of Los Angeles, Herb-Wesson-appointed interim CD12 representative Greig Smith to oppose it, stating that his clients couldn’t do so publicly because to do so would expose them as the greedy bloodsuckers that, in fact, they actually are.

As pointed out by the incomparable folks at KTown For All this is an example of one single person determining official policy for a City of four million people for no better reason than to keep diverting zillions of dollars of public money into his clients’ coffers. And today I have a small related story, but an important one, showing not only an unexpectedly granular level of complicity between the tow companies and the City government with respect to RV towing, but some hints about the volume of RV tows and also the scale of the infrastructure required to tow and ultimately destroy motorhomes.

It begins with a May 23, 2019 email from Ed Arensdorf, general manager of OPG Keystone Towing, to Colin Crews of CD12, LAPD officer Benjamin Jones, and LADOT staffer Brian Hartman, in which he tells them that he is forced “to put motorhome towing on indefinite hold”. And in case you’re envisioning chaos, vehicular anarchy, Mad Max but with RVs, well, don’t worry, notes Arensdorf parenthetically, this is “(except evidence, stolens and blocking driveways/intersections).”

Which essentially means that they were going to have to stop towing away RVs that people live in but they will keep on towing RVs where there’s actually a defensible reason to tow, rather than displacement and profiteering. And in case it occurred to you, there were no moral considerations at all involved in the towing hiatus. The company that crushes RVs1 was having some regulatory problems with environmental agencies.
Continue reading Emails Between Keystone Towing General Manager Ed Arensdorf And CD12 Field Deputy Colin Crews — And LAPD Officer Benjamin Jones — And LADOT Staffer Brian Hartman — Provide A Rare Glimpse Into The Functioning Of The City’s RV Towing Machinery — And That Ultimately These Dwelling Places Are “Crushed” — No Conclusions Here But Some Illuminating Detail

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Since 2016 Eleven CPRA Lawsuits Against The City Of Los Angeles Have Been Disposed Of — The City Lost Two At Trial And Paid Up — And Settled Eight Before Trial And Paid Up — And The Only One They Didn’t Lose Was The One Wrongly Filed In Federal Court By A Pro Se Litigant — For A Total Of $662,722 — And Given That They’re About To Pay More Than $324,000 To The ACLU To Settle Another Loser — This Is More Than A Million Dollars In Less Than Four Years That They Wasted Because They Can Not Or They Will Not Comply With The Law — For That Kind Of Money They Could Hire A Damn CPRA Coordinator — And Some Staff — And Stop The Bleeding

If you make requests of the City of Los Angeles under the California Public Records Act you will have learned by now that they fail to comply in almost every possible way. They delay access to records, they wrongfully withhold records as exempt, they fail to respond to requests at all, they say that there are no responsive records when in fact there are, they manipulate requesters into asking for far less than they have a right to by wrongly citing authorities, they insist on printing electronic records onto paper and then charge for copies, and so on and on and on. It’s a real nightmare.

Some of the City’s shenanigans are due to the fact that the state legislature, in its wisdom, has made judicial action the only means of enforcing the CPRA. The City, probably with reason, assumes that most requesters don’t have the resources or the tenacity to follow through with a lawsuit, so the expected consequences for their abject noncompliance are pretty minimal. And that may be an accurate assessment, it’s hard to tell because I don’t have access to all the data.

But not having access to all doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get access to some, so I have been investigating CPRA suits against the City of Los Angeles. I first started thinking about this matter in 2015 but was at that time told by Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas1 that the City had no way of listing CPRA suits against it. But after all that nonsense happened in San Diego recently, what with their City Attorney,2 Mara Elliot, tricking Senator Ben Hueso into introducing his appalling and since-withdrawn CPRA-gutting SB 615 and then some people got a spreadsheet showing how much the City of San Diego had spent on CPRA suits since 2010.

