It’s well known that the City of Los Angeles actively supports gentrification and thereby transfers an appalling amount of wealth to real estate developers. But it might not be as well known that a lot of people who aren’t developers, many of them not even in the real estate business, also with the active support of the City, make a lot of money from gentrification. E.g. the official police garages or the vast array of PR consultants who function as the set dressers of gentrification by “repositioning” so-called “up and coming neighborhoods” to make them cozy and attractive to the new residents.
And very recently I learned about a new aspect of this process related to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program. The City uses its municipal power to bring such suits to directly support the gentrification of specific neighborhoods. For instance see the (apparently) ongoing prosecution of a nuisance case against Nipsey Hussle’s property at Crenshaw and Slauson As with the police garages and the neighborhood branding consultants, here too there are nondevelopers, in this case property management companies and private security patrols, making good money from gentrification with the open assistance of the City of Los Angeles.
Continue reading Developers Aren’t The Only Ones Making Money From Gentrification In Los Angeles — There Is A Whole Gentrification Service Sector Also Cashing In — In Both Cases With The Active Support Of The City Of Los Angeles — For Instance Before The City Attorney Files A Nuisance Abatement Petition They Meet With The Property Owner — And Make Demands Of Them — Like That They Hire A Property Management Company — And/Or A Private Security Patrol — But They Have A Very Short List Of Approved Companies To Use — Which They Claim Not To Endorse — But In The Coercive Context Of Such Meetings This Means Nothing At All
But first some background! In June 2020 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority supervisor Kristy Lovich sent an email to all LAHSA employees calling for the agency to stop working with police during homeless encampment sweeps and seeking signatures on a petition. She was screamed at by her bosses over this and they ended up firing her over it in July. I recently obtained a copy of a June disciplinary report filed against Lovich by Victor Hinderliter, her supervisor.
I also obtained a formal memo from Hinderliter to LAHSA Director Heidi Marston from July recommending that Lovich be fired. There’s also a strangely formatted email conversation from June between Lovich and Hinderliter in which she responds to the accusations he would later include in both reports, in part by listing examples of HInderliter supporting her in precisely the kinds of activities he used to advocate that she be fired.
Hinderliter apparently even knew about Lovich’s all-staff email in advance and failed to advise her not to send it, a fact which did not deter him from later listing it as a reason for firing her. One of the most surprising aspects of this fiasco is the extent to which Lovich’s superiors at LAHSA and also random staffers in the Mayor’s office monitored her social media usage, which Hinderliter quoted from extensively in his recommendation. Read on for a transcription of the July memo:
Continue reading On July 13, 2020 Victor Hinderliter of LAHSA Wrote A Formal Memo To Director Heidi Marston Recommending That Kristy Lovich Be Fired — Here Is A Copy Of The Memo — Hinderliter Had Disciplined Lovich In June — And Here’s A Copy Of That Disciplinary Action Report — And Lovich’s Response To It — Which Reveals That Hinderliter Knew In Advance About Her Fateful All-Staff Email — The One She Was Fired For Sending — And Yet Did Not Advise Her Not To Send It — Hinderliter And Staff From The Mayor’s Office Monitored Lovich’s Social Media Usage — And Cited Posts In The Firing Recommendation — Including The Accusation That She Tweeted About A Post On This Blog!
If you follow business improvement districts in Los Angeles you’ll already know that the Chinatown BID, run by the strange, violent, and unhinged George Yu, is one of the City’s worst. The BID is up for renewal this year, and the hearing is to be held on September 29, 2020. Such hearings are not regulated by the Brown Act, by the way, but by another code section entirely, which allows for unlimited public comment.
BIDs are established by a balloting process, but the City Council is not required to establish a BID even if balloting is successful. BID renewal has been mostly pro forma in Los Angeles, with the notable exception of the Venice Beach BID in 2016. Yu’s BID has less support than any BID in recent memory, and may in fact be vulnerable to City Council denial or extreme modification. Therefore I think public comment is essential. The renewal is in Council File 12-0489, and you can drop a comment there using the icon that says “NEW”.
And this morning I sent my own letter of opposition for the file to Gil Cedillo. Here’s a copy of my letter, mostly about Yu’s financially irresponsible defiance of the California Public Records Act and the harm it’s done to the civic life of our City. I also touch on Yu’s sadistic sense of humor regarding the electrocution of homeless residents of Chinatown. Read on for a transcription if you don’t prefer PDFs.
Continue reading My Letter To The Los Angeles City Council Opposing The Renewal Of The Chinatown Business Improvement District — The Hearing Is In Eleven Days — On September 29, 2020 — Still Time To Get Your Comments In!
This post is based on a few items from a small set of emails that LAHSA produced to me recently. There’s other interesting stuff in there, so take a look at the whole set!
