Tag Archives: Streets and Highways Code 36622

The City Of Los Angeles Shells Out More Than $2.2M Per Year To Business Improvement Districts — Add In Other Local Public Money — Like LAUSD — And Metro — And LA County — The Total Is More Than $3.7M Per Year To The BIDdies — Not Sure How Many People That Could Put In How Many Hotel Rooms For How Many Nights — But It’s A Lot — Not Sure How Many City Employee Furloughs That Money Could Prevent — But It’s A Lot More Than Zero Of Them — Remember That When They Tell You They Can’t Afford Something — They’re Choosing Not To Afford It

Spend some time hanging around business improvement districts and you’ll certainly hear a bunch of entitled zillionaires whining, bragging, or lying about how they voluntarily agree to spend their own damn money to provide services that the City of Los Angeles is too incompetent, too broke, or too both of these to provide. They just love explaining this to everyone. And the City of Los Angeles is also thrilled with that narrative. This City-produced BID FAQ explains it quite clearly:

[A] majority of business owners of commercial property owners in a given area decide to acquire special benefits and to pay for those benefits themselves.

The story serves everyone’s interests. The BIDdies get to imagine themselves as heroes of putative private sector efficiency and the City gets a bunch of useful idiots to carry out policies that would be incredibly illegal if the City did them directly. Everybody wins but the citizens of Los Angeles. The part you don’t hear too much about, though, the part that none of them really like to discuss, is that when property owned by the City or by other public agencies is included in a BID then the City or the other public agency is also subject to these assessments.

This is specifically authorized by the Property and Business Improvement District Law under which BIDs are established in California.1 This means that when the City Council approves a business improvement district it’s often also approving an ongoing annual payment to the BIDdies. Which, by the way, can be substantial. Over the last few days I looked at various public records involved in BID formation in LA and learned that the City of Los Angeles is on the hook for annual payments to BIDs of at least $2,278,604.2

If LAUSD, Metro, and the County are included the total is $3,710,281 and property owned by the State of California brings the total amount of public money paid annually to LA BIDs to $4,203,276.3 These days, with the City of Los Angeles furloughing employees and moaning about the price of hotel rooms to protect unhoused residents from the ongoing pandemic, there are much, much better uses that that money could be put to.4
Continue reading The City Of Los Angeles Shells Out More Than $2.2M Per Year To Business Improvement Districts — Add In Other Local Public Money — Like LAUSD — And Metro — And LA County — The Total Is More Than $3.7M Per Year To The BIDdies — Not Sure How Many People That Could Put In How Many Hotel Rooms For How Many Nights — But It’s A Lot — Not Sure How Many City Employee Furloughs That Money Could Prevent — But It’s A Lot More Than Zero Of Them — Remember That When They Tell You They Can’t Afford Something — They’re Choosing Not To Afford It

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The West Adams BID Formation Process Has Officially Begun — The Council File Is Opened — And The Draft Ordinance Of Intention Is Published — Largely Promoted By Supervillain Developers CIM Group — The Petitions Are In And Property Owners Holding 50.4% Of The Assessed Value Approve — The Management District Plan Proves That The BID’s Main Purpose Is To Support The Ongoing Tornado-Force Gentrification Of This Vulnerable Neighborhood — Almost Certainly This BID Can’t Be Stopped And Will Start Its Wicked Work On January 1, 2021

A business improvement district that has been in the works in rapidly gentrifying West Adams at least since the Summer of 2018 is finally moving forward and is very likely to be created by the City later this year and begin operations on January 1, 2021. The formation effort is largely backed by supervillainesque developer CIM group, which owns a huge plurality of the commercial property in the proposed district, slated to run along Adams from La Brea to Hauser.1 The formation materials are currently contained in Council File 20-0020.

Recall that a BID is a geographical area within which commercial property owners2 pay extra taxes3 to fund various services. The formal BID creation process begins with a group of property owners4 petitioning the City to allow a BID to be formed. It’s required by the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994, which is the authority under which BIDs are created and administered in California, that these petitions represent property owners “who will pay more than 50 percent of the assessments proposed to be levied”5

According to the report placed in the Council File by the City Clerk they received petitions representing $106,034.65 out of a total assessed value in the proposed district of $210,388.90, which is 50.4%. The report doesn’t say how many distinct owners signed petitions nor who they were, but I’m working on finding out. The next stage in the formal process is for City Council to pass a so-called Ordinance of Intention, the draft of which is available here.

