Recall that I’ve been tracking the hysterical, irrational opposition of LA’s business improvement districts to the ongoing process of legalizing (some aspects of) street vending in the City since the Spring of 2015. A truly astonishing level of bitching and moaning in 2015 stalled out the whole process for most of 2016 because, I believe, everyone was too freaking sick of the whining and the carefully orchestrated lying on any number of occasions and the City just needed a rest. Until the November election of Donald Trump and his subsequent threats to deport essentially anyone, U.S. citizen or not, who’d ever smiled while thinking of eating a taco spurred the Council into action on at least the small part (small but in no way insignificant) of the plan to decriminalize illegal street vending so that, no matter how much trouble the zillionaires might cause the heladeros, at least they wouldn’t be subject to arrest and subsequent deportation. That bit seemed urgent enough to pass Council outright, and even the anti-vending forces of the zillionaire elite seemed to realize that they were just going to be exposed as the nasty little mean creeps that they are if they fought back on this particular issue. However, the Council put off acting on an actual legalization framework until later.
But recall, as I reported in January, the instructions for the report-back were altered from the original, and quite sensible,1 request for
A process to create special vending districts to be initiated by Council, the Board of Public Works, or petition (with signatures from 20 percent of property owners or businesses in the proposed district), based on legitimate public health, safety and welfare concerns that are unique to specific neighborhoods with special circumstances.
to a request for language
Providing the City Council the ability to opt out of certain streets by Council action.
Tonight I had the pleasure of receiving from self-proclaimed active member of the revitalized Hollywood community3 Jeffrey Charles Briggs almost 200 emails between the East Hollywood Business Improvement District and various far-too-friendly folks at the City of Los Angeles. For now these are available here on Archive.Org. They’re PDFs, but they’re that super-PDF-format that one can make with genuine Adobe software that embeds attachments right in there with clickable links.4 I have only been able to give these a cursory look-over, but I can already see a few crucial items. I’ll be writing on these matters as soon as I possibly can, but if you want a preview of one of them take a look at this juicy little number.
Chapter 2 of that law describes the process for establishment and renewal of a BID,6 and it’s remarkable how tentative, how conditional the process is. It’s well-known by this point that in order for a BID to be formed it’s necessary that property owners representing more than 50% of the assessed value be in favor.7 It’s necessary, but it by no means sufficient. Section 36625(a) very clearly leaves the question of formation up to the Council:
If the city council, following the public hearing, decides to establish a proposed property and business improvement district, the city council shall adopt a resolution of formation…
The only mandatory requirement with respect to BID establishment in the whole Chapter is found in Section 36623(b), which says that if owners holding 50% or more of the assessed value are opposed to the BID, not only can it not be formed, but no further attempts can be made to form it for a year.
And the discretionary nature of the process is reflected in the City’s BID Policy and Implementation Guidelines as well. Therein it states:8
The City Council can proceed with the BID if the protest is less than 50%. However, BID proponents are cautioned that they should not expect a favorable vote from the City Council with a significant number of protests.
From the context it’s clear that the policy means that there is some threshold of protest less than 50% with respect to which the Council will not establish the proposed BID even though the Property and BID Act would allow them to do so.
After I spent some time looking into the Central Avenue Historic BID in the context of potential political goals for the post-approval Venice Beach BID, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about this newborn BID.12 The meetings are held at CD9’s district office at 4301 S. Central,13 so on a very pleasant evening last Thursday, I took the 210 out of Hollywood to MLK and Crenshaw, where I boarded the 705 to Central and Vernon from whence a couple blocks North on Central to watch the Board of Directors conduct their business.14 The meeting was scheduled to start at 5:30, but that evidently included some preliminaries, because when I got there at about 10 to 615 they hadn’t started yet.
