I reported last week that Serena Oberstein, Vice President of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, had engaged in undisclosed ex parte communications with a couple of (unregistered) lobbyists regarding a proposal to revise the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. Of course, at present, there’s no requirement for any City commissioners, except Harbor Commissioners, to disclose such communication.
However, the example of the Board of Harbor Commissioners shows that it is possible for City commissions to adopt more stringent requirements than the rest of City government is subject to. Given the role of the Ethics Commission in defending the public interest in transparency and disclosure, it seems like a natural candidate for such a policy.
I’ve been working on a letter for a few weeks now,1 and yesterday I finally finished it. You can get a copy of the PDF or read a transcription after the break. Please feel free to use any part of this to guide or inspire your own letters, which, as I said, I really hope you will send in as soon as possible.
I’m writing to urge you to postpone consideration of the proposed Venice Beach business improvement district and to think about placing a moratorium on the formation of new BIDs until we as a City can have a much-needed, long-delayed conversation about their proper role. A major problem is that as they’re now constituted, there is no way for anyone not on their Boards of Directors to have any influence over property-based BIDs in Los Angeles. They have effectively isolated themselves from every one of the City’s means of contractor oversight. People who live in or near BIDs are directly impacted by their activities in many ways but have no effective means of influencing them. Since the property owners associations that administer the BIDs are mostly controlled by self-perpetuating Boards there aren’t even effective ways for the property owners in BIDs to influence their policies. Property-based BIDs also covertly and perhaps inadvertently perpetuate racist policies from the past in unexpected ways. Continue reading Open Letter to City Council Asking For Postponement of Venice Beach BID And A Moratorium On New BID Formation→
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→
Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles — Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down!