In June 2020 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority staffer Kristy Lovich started a petition calling on her employer to sever ties with law enforcement agencies. On July 28, 2020 LAHSA Director Heidi Marston fired her in retaliation, which prompted swift and brutal criticism on social media and a powerful public response from Lovich the next day, July 29. And very soon thereafter Marston’s publicity machine started revving its powerful engines! I don’t yet have the full story, but on July 30 Marston emailed her communications staff and thanked them for their work:
From: Heidi Marston <email@example.com>
To: Christopher Yee <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Nadia James <email@example.com>, Ahmad Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Paloma Beltroy <email@example.com>
Subject: Letter response for social
Thanks for pulling this together. My comments are attached but overall, I like the google doc and the messaging in that the best. Also love the call to action in asking municipalities to commit to our principles. The more we can center on compassion and humanizing this, the better.
Continue reading LAHSA Director Heidi Marston Fired Kristy Lovich In July 2020 For Advocating That LAHSA Cut Ties With Law Enforcement — For The Simple Reason That Cop Involvement Makes Effective Outreach Impossible — As Her Comms Staff Struggled To Concoct A Response To The Subsequent Outcry Marston Told Them Not To Say Explicitly That The Response Was About Lovich — And To Rewrite Their Messaging “To Infuse A Tone Of Compassion” — You Can Read The Actual Comments She Inserted In The Document!
This post is based on a Twitter thread I wrote recently.
The Los Angeles City Council uses the Council File Management System, or CMFS, to keep track of every matter pending before them. This is terrible software. There are so many things wrong with it, the worst of which is that the search function is completely broken. I’ve been told by more than one Council District staffer that they also find the CMFS search function to be useless, so I’m probably not imagining it.
The City is famous for making it difficult or impossible for the public to access information, and I have no doubt that if they didn’t purposely design the CMFS to prevent people from finding stuff, at least they’re not fixing it because they rely on its brokenness. It’s broken, but it’s what we have if we want to keep track of what the Council is up to, and we certainly do want to. This post is about how to discover pending matters that interest you and keep track of them through the entire process.
Continue reading How To Discover And Keep Track Of Motions And Other Matters Before The Los Angeles City Council
The FBI is investigating tattooed gangs of LA County Sheriff’s deputies and a suit filed by a former deputy includes allegations of gangs with matching tattoos controlling the Compton Station. Thus the idea that LASD gang tattoos may be subject to the California Public Records Act is in the air! So I thought that I would give you my amateurish and decidedly nonlawyerly take on it. The starting point for any such inquiry is the CPRA at §6253(a), where we read that:
Public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided. Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be available for inspection by any person requesting the record after deletion of the portions that are exempted by law.
This is very clear. If they’re public records they must be open to inspection unless they’re exempt. If Sheriff gang tattoos are public records, then we can look at them! So are they?
Continue reading Are Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Gang Tattoos Public Records? — And Therefore Subject To The Public Records Act? — I Don’t See Why Not! — Although I’m Not A Lawyer And Could Easily Be Wrong — But I Could Easily Be Right!
I recently obtained a few huge sets of records from the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation and wrote about them here. The most important record in the set, by far, is this 96 slide Powerpoint presentation from September 2019. The date is significant as that’s when,thanks to the indefatigable Services Not Sweeps Coalition, the City implemented a new and putatively more humane version of its encampment sweep policy.
The point of this training is to explain these new policies to the Sanitation staff responsible for conducting the actual sweeps, how they’re expected to behave, when to call in LAPD, and so on. In July 2020 the City Council apparently abandoned this ostensibly humane approach, with predictably appalling results, making at least some of the information in the Powerpoint file outdated, but the organizational information is likely to still be accurate. Also note that the claims about the City’s humanitarian goals were false at the time and by now they’ve actually dropped the pretense. So while it’s tempting to expose the hypocrisy in detail it’s not useful enough for me to spend the time on it.
Continue reading September 2019 CARE/CARE+ Team Training Powerpoint From LA Bureau Of Sanitation Reveals Incredible Detail About Team Organization — Including Daily Schedules — Team Roles And Size Of Teams — Differences Between CARE And CARE+ — Guidelines For How To Do Outreach To Encampment Residents — When To Call In LAPD — Role Of Unified Homelessness Response Center — SECZ Rules — Some Of This Has Changed Recently But Much Of The Structural Info Is Probably Still Good — And It’s Fascinating To Compare The City’s Humanitarian Self-Presentation With The Actual Reality Of Encampment Sweeps
I recently obtained a huge pile of records from LA Sanitation about encampment sweeps and some other issues. Most of them are current versions of the kind of things we’ve seen before, but there are also a few unexpected and incredibly interesting items.
