Tag Archives: Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994

Two Interesting Protests Against BID Renewals In Hollywood — One By A Civil Engineer Attacking The Constitutional Adequacy Of Ed Henning’s Self-Plagiarized Boilerplate Engineering Report — The Other Somewhat Plausibly Accusing Kerry Morrison Of Complicity In The Payoff Of Transients To Harass Anti-BID Property Owners

You may have noticed that the Property and Business Improvement Law of 1994 makes allowance for property owners in a proposed BID to file “protests,” which must be accounted for by the City during the establishment or renewal process.1 For whatever reason, possibly the mandate that the City make a determination regarding protests received,2 these protests show up in the relevant Council File for all the world to read! And sometimes they are really interesting! Like the two recent doozies I have for your pleasant perusal today!

Setrak Kinian protest — this is against the renewing Hollywood Entertainment District BID, filed by a property owner in the old Sunset & Vine BID — the two BIDs are being unified in their current renewal — and has some essentially kooky but nevertheless fairly explanatory3 allegations against Ms. Kerry Morrison.

For instance, Kinian claims that her BID pays off homeless people to hang around the properties of BID opponents in order to encourage them to support the BID. He also makes the not-completely-implausible claim that one goal of the BID is to force smaller property owners to sell out to larger ones. The Council File for this renewal is CF 14-0855. As always, turn the page for some selected transcriptions and commentary.

Jim McQuiston protest — Against the renewing Hollywood Media District BID. McQuiston is a civil engineer and provides a really detailed4 denunciation of Ed Henning’s characteristically crapola engineer’s report. This is especially interesting to me given that one of my ongoing projects, which is to get the Board for Professional Engineers to take the preparation of engineering reports for BID formations seriously as the practice of civil engineering.5 The Council File for this renewal is CF 12-0963. Also Henning’s report is here. As always, turn the page for selected transcriptions and commentary.
Continue reading Two Interesting Protests Against BID Renewals In Hollywood — One By A Civil Engineer Attacking The Constitutional Adequacy Of Ed Henning’s Self-Plagiarized Boilerplate Engineering Report — The Other Somewhat Plausibly Accusing Kerry Morrison Of Complicity In The Payoff Of Transients To Harass Anti-BID Property Owners

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The Los Angeles Unified School District Evidently Voids All Its BID Establishment Petitions By Adding A Limiting Clause — They Seem To Add The Same Clause To Their Actual Ballots But Evidently It Does Not Void Them — It’s Not Clear What’s Going On Here But Probably Something Is

I recently received almost a thousand pages of emails between the Los Angeles City Clerk‘s office and correspondents at various BIDs. You can obtain the whole pile here on Archive.Org. Among these was this interesting little exchange between Clerk staffie Dennis Rader and notorious outlaw BID consultant Aaron Aulenta of Urban Place Consulting.

This post is dedicated to exploring the issues raised by this email. It’s unavoidably technical, so you may want to skip it. On the other hand, at least I’m not going to call anyone nasty names, which I know will please a certain perennially disgruntled audience segment. Boring or not, though, it touches on essential and little-explored issues of BIDology. The exchange began on May 7, 2018, when Aaron Aulenta emailed Dennis Rader:

I know you’re probably swamped at the moment with the ballot mail-out this week, but I had a quick lausd question. Do you know if they returned a petition for either Hollywood or Fashion without hand writing in the ‘approval conditioned upon’ phrase? In other words, did they return a petition that was officially counted?

Continue reading The Los Angeles Unified School District Evidently Voids All Its BID Establishment Petitions By Adding A Limiting Clause — They Seem To Add The Same Clause To Their Actual Ballots But Evidently It Does Not Void Them — It’s Not Clear What’s Going On Here But Probably Something Is

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In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

Regular readers of this blog are well aware that business improvement districts in California are subject to the California Public Records Act and to the Brown Act by virtue of the Property and Business Improvement District Law at §36612, which states explicitly that BIDS … shall comply with the Ralph M. Brown Act … at all times when matters within the subject matter of the district are heard, discussed, or deliberated, and with the California Public Records Act … for all records relating to activities of the district.1

Also, maybe you recall that the standard contract that BIDs sign with the City of Los Angeles contains2 a clause basically repeating this requirement. There’s a transcription of this section after the break. So in March 2016, faced with blatant disregard of the CPRA by the Downtown Center BID, I wrote to the City Clerk, Holly Wolcott, asking her to enforce the terms of the City’s contract with this obstructionist BID.