Anyway, take a look at the agenda. You can see that they’re talking about the kind of things that one would expect BIDs to talk about from, e.g., reading the Wikipedia page on BIDs,16 like branding and marketing, cleaning the streets, having Halloween events, and so on. And watch this short clip of the meeting.17 That’s Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, the BID consultant, who also seems to be functioning as executive director, talking about some kind of partnership the BID’s working on with Hollywood Community Housing Corporation involving affordable housing at the corner of Central and Jefferson.18 And then you can watch here as BID security director Allan Muhammad introduces his employees, and then they proceed to hand out sample Halloween bags to everyone in the room. They didn’t once discuss custodial arrests, handcuffs, social engineering, mass relocations, self-aggrandizing 5150 holds, or any of the other hard-edged tactics of which the City’s older and ever so much more dangerous BIDs are so enamored. And even though I only got 15 minutes on tape of the 90 minutes I was there19 they didn’t really have anything objectionable to say even during the parts of the meeting I didn’t record. They talked about parking, they talked about their phone bills, they talked about how it was hard for the BID to patronize local businesses because they mostly only accepted cash.20
This evening I’m pleased to present the third installment in our ongoing LAMC 49.5.5(A) project, in which we report various City employees to the Ethics Commission in an attempt to discover exactly what the most fascinating ordinance ever,1LAMC 49.5.5(A), actually prohibits. It says:
City officials, agency employees, appointees awaiting confirmation by the City Council, and candidates for elected City office shall not misuse or attempt to misuse their positions or prospective positions to create or attempt to create a private advantage or disadvantage, financial or otherwise, for any person.
Well, it turns out there’s this company called AMCAL Housing, and according to their about-us page they build affordable housing in exchange for tax breaks, or some such thing. They’re building a big project at Vermont and Beverly3 called the Meridian Apartments, and they broke ground officially on February 11, 2016, with Mitch O’Farrell scheduled to speak at the ceremony.
Thus, on February 1, 2016, Paige Horn of AMCAL Housing emailed Marisol Rodriguez, Dave Cano, Juan Fregoso, all of CD13, and some people from Korean Churches for Community Development, which is working with AMCAL on this project, telling them:
Thank you all for your participation in the Meridian Groundbreaking Event on Thursday, February 11th at 11am! … There should be ample street parking, however, I have reserved VIP Parking for all speakers at the lower parking lot of Hubbard College of Administration that can be accessed from Juanita Avenue.
But local knowledge counts for a lot. The very next day, our very own Juan Fregoso emailed Victor Gutierrez (#26802) with a cc to Matthew Ziegler (#34208)4 to report:
Here is the info for the event on the 11th.
I wrote some time ago about how CD13 staffer Aram Taslagyan organized an on-demand homeless encampment clean-up at the behest of scumbag cat-kicking Koreatown slumlord Bryan Kim, who needed it done really really fast because he had some kind of inspection forthcoming. Well, yesterday,1 I managed to get copies of some new emails between Bryan Kim and various CD13 staffies on the subject.2 In particular, on March 27, 2016, Bryan Kim wrote to CD13 District Director Marisol Rodriguez3 under the subject Recognizing Aram Taslagyan, stating e.g. that4
Aram did a great job demonstrating professional excellence and swiftly took comprehensive action to utilize his alliance with other groups such as LAPD, Sherrif, groups among others. I applaud his great effort for taking care (completely clearing all homeless encampment issues.
And what are Bryan Kim’s hopes for the future?
As of 4 days later there has still been no recurrence of them revisiting on Vermont and Marathon.
We hope to continue vigilant and collective efforts as I am in contact with Braille, LACC, local and community patrons to closely monitor any future outbreak, for which I will let Aram and lapd know.
How does the City of Los Angeles decide which homeless encampments to target for cleanup? How do they decide when to target them? Well, if these two email chains from City Council District 13 about encampment-breaking on Vermont Avenue and Marathon Street in Koreatown are any indication (one and two) they target them when non-homeless people call CD13 and tell them to clean out the homeless people.1 And what do they get out of targeting them? Well, they’re politically savvy enough to turn down free lunches offered in exchange for their dirty work, but they will accept an offer of bused-in political supporters to astroturf the public comments section of a Council meeting. First let’s look at the players involved.
Bryan Kim is a partner in Koreatown based property management company Kim and Casey, which doesn’t seem to have a website.2 They do, however, have a Yelp page. This is notable for having uniformly one star reviews, which include comments like:3
They would tell me I was picky about the filth they’d promised to clean up before I moved in but never took care of it. They wouldn’t accept responsibility and blamed everyone and everything else until they were legally forced to take control of the growing sludge and cesspool that had been forming for I don’t know how many weeks .
Or, even more colorfully:
I had my sink drain burst and when I asked them to fix it they said “NO”. The reason they gave me was that I had a bathroom sink to use and I dint really need the one in my kitchen. … What kind of management company is this? Also, one day as I was looking out my window, I saw one of the three guys who were walking the property from Kim and Casey Kick my neighbors cat at he was walking down the path way. It was the middle aged guy of the three that were walking the property. I don’t know his name and don’t care to know such a scumbag.