So I thought I’d ask Mike Dundas again and what do you know!? He came through and also informed me that the City Attorney3 had assigned a cause code to CPRA suits in 2016 so that it was now possible to track them individually.4 And then, kablooie! He produced this list of ten closed cases with payouts since 2016!5 And then later he told me that there was this one other closed case that didn’t involve a payout since the City was dismissed from it on a motion.6 And according to him he will be producing7 a list of the currently open cases.8

And just the bare numbers here are really interesting, but not a good look for the City of Los Angeles. Since 2016 eleven CPRA cases against the City have been disposed of. The City went to trial on two of these and lost, paying a total of $558,690.57 to petitioners’ lawyers. The City unfavorably settled eight of them before trial, paying a total of $104,032 to petitioners’ lawyers. And the City got itself dismissed from one before trial, but only because the petitioner mistakenly filed the case in federal court.

I obtained copies of all ten of the properly filed petitions, and you can find them here on the Archive and there are also links to the individual files below. From a practical point of view, those eight cases that the City settled without going to trial are the most interesting of all. First of all, they were all avoidable. None of them hinged on any subtle interpretations of the statute. If the City had just followed the explicit requirements of the law none of them would have been brought in the first place.

I describe each of them briefly below, by the way. The City has really come to rely on not being sued, and I don’t think we have any hope at all of improving their compliance without a lot more petitions being filed. It’s my hope that these statistics along with access to these cases will encourage more lawyers to get involved in suing the City over CPRA violations. It really looks like there’s some money to be made.

But, much, much more importantly, it looks like it might be not only practically possible, not only morally desirable, but also economically feasible to get the damn City of Los Angeles to just comply with the damn CPRA in some kind of predictable way. The money they spend settling these cases could easily fund a Citywide CPRA coordinator and another staff member just to keep all the City departments on track so that we get access to our records and the City avoids an endless parade of these entirely avoidable suits.
Continue reading Since 2016 Eleven CPRA Lawsuits Against The City Of Los Angeles Have Been Disposed Of — The City Lost Two At Trial And Paid Up — And Settled Eight Before Trial And Paid Up — And The Only One They Didn’t Lose Was The One Wrongly Filed In Federal Court By A Pro Se Litigant — For A Total Of $662,722 — And Given That They’re About To Pay More Than $324,000 To The ACLU To Settle Another Loser — This Is More Than A Million Dollars In Less Than Four Years That They Wasted Because They Can Not Or They Will Not Comply With The Law — For That Kind Of Money They Could Hire A Damn CPRA Coordinator — And Some Staff — And Stop The Bleeding

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Emails Reveal Breadth Of Support Among City Agencies For Miguel Nelson’s Hostile Landscape Architecture In Skid Row — North Sea — Most Crucially CD14 Supported It — LADOT — Even Department Of Cultural Affairs — However Urban Forestry / Bureau Of Street Services Refused To Support But Also — Sadly — Refused To Oppose

A couple days ago, based on a huge release of emails, I wrote about collusion between the LAPD, LA Sanitation, and property owner Miguel Nelson, which facilitated his installation of the hostile anti-homeless landscaping project known as “North Sea” in Skid Row. It’s axiomatic, of course, that something as controversial and on such a broad scale could never ever in a million years be approved in Los Angeles without the support of the Councilmember in whose district the project situates,in this case that is José Huizar, disgraced CD14 repster.

And yet it seems that no evidence has yet been adduced to support this notion, at least not until now! But it turns out that as part of its investigation into Nelson’s anti-homeless planters, KCRW got copies of all the permits from the City, which I uploaded to Archive.Org for the sake of stable access, and you can get a copy right here. It’s a huge file, more than 400 pages, and as part of the permitting process for such projects it’s required to obtain letters of support from various City departments, among them the Council Office.

So right in there, among the proofs of insurance and detailed diagrams and so on, is an email from erstwhile Huizar staffer Ari Simon to Bureau of Engineering staff supporting the project:

On Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 2:29 PM, Ari Simon <ari.simon@lacity.org> wrote:

Hi Shay,

Wanted to let you know that at this time, Council District 14 is in support of moving forward with an application for R-permits to do beautification work around the area of 4th / Towne as requested by Miguel Nelson.

