Tag Archives: Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Huge Release Of City Of Los Angeles Homeless Encampment Sweep Scheduling Emails Reveals Crucial Steps Of Planning Process — Including Scouting Reports — Time Estimates — Daily Schedules — Notice Posting — Obtained From LAHSA — This Is Essential And Fundamental Primary Source Material For Understanding The Encampment Sweep Scheduling Process — And Another Incremental Step Toward The Years-Long Struggle To Make Sweep Schedules Public

One of the most egregious ways in which the City of Los Angeles terrorizes and oppresses homeless human beings is with so-called encampment sweeps, in which City officials, guarded by police, swoop in and confiscate and dispose of people’s possessions, including in many cases life-essential materials such as medicine, official papers, tools, tents, bicycles, and so on.

This appalling practice has inspired a long chain of successful federal lawsuits against the City, the most recent one of which1 was filed on July 18, 2019.2 Human rights activists, for instance to name just a couple Streetwatch and Services Not Sweeps, have been trying for years to get advance notice of sweeps for many purposes, not least among which are monitoring and outreach to the victims.

Since 2016 I have also been trying to get the City to cough up advance notice via the California Public Records Act. I had one early success, thus proving that the concept at least could work, but since then the City has mostly ignored me. And even on one occasion worse than ignored me, they illegally denied me entry into the Public Works Building, thus preventing me from seeing advance schedules.3 I wrote about my progress a couple more times, once in October 2016 and again in November of that year. There haven’t been enough new developments since then for a post,4 until today, that is.

One of the key strategies in public records activism is making requests for the same materials from every possible agency that might hold records. This increases the odds of getting a complete set of responsive material in the face of obstruction.5 I have been working on getting access to sweep scheduling materials through LA Sanitation, who has ignored me since 2017, through LAPD, which is slightly better but still routinely takes up to a year to produce material, through various Council offices, the office of the Mayor, and so on.

But for some reason it never occurred to me before May 2019 to request records from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which is also deeply implicated in the process of planning and carrying out sweeps. But request them then I did, and last week they released about 5% of a promised 16GB6 collection of emails between LAHSA operatives involved with sweeps and various complicit parties at the City of Los Angeles, and you can get your copies here on Archive.Org.
Continue reading Huge Release Of City Of Los Angeles Homeless Encampment Sweep Scheduling Emails Reveals Crucial Steps Of Planning Process — Including Scouting Reports — Time Estimates — Daily Schedules — Notice Posting — Obtained From LAHSA — This Is Essential And Fundamental Primary Source Material For Understanding The Encampment Sweep Scheduling Process — And Another Incremental Step Toward The Years-Long Struggle To Make Sweep Schedules Public

Share

A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

Don’t know if you’re aware, but in September 2018 the California Court of Appeal held that local agencies could charge CPRA requesters for staff time for redacting electronic records. In particular, the City of Hayward charged the National Lawyers Guild more than $3,000 to redact some parts of bodycam videos. It’s well-established for paper records that agencies must allow inspection at no cost and if copies are requested, can charge only the direct cost of copying.

The Court of Appeals based its opinion on the CPRA’s much-abused §6253.9(b)(2) which states that an agency can charge a requester for the bare privilege of inspecting a record under a small set of very specific circumstances:

… the requester shall bear the cost of producing a copy of the record, including the cost to construct a record, and the cost of programming and computer services necessary to produce a copy of the record when … [t]he request would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce the record.

The court’s reasoning was that redaction of a video constitutes extraction required to produce the record. Sane people can see, however, that the video already exists. Nothing is required to produce it. This section is talking about e.g. running queries against databases, where the requester only wants certain information and the results of the query constitute a new record that “would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce.”

And as you can imagine, after this opinion was published, obstructionist anti-CPRA lawyers all over the state started drooling on their pillows in glee. For instance, Carol Humiston, the soon-to-be-disbarred Rasputinian ear-whisperer to transparency-averse business improvement districts all over Los Angeles, advised her clients on the basis of this decision to assert that if I wanted to see any more of their damn emails I would have to pay for them to buy Adobe Pro so that they could redact them.

She backed off on this outlandish claim after I pointed out repeatedly that emails weren’t found in the wild as PDFs so that there was no case to be made for purchasing an expensive PDF editor to do a job that the built-in text editors that come with every computer operating system could do better. However, the LAPD also glommed onto this case, and the City Attorney’s office began theorizing madly, and now if you submit a request to LAPD for emails through NextRequest you’re met with an aggressive notice warning you that you’re going to pay and pay and pay unless you withdraw your request right now, and the notice explicitly cites the case.

So yeah, this opinion sucks and sucks big time, and it doesn’t just suck in theory, it’s actively sucking in practice even now as I write these very words. But at least it was appealed to the California Supreme Court. And at least the Supreme Court agreed to hear it. And papers have been filed, but it turns out to be really hard to get pleadings out of the Supreme Court.

But recently I was lucky enough to obtain a couple of interesting items. Here’s an amicus letter from a coalition of public interest law firms and activist organizations explaining the harm that the decision is doing. And here’s the opening brief, which explains in well-reasoned and exceedinly convincing terms why the Court should reverse this extraordinarily bad appellate decision. Both are fabulously worth reading, and there’s a transcription of the amicus letter after the break.
Continue reading A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

Share

Today Judge Phillip Gutierrez Issued Final Order Dismissing LA Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association. Settlement With City Includes An LAPD Directive Applicable To ALL BIDs In The City Of Los Angeles Stating Explicitly, Among Other Crucial Things, That BID Security Has No More Authority Than Private People To Enforce The Law

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.