Once this is passed the City Clerk will mail out ballots to all the property owners and if enough of them, again weighted by assessment amounts, vote in favor of the BID City Council will pass another ordinance creating the BID. Before this can happen the owners have to know what services their extra taxes are going to fund, which is laid out in great detail in the so-called Management District Plan.6 When a BID is created this document7 is incorporated into the law establishing it and then they can’t spend money for anything not enumerated in the plan. The proposed West Adams BID’s MDP is here.

The West Adams BID’s proposed activities are limited in the MDP to “Sidewalk Operations, District Identity and Placemaking, and Administration Services.” The MDP makes it very clear that the BID is being formed to support gentrification, though, stating that its “services would be needed to accommodate hundreds of new apartments and businesses opening in 2019 and 2020, and these services would be needed by the beginning of 2021.” The surprise omission here is funding for security guards. During the pre-formation process CIM Group’s support-building outreach focused to a great extent on property owners’ perceptions of safety in the area.
Continue reading The West Adams BID Formation Process Has Officially Begun — The Council File Is Opened — And The Draft Ordinance Of Intention Is Published — Largely Promoted By Supervillain Developers CIM Group — The Petitions Are In And Property Owners Holding 50.4% Of The Assessed Value Approve — The Management District Plan Proves That The BID’s Main Purpose Is To Support The Ongoing Tornado-Force Gentrification Of This Vulnerable Neighborhood — Almost Certainly This BID Can’t Be Stopped And Will Start Its Wicked Work On January 1, 2021

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How I Reported BID Engineer Ed Henning To The California Board For Professional Engineers For Incompetence, Negligence, Self-Plagiarism, And All-Round Not Doing His Damn Job

Here’s a quick summary of the background. BID formations are required by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 to be supported by a report prepared by a licensed engineer.1 Engineer Ed Henning wrote the report for the ill-born Venice Beach BID.2 The California Board for Professional Engineers regulates the engineering profession and can investigate allegations of incompetence or negligence. Ed Henning wrote the engineer’s report for the Venice Beach BID and did an awful, negligent, incompetent job of it.

A complaint was made against Henning but was rejected by the Board without being read because they claimed that writing BID reports didn’t constitute the practice of engineering. After a great deal of discussion with BPELSG executive officer Ric Moore, he agreed that in the future his office would not dismiss such complaints unread.

Well, given this assurance it seemed worthwhile to me to spend time writing another complaint against Henning, whose work is universally acknowledged to be ultra-shabby,3 And that’s just what I did! You can grab a copy of the whole thing right here on Archive.Org, and turn the page for selections and little bit of discussion!
Continue reading How I Reported BID Engineer Ed Henning To The California Board For Professional Engineers For Incompetence, Negligence, Self-Plagiarism, And All-Round Not Doing His Damn Job

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Rita Moreno Thinks The “Boundaries Of A BID Must Be Contiguous” — Misty Iwatsu Agrees!! — No! Wait! Rita Moreno Thinks “There’s No Legal Requirement That The Boundaries Be Contiguous”! — Whichever It Is, We Think That Rita Moreno (A) Is Practicing Law Without A License And Ought To Stop It Right Now Cause It’s Illegal And She’s Confusing Everybody And (B) Does Not Know What The Word “Contiguous” Means

OK, I’m sorry, this post is on kind of a technical subject, but I think it’s important and also it reveals a kind of weird off-handed incompetence amongst the City Clerk’s BID analyst staff that I think is worth memorializing. The central issue is whether the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994 requires a BID to be in one piece. I’m going to use the technical term “connected” here.1

It’s not just an idle question, either. You may recall that the proposed Hollywood Route 66 BID runs up Santa Monica Blvd. from Vine Street to Hoover Street. The problem is that Vermont Avenue crosses Santa Monica right in the middle of that stretch, and every building that touches Vermont is already included in the East Hollywood BID.

Regardless of what the PBID law has to say about connectedness of BIDs, it’s very, very clear on the fact that BIDs can’t overlap.2 Hence commercial buildings on both Santa Monica and Vermont must be excluded from the Hollywood Route 66 BID, which leaves its territory disconnected. Plausibly, also, the EHBID could cede those buildings to the Route 66 BID, but, interestingly, doing so would leave the EHBID disconnected, so nothing would be gained. Here’s a copy of the map if it’ll be useful.

Thus a correct understanding of what the law allows is essential for the formation of at least that BID, and probably others in the future. And I’m not a lawyer, but I read the whole damn PBID law about a zillion times and the connectivity of a BID is not mentioned in there at all. It’s my not-a-lawyer understanding that if a law doesn’t explicitly forbid something then that something is allowed.

