This is just a brief note to announce the publication of a bunch of stuff from the Gateway to LA BID out by the Airport. Its executive director, Laurie Hughes, is a pleasure to work with. She’s calm, professional, has read the law, and abides by it. She and Mr. Mike Russell of the Wilshire Center are absolutely the two best BIDdies to work with when it comes to CPRA. There are also some minutes from the SLAIT BID. But enough fuzzies, and on to the goodies!
Well, since the first of the year, I have been obsessively checking the contract search tab of the City Clerk’s Council File Management System for any sign of an agreement between the City and the Venice Beach Property Owners Association, as that criminal conspiracy between Carl Lambert and his unindicted co-conspirators Mark Sokol and Steve Heumann is known to the world, for the administration of the Venice Beach BID. The CFMS1 is an essential tool, but its built-in search engine is freaking horrible, and it seems even horribler2 when searching contracts. So the fact that no contract popped up day after day after day didn’t exactly fill me with confidence in the theory that no such contract existed.
But today, after two freaking months with no sign of it, I finally emailed the ever-helpful3 Shannon Hoppes to ask if there was a contract or not. She answered quickly and told me that there was not yet any such thing. Well, hope springs and so on. Into my head sprang joyous visions of Carl Lambert and his infernal BID-buddies Mark Sokol and Steve Heumann being so overwhelmed with the furor and pushback called into being by their infernal BID that they took their BID-ball and went home. They are being sued, their shadowy BID consultant, the Divine Ms. Tara Devine, has as shaky a grasp on the law and also on the truth and also on basic human decency as her freaking clients, and maybe the pressure was all just too much for them, mused I.
Earlier this week, not-so-shadowy BID consultant Susan Levi, who among other things serves as the Executive Director of the South Los Angeles Industrial Tract BID, sent me a copy of the SLAIT BID’s transactions by vendor from January 2013. The most interesting item, or at least the item I’m presently most interested in right now, appears on page 3, under “Edward Henning & Associates.” Edward Henning, of course, is a consulting engineer and seems to have made something of a career of preparing the engineering reports which are mandated by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 at §36622(n) for BID establishments.1 A little arithmetic reveals that the SLAIT BID paid Henning $9,000 for their 2015 renewal. This is roughly 10% of the approximately $80,000 which the consultant seems to earn. There’s no moral to this story, at least not yet. It’s merely the latest datapoint I’ve collected in my attempt to understand the finances of BID establishment and renewal.
One of the primary problems faced by anti-BID activists is that it is next to impossible to find out how to get in touch with the property owners involved in the BID. It’s politically necessary to do so because as matters stand now they are the only people who can get rid of a BID, so we have to be able to send them propaganda.1 This problem was crucial in the (ongoing) struggle against the Venice Beach BID,2 with both the City and CD11 claiming that the mailing list was not a public record. I chipped away and chipped away at this and finally, a couple months ago, Miranda Paster accepted my arguments and handed over the list.
For technical reasons, though, that victory was not applicable to BIDs in general.3 You can read the details in the above-linked-to post. So the next step is to find a way to get a mailing list for any BID. This is still ongoing, but today another one of my intermediate, more restricted, strategies was successful. It’s based on this June 15, 2015 report from Miranda Paster to Holly Wolcott.4 The crucial bit is the statement that:
On June 18, 2015, staff mailed out notice of public hearing and ballot packages for the renewal of the South Los Angeles Industrial Tract and Granada Hills Business Improvement District and notice of public meeting and public hearing for the renewal of the Los Angeles Tourism Marketing District.
Just a quick post this fine Saturday morning before heading off to Canter’s for breakfast. I’ve been quietly uploading stuff to Archive.Org over the last few weeks, and there’s gotten to be quite a bit of unannounced material over there:
I’m pleased to announce the availability of 30 months of weekly reports from Miranda Paster in her capacity as head of the Neighborhood & Business Improvement District Section of the Los Angeles City Clerk to City Clerk Holly Wolcott. These are available through this page in the menu structure or directly from here. Finally, they are available at Archive.Org. They are full of fascinating information.
I’ve written before about how everyone from the City that’s involved in the BID formation process not only denies that they actually are involved but also hushes up every possible aspect of their involvement. But once in a while the veil drops and we can see clearly what’s going on at 200 N. Spring Street with respect to the City’s pro-BID activism.
My colleagues and I spill a lot of metaphorical ink referring to business improvement districts and their Boards of Directors as white supremacists, and we certainly stand by that position. However, it’s recently come to my attention that not everyone in our audience is familiar with the literal meaning of the phrase. Evidently it strikes some people as a generic, semantically empty insult, or else they’re confused by the fact that the phrase refers to at least two fairly distinct ideologies. Thus I thought it would be useful to explain in detail why BIDs are in a very literal sense white supremacist organizations.
First let’s get the definitions straight. As always, our friends at Wikipedia give us a good starting place. Their article on white supremacy tells us that the phrase has two principal meanings. The salient one for our purposes is that white supremacy is:
…a political ideology that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical and/or industrial domination by white people
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a lawyer. But I’m friends with some lawyers. More than zero of them did not laugh out loud at the idea you’re about to read. That’s all I got.
Business improvement districts in California are made possible by the Property & Business Improvement District Law of 1994.1 It’s worth reading, or at least skimming through, because there’s gold in them thar hills! For instance, consider Section 36670(a)(1), which states:
36670.(a) Any district established or extended pursuant to the provisions of this part … may be disestablished by resolution by the city council in either of the following circumstances:
(1) If the city council finds there has been misappropriation of funds, malfeasance, or a violation of law in connection with the management of the district, it shall notice a hearing on disestablishment.
Do you see the potential in that statement? The fact that it’s a tool for laying waste the BIDs of Los Angeles like so many Philistines? It’s a little hard to understand statutes, but here’s a clue: when they say “shall” they mean “must,” not “can.” Now turn the page to find out why this little statute, if not more powerful than Doug Henning and his sparkly rainbow suspenders as pictured above, is possibly as effective a BID repellent but much, much more emotionally satisfying than mere poofsly-woofsly magical annihilation. Continue reading How to Destroy a Business Improvement District in California: A Theory→