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.2 This problem was crucial in the (ongoing) struggle against the Venice Beach BID,3 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.4 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.5 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.
If you follow BIDs in Los Angeles you will know that the process for creating a new one is so fraught with weirdo technicalities that when a Councilmember wants to form one in their district, not only do they have to get together a bullshit astroturf front group made up of major campaign contributors, but they also have to hire a consultant to guide the BAFG through the labyrinth. Of course, this is anything but an adversarial process, and success is pre-ordained. However, if the requirements imposed by the State of California are not adhered to somewhat scrupulously, the new BID will be vulnerable to challenges by non-mainstream anti-BID malcontents.1 Thus the City has an interest in making sure that these consultants are competent.2
Here are eleven pages of emails from 2014 released to me yesterday by Miranda Paster of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office.1 These provide a unique2 window into the process by which BIDs are created in the City of Los Angeles. It’s clear from these emails that, despite the fact that everyone in the City government denies it, the BID formation process is encouraged, facilitated, and inextricably interwoven with City action at every stage. Of course, this confirms precisely what the California Court of Appeal found in its landmark decision in Epstein v. HPOA: that “by giving the BID the legal breath of life, the City breathe[s] life into the POA as well.”3