But the famous Rita Moreno of the City Clerk’s Neighborhood and Business Improvement District division didn’t agree with me in 2017! Then she did agree with me in 2018! And Misty Iwatsu spent some time in 2016 babbling on about the matter and thought 2017 Rita Moreno was right! And Rita Moreno didn’t just think, she advised! And it strikes me that her advice looked an awful lot like practicing law without a license, which is illegal in California!3

And of course you want to see details! And primary sources! Turn the page and there they are!!
Continue reading Rita Moreno Thinks The “Boundaries Of A BID Must Be Contiguous” — Misty Iwatsu Agrees!! — No! Wait! Rita Moreno Thinks “There’s No Legal Requirement That The Boundaries Be Contiguous”! — Whichever It Is, We Think That Rita Moreno (A) Is Practicing Law Without A License And Ought To Stop It Right Now Cause It’s Illegal And She’s Confusing Everybody And (B) Does Not Know What The Word “Contiguous” Means

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Two Very Interesting Records For Release — The Contract Between The City Of Los Angeles And Civitas Advisors For Establishment Of The Hollywood Route 66 BID — Shedding Light On Intersection Between BID Consulting And Lobbying — Also On Exactly What Role The Engineer Plays In Establishment Process — And February 2018 Feasibility Report Produced By Civitas

There seem to be two distinct ways that BIDs get started in Los Angeles. One is that a bunch of property owners want to start one, they talk to their council rep or the City Clerk, hire a consultant, and go through the process we’ve all come to know and love. But it seems that sometimes the City takes the initiative, they hire their own consultant, and as part of their duties, the consultant puts together a proponent group.

That seems to be what’s going on with the infamous Echo Park BID, and it’s also the way that the Hollywood Route 66 BID is being formed.1 Both of these establishments are being handled by OG2 BID consultancy Civitas Advisors. And as you may recall, a good citizen of Los Angeles recently supplied me with a massive set of emails between Civitas and the City Clerk‘s office.3

And buried amongst the interminable babbling about God-knows-what-all4 I uncovered a couple of really interesting gems. First, there is the contract between the City and Civitas for establishing the Hollywood Route 66 BID, and second there is a feasibility study for the BID prepared by Civitas in February 2018.5 Both of them have a lot to tell us about how BIDs get started and function in Los Angeles! Turn the page for excerpts and discussion.
Continue reading Two Very Interesting Records For Release — The Contract Between The City Of Los Angeles And Civitas Advisors For Establishment Of The Hollywood Route 66 BID — Shedding Light On Intersection Between BID Consulting And Lobbying — Also On Exactly What Role The Engineer Plays In Establishment Process — And February 2018 Feasibility Report Produced By Civitas

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At Last Tuesday’s North Figueroa Association Meeting Jesse Rosas Wanted To Talk About Small Businesses Being Gentrified Out Of Existence In Highland Park — NFA Board Führer Tom Wilson And Bill Cody, The World’s Oldest Field Deputy, Kept Trying To Get Him To Shut Up — Probably Because They Didn’t Want To Talk About It On Camera — And Gil Cedillo Has Hired An Urban Planning Firm To Help Relocate Businesses Out Of Highland Park

If you’re following the situation in Highland Park these days you’ll know that one big issue is with commercial landlords jacking up their tenants’ rents by as much as 300% in some cases just because they can. This drives out familiar businesses to make room for even more hot yoga studios or whatever. And of course, this kind of thing doesn’t just happen by itself. There are actually people making a living arranging it.

And it’s well known that business improvement districts represent the interests of commercial property owners, like these rent-jacking landlords.1 So it wouldn’t be big news that BIDs were in on these conspiracies as well. And thus it was no surprise to discover, when I visited the North Figueroa Association last week, to discover that the plight of the small businesses along Figueroa was a hot topic of discussion.