The most important, the most shocking of these is a 96 slide powerpoint presentation prepared by LA San to train its homeless encampment sweep teams in the new protocols adopted by the City of Los Angeles in September 2019. I wrote a separate post just on this one item. The others are job descriptions of the various roles in the encampment sweep teams. Here are links to the three full sets:
◎ CARE/CARE+ job descriptions — These are from November 2019. The relevant ones are:
▸ Environmental Compliance Inspector
▸ Maintenance Laborer
▸ Refuse Collection Truck Operator
▸ Senior Environmental Compliance Inspector
◎ LA San training materials — This looks like the most important set of the three right now. Four of these came to me as Powerpoint files, and I exported those to PDF for convenience and they’re what’s linked to below. The rest were PDFs originally.
▸ 56.11 Public Information Powerpoint — From October 2016, so completely outdated by now, but of historical interest.
▸ Biological Agents Decontamination Policy
▸ Bloodborne Pathogens PPT — Perhaps made by OSHA?
▸ CARE/CARE+ Training Powerpoint September 2019 — This is an immensely important document. I’ll be writing about it separately.
▸ Human Waste Cleanup Policy — From February 2019.
▸ LA San 56.11 Standard Operating Procedure — From 2018 so only of historical interest now.
▸ Clean Harbors Staff Enforcement Manual — I’m not sure what this is.
▸ LA San Operation Healthy Streets Bloodborne Pathogen Control Plan — From 2018.
▸ Bloodborne Pathogen Training Course Outline — I’m also not sure what this is.
◎ Spreadsheets from LA Sanitation — Sanitation does a lot of its sweep scheduling and planning via spreadsheets, many stored on the City’s Google Drive account so they can be collaboratively edited. This is a set of 44 spreadsheets of various kinds. There is a lot to be learned from these, but I’m not going to write about them in detail.
Continue reading Huge Set Of Records From LA Bureau Of Sanitation — Including A 96 Slide Training Powerpoint For The CARE/CARE+ Team Revisions In September 2019 — And Job Descriptions For CARE/CARE+ Staff — And An Incredibly Rich But Sadly Mostly Pretty Old Spreadsheets From LA San’s Livability Services Division — Which Coordinates Encampment Sweeps — Lots Of Stuff To Look At Here
For a little while it looked like George Yu had messed up the Chinatown BID renewal process and that there would be no BID for 2021. But Yu and Gil Cedillo, acting through his flunky Hugo Ortiz, maneuvering behind the scenes and off the record, managed to get the process back on track somehow and ballots have been issued announcing a hearing on September 29, 2020 to solemnize the renewal and allow the BID to continue operations in 2021.
There are two essential things for activists to understand about this part of the process. First, anti-BID property owners MUST vote no and return their ballots. The BID will be established unless received votes against outweigh received votes in favor. Unreturned ballots essentially count as yes votes.
The second thing is that BID renewal hearings are not regulated by the Brown Act. Instead they’re covered by Government Code §53753 The main difference is that, as Los Angeles activists know all too well, the Brown Act allows City Council to limit the total time for public comment but §53753(d) specifically forbids such a limitation:
At the time, date, and place stated in the notice mailed pursuant to subdivision (b), the agency shall conduct a public hearing upon the proposed assessment. At the public hearing, the agency shall consider all objections or protests, if any, to the proposed assessment. At the public hearing, any person shall be permitted to present written or oral testimony. The public hearing may be continued from time to time.
The City messed this up in 2016 when the Venice BID was being established. Herb Wesson, then president of the Council, cut off public comment and thus didn’t allow everyone to talk, as if it were an ordinary Brown Act hearing. The incomparable Shayla Myers of LAFLA wrote a demand letter to the City explaining the problem, and the City repealed the ordinance establishing the Venice BID and had to redo the entire process.
In any case, on September 29, when the Council is hearing objections or protests to the renewal of the Chinatown BID, they will have to hear all of them, every last one. Everybody gets to convey their feelings about the BID and about why it is a terrible idea to keep funding and empowering George Yu. And if there’s not time for everyone to talk on September 29, well, as the law says, “[t]he public hearing may be continued from time to time.” Here are a few things that might be worth mentioning, but there is so much more:
Continue reading Chinatown BID Renewal Hearing Scheduled For September 29 At 10 AM — BID Renewal Hearings Are Regulated By Government Code §53753 Rather Than The Brown Act — The Main Difference Is That The City Is Not Allowed To Limit The Time For Public Comment At Such Hearings — The Law Explicitly Mandates That All Objections Must Be Heard — The City Ignored This In 2016 — And Thereby Messed Up The Venice Beach BID Establishment — It Is Also Essential For Anti-BID Property Owners To Return Ballots Opposing The BID — Because Of Quirks In The Law Unreturned Ballots Essentially Count As Yes Votes