And on March 14, 2016, she wrote back to me, stating pretty clearly that she wasn’t going to make sure that BIDs complied with the Public Records Act. Again, there’s a transcription of her response after the break, but her main argument was that the City wasn’t obligated by the contract to consider whether a given BID was complying with the CPRA.

And I thought that was the end of it, but I just recently discovered that actually, it’s likely that the City took my argument much more seriously than anyone was letting on. So seriously, in fact, that in April 2016 the City Attorney completely rewrote the standard contract between BIDs and the City to eliminate all language about CPRA and the Brown Act!
Continue reading In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

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How Out Of Touch With Actual Human Reality Is The North Figueroa Association? — They Consider Street Vendors To Be Like Drug Dealers, Prostitutes, And Flashers — They Actually Explicitly Overtly Budget Money Each Year To Dispose Of Inventory Confiscated From Street Vendors — Which Is The Same Thing That The Fashion District BID Got Sued For In Federal Court In 2015 — Is The Highland Park BID Next? — Let’s Freaking Hope So!

As you may know, I recently visited the North Figueroa Association as part of my ongoing attempt to understand just what the heck the zillionaires of Los Angeles are thinking.1 Well, I didn’t figure it out this time, but my reception by the NFA was so freaking bizarro that I thought I’d better spend a little more time looking into the background of this shadowy gang of zillionaire culture warriors.

If you ever want to understand what a given business improvement district is up to, the first thing you should look at is the management district plan. This document is required by the Property and Business Improvement Law of 1994, specifically at §36622, and must contain a sufficiently detailed description of everything the BID proposes to spend money on. The easiest way to locate these is via the City Clerk’s map of L.A. BIDs. Each BID’s description contains a link to its MDP. Here’s the Highland Park BID’s MDP.

In this interesting2 document we find a list of the kinds of things that the BID means to spend its security money on: The presence of the Security Program is intended to deter such illegal activities as drug dealing, public urination, indecent exposure, trespassing, drinking in public, prostitution, illegal panhandling, illegal vending, and illegal dumping.

Now of course, sane human beings understand that street vending is not like these other things. Sure, it’s illegal,3 but nevertheless it’s part of the human fabric of Los Angeles and the laws against it are selectively enforced only at the mere whim of zillionaires. There are street vendors everywhere in this City where there aren’t BIDs and no one, not even the cops, seems to be upset. Normal people are thrilled!

It’s really hard to imagine a serious, sane, socialized human being who doesn’t understand that people selling fresh fruit or tacos cooked to order on a street corner are very different from crack dealers, creepers who expose their genitalia to children, or people who shit on the sidewalk.4 It’s quite strange that the NFA doesn’t get this. But they really, really don’t. Read on for details!
Continue reading How Out Of Touch With Actual Human Reality Is The North Figueroa Association? — They Consider Street Vendors To Be Like Drug Dealers, Prostitutes, And Flashers — They Actually Explicitly Overtly Budget Money Each Year To Dispose Of Inventory Confiscated From Street Vendors — Which Is The Same Thing That The Fashion District BID Got Sued For In Federal Court In 2015 — Is The Highland Park BID Next? — Let’s Freaking Hope So!

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City Clerk Holly Wolcott’s New-Found Willingness To Enforce BID Contracts Revealed As The City Of Los Angeles Put The Venice Beach BID On Blast For Contract Violations In March 2018 — Wolcott Threatened A Disestablishment Hearing If Missing Material Weren’t Submitted By Deadline — Tara Devine Was All Not My Fault, Everybody’s Fault But Mine — BID Analyst Rita Moreno Was All Shut It, Tara, Obviously You’re A Liar — On April 30, 2018 Tara Devine Claimed That All The City’s Demands Were Met — Maybe So, Tara, But You’re Still A Liar!

Well, friends, if you’ve been following the saga of the Venice Beach BID for what seems like forever but has only been at least in the most recent iteration about two years, you’ll know all about how BID ED Tara Freaking Devine is not only overpaid as a BID consultant but she’s a liar and a damned liar and a lawbreaker and a damned lawbreaker and it took her and her white supremacist board of directors freaking forever to get their BID up and running.

