Shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine, of shadowy BID consultantcy Devine Associates, slithered up out of the depths in which she habitually dwells to make a rare public appearance before the Los Angeles City Council on August 23, 2016, pleading for the Councilmembers to give life to the stitched-up-out-of-corpse-parts monster known as the Venice Beach BID which she’s been nurturing in her subterranean lair for many months now.
A persistent issue in the lead-up to the Venice Beach BID has been the question of the City parcels included in the proposed boundaries. Since City parcels are always voted in favor of BID formation (although why this is is an open question), BID proponents are eager to gerrymander in as many as possible. This is a well-known tactic in the BID consultant playbook. Yesterday, however, after the Council’s shameful and probably illegal approval of the Venice Beach BID, CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin was quoted in Yo! Venice claiming not only that there was no gerrymandering, but that there could not have been gerrymandering:
The Venice BID boundaries were determined based on the same rules as every other BID, which excludes any residentially-zoned land (but includes commercially-zoned, industrially-zoned and government/public facilities-zoned parcels). The BID proponents decided to include all of the property that is eligible for assessment west of Abbot Kinney (which already has a Merchant’s Association that functions similarly to a BID). This is consistent with state and local law.
This statement is disingenuous at best. Sure, an engineer’s report is required, and there has to be a justification of why the boundaries are set where they’re set, but the “rules” that Bonin seems to be claiming ensure fairness only say which properties can’t be included. They don’t say anything about where the boundaries have to go. So the decision to include a strip of Venice Blvd, notably bereft of businesses of any kind, into the BID is allowed under state law and can be justified easily enough in the report since it’s not residential, but it’s hard to see any purpose for this other than to increase the City presence in the BID, which is certainly gerrymandering. 1 Finally, note that Bonin seems to be intentionally conflating the idea that the boundaries were “determined” by state law with the idea that they’re “consistent with state” law. If boundaries are determined there’s no choice. There are many choices among things that are consistent with the law. Continue reading Newly Obtained Emails Suggest that CD11 Had Significant Input Regarding Inclusion And Assessment of City Parcels In BID Despite Bonin, Staff Denials That This Is So→
On Friday, July 1, the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles signed an ordinance of intention to establish a Venice Beach BID. It seems that this isn’t final, and there will be a hearing on August 23, 2016 at 10 a.m. “to determine whether to establish the District.” Please mark it on your calendars and come put the integrity of our City Council to the test. After all, if 169 signatures below one of the most eloquent anti-BID statements I’ve ever had the good fortune to read didn’t sway them, I don’t imagine that a huge public outcry will do much. But that’s no reason for remaining silent.
You can read a description of the boundaries of the proposed BID in the ordinance, although it’s a little hard to follow even for someone who grew up out there. The District seems to be bounded roughly by the Boardwalk on the West, by North Venice Boulevard to the South, by Pacific Avenue to the East, and by Rose on the North. Now, I don’t know how much you know about the history of race relations in Venice, but it’s essential to an understanding of the deep politics of this BID1 to know that the area roughly bounded by Electric Avenue, North Venice Blvd., Lincoln Blvd, and (maybe) Brooks Avenue, known as Oakwood, was originally the only area of Venice that non-white people were allowed to own property in. Thus ownership of commercial property in the area encompassed by the proposed BID, like most such areas in Los Angeles, was restricted to white people only until sometime in the late 1960s, and then only as a matter of law. There is no question that the huge majority of that property is, even now, due to the way that commercial property is passed down in families, owned by white people. Continue reading A Dark Day in Los Angeles: Venice Beach BID Ordinance Approved by Council on Friday. Final Hearing August 23 at 10 a.m. in Council.→
Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles — Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down!