Well, let me qualify that. It was a hot topic of discussion for Jesse Rosas, a local businessman,2 but, probably because they were hyper-aware of my camera,3 BID boss Tom Wilson and Bill Freaking Cody, the world’s oldest field deputy, kept interrupting him and trying to shush him up. They eventually did get him to stop talking, but not before he managed to mention the words they all dread so very much, to wit: commercial rent control.4

Oh, and not before BIDdenführer Tom Wilson made one of the most ludicrously false statements to which, over the long and illustrious course of my entire BIDdological career, I have been privileged to serve as witness: “we’re here to talk about security and trash.” The only sane response to that is “Yeah, right, Tom Freaking Wilson!!” Watch the conversation for yourself and there’s a transcription and discussion of a few details after the break.
Continue reading At Last Tuesday’s North Figueroa Association Meeting Jesse Rosas Wanted To Talk About Small Businesses Being Gentrified Out Of Existence In Highland Park — NFA Board Führer Tom Wilson And Bill Cody, The World’s Oldest Field Deputy, Kept Trying To Get Him To Shut Up — Probably Because They Didn’t Want To Talk About It On Camera — And Gil Cedillo Has Hired An Urban Planning Firm To Help Relocate Businesses Out Of Highland Park

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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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The California Board For Professional Engineers Not Only Continues To Refuse To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Involved In BID Formation Even Though They Have No Written Policy To That Effect But Now, After An Initial Show Of Considering Reasonable Counterarguments To Their Unwritten Policy, Have Been Reduced To Intransigent Stalling And Clueless Unprofessional Mockery

Before a business improvement district can be formed, the Property and Business Improvement District law at §36622(b) requires that a licensed engineer prepare a report supporting the assessment methodology. At least in Los Angeles these reports are pro forma copy/paste monstrosities that are completely unrelated to any actual facts. Now, engineering in California is regulated by the Board for Professional Engineers, and one of their duties is to investigate complaints about unprofessional conduct.

So last year, after the utterly despicably disheartening process of approving the Venice Beach BID came to its tragic end, a resident, fed up with the nonsense promulgated by civil engineer Ed Henning in his report,1 filed a complaint against him with the Board. Amazingly, his complaint was closed unread because, as he was told in a letter by Jackie Lowe, the enforcement analyst who wrote to him, the Board does not consider the preparation of engineer’s reports for business improvement districts to constitute the practice of engineering.

They claim that it’s not within their jurisdiction and, in her letter announcing the close of the investigation, Jackie Lowe told the complainant that “Historically, our Board has deemed these “tax assessment” reports not civil engineering work.” This struck me as being reflective of a Board policy, which was so unexpected that after learning of it I sent a CPRA request to the Board asking for records related to this policy decision.2 After all, if there’s a policy, it ought to be written down so that it can be analyzed and, if appropriate, disputed.

After they ignored me for a long time, their enforcement manager Tiffany Criswell answered and propounded the usual line of nonsense about why they weren’t going to fulfill my request.3 Furthermore, she informed me that there was no written policy stating that the preparation of these engineering reports didn’t constitute the practice of engineering.

Basically she claimed that the Professional Engineers Act, which is the establishing law for the Board, forbade them from investigating anything which wasn’t explicitly defined in the law as the practice of engineering. She seemed to claim that creating a policy was forbidden. That they had to work only from the language of the law.4 I argued that it was pretty clear from the language of the Act that preparing engineer’s reports for BIDs constituted the practice of engineering as described in the Act. Strangely, she seemed to actually listen to my argument. She told me that she would look into it and get back to me.

And listen, when disputing anything at all with a government agency at any level, this counts as a win. So I waited. Heard nothing. Asked what’s up. She said later. Waited. Asked what’s up. She ignored me. Waited. Asked what’s up and CC-ed her boss, the inimitable Mr. Ric Moore. He flipped out and wrote me a weirdly sarcastic email full of malcriado scare quotes and other instances of bitterly bureaucratic sarcasm.

This email convinced me that, even though every aspect of the process remains unresolved, it’s time to publicize matters. Hence this post. The discussion is unavoidably technical, which is why the details are after the break, along with links to and transcriptions of most of the emails involved. As I said in the footnotes already, though, all the emails are available here on Archive.Org.
Continue reading The California Board For Professional Engineers Not Only Continues To Refuse To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Involved In BID Formation Even Though They Have No Written Policy To That Effect But Now, After An Initial Show Of Considering Reasonable Counterarguments To Their Unwritten Policy, Have Been Reduced To Intransigent Stalling And Clueless Unprofessional Mockery

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The California Board For Professional Engineers Explicitly, Openly, Refuses To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Who Produce Crack-Headed Nonsensical Reports For BID Formation , With Venice Beach Being A Prime Recent Example, Even Though The Legislature Clearly Intended Some Oversight — This Is An Overt Abrogation Of Their Duty But At Least It Explains The Submoronic Lobotomized Quality Of The Damn Reports

NOTE: This post turned out to be a lot more complex than I’d originally planned, so here’s a TL;DR:

  1. New BIDs are required to submit a report written by a state-certified engineer explaining why their boundaries and assessments make sense.
  2. Ed Henning, the engineer for the Venice Beach BID, submitted this totally nonsensical report.
  3. One of the same Venice residents who is suing the BID filed a complaint against Henning with the California Board for Professional Engineers alleging that Henning made up a bunch of stuff and otherwise acted incompetently in the report’s preparation.
  4. The Board rejected this complaint with this letter, claiming that they do not consider the preparation of BID reports to be within their jurisdiction. There’s a transcription of this PDF at the very end of this post.
  5. This is yet another example of how no one in the government, state or local, is willing to regulate BIDs at all or hold them accountable for anything.

