Scanned Archival Documents About BID Implementation and Policy From 1998 Now Available

Somehow BIDs, like everything else, are all Richard Riordan's fault.
Somehow BIDs, like everything else, are all Richard Riordan’s fault.
Recall that last month last month I raised the question of where the City Clerk gets the authority to vote all of the City’s property in favor of BID formation, and about two weeks ago, this question was answered by Miranda Paster, who pointed me towards Council File 96-1972, part of which is the ordinance that directs the Clerk how to vote the City’s parcels. Well, the file is too old to include online material, but a couple days ago I had a chance to visit the L.A. City Archives over on Ramirez Street to look through the file. There was a lot of stuff, most of it not that interesting,1 but I did copy a few items, and here they are for your sake and the sake of history! You can get them at Archive.Org for one thing. Also here in the menu structure, and finally directly here. They’re also linked-to and discussed a little bit after the break.

  • January 14, 1998 Report on BID Policies and Implementation Guidelines from the Community and Economic Development Committee — This is the earliest known mention of the Council’s instruction to the Clerk to always vote the City’s properties in favor of BID formation (item 11). It includes a clause giving the Council the option to instruct the Clerk not to vote in favor, which is probably necessary to make it legal. That is, I’d be surprised if past Councils could pass laws which purported to force present Councils to do something. This instruction to the Clerk is one of the two biggest problems with the City’s BID program. The other is dicussed below: that no one in the City will oversee BIDs at all, not even to the extent of ensuring that they perform their contracts and follow laws. It’s interesting to note that both of these problems were present in the BID program since the beginning.
  • August 5, 1998 Report on a Proposal to Create New Positions of BID District Director and BID Administrative Assistant This is a proposal to create the position now held by Miranda Paster. As envisioned, the duties were (and pretty much still are) skewed decidedly towards the boosterish. In particular, note how there is no idea that the BID director might have to enforce the BIDs’ contracts with the City, or provide any kind of oversight whatsoever. This lacuna, almost certainly intentional, has caused any number of problems for any number of people in Los Angeles.
    • Act as the spokesperson and marketing agent for the City’s BIDs;
    • Promote greater visibility of LA’s BIDS and convey a positive message to diverse audiences about doing business in the City of Los Angeles;
    • Develop and implement marketing strategies for BIDS, including media coverage and the creation of informative brochures;
    • Work closely with each Council Office to assist with initiation and implementation of BIDs;
    • Attend forums conducted by interested business leaders to inform them about the BID process;
    • Provide coordination between the BID communities and City departments involved with BIDs;
    • Review the BID process to consider policy modifications to improve the process;
    • Establish a Web site to link BIDs to the City;
    • Conduct Round table discussions with all BIDs Citywide to share ideas, improve communication and foster cooperation;
    • Remain informed about individual BID programs and initiatives and assist as needed; Attend workshops, seminars and conferences to promote LA’s BIDs, keep abreast of BID activity throughout the country and promote best practices.
  • August 13, 1998 Report from the City Legislative Analyst on the Proposed Positions for the BID Program
  • C. 1998 City of Los Angeles BID Policy and Implementation Guidelines This is an interesting document. It explains the process for forming a BID as it stood at the beginning of the program in 1998. I don’t have much to say about it right now because I don’t fully understand how it relates to the present process.
  • Citywide BID Program Service Operations Summary This is fascinating, and unfortunately undated. That Richard Riordan is listed as Mayor on the letterhead shows that it was produced prior to July 1, 2001, but the file wasn’t closed until September 25, 2001. Almost certainly, though, it comes from 1998. It’s interesting because it’s the only early policy document I’ve found that assigns a role to the Clerk in assuring contract compliance:

    The Office provides continuous contract compliance assistance. Staff monitors the use of revenue in order to ensure that assessments paid by district members are used appropriately and in accordance with contractual, budgetary, statutory and City regulations and procedures. Assistance is provided to facilitate each district’s achievement of goals and objectives. Quarterly district operating statements and activity reports are reviewed; staff may make recommendations to the district advisory board or its Executive Director regarding the adjustment of various program elements. Staff may prepare and present the required progress reports and other materials or documents to the City Council for use during the evaluation of district operations.

    So at least then they were envisioning the Clerk’s office making sure that BIDs followed the laws and performed their contracts. Don’t be misled by the “use of revenue” business. This is serious. After all, if paid employees are breaking the law or their contract while they’re working then BID revenues are being used to support the law-breaking, and consequently are not being used “in accordance with contractual, budgetary, statutory and City regulations.” Ah, if only anyone had ever actually taken that clause seriously. What a different City we would live in today.


Image of Richard Riordan in 1993 is copyright free for federal reasons and I got it via Wikimedia.

  1. Including a bunch of old speaker cards, which I’m now sorry I didn’t copy. Carol Schatz, Kerry Morrison, and Kent Smith spoke at pretty much every committee meeting where the File was considered. It’s hard to believe they’ve been at it for 20 years now. Although given the damage they’ve done to the City, maybe 20 years isn’t that long.
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