How to Evade the Brown Act: The City Council is Having a Closed Session on Friday, September 30, to Discuss the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative Because Mike Feuer Wants to Sue Somebody Over It. Yeah, Right.

For a chamber of horrors, City Hall sure has beautiful interiors.
For a chamber of horrors, City Hall sure has beautiful interiors.
I mostly have refrained from writing about the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative because it’s too far off our beat.1 However, the Brown Act is very close to our core subject matter. So imagine my surprise on discovering Council File 16-1054, in which Council is holding a closed session to discuss the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative under section 54956.9(d)(4) of the Brown Act, which states that a closed session can be held when:

Based on existing facts and circumstances, the legislative body of the local agency has decided to initiate or is deciding whether to initiate litigation.

This clause has the dubious distinction of being the only reason for closing a session which is effectively uncheckable. All other reasons either require an existing lawsuit, which must be named in the agenda, or some kind of personnel action or other concrete action which must be reported publicly at the end of the closed session. For the “initiation of litigation” exception, though, there’s no way at all to check if they’re not just making it up. Even if they never sue anyone, they can always say that they were considering it and decided not to sue. If a local agency is willing to lie, and the Los Angeles City Council surely is, this is the clause to use to hold unauthorized closed sessions. Which is certainly what they’re doing here. I mean, who are they going to sue because the NII qualified for the ballot? So what secrets are they going to discuss this Friday? How they’re going to fund their 2017 campaigns if they can’t approve more mega-zillionaire mixed use monstrosities?

Image of City Hall light fixture is ©2016

  1. Although the fact that everyone involved with the BIDs is against it while at the same time living in neighborhoods like e.g. Hancock Park, the Palisades, and Bel Air, where no one is ever going to get a variance to build anything, so the integrity of their neighborhoods is guaranteed by their political power rather than by law (which is how they like it, of course, since it allows them to keep building oversized crap elsewhere) is almost enough to make me write about it just on principle.

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