A Case Study In Towing The Zillionaire’s Car — Ticket Fixing in the Hollywood Media District BID. Or: How LADOT Dances Willingly To The Tune Called By Those Who Pay The Piper. Or: “HELP…. Stakeholders are asking why???”

If you don’t like what the street signs say you can just knock them down and ignore them, friend.
There are two main reasons why I am not a professional journalist. The first is that on career day at Venice High way back in the 1970s, those of us who ventured east to the venerated southwest corner of First and Spring found, well…never mind what we found,1 discretion prevents me from discussing it, but it sure didn’t make me want to join the ranks despite the fact that the paper was more than a decade into its renaissance under the sainted guidance of Otis Chandler himself. And the second reason is that I have never, ever, in my entire life been able to understand the inverted pyramid — or maybe I understand it and I just have no freaking idea what’s most newsworthy in any given story. This interpretation is borne out by the fact that I’m starting this evening’s tale off with a bunch of half-invented, half-remembered, half-plagiarized, nonsense about my high school career day.2

For instance, does the inverted pyramid suggest that we next analyze the founding principles of BIDs? I have no idea. But the locus classicus of BIDs, their founding text, which is to say the California Streets and Highways Code at §36601(e), tells us that amongst the benefits provided by BIDs are crime reduction, business attraction, business retention, economic growth, and new investments. Note the conspicuous absence from this list of parking ticket fixing for zillionaire BID stakeholders. However, despite the fact that parking violation fines are a major social justice issue in Los Angeles and yet another example of covert regressive taxation, apparently a major use that zillionaires, that is to say those for whom the fine attached to a parking violation is not a significant fraction of their annual income, have found for their BIDs is to serve as a vehicle for interfering on their behalf with the normal statutory operation of the City’s parking enforcement apparatus.

We saw this, e.g., last year when Ms. Kerry Morrison, outraged3 by the fact that her good friend and stakeholder, zillionaire white real estate capitalist running dog lackey Evan Kaizer, was ticketed on Hollywood Boulevard for meter-feeding, fired off an email to LADOT honcho-ette Seleta Reynolds, putatively asking for an explanation but really, as everyone could see, providing an opening for the whole thing to go away. It doesn’t seem to have happened that the ticket got fixed, but that particular toys-from-pram episode ended up interbreeding with a sort of free-floating generalized zillionaire rage over vibrant urban spaces,4 eventually begetting a conceptual exploration, fueled by outraged privilege, of the possibility of using this state-law-mandated meter-feeding prohibition to attack the very existence of food trucks.

See why I’m not a professional journalist? Here we are at the fourth “graf5 and I haven’t even started the actual story. Here’s the short version: Some zillionairess didn’t know how to read parking signs and got her car towed. Lisa Schechter, chief directico-executrix of the Hollywood Media District BID, emailed a bunch of functionaries and things got done and done fast in a way they will never get done for non-zillionaires! Details and emails after the break!

It begins on November 10, 2016, at 1:08 p.m., when Lisa Schechter of the Media District BID emailed Freddie Nuño of Parking Enforcement to this effect:

Dear Lt. Nuno:

This morning I was contacted by one of our stakeholders in the Hollywood Media District who has experienced some problems with the parking enforcement. As of this week on Monday November 7th – her vehicle was sighted twice by two different parking enforcement officers and subsequently towed. At your convince [sic] would you please be kind enough to take a look at the following citations:

[List of citations, with actual citation numbers, follows.]

Can you please take a look at them and advise.

Thanks so much for your assistance.
Lisa Schechter
Executive Director
Hollywood Media District BID

Well, of course, ever since the unlamented days of the infamous Gold Card Desk, zillionaires can’t just come out with it and ask for a ticket to get fixed. Instead they lay out the details of the ticket and then use the zillionaire code-word “advise,” which seems to mean something like “make this go away without my having to ask explicitly.” I mean, why else include the actual citation numbers? If Lisa Schechter is just seeking advice, does she expect the advice is going to be different if Freddie Nuño doesn’t know the citation numbers? Not likely.

If there were any explicit responses to that email I have not yet obtained them via CPRA. However, just over an hour later, at 2:14 p.m., Lisa Schechter emailed Christopher Rider of LADOT, stating:

Dear Christopher:

It has come to my attention that we are still awaiting for the “No Parking Anytime” signage to be removed from the north side of Romaine Street (between Seward and Las Palmas). Recently the LADOT Parking Enforcement has been citing constituents that park on the north side of Romaine which has conflicting sign postings – for example NO PARKING and No Parking Tuesdays from 8-12. There are only two (2) no parking signs installed along the north side of the street several feet in-between with no additional signage. In fact this week alone, LADOT Parking Enforcement towed vehicles from the street and of course cited them as well. HELP…. Stakeholders are asking why??? Let me know as these signs where to be removed when the construction of 959 Seward was completed (back in 2015).

Thank you

Lisa Schechter
Executive Director
Hollywood Media District BID

Look at the sense of outrage, the sense of privilege! Here is what happened: there are “no parking” signs up on this block but zillionaires parked there anyway and then their cars got cited and towed. How is this an unexpected result? In what weirdo fantasy world does it evoke a cri de coeur6 like “HELP…. Stakeholders are asking why???” when “why” is so very clear: The sign said “no parking” and then they parked there. That’s why.

Also note how Lisa Schechter claims that the block “has conflicting sign postings – for example NO PARKING and No Parking Tuesdays from 8-12.” I don’t know much about logic, but even I can see that those two restrictions don’t conflict. As Christopher Rider told her a few days later, “No parking anytime and no parking tuesdays 8-12 do not conflict, they do overlap.”

And then what happened? Well, at 3:28 p.m. on the 10th, just about two hours after Lisa Schechter’s initial email, Freddie Nuño had answered her, cc-ing “the Command Staff at our Hollywood Parking Enforcement Office” and by 10:42 that night, only about 9 hours after Lisa Schechter’s initial email, Rodney Smith, L.A. Traffic Enforcement’s famous “dancing policeman,” had replied to her with a fairly definitive solution:

Good evening,

Thanks for bringing this matter to our attention.

Lt Hartman,

please generate a relax enforcement for the rotator.

Thanks RC…

And precisely 30 minutes later, Lt. Brian Hartman reply-alled, confirming that the relax enforcement order was posted. A mildly entertaining little postscript can be found in the previously quoted November 14th email from Christopher Rider, wherein he tells Lisa Schechter, evidently not having gotten the memo about the relax enforcement order, that “if people are parking in the zone where these restrictions still stand they will be cited and/or towed.” As we’ve already seen, that wasn’t gonna happen any more.

And that is the story of why zillionaires don’t know how to read freaking parking signs. Because they don’t have to. If they