Tag Archives: Streets and Highways Code 36624

Why It’s Quite Likely That Blair Besten Broke A Number Of Laws By Lobbying The City Of Los Angeles Over Skid Row On Behalf Of The HCBID Board Of Directors In November 2016 And Arguably Even Committed A Misdemeanor

Blair Besten rocking the Pharcyde.
So a couple weeks ago I wrote about an episode in November 2016 when Blair Besten, executive directrix of the good old Historic Core BID, at the behest of her Board of Directors, lobbied the City of Los Angeles about incentives for Skid Row development which included a seemingly endless list of wet fever dreams like no taxes ever, no height limits, no required affordable housing, and so on. Well, then someone posted my post to the Facebook asking, among other things, if Blair Besten’s lobbying was even legal. The post unleashed a deluge of stranger-danger visits to our cozy and haimish little blog and the usual slew of idiotic comments by the usual slew of unselfaware idiot commentators over on the Facebook itself.

Well, Mom had a favorite saying about wrestling with a pig, and that goes doubletime for arguing with the Facebook commentariat. So we all just ignored the whole mishegoss until, as will sometimes happen, it occurred to me that one of the most ignorant offensive mansplainy clueless wrong-headed imaginary-internet-lawyerly comments of all would provide a perfect foil for a post that I had been meaning to write for a while now anyway, and that’s how we ended up right here and now, friends.

The dimwitted commenter asked1 the OP: “What specific actions of hers do you think are of questionable legality?” This is one of them Internet comments that’s supposed to make the reader say something like “Hmmm…. now that I read that incisive question I can see that I really am a foolish dupe after all and the only reason I even had an opinion is because no very smart fellow ever challenged me… OK, I retract every idea I have ever had!!

However, as it happens, there are a number of ways in which Blair Besten’s specific action of lobbying the City on behalf of her employers with respect to development conditions on Skid Row violated various laws. For better or for worse, the discussion is unavoidably technical, and you gotta turn the page if you wanna read it!
Continue reading Why It’s Quite Likely That Blair Besten Broke A Number Of Laws By Lobbying The City Of Los Angeles Over Skid Row On Behalf Of The HCBID Board Of Directors In November 2016 And Arguably Even Committed A Misdemeanor

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BIDs Benefit Immensely From Coercive Collection Of Mandatory Assessments And Complain Incessantly About Being Subject To The California Public Records Act. They Can’t Have One Without The Other, Yet Both Are Voluntary, So Why Don’t They Grow Up And Quit Whining About The Consequences Of Their Choices?

A business improvement district (BID) in Los Angeles1 is a geographical area in which the owners of commercial property are assessed an additional fee for various services that aren’t provided by the City. These fees are collected either by the City of L.A. via direct billing2 or, more usually, by the County of Los Angeles as an add-on to property tax bills.

The state law authorizing BIDs requires each BID to be administered by a property owners’ association (POA).3 In the normal course of things these organizations are conjured up by the City at the time the BID is established, although sometimes previously existing nonprofits will end up as a POA. One example of this is the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which serves as POA for the East Hollywood BID, although it predates its existence.

The law requires these POAs to be nonprofits, although it doesn’t specify what kind of nonprofit they should be. For various reasons, at least in Los Angeles, they are usually 501(c)(6) organizations. Because the City is handing over what’s essentially tax money to these POAs,4 they have a great deal of control over their activities and what they spend their money on.
Continue reading BIDs Benefit Immensely From Coercive Collection Of Mandatory Assessments And Complain Incessantly About Being Subject To The California Public Records Act. They Can’t Have One Without The Other, Yet Both Are Voluntary, So Why Don’t They Grow Up And Quit Whining About The Consequences Of Their Choices?

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Open Letter To Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster Concerning Tara Devine’s Misleading Everyone With Her Discredited “Zoning Not Use” Theory

Holly Wolcott in her bully pulpit, explaining it all to you!
Here’s a letter I sent this morning to Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster about Tara Devine misleading everyone with respect to the question of whether commercial properties were necessarily included in the Venice Beach BID. There’s a transcription after the break, as always, for the PDF averse.

This is a fairly serious matter, and actually illegal if it turns out to be the case that Tara Devine was required to register as a lobbyist last year, as I have alleged that she was. The point is that since the Clerk’s office is supposed to oversee BIDs, they ought to oversee BID consultants as well, and since both honesty and integrity are explicit criteria for qualifying as a BID consultant perhaps these two ought to look into whether Tara Devine is actually qualified. Turn the page for a transcription.
Continue reading Open Letter To Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster Concerning Tara Devine’s Misleading Everyone With Her Discredited “Zoning Not Use” Theory

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How I Reported Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine To Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer For Knowingly And Fraudently Deceiving Mike Bonin With Regard To A Material Fact Pertinent To The Establishment Of The Star-Crossed Venice Beach BID

“I’ll be damned if I’m ever going to say, ‘It’s not my job,’” Feuer told the Times editorial board. We like that attitude. All L.A. residents should.
If you want to skip the explaining and go straight to the complaint, here it is.

Friends, take a look at the exceedingly fascinating LAMC § 48.04(B). This lovely little slab of ethicalliciousness illegalizes any occasion when a lobbyist might:

Fraudulently deceive or attempt to deceive any City official with regard to any material fact pertinent to any pending or proposed municipal legislation.

And of course, you recall what a lobbyist is, it’s a technical term in this setting.1 Lobbyists are defined in LAMC §48.02 to be:

any individual who is compensated to spend 30 or more hours in any consecutive three-month period engaged in lobbying activities which include at least one direct communication with a City official or employee, conducted either personally or through agents, for the purpose of attempting to influence municipal legislation on behalf of any person.

