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:


Good morning, Julie,

Happy Wednesday! I just wanted to send you an email with some updates on the encampment situation.

Unfortunately, some of the homeless people are now back this week on Lillian Way in front of our building. As each day passes, it seems as though more people are joining and their encampment is growing larger. As of this morning, their belongings and pitched tents have been spilling onto the sidewalk making it hard to walk there without stepping on their belongings.

Some have been walking around shouting profanity as well…

Would it be possible to send someone out here to take a look at the encampment, or send a crew to randomly hose/spray down the street so they would move?

Thank you so much and hope to hear back soon!

Best regards,

Chie Kobayashi

That actually is strange and ugly. It’s not illegal to be homeless. Those are public sidewalks. The city of Los Angeles, in the disgraceful LAMC 41.18(d), already has what the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has called “one of the most restrictive municipal laws regulating public spaces in the United States.   The City can secure a conviction under the ordinance against anyone who merely sits, lies, or sleeps in a public way at any time of day.”2 This is strange and ugly enough in itself, but the fact that Chie Kobayashi wants to have these homeless people sprayed off the sidewalk rather than having them arrested even though they’re already breaking the law is stranger and uglier still. How is it surprising that people will “[walk] around shouting profanity as well…” when other people are scheming with the cops to immorally and illegally spray them off the sidewalk?

So then they decide they all have to have a meeting to discuss how they’re going to be tough-love mommy and follow through with their threats to the homeless. Joel Collins of Red Studios (still another incomprehensible new media post-production outfit between Santa Monica Blvd. and Melrose) offers the use of his studio commissary and says he’ll pay for lunch. Julie Nony likes this idea very much, but her schedule is constrained:

hi joel,
[sic]

That is actually a great and very generous idea. Lets [sic] all get our schedules together…..tues is good for me, wed would have to be 1230 or 1pm and thurs I might be stuck with homeless arrests. Thx so much everyone. Can anyone get a hold [sic] of Milk in the meantime?[sic]

What a strange thing, that Julie Nony has a specific day scheduled for arresting homeless people. We always kind of assumed that homeless people mostly got arrested for the kinds of crimes where the cop has to see them do it before they can be arrested. So how does one schedule those in advance? Maybe Thursdays are Julie’s special day for going out and looking for homeless people to arrest? She’s famous for “rousting” the homeless, and we suppose one has to preserve one’s reputation if one is to be taken seriously. It’s like that follow-through she was babbling on about earlier. Just set aside one day a week to go out and arrest the homeless and they sure will take you seriously as a cop!

And finally, we just want to note one last nugget of weirdo-cop-wisdom from Julie Nony. Chie was not just asking about spraying the homeless off the sidewalk, she was also quite upset about some people living in RVs. If you’re familiar with the area you’ll know that there are three or four regulars on Lillian between Romaine and Waring, and on some of the cross streets as well, e.g. Willoughby between Lillian and Cahuenga. And here’s what Julie Nony has to say about this:

As far as the RV’s the City changed the ordinance to allowing anyone to sleep in their vehicles on City streets. We use
[sic] to be able to cite and/or tow the trucks. If they are parked for more than 72 hrs they have to be cited first and then towed if they do not comply and move. Unfortunately the City also states that “moving” can be a couple of feet or so, as long as it has been moved. Our hands are tied on a lot, but I can always reach out to them to tell them to move around. DOT (Department of Transportation) is a good tool for you guys to use because that is their whole job, citing cars/RV’s. They have a special detail for RV’s and can help you out. Please follow up with them at 213-485-4185. thx, Julie

Well, hey, officer Julie? It may not be an important distinction to you, but actually it wasn’t the City that changed that law, it was the frickin’ Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and they didn’t just change the law, they found it to be unconstitutional. Now, one of the civilian controls that the LAPD, through its constant testing of limits,3 has brought upon itself, is the Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy. We had assumed that the purpose of that office was to educate cops about, you know, constitutional policing and stuff. But we just feel more and more silly as it’s revealed more and more unto us that, at least when it comes to the homeless, there are a significant number of LAPD officers who see the constitution as an impediment and look for ways around the limits that it places on them. In Julie’s terms, these officers, even her, are “a lot like kids.” We’ve already seen that the Andrews International BID Patrol, which operates to the north of the Media District, doesn’t understand this constitutional principle, but they just generally don’t care about any constitutional, legal, or moral principles as long as they can hassle the homeless. The LAPD not only should know better, they’re legally required to know better.

That’s enough of that. The email chain is also interesting because it contains a copy of Mitch O’Farrell’s City of L.A. Guidelines for Abandoned Property and Encampments which, although it is whiny and panders shamelessly to the power-elite, is basically pretty accurate about what can be done and why. For various reasons it pains us to say so, but in this crowd, O’Farrell and his staff are the grownups in the room.

  1. Heck, even the LAPD tests limits. For instance, after 1992, when it became clear that the LAPD was going to have to be reined in by civilian control, the city went out and invented BIDs, in part so they could shift the dodgier LAPD tactics off onto private security guards, who are exempt from the stringent controls that have, necessarily, been imposed on the LAPD. We’re not sure that this was an intentional reason for the invention of BIDs, but it sure has turned out to be a useful function of them. And how did the LAPD, the city, and the BIDs figure out the scale at which they could run this game? By testing limits, that’s how. Everyone does it, guys, not just kids and homeless people.
  2. See Jones v. City of Los Angeles.
  3. In this case, the Rampart Scandal and the ensuing consent decree, whereby the U.S. Department of Justice told the LAPD in no uncertain terms that they had better stop testing limits because the DOJ was sure-as-shooting gonna follow through with its threats.

Image of Julie Nony and Steve Seyler is a public record, which was obtained via the California Public Records Act from the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.

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