A couple weeks ago the City Council approved a settlement with LA Catholic Worker, LA Community Action Network, and individual plaintiffs in the monumental case against the City and the Downtown Industrial District BID, which itself settled in March. This afternoon, Judge Phillip Gutierrez filed an order dismissing the case. Thus it’s all done except for the four years of judicial oversight to make sure that the defendants are adhering to the terms of the settlement.
The terms of the settlement with the CCEA are fairly strict, and I hadn’t seen a copy of the terms of the settlement with the City. But it turns out that on Wednesday the parties filed a a request for the case to be dismissed, which lays out the specifics. As I expected, the City agrees not to cooperate with the Downtown Industrial District security forces in confiscating property and they make some other important but not so surprising concessions.
To my mind, though, the most interesting part of what the City agreed to is this training bulletin, to be distributed to the LAPD’s central division. Although it’s a result of a suit arising from the City’s relationship with a specific BID, and although it’s only to be distributed in the one division, the wording applies to all BIDs in the City of Los Angeles. There’s a transcription after the break, but one crucial bit is this, which someone really should explain to the Hollywood BID Patrol:
BIDs are separate and distinct from the City. BID officers, employees, and representatives are not employees or agents of the City. Importantly, BID employees have no more authority than private citizens to enforce the law.
Well, today they met and approved a motion which authorizes the City Attorney to pay $495,000 out of the City’s Police Liability Fund to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles as part of the settlement. Given the extensive behavioral restrictions on BID security and ongoing oversight by the court agreed to by the CCEA in its settlement, it seems likely that the money will turn out to be only part of the City’s settlement deal. The details of the rest will surely be hitting PACER soon enough, and you’ll read about them here first!
This is a huge win for LAFLA and its brave and talented attorneys: Fernando Gaytan, Shayla Myers, Paul Hoffman, and Catherine Sweetser. Cheers all round! And, although Carol Sobel didn’t work on this particular case, the outcome continues to confirm Mike Bonin’s prescient 2016 remark that if the City didn’t clean up its act with respect to the property of homeless people, “We may as well open up the keys to reserve funds to Carol Sobel”
Well, Council is finally poised to approve the settlement terms. The matter is on the books as Council File 16-1449, and is scheduled for a closed session on Monday, June 5 at 2 p.m. in Room 1010 of City Hall at the Budget and Finance Committee. As is required by the Brown Act there will be an opportunity for public comment before the closed session. My feeling is that this is a fait accompli and not worth my time to attend, but you should certainly decide for yourself about that.
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.
If you’ve been following the story of the Venice Beach BID at all you will know that the first hearing that the City held on this matter was shown to be invalid via some sharp lawyering by superhero public interest attorney Shayla Myers and that subsequently the City had to call a complete do-over of the process. Well, the time for the do-over hearing is rapidly approaching. It will be held at City Hall on Tuesday, November 8, at 10 a.m. If you can fit it in I hope you can show up and voice your opposition.
And your opposition is being heard by the City. For instance, City Clerk Holly Wolcott was recently quoted in the Argonaut to the effect that
… the drama surrounding the Venice Beach BID is unprecedented. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve never seen the level of turnout we had for the BID nor had a BID ordinance repealed for these reasons,” she said.
Whether or not we’re ultimately successful in preventing this BID1 is less important than to show the City that they can no longer expect that their BID-building shenanigans will unfold unopposed in the quiet of their formerly smoke-filled back rooms. It’s important to show them that what Wolcott thinks is an anomaly may well be the new normal.
After a chaotic hearing on the Venice Beach BID in August,1 after Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles powerhouse attorney Shayla Myers pointed out that the process was legally flawed, and after City Attorney Mike Feuer accepted her argument and told the City Council that they’d better have a do-over, after all that, the rehearing on the abhorrent BID was scheduled to be approved considered in Council on November 8, 2016. This, of course, is also the day that Americans will be deciding the future of the world, which takes up a lot of time. Venice being Venice, there has been a lot of speculation about whether Bonin did this on purpose to make it difficult for detractors to testify. Venice also being Venice, there has been an organized effort to get Bonin to postpone the hearing.
Edited to add: The list that Miranda Paster sent me isn’t even the list I asked for, as discussed in the story below. It’s an edited version of the publicly available ballot tabulation sheet. It is unbelievable that these people are so unwilling to release what are obviously public records and that their unwillingness is so clearly in the service of their political agenda. On the other hand, the fact that they so vigorously defend their secrecy makes it seem even more likely that they’re concealing serious and exploitable weaknesses.
Three weeks ago I wrote about how neither the City Clerk nor CD11 was willing to hand over a list of the property owners in the proposed Venice Beach BID with contract information. CD11 told me to ask the Clerk and the Clerk told me to ask Tara Devine and Tara Devine ignored me (and continues to ignore me). The Clerk’s rationale was that they didn’t have anything to do with mailing out the petitions, so that the Public Records Act didn’t apply to the mailing list.
Now, if you’re not familiar with the act, you may not be aware that (at section 6252(e)) public records are defined fairly expansively to be any “writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency.” So I made the argument to the Clerk’s office that since they were orchestrating the process, the mailing list was being used by them even if they didn’t own it or retain it themselves. No dice on that, though.