Peggy Lee Kennedy and the Venice Justice Committee advocate for the rights of homeless people on the Venice Boardwalk. The LAPD has regularly threatened Kennedy with arrest for illegal vending in violation of the ordinance regulating such activities on the Boardwalk, that is to say, LAMC §42.15. Thus in February 2016 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court on behalf of the activists. The suit survived a motion to dismiss after an August 2016 hearing in which not only did the City’s oral arguments seem pathetically pro forma but the judge, Dean Pregerson, seemed openly skeptical of the City’s position.
At their March 9, 2018 meeting the Venice Beach BID Board of Directors discussed refunding some or all of the $1.8 million collected from property owners in 2017, most of which is unspent because the BIDdies took so long to get moving. You can read the minutes here, and there’s a transcription of the salient item after the break.
It appears from the minutes that the BID only agreed to inquire of the City whether a refund was possible. However, when City Clerk Holly Wolcott responded to the BID’s inquiry in an April 18, 2018 letter, she wrote as if the refund was a done deal. And since her office controls the money, it seems that it is a done deal. Wolcott says that refunds will issue beginning in July 2018.
The California Coastal Commission was created in 1972 by the California Coastal Act and charged with implementing and enforcing that monumental law, one of the main purposes of which is to “[m]aximize public access to and along the coast and maximize public recreational opportunities in the coastal zone.”1
A major way in which the Commission exercises this power is through the issuance of coastal development permits, about which the law states:2… in addition to obtaining any other permit required by law from any local government or from any state, regional, or local agency, any person … wishing to perform or undertake any development in the coastal zone … shall obtain a coastal development permit.
The Act’s definition of “development,” found at §30106, is quite broad. It includes, e.g., “change in the density or intensity of use of land as well as “change in the intensity of use of water, or of access thereto.” It also requires at §30253(e) that new development “… protect special communities and neighborhoods that, because of their unique characteristics, are popular visitor destination points for recreational uses.”
Well, that last bit applies to Venice if it applies to any neighborhood in this state. Based on these requirements, therefore, anti-BID activists in Venice have been working out a very plausible theory that the establishment of the BID, and especially the BID’s private security force patrolling the public spaces adjacent to the beach, constitute development under the Coastal Act and that therefore they require a coastal development permit to be authorized.
And we can hope that such a permit would be unlikely to be authorized because whatever else BIDs may do, they certainly erode, attack, and destroy the unique characteristics of the neighborhoods they inhabit. This isn’t illegal in most parts of the City, but the Coastal Act preempts municipal law, so maybe BIDs are illegal in the Coastal Zone, or at least can be forced to severely limit their activities in order to obtain a coastal development permit.
And thanks to the persistence of this brave band of devoted activists, this idea gained a great deal of traction at the Coastal Commission’s meeting a couple weeks ago. Margaret Molloy gave a public comment outlining the theory and Commissioner Effie Turnbull Sanders,3 in direct response, asked Commission staff to research and report back on whether the Venice Beach BID or its activities constitute development.
This has nothing much at all to do with businesss improvement districts, but it’s Saturday night and I just felt like laying some Form 990s on you. These five beauties are from slavering psychopath Mark Ryavec’s agressively moronic Venice-based gang of subliterate meatheads, known to the mundane world as the Venice Stakeholders Association. They are available here on Archive.Org for your reading and researchical pleasure.
These items are interesting for any number of reasons. One is that they show that the VSA is not just a vision of sugar plums dancing ‘neath the fevered brow of Mark Ryavec, but that there are actual real-life other people involved:1 Michael King, Bonnie Felix, Anil Comelo, Robert Feist, Richard Myer(s).2 Had they appeared in another context I’d have been willing to bet that these names were merely selected from the myriad to be found in Ryavec’s floridly diverse collection of multiple personalities, but I don’t know many people, even the really, really, crazy ones, who have a lack of foresight sufficient to cause them to swear under penalty of perjury in a document submitted to the Federal government that the names of their imaginary friends represent real-life actual human beings.3
CORRECTION: Carl Lambert’s donation to Garcetti was in June 2015 whereas the lawsuit was filed in June 2016. I’ve struck through any claims that relied on my inadvertent misreading of the relevant document and added a few words, which are underlined. We stand by our claims about the timing of Lambert’s donations to Bonin. Thanks to Gonzo Rock for pointing this out.
First of all, see the City Ethics Commission’s donation records for Lambert. Note that on June 24, 2015 he donated $1,400 to Eric Garcetti’s reelection campaign, which is the maximum donation allowed. Does the date sound familiar? It ought to. It was exactly one week before, on June 17, 2015, that Mike Feuer filed a complaint against Lambert for running an illegal hotel. It goes to show that good old F. Scott was on to something when he wrote about zillionaires that “They are different from you and me.” I don’t think that most non-zillionaires, on finding out that the City Attorney has just filed a damning complaint against them, would turn around and give $1,400 to the Mayor.
And it’s not just like Lambert did this all the time and the timing was coincidental. First of all, he also gave Garcetti money in 2013, when he was actually running, but he only gave him $200. Secondly, Lambert has only ever given $3,500 total to Los Angeles politicians in his life.2 This one-time, week-after-the-complaint-got-filed donation of $1,400 represents 40% of Lambert’s life-time donation total. Also note that Garcetti isn’t running for election again until 2017, so it’s not like he was actively fundraising in June of 2015.
Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council heard protests against the proposed Venice Beach Business Improvement District. You can watch the whole thing here. There were impassioned public comments and a lot of heckling. Also, on Monday Laura McLennan of CD11 gave me over a hundred pages of material on the VBBID, which is worth looking at. After the public comment, Mike Bonin gave a speech about why he supported the BID, which is my topic for today. You can jump directly to Bonin’s remarks in the video and as always, you can find a transcription at the end of the post. I’m just going to address a few of Bonin’s comments in detail:
Anyway, I wasn’t able to find copies of the complaints online, and the Superior Court charges one dollar per page for PDFs, which is not within our budgetary constraints. But fortunately, the ever-helpful Mike Dundas came charging over the metaphorical hill like the metaphorical cavalry this morning and sent me copies, which I’m now making available to you:
Yesterday evening a number of emails protesting the formation of a BID in Venice were added to the Council File. These demonstrate the heartening fact that not every owner of commercial property within the boundaries of the proposed BID supports its formation. The arguments are solid, too. For instance, Kevin Ragsdale says:
At this point, the idea of a VERY small group of property owners who may be handed $1.8 million with NO oversight, even by the City, is frightening and not appropriate unless and until we know more and have some say in the process that may well drastically change the face and character of the Venice we know and love in the name of profit making and creating a private police force. The consequences of this action without careful analysis will be profound and must be discussed in a wider audience of people, who also include the majority of property owners who have to pay and those who have more at stake than a desire to clean up Venice Beach to make more money.