As the project moves forward, we ask that BOE adhere to the requests made by BSS, asking that a full plan of what exactly will be planted where is included, that any areas of planting are contained by concrete, and that plans comply with BOE’s determination of a clear and generally straight path of pedestrian travel.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Warmly,

Ari

Continue reading Emails Reveal Breadth Of Support Among City Agencies For Miguel Nelson’s Hostile Landscape Architecture In Skid Row — North Sea — Most Crucially CD14 Supported It — LADOT — Even Department Of Cultural Affairs — However Urban Forestry / Bureau Of Street Services Refused To Support But Also — Sadly — Refused To Oppose

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Simple Error In Propositional Logic Defeats Evil, Illegal Anti-RV Scheming of Mitch O’Farrell, Mike Bonin, and the Hollywood Media District BID But It’s Probably Irrelevant In The Real World Anyway

The sign, located on Lillian Way between Santa Monica Blvd and Melrose, says “and” but it was meant to say “or.” Does this matter in the real world? Probably not.
Last summer, Mitch O’Farrell, at the illegal request of Media District ED Lisa Schechter, supported by anti-RV-crusader-on-steroids Mike Bonin, introduced the despicable Council File 16-0967, seeking to ban oversized vehicle parking in the Media District BID. Of course, the thing passed, because this kind of thing always passes, and the ordinance was approved, and up went the signs.

There was one small problem, though. The ordinance, as do all of these little slabs of class warfare, bans:

…the parking of vehicles that are in excess of 22 feet in length or over seven feet in height, during the hours of 2:00 am and 6.00 am…

For some reason, despite what the ordinance actually passed by City Council says, it is still legal to park things like this in most of the Hollywood Media District.

But the signs, when they went up, said something different.1 They banned vehicles that are in excess of 22 feet in length AND over seven feet in height. See the problem? At first I wondered if this were nothing more than an uncharacteristically lapse into honesty by the class warriors at the BID. Perhaps, I thought, they wanted to keep it legal to live in limousines, even if RVs were to be banned, banned, banned.
Continue reading Simple Error In Propositional Logic Defeats Evil, Illegal Anti-RV Scheming of Mitch O’Farrell, Mike Bonin, and the Hollywood Media District BID But It’s Probably Irrelevant In The Real World Anyway

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New Documents! Emails Between The City Of LA And Wilshire Center BID, Figueroa Corridor BID, and North Hollywood BID, Also East Hollywood BID Emails Concerning The BID Consortium, And Also BID Consortium Agendas From 2016

So much stuff to announce this morning! Here’s a brief list with links, and there’s a more detailed list after the break.

Continue reading New Documents! Emails Between The City Of LA And Wilshire Center BID, Figueroa Corridor BID, and North Hollywood BID, Also East Hollywood BID Emails Concerning The BID Consortium, And Also BID Consortium Agendas From 2016

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A Case Study In Towing The Zillionaire’s Car — Ticket Fixing in the Hollywood Media District BID. Or: How LADOT Dances Willingly To The Tune Called By Those Who Pay The Piper. Or: “HELP…. Stakeholders are asking why???”

If you don’t like what the street signs say you can just knock them down and ignore them, friend.
There are two main reasons why I am not a professional journalist. The first is that on career day at Venice High way back in the 1970s, those of us who ventured east to the venerated southwest corner of First and Spring found, well…never mind what we found,1 discretion prevents me from discussing it, but it sure didn’t make me want to join the ranks despite the fact that the paper was more than a decade into its renaissance under the sainted guidance of Otis Chandler himself. And the second reason is that I have never, ever, in my entire life been able to understand the inverted pyramid — or maybe I understand it and I just have no freaking idea what’s most newsworthy in any given story. This interpretation is borne out by the fact that I’m starting this evening’s tale off with a bunch of half-invented, half-remembered, half-plagiarized, nonsense about my high school career day.2

For instance, does the inverted pyramid suggest that we next analyze the founding principles of BIDs? I have no idea. But the locus classicus of BIDs, their founding text, which is to say the California Streets and Highways Code at §36601(e), tells us that amongst the benefits provided by BIDs are crime reduction, business attraction, business retention, economic growth, and new investments. Note the conspicuous absence from this list of parking ticket fixing for zillionaire BID stakeholders. However, despite the fact that parking violation fines are a major social justice issue in Los Angeles and yet another example of covert regressive taxation, apparently a major use that zillionaires, that is to say those for whom the fine attached to a parking violation is not a significant fraction of their annual income, have found for their BIDs is to serve as a vehicle for interfering on their behalf with the normal statutory operation of the City’s parking enforcement apparatus.