My recent post on the East Hollywood BID in relation to one of the purposes of the Management District Plan for BID operations, focusing in part on some of the esoteric technicalities of the Property and Business Improvement District Act as it did, reminded me of another topic touching on PBID technicalities I’ve been meaning to write on for a few months now but have not yet, until today, gotten around to dealing with.

One of the required elements of the process of forming a property based BID, imposed by the PBID Law at §36622(n), is:

… a detailed engineer’s report prepared by a registered professional engineer certified by the State of California supporting all assessments contemplated by the management district plan.

This subsection actually incorporates a requirement imposed on all special assessment districts1 by the California Constitution at Article XIIID(4)(b), which imposes the same requirement in slightly more general language, having as it does to apply to any kind of special assessment:

All assessments shall be supported by a detailed engineer’s report prepared by a registered professional engineer certified by the State of California.

Now, these engineers’ reports which go along with BID formation are particularly interesting documents. First they’re interesting because they’re so mind-numbingly boring. My feeling is that if people write stuff this tedious and impossible to read they’re almost certainly hiding something, which is already of intrinsic interest. Second, they’re interesting because of the sheer unexpected variety of the nonsensical bullshit straight-facedly included in them, about which I’ll have more to say at a later date.
Continue reading The California Board For Professional Engineers Explicitly, Openly, Refuses To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Who Produce Crack-Headed Nonsensical Reports For BID Formation , With Venice Beach Being A Prime Recent Example, Even Though The Legislature Clearly Intended Some Oversight — This Is An Overt Abrogation Of Their Duty But At Least It Explains The Submoronic Lobotomized Quality Of The Damn Reports

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East Hollywood BID Poised To Advocate For Cop-Sponsored Delusional Anti-Prop-47 Pro-Death-Penalty Propaganda Presentation At January 16 Board Meeting, Thereby Just About Stretching Their State-Law-Mandated Local-Activities-Only Restriction To The Freaking Limit And Beyond

One of the most neglected aspects of the Property and Business Improvement District Act, the fons et origo of the state’s grant of authority to establish, regulate, and control BIDs, is a limitation found in §36625(a)(6), which states:

The revenue from the levy of assessments within a district shall not be used to provide improvements, maintenance, or activities outside the district or for any purpose other than the purposes specified in the resolution of intention, as modified by the city council at the hearing concerning establishment of the district.

This places two essential limitations on how BIDs are allowed to spend the money they collect from property owners.1 First, BIDs must only spend their money on stuff inside their districts, and second they must only spend it on activities specified in the resolution of intention to form the district. In the City of Los Angeles, at least, these activities are specified by incorporating the BID’s management district plan, which is filed with the City Council at some point prior to the BID’s formation, into the ordinance of intention.2

Now, if you follow this blog even half-heartedly, you’re well aware that this statute is completely flouted by BIDs in the City of Los Angeles. For instance, Blair Besten’s lobbying over Skid Row, which isn’t part of the Historic Core BID at all, not to mention Hurricane Kerry Morrison’s indefatigable lobbying everyone in the whole freaking universe over reforms to the Public Records Act.

And of course, all of them, every last delusional white supremacist BID in the whole freaking City of Los Angeles lobbying3 against Proposition 47, a particularly half-witted example of which can be found here. Which brings us to today’s subject, which is that squarmy little love child of Jeff Zarrinnam and David Miscavige known to the world as the East Hollywood BID.

It seems that at their upcoming meeting,4 at least according to the agenda, they’re poised to discuss the following item:

Presentation on the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018…………….Michael Ziegler, Public Safety Consultant, Assemblymember Jim Cooper

And turn the page for details and discussion!
Continue reading East Hollywood BID Poised To Advocate For Cop-Sponsored Delusional Anti-Prop-47 Pro-Death-Penalty Propaganda Presentation At January 16 Board Meeting, Thereby Just About Stretching Their State-Law-Mandated Local-Activities-Only Restriction To The Freaking Limit And Beyond

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