Amazingly, the bulletin also reminds police officers that they are required to treat reports of BID Patrol property confiscation as they do any other report of a theft. This settlement is a truly monumental accomplishment on the plaintiffs’ part, and our City is far, far better off for their work. They have a lot to be proud of here.
Continue reading Today Judge Phillip Gutierrez Issued Final Order Dismissing LA Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association. Settlement With City Includes An LAPD Directive Applicable To ALL BIDs In The City Of Los Angeles Stating Explicitly, Among Other Crucial Things, That BID Security Has No More Authority Than Private People To Enforce The Law

Share

City Of Los Angeles Poised To Pay Half A Million Dollars To The Legal Aid Foundation Of Los Angeles To Settle Los Angeles Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association

As I reported last week, the City Council was scheduled today to go into closed session to consider a settlement of the monumental lawsuit brought by Los Angeles Catholic Worker and the LA Community Action Network against the Central City East Association and the City.

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”

Turn the page for a full transcription of the motion if you’re interested.
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Poised To Pay Half A Million Dollars To The Legal Aid Foundation Of Los Angeles To Settle Los Angeles Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association

Share

LA Catholic Worker et al. V. City of LA, CCEA Settlement Terms To Go Before Full Council In Closed Session On June 14

The momentous 2014 lawsuit by LA Catholic Worker and the LA Community Action Network against the Central City East Association and the City of Los Angeles has been in the settlement process for more than six months now.1 The Central City East Association settled what seems like ages ago. The City of Los Angeles claimed in December that settlement terms had been reached, and then nothing happened for months.
Continue reading LA Catholic Worker et al. V. City of LA, CCEA Settlement Terms To Go Before Full Council In Closed Session On June 14

Share

LA Catholic Worker V. City Of Los Angeles Lawsuit Settlement Agreement Scheduled For Budget And Finance Committee Closed Session On Monday, June 5, 2017

The momentous 2014 lawsuit by LA Catholic Worker and the LA Community Action Network against the Central City East Association and the City of Los Angeles has been in the settlement process for more than six months now.1 Most recently, in March, the terms of CCEA’s part of the settlement were finalized by the court.2 Documents filed with the court as early as last December have announced that the terms of a settlement with the City of Los Angeles had been agreed on and were just pending City Council approval.

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.

Given the fairly glacial pace at which the City has been moving, and given the fact that federal district courts move very slowly as well, it will probably be a while before the specific terms of the settlement with the City become public. However, given the stringent terms agreed to by the CCEA, this settlement is likely to include at the very least further restrictions on the City’s ability to enforce its reprehensible personal property ordinance, LAMC §56.11, and probably a lengthy period of oversight by the court as well. Stay tuned for details!
Continue reading LA Catholic Worker V. City Of Los Angeles Lawsuit Settlement Agreement Scheduled For Budget And Finance Committee Closed Session On Monday, June 5, 2017

Share

Huge News: LA Community Action Network Lawsuit Against Central City East Association and City Of LA Poised To Settle, CCEA Agrees To Specific, Extensive Restrictions On Homeless Property Confiscation, Will Pay $25,000 To LAFLA In Damages, Legal Fees, And Costs. City Of LA Settlement Expected To Go To City Council Soon, LAMC 56.11 Enforcement Likely To Be Severely Attenuated

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.

On the other hand, amazingly, the proposed agreement between the CCEA and the plaintiffs has actually been filed! It must still be approved by Judge Philip Gutierrez, but it strikes me as extraordinarily unlikely that it would not be. The agreement severely restricts the circumstances under which the BID can confiscate property. The terms of this part of the settlement make it seem very likely that the City will agree to severe restrictions in its enforcement of LAMC 56.11, the property confiscation ordinance, at least on Skid Row. CCEA will also pay LAFLA $25,000 for damages, fees, and costs. Turn the page for some details of what the CCEA has agreed to.
Continue reading Huge News: LA Community Action Network Lawsuit Against Central City East Association and City Of LA Poised To Settle, CCEA Agrees To Specific, Extensive Restrictions On Homeless Property Confiscation, Will Pay $25,000 To LAFLA In Damages, Legal Fees, And Costs. City Of LA Settlement Expected To Go To City Council Soon, LAMC 56.11 Enforcement Likely To Be Severely Attenuated

Share

Evidently a Settlement Has Been Finalized in LA Catholic Worker, LA CAN v. City of LA, Central City East Association

According to a document filed mere moments ago with the court, all parties to LA Catholic Worker and LA CAN v. City of LA, CCEA have agreed on a settlement. The terms of the settlement have not yet been announced, but they will be going to the LA City Council for approval “in the near future.” If you’re PDF-averse you can read salient selections after the break.
Continue reading Evidently a Settlement Has Been Finalized in LA Catholic Worker, LA CAN v. City of LA, Central City East Association

Share

The Venice Beach BID Hearing Is Scheduled For November 8, 2016 At 10 A.M. And Here Is Some Anti-BID Material That’s Being Circulated

anti_venice_beach_bid_flyer_screenshotIf 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.

Finally, as they have been doing all along, the fine folks at Venice Community Housing are leaders in the anti-BID movement, and they’ve produced and/or distributed some useful information, to which you can find links after the break.
Continue reading The Venice Beach BID Hearing Is Scheduled For November 8, 2016 At 10 A.M. And Here Is Some Anti-BID Material That’s Being Circulated

Share

Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
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.

Such protests usually fall on what seem like deaf ears, but in this case, an email that I obtained last night from the City Clerk’s office proves that, in September 2016, Mike Bonin was considering moving the hearing from the disputed date of November 8 to the presumably more acceptable dates of November 29 and 30. Read on for details.
Continue reading Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

Share