Well, as you may recall, I spent the last two months assembling a highly detailed argument that Tara Devine met this definition. If that’s right, and I certainly think that it is, she’s also forbidden from fraudulently deceiving Mike Bonin, e.g., about material facts in regard to the formation of the Venice Beach BID which, as I’m sure you know, requires legislation for the BID to be brought into existence.

The argument is that she got everyone to believe that it was required under state law to include commercially zoned properties in the BID, even though not only is this not true, not only did she know it was not true, but her having convinced everyone of this led to more properties being in the BID, which increased the amount of money under the control of her clients, the Venice Beach Property Owners Association. If you’re still interested enough to follow me into the weeds, turn the page!
Continue reading How I Reported Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine To Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer For Knowingly And Fraudently Deceiving Mike Bonin With Regard To A Material Fact Pertinent To The Establishment Of The Star-Crossed Venice Beach BID

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New Documents: StreetPlus Proposal And Contract With SLAIT BID For Security Services, 2016 Emails Between Lisa Schechter And Kerry Morrison/Devin Strecker

StreetPlus seems to be taking over the BID security business from Universal Protection Service at a fairly rapid rate, so it’s beginning to seem worthwhile to collect records about them.
Today I have two new sets of documents to announce. First, the South Los Angeles Industrial District BID recently dropped Universal Protection Service1 as its security provider and hired StreetPlus to replace them. This seems to be a trend amongst our LA BIDs, probably encouraged by the fact that unlike UPS and Andrews International, StreetPlus specializes in BID security rather than security in general.

Other recent switchovers are the Downtown Center BID, the Historic Core BID, and both South Park I and II. Also the HPOA switched its cleaning contract to StreetPlus last year. This company is turning out to be a crucial player in the LA BID game, so I’ll be focusing some attention on them from now on. The first fruits of this are the 2016 proposal and resulting contract between StreetPlus and the SLAIT BID. There are some ancillary materials included there as well. This material is not only intrinsically interesting, but it has a lot to tell us about security in other BIDs. There’s some discussion and some more links after the break.

Also, I have 29 emails between Lisa Schechter of the Hollywood Media District BID and Kerry Morrison/Devin Strecker of the HPOA. These are mostly negatively interesting for their extreme lack of content. I’m guessing this is due to them switching as much of their communication as possible to phone calls and other off-the-record media. This, in turn, demonstrates, I’m still guessing, the feeling that my constant CPRA requests have engendered amongst local BIDs that they are operating in a minefield.

Well, good. They are. And the fact that they laid these mines themselves with their arrogance, disrespect for the law, and generalized idiocy, but still for some reason manage to act surprised at the negative consequences of stepping on the mines speaks volumes of their assumptions of privilege and delusions of immunity. There are, however, a few positively interesting items, and there are links and discussion after the break.
Continue reading New Documents: StreetPlus Proposal And Contract With SLAIT BID For Security Services, 2016 Emails Between Lisa Schechter And Kerry Morrison/Devin Strecker

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Is Mike Bonin A Liar Or A Fool? Which Is Holly Wolcott? Tara Devine? They’ve Acted As If There Was No Effective Way To Remove Residential Properties From The Venice Beach BID Without Rezoning When They Must Or Should Have Known That State Law Explicitly Empowers City Council To Do So Unilaterally

Did Mike Bonin lie about his ability to remove properties from the Venice Beach BID? Or did he just not care enough to read the law governing BID formation? Or both?
One of the most contentious issues in the very, very contentious formation of a business improvement district in Venice has been the existence of properties with commercial zoning that are used solely for residential purposes that were included in the BID and therefore assessed. This is the basis of a recently filed lawsuit against the City as well as a significant number of other protests against the BID.

For instance, in May 2016, Venice homeowner1 Louis Traeger wrote to the City protesting the inclusion of his home in the BID. On June 1, 2016 Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott answered him, stating:

In address of your request to remove said property from the proposed Business Improvement District, the City Clerk does not have the authority to remove or add properties in a Business Improvement District. However, we will forward your request and this information to the Engineer conducting the survey and analysis for the creation of the Venice Beach Business Improvement District.

Further, you requested notice of any hearing concerning the approval of the Venice Beach Business Improvement District in order to submit your written opposition. If your property is ultimately included within the Business Improvement District boundaries, a notice of the City Council hearing date will be mailed to you. At the hearing, an opportunity will be provided to protest the establishment.

Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott whispering secrets to Councildude Mitch Englander on November 8, 2016. She tells the truth, and nothing but the truth, but no how, no way, are you telling the whole truth, Ms. Holly.

As far as I can tell2 what Holly Wolcott says is the truth and it’s nothing but the truth, but it is in absolutely no way at all the whole truth. Her statement that “the City Clerk does not have the authority to remove or add properties in a Business Improvement District” is true. When she follows it up with a statement that she will “forward your request and this information to the Engineer conducting the survey and analysis” she is certainly creating the impression that ONLY the engineer is empowered to remove properties. This is not true. It’s really badly not true, as I will demonstrate below.

On July 27, 2016 Holly Wolcott wrote to Venice homeowners William and Laura Kuel making essentially the same argument, but with this additional twist:3
Continue reading Is Mike Bonin A Liar Or A Fool? Which Is Holly Wolcott? Tara Devine? They’ve Acted As If There Was No Effective Way To Remove Residential Properties From The Venice Beach BID Without Rezoning When They Must Or Should Have Known That State Law Explicitly Empowers City Council To Do So Unilaterally

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