We join the sordid story on November 6, 2014, when someone named Marvin Cruz emailed Universal Protective Services security wallah John Irigoyen, CC-ing firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and someone named Damien Reed, stating somewhat obscurely that:
There is alot [sic] of trash dumping here accross [sic] from 832 cole( public storage side). Also multiple 647I’s that block the aide [sic] walk. Can u [sic] contact HBT for the trash and maybe also lapd to come andtake [sic] contact with the idas.
Subseqently Captain John forwarded this report at 1:05 p.m. on November 7th to Steven Whiddon with the message “here is what you requested” prepended. A little over an hour later the conspiracy began to take shape.
At 2:22 p.m. on the 7th, Steven emailed Sharon Shapiro, lame duck CD4 councilman Tom LaBonge‘s Deputy District Director for Hollywood, and Hollywood Beautification Team Obersturmbannführerin Sharyn Romano, asking
Can we get BSS [Bureau of Street Services] to place a notice that this area has to be cleared? Please let me know what can be done to start the cleanup?
Later that afternoon, Sharon Shapiro, who is prudent if not compassionate, asks Steven:
Is this an active/abandoned homeless encampment or rather just debris? Please advise.
Mere minutes later, John Irigoyen informed Sharon that “This is an active (everyday thing)…” and Sharon noted that “That is going to be a bit of a problem.” But she doesn’t warn them that they’re moving into illegal territory here. Instead, she pragmatically asks Steven:
Is there a way you can reach out to the business and talk with them about having their commercial bin relocated as a first step?
Steven responds the next day, stating:
We can certainly do that; however, there is a good chance the commercial bin was placed there due to the amount of trash on the sidewalk and street. I find it hard to believe it is it’s [sic] permanent or regular home.
And Sharon responds, two days later:
I think that is the first step-it’s somewhat of the chicken or the egg…And therefore the bin is somewhat circular as it contributes to it.
See what’s happening here? Sharon can’t order the stuff removed because of the Lavan injunction. As she says, “that is going to be a bit of a problem.” But feckless Steven Whiddon doesn’t understand this. Sharon, a public official who ought to know better, hints and hints, to no avail. First get rid of the dumpster, because that’s owned by the people who own the property. It’s legal to move that, of course. That will expose the homeless encampment. But Steven still doesn’t get it and she has to tell him explicitly that removing the dumpster “is the first step.” How hard is it for these people to understand that taking stuff off the public sidewalk that doesn’t belong to you is theft by larceny, plain and simple. It is against the law to take stuff that doesn’t belong to you, even if you personally think it’s trash.
As we’ve seen previously, this story ended up in January 2015 with CD13 field deputy Dan Halden joining the conspiracy and coordinating the use of powerwashers to blast away the human debris. We don’t yet have the intervening emails, so we’re not sure how the whole fercockt mishegoss proceeded from here to there, but we’re seeking them, never fear.
The fact that the HMD BID’s agents, in particular Sharyn Romano and her minions in the Hollywood Beautification Team knowingly violate the Lavan injunction as well show that these actions constitute a course of conduct rather than an mere error. The Los Angeles Community Action Network and a host of allies are currently suing not only the city of Los Angeles but the LA Downtown Industrial District BID and its governing corporation the Central City East Association (CCEA) as well over violations of the Lavan injunction. You can read the original complaint here. The fear that this suit has justifiably engendered among the BIDs is evident from South Park BID executive director Jessica Lall‘s email bemoaning the implications of the lawsuit in no uncertain terms:
You may or may not be aware that CCEA (and the City) have been sued in Federal Court by the Legal Aid Foundation. The complaint is over the removal of unattended propery on sidewalks (attached). The prior lawsuit, known as the Lavan case, was against the City only and was based on the City’s immediate destruction of homeless possessions. As a result, the City now stores for 90 days any items they confiscate from the streets.
CCEA has a practice in place since 2003 of holding all unattended property for 90 days, with notice posted at location where property was seized. Despite this, however, the lawsuit claims CCEA should not remove property AT ALL. This is significant because it is the first time a BID is sued directly, and the ramifications could be serious for any property owner, with or without a BID, who removes unattended property from a public sidewalk. (The City is also named because Legal Aid claims it has evidence of one instance where LAPD officers stood watch as CCEA confiscated unattended property. Legal Aid claims this is a violation by the City of the Lavan injunction.
As Jessica or whoever wrote that notes, “this is the first time a BID is sued directly” over the theft of personal property. It won’t be the last. The Media District certainly ought to worry about their liability in this case, not just before the federal district court but before God’s tribunal as well.
Image of homeless encampment on Cole Avenue is a screenshot from an email obtained from the Media District BID via the California Public Records Act. Image of the indefatigably feckless dudebro hisself is a crop of an image found in an email obtained for us under the California Public Records Act. You can see the whole email here. Image of Dan Halden is ©2015 MichaelKohlhaas.org.