Now, this kind of behavior on the part of a BID is bad enough, but from the City’s point of view the only really bad part is that the BID started 18 months ago and they’ve been collecting money from the property owners and they’re not spending it on the activities they’re meant to spend it on. Oh yes, and BIDs are also required to submit quarterly reports to the City and, this last by the actual state law regulating BIDs, an annual planning report to the City as well.1

And you surely won’t be surprised to learn that by March 19 of this year the damn BID hadn’t done any of that stuff at all. But what is surprising is that the City of Los Angeles decided to actually enforce their contract and the law. In furtherance of this worthy goal City Clerk Holly Wolcott sent VBBID boss honcho Mark Sokol a zinger of a letter stating that the BID was out of compliance and they had better get their act together quickly or else the City was going to hold a hearing to disestablish the BID per the PBID law at §36670.

Maybe this marks the start of a new policy, where the City of LA will actually encourage or maybe even force BIDs to follow the damn law. They’ve been absolutely unwilling to do this when it comes to CPRA compliance, but more recently have shown some teeth e.g. with respect to the contractual requirement to publish newsletters. Anyway, whatever’s going on there’s a transcription of Wolcott’s letter after the break and, as an extra special bonus, some discussion of some astonishingly whiny emails by Tara Devine about the noncompliance letter.
Continue reading City Clerk Holly Wolcott’s New-Found Willingness To Enforce BID Contracts Revealed As The City Of Los Angeles Put The Venice Beach BID On Blast For Contract Violations In March 2018 — Wolcott Threatened A Disestablishment Hearing If Missing Material Weren’t Submitted By Deadline — Tara Devine Was All Not My Fault, Everybody’s Fault But Mine — BID Analyst Rita Moreno Was All Shut It, Tara, Obviously You’re A Liar — On April 30, 2018 Tara Devine Claimed That All The City’s Demands Were Met — Maybe So, Tara, But You’re Still A Liar!

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BID Consultant John Lambeth Of Civitas Advisors Is Working On Forming The Echo Park BID For The City Of Los Angeles — And The Route 66 BID For That Matter — No One’s Paying Him For Route 66 And The City Won’t Act Promptly Re Echo Park — What’s A Putatively Ethical Consultant To Do? — Refuse To Sign The Damn Contract Until The City Gets Its Act Together!

Good God, could the neverending saga of the inchoate Echo Park BID get even weirder? Since you ask, the answer, of course, is obviously yes. You may recall that very recently Councilbaby Mitch O’Farrell moved that the City give BID consultants Civitas Advisors another heaping beaucoup de bigly bucks to let them continue working on the extraordinarily multiyear process of creating the Echo Park BID.

The City memorialized this effort in Council File 10-0154-S1, created on February 27, 2018 to contain the above-mentioned motion. On April 13, 2018 the full council adopted the motion which, for reasons I won’t even think about pretending to understand, doesn’t seem to require Mayoral concurrence to take effect. So they got the money, they got the BID consultant, what’s the damn problem?

Well, this newly obtained April 17, 2018 email from head Civitas Honcho John Lambeth to Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott about the progress of the also-pending Route 66 BID1 sheds some light on problems with the BID formation process in Echo Park.2 As always, there’s a transcription and commentary after the break.3
Continue reading BID Consultant John Lambeth Of Civitas Advisors Is Working On Forming The Echo Park BID For The City Of Los Angeles — And The Route 66 BID For That Matter — No One’s Paying Him For Route 66 And The City Won’t Act Promptly Re Echo Park — What’s A Putatively Ethical Consultant To Do? — Refuse To Sign The Damn Contract Until The City Gets Its Act Together!

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At Eager Prompting Of Scofflaw Board Member, Brand New South Park BID Homeless Outreach Coordinator Angela De Los Santos Admits On Camera To Violations Of State Law Regarding Where BID Activities Can Take Place

You may recall that I regularly write about the South Park BID and the seemingly endless parade of their wanton violations of the Brown Act. It seems like every meeting brings another violation and the last meeting involved at least two distinct violations. Thus it will come as a welcome change of pace, I am sure, to learn that this post is about the South Park BID violating the law, to be sure, since that’s pretty much what they do over there, but at least it’s not about them violating the Brown Act!

The law in question here is the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994, which states at §36625(a)(6) that “[t]he revenue from the levy of assessments within a district shall not be used to provide improvements, maintenance, or activities outside the district…” And yet, at the April 26, 2018 meeting of the South Park BID, funding activities outside the BID is precisely what was discussed. But I’m getting ahead of my story!

See, what happened is that on April 9, 2018 the South Park BID hired a homeless outreach coordinator, Angela De Los Santos, who was introduced to the BID on the 26th by executive Directrix Ellen Salome Riotto. Angela De Los Santos passed out a handout (which stated that there were only 18 homeless people in the South Park BID), talked about her duties for a while, and then took questions from the Board.

