Tag Archives: Waring Avenue

A Detailed Analysis Of The Cash Flowing In And Out Of Mitch O’Farrell’s Public Benefits Slush Fund — Developers Pay Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars For The Privilege Of Building Out-Of-Code Projects — O’Farrell Spends The Money On Projects That Please His Political Supporters — It Seems Unlikely That There’s Any Net Benefit To Anyone But Zillionaires — This Is No Way To Run A City

A developer wants to build a building that’s taller than the local zoning allows, or has less parking than required. Maybe there are pesky historical structures on the proposed site or the new building will attract enough additional traffic to gridlock the streets around it. There are any number of reasons why a given building might not be allowed. It’ll still get built, though.

The developer will just have to pay hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars to the appropriate councilmember to get it approved. And these payments are inextricably integrated into our City’s building approval process. One might even suspect, and not without reason, that the ultimate purpose of zoning codes in Los Angeles is to induce developers to pay for exceptions to them.

And it’s not bribery, at least not the illegal kind. The CM doesn’t get to pocket the money. Instead it goes into one of the dozens of City trust funds set up specifically for receiving such monies. Just for instance, Mitch O’Farrell, CD13 repster, has one called the “Council District 13 Public Benefits Trust Fund.” It’s authorized by the Los Angeles Administrative Code at §5.414 ” for the receipt, retention and disbursement of gifts, contributions and bequests for the support of police and community activities within Council District 13.”

The fees are imposed on developers by the City Council at the behest of the relevant CM. To see an example of how this works take a look at CF 07-1379, wherein some developers sought permission to build another mixed-use monstrosity in Hollywood, this one at 1540 N. Vine Street.1 The developers got what they came for, which was Ordinance Number 178,836, authorizing construction. And in there, buried among other conditions, will be found paragraphs 26 and 27, stating how much money they’re going to give to Mitch O’Farrell in exchange for their zoning changes:
Continue reading A Detailed Analysis Of The Cash Flowing In And Out Of Mitch O’Farrell’s Public Benefits Slush Fund — Developers Pay Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars For The Privilege Of Building Out-Of-Code Projects — O’Farrell Spends The Money On Projects That Please His Political Supporters — It Seems Unlikely That There’s Any Net Benefit To Anyone But Zillionaires — This Is No Way To Run A City

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Crime Does Pay At City Hall: Anti-RV Resolution Introduced In Council This Morning At Behest of Media District BID Director Lisa Schechter, Acting in Apparent Violation of Her Post-Employment Lobbying Ban

RVs on Lillian Way between Santa Monica Blvd and Melrose Avenue
RVs on Lillian Way between Santa Monica Blvd and Melrose Avenue
This morning, CD13 Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell introduced a resolution seeking to impose restrictions on parking oversized vehicles in a semi-industrialized sliver of the Hollywood Media District BID located roughly between Cole Avenue and Vine Street west to east and Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue north to south. There is a never-ending flow of these seemingly innocuous items in the agendas of our esteemed Council, but I just happen to know an awful lot about the backstory to this one, which is anything but innocuous, actually, and is the subject of today’s post.

The Media District BID is particularly attractive to people living in RVs because it’s industrialized, so no night-time neighbors to annoy, and it’s close to the center of Hollywood. Especially on Lillian Way and its cross streets, Romaine, Willoughby, and Waring, there has been a thriving but quiet community of RV-dwellers for years on end. But the Media District BID hates it. They just can’t deal with it. For instance, see this email chain from March 2015 where Hollywood cop Julie Nony discusses how to get rid of them with erstwhile Media District BID director Steven Whiddon and a bunch of overprivileged proprietors who don’t understand the concept of public space. But, probably not surprisingly, Steven Whiddon was unable to orchestrate any lasting action.

RVs on Lillian Way between Santa Monica Blvd and Melrose Avenue
RVs on Lillian Way between Santa Monica Blvd and Melrose Avenue

So enter Lisa Schechter, employed by erstwhile CD4 rep Tom LaBonge until June 30, 2015. Sometime between then and October 2015 she was hired by the Media District to replace the departed but unlamented Whiddon. Very soon after that, in fact on November 5, 2015, Schechter and current Media District Board President Laurie Goldman met with O’Farrell’s Hollywood Field Deputy, Daniel Halden. Dan was kind enough to supply me with a copy of his notes from that meeting, wherein (on the second page) one can read the portentous words: “Oversized vehicles Resolution — MAP.” There’s no question that this meeting between Halden, Goldman, and Schechter, is the genesis of the resolution introduced this morning by Mitch O’Farrell.
Continue reading Crime Does Pay At City Hall: Anti-RV Resolution Introduced In Council This Morning At Behest of Media District BID Director Lisa Schechter, Acting in Apparent Violation of Her Post-Employment Lobbying Ban

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Senior Lead Hollywood Cop Julie Nony on the Psychology of Homelessness and its Discontents: “The homeless are a lot like kids in a way” and LAPD Interactions with them “might seem strange and ugly at first.”

Julie Nony and Andrews International security boss Steve Seyler during happier times.
Julie Nony and Andrews International security boss Steve Seyler during happier times.
Those are actual quotes in the headline. They come from this email chain between bunches of people in the Media District BID, LAPD Hollywood Division Senior Lead Officer Julie Nony, and Dan Halden of CD13. Here’s more of the context, but you’ll have to read the whole thing to believe it. Chie Kobayashi, of yet another incomprehensible new media post-production outfit on Lillian Way between Santa Monica Blvd. and Melrose, wrote to Julie to complain in detail about homeless people. Julie wrote back:

We really need to get every business on the same page so this doesn’t continue to happen. It might seem strange and ugly at first but if you are new to the area and don’t know how things operate, this can get really out of hand. I will be out for the rest of the week, so I can not personally be there. Please call our front desk number if you should need to have a police unit come out (213-972-2971/2972/2973).

And of course call the B.I.D. first to see if they can handle it. The homeless are a lot like kids in a way. If we warn them and there is no follow through (like we did with the encampment) then they will test us and do what they can get away with. I would like to have a meeting with you, Vince Clothing, Red Studios, Milk, School PD, B.I.D., Vine Street Elementary and your neighbors just north of you. And whoever else you can think of. Lets [sic] all get together and share in the responsibility of keeping this area clean. Thank you!

Julie

We’re not sure where to start with this. We might note that it’s probably true that if kids get warned and there’s no follow through then they’ll test limits. But it’s not true because they’re kids, it’s true because they’re human. The instinct for testing limits is responsible for all human progress and is necessary for human survival.1 We might note that if your methods seem “strange and ugly at first…if you are new to the area” then there’s a reasonable chance that they are in fact strange and ugly. And their methods are very strange and very ugly. We’re not even new to the area and we think they’re strange and ugly. Some of us have grandparents who moved to Hollywood in 1908. Some of us have spent more than half a century in and around Hollywood. And yet we think the methods Julie’s talking about are strange and ugly.

The email reproduced above was in response to the following from Chie Kobayashi:
Continue reading Senior Lead Hollywood Cop Julie Nony on the Psychology of Homelessness and its Discontents: “The homeless are a lot like kids in a way” and LAPD Interactions with them “might seem strange and ugly at first.”

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