We saw this, e.g., last year when Ms. Kerry Morrison, outraged3 by the fact that her good friend and stakeholder, zillionaire white real estate capitalist running dog lackey Evan Kaizer, was ticketed on Hollywood Boulevard for meter-feeding, fired off an email to LADOT honcho-ette Seleta Reynolds, putatively asking for an explanation but really, as everyone could see, providing an opening for the whole thing to go away. It doesn’t seem to have happened that the ticket got fixed, but that particular toys-from-pram episode ended up interbreeding with a sort of free-floating generalized zillionaire rage over vibrant urban spaces,4 eventually begetting a conceptual exploration, fueled by outraged privilege, of the possibility of using this state-law-mandated meter-feeding prohibition to attack the very existence of food trucks.

See why I’m not a professional journalist? Here we are at the fourth “graf5 and I haven’t even started the actual story. Here’s the short version: Some zillionairess didn’t know how to read parking signs and got her car towed. Lisa Schechter, chief directico-executrix of the Hollywood Media District BID, emailed a bunch of functionaries and things got done and done fast in a way they will never get done for non-zillionaires! Details and emails after the break!
Continue reading A Case Study In Towing The Zillionaire’s Car — Ticket Fixing in the Hollywood Media District BID. Or: How LADOT Dances Willingly To The Tune Called By Those Who Pay The Piper. Or: “HELP…. Stakeholders are asking why???”

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Mike Bonin’s Gift Journals 2013-2015: All The Pretty People They’re All Drinking, Thinking That They’ve Got It Made / Exchanging All Precious Gifts, But You Better Take Your “Basket with Locally Made Pickles, Honey, Kale Chips,” You Better Pawn It Babe

More gifts to Mike Bonin, prominently displayed in his City Hall office on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.
More gifts to Mike Bonin, prominently displayed in his City Hall office on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.
Did you even know that the members of our esteemed City Council all send one another and various other people gifts in the putative holiday season? Well they do, and evidently it’s just another thing that the pretty people do when they’re all drinking, thinking that they got it made.1

The City Ethics Commission requires City officials to keep track of these presents, and so, in response to a CPRA request, I received these records from Chad Molnar the other day, despite his claim that fulfilling my more substantial requests would make CD11 constituents suffer. Perhaps he sent these items along because they aren’t likely to make the constituents, who thrive in darkness and secrecy and evidently include outlaw BID proponents Mark Sokol and Carl Lambert, suffer too much, because they have very little content. However, what they do have is fairly amusing. You can get them:

Another purpose of this post is to announce the reorganization of the menu structure, which was getting a little top-heavy. Also, the inauguration of our new CD11 Page, which doesn’t have much on it now, but it will soon, I hope. Turn the page for direct links to the gift journals along with a little bit of relatively restrained mockery.
Continue reading Mike Bonin’s Gift Journals 2013-2015: All The Pretty People They’re All Drinking, Thinking That They’ve Got It Made / Exchanging All Precious Gifts, But You Better Take Your “Basket with Locally Made Pickles, Honey, Kale Chips,” You Better Pawn It Babe

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An Open Letter to Mitch O’Farrell Regarding Signal Box Art in the Hollywood Entertainment District

Thus it’s hard to understand why it’s not good enough to appear on the signal boxes of Hollywood.
Thus it’s hard to understand why it’s not good enough to appear on the signal boxes of Hollywood.

See here and here for the background to this post.

Dear Councilmember O’Farrell,

As you may already be aware, the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance is presently holding a competition to choose artwork to adorn signal boxes in the Hollywood Entertainment District, which they contract with the City of Los Angeles to administer. As you know, the L.A. Department of Transportation requires your approval for this project to move forward. I am writing to ask you to withhold your consent from the HPOA’s plan pending a revision of their stated rules which, regardless of the intent, have the effect of significantly lowering the chance that Latino artists working in some of our most vibrant local traditions will be chosen for this honor.