One of the questions was about “the underpasses just outside the South Park BID borders,” and that’s where things got interesting! You can watch the exchange here, although parts of it are hard to hear. Turn the page for transcriptions, discussions, and some more documentary evidence.
Continue reading At Eager Prompting Of Scofflaw Board Member, Brand New South Park BID Homeless Outreach Coordinator Angela De Los Santos Admits On Camera To Violations Of State Law Regarding Where BID Activities Can Take Place

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Venice Beach BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act

Yeah, perhaps you recall that in February 2017 I sent a public records act request to the newborn Venice Beach BID and executive directrix Tara Devine has been conscientiously ignoring it ever since. And so I hired a lawyer. And the lawyer filed this petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court. And served the petition on the BID yesterday.

Of course, this is the same course of action that the Larchmont Village BID recently thrust upon me. I wish there was some way to get these BIDdies to follow the law other than by filing petitions against them but the State Legislature, in its inscrutable wisdom, has made this the only remedy. Sad but true. Stay tuned for more information and turn the page for some excerpts from the petition.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act

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Highland Park BID Accused Of Promoting Gentrification By Among Other Things Asking The City To Enforce Anti-Mural Laws And Selectively Promoting White-Serving Businesses — Board Of Directors Spy On Activists’ Facebook Comments — All Of Which Sheds Some Light On The Exceedly Underappreciated Facts That (A) Property-Based BIDs Do Not In Any Way Represent Businesses — They Represent Property Owners And Only Property Owners and (B) The City Is More Complicit In Gentrification Than Anyone Will Admit

One purpose of this post is to announce the availability of a bunch of emails from the Highland Park BID from 2017 and early 2018. The Highland Park BID is a new client1 of mine, and thus far they, in the person of their executive director Misty Iwatsu, have been exceedingly cooperative, for which I thank them very much.

There’s a lot of interesting material in there,2 and I’ll be writing about at least a few more items over the coming weeks, but most interesting of all, I think, is some material from November 2017 about antigentrification activists in Highland Park and their understanding of the BID’s role in social cleansing for the sake of financial gain.3

This story provides an excellent example of what pernicious gentrification looks like in Los Angeles, how it is covertly but significantly supported by the City government, and how property-based BIDs do not care a whit about the interests of business owners per se. They only care about the interests of the owners of commercial property who, in this City at least, are predominately white. Turn the page for all the details!
Continue reading Highland Park BID Accused Of Promoting Gentrification By Among Other Things Asking The City To Enforce Anti-Mural Laws And Selectively Promoting White-Serving Businesses — Board Of Directors Spy On Activists’ Facebook Comments — All Of Which Sheds Some Light On The Exceedly Underappreciated Facts That (A) Property-Based BIDs Do Not In Any Way Represent Businesses — They Represent Property Owners And Only Property Owners and (B) The City Is More Complicit In Gentrification Than Anyone Will Admit

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Burbank BID Violated Brown Act In 2016 By Voting To Donate $50,000 To A Political Campaign Without Having Agendized The Matter — Local Activist David Spell Calls For Disestablishment — Burbank City Attorney Forced To Address The Question Of Whether BID Assessments Are Public Funds — Answers With A Resounding “Maybe”!


So it turns out that a major scandal involving a business improvement district has been brewing up in Burbank since September 2016. The short version of the story is that a Burbank BID violated the Brown Act and may have violated State laws forbidding the use of public funds in political campaigns. A local activist, David Spell, turned them in to the LA County DA and the Fair Political Practices Commission.1

In December 2016 the Burbank City Attorney published a fascinating report on the episode,2 which may shine a great deal of light on the legal status of BID assessments as public funds. Furthermore, Spell called for the Burbank City Council to hold a disestablishment hearing as required by Streets and Highways Code §36670(a)(1).3

If this money does turn out to be public, a lot of really interesting consequences would ensue, which is another part of what makes this episode so important. As always when BIDs and the law intersect, the details are unavoidably technical, which is no doubt why the L.A. Times skips over them and also why I’m hiding them below the fold!
Continue reading Burbank BID Violated Brown Act In 2016 By Voting To Donate $50,000 To A Political Campaign Without Having Agendized The Matter — Local Activist David Spell Calls For Disestablishment — Burbank City Attorney Forced To Address The Question Of Whether BID Assessments Are Public Funds — Answers With A Resounding “Maybe”!

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