The monumental lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the Fashion District BID for their abominable treatment of street vendors was set for trial in January. However, papers filed with the court yesterday announce that the plaintiffs have reached a settlement with the City and as soon as it’s approved, a process which can take many months for it to work its way through Committees and Council, they will drop the case against both the City and the BID. Hence they asked Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell to put the calendar on hold until the settlement is approved.
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”
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 “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve never seen the level of turnout we had for the BID nor had a BID ordinance repealed for these reasons,” she said.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.
Recall that last month Judge Otero issued a preliminary injunction forbidding the City of Los Angeles from confiscating the property of homeless people in and/or around Skid Row without following required due process. Today the City filed a motion asking Otero to clarify what he meant. They also filed a proposed order for the Judge’s signature which, I imagine, is mostly of value here as it shows what the City wishes the injunction means.
On Monday, LAFLA attorneys Shayla Myers and Fernando Gaytan filed a request with the Court asking to withdraw as counsel to plaintiff Salvador Roque. Yesterday, but only hitting PACER today, Judge James Otero issued an order granting this request. No reasons are given.