The problem is that the BID’s stated requirements for submissions include the proviso that “NO Cartoon Images or Graffiti work of any kind will be considered.”1 Graffiti art and cartoon styles are associated in L.A. with Latino, especially Mexican-American artists. Work by Los Angeles artists in these genres has brought world renown, not just to the artists themselves, but to our City. Thus it’s hard to understand why it’s not good enough to appear on the signal boxes of Hollywood. The mystery only deepens when one considers that the HPOA’s requirements also state that “Text Art” will be given full consideration, as if Graffiti art were not also “Text Art.”
Continue reading An Open Letter to Mitch O’Farrell Regarding Signal Box Art in the Hollywood Entertainment District

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Mitch O’Farrell Explicitly Approved (in Writing) of Sunset & Vine BID’s Racist Public Art Guidelines Even Though They Arguably Controverted LADOT Regulations

Graffiti art in Los Angeles is a world-famous cornerstone of local Latino culture.  Perhaps this is why the Central Hollywood Coalition, with the explicit approval of Mitch O'Farrell, hates it.
Graffiti art in Los Angeles is a world-famous cornerstone of local Latino culture. Perhaps this is why the Central Hollywood Coalition, with the explicit approval of Mitch O’Farrell, hates it.
We reported a couple weeks ago that the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance had put out a request for artists to submit works to adorn local signal boxes that explicitly excluded graffiti art and cartoon art. This despite, perhaps, given the BID’s vicious white supremacism, because of the fact that graffiti and cartoon art styles are a cornerstone of indigenous Angeleno/Latino culture. Well, if you live in the area, you may have noticed that the Sunset & Vine BID, controlled by the Central Hollywood Coalition, the HPOA’s not-quite-so-evil twin sister, recently put up artwork on ten signal boxes in their district. Their call for artists incorporated the same restriction as the current HPOA one: “No Cartoon Images or Graffiti work of any kind will be considered.”
A picture of another white hipster band, approved by Mitch O’Farrell and placed on a signal box in Los Angeles by the Sunset & Vine BID.
A picture of another white hipster band, approved by Mitch O’Farrell and placed on a signal box in Los Angeles by the Sunset & Vine BID.

We thought we’d investigate the circumstances under which this project was undertaken and approved, and it turned out to be quite illuminating.
Continue reading Mitch O’Farrell Explicitly Approved (in Writing) of Sunset & Vine BID’s Racist Public Art Guidelines Even Though They Arguably Controverted LADOT Regulations

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HPOA Meter-Feeding Enforcement Tantrum Spirals Upwards to Conceptual Exploration of Rewriting Major Parts of Long-Settled City, State Law to Allow Kerry Morrison to Attack Food Trucks More Effectively

Bruce Gillman, LADOT Executive Officer for Communications.
Bruce Gillman, LADOT Executive Officer for Communications.
Last month we reported on a fascinating situation wherein Hollywood Property Owners Alliance Board member Evan Kaizer didn’t understand the parking laws of the City he purports to be a citizen of, got himself a ticket on Hollywood Boulevard, and instead of just sucking it up and trying, in the future, to follow the freaking parking laws like everyone else he got Kerry Morrison to email freaking Seleta Reynolds, top turtle over at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation1 hinting around that NO FAIR!!

Well, the ticket didn’t get fixed,2 but Kerry Morrison, being the politically adept Machiavellianess that she is, began the process of straw-into-gold spinning for which she’s (justly?) famous when she asked Bruce Gillman, LADOT Communications Boss, about why didn’t food trucks, which, for some reason that we’re sure is clear to her and her theraputic team, she hates with a hatred that surpasseth understanding, get bunches of tickets for parking in the same place all day cause that’s also NO FAIR!!3 That all went down in March, but in his inimitably dogged manner, our faithful correspondent has continued to investigate, and he’s turned up a couple more emails on the subject. In particular, on June 20, 2016, a mere five days ago, Bruce Gillman wrote to Kerry Morrison, saying:

FYI: Regarding the issue of citing food trucks more often, or `escalating fines’ for repeat offender, the LAMC and CA CVC would have to be amended, as they limit citations for vehicles to one ticket per offense, per day. Looping in our Chief and Deputy Chief of Parking Enforcement: Greg Savelli and Brian Hale respectively.

Continue reading HPOA Meter-Feeding Enforcement Tantrum Spirals Upwards to Conceptual Exploration of Rewriting Major Parts of Long-Settled City, State Law to Allow Kerry Morrison to Attack Food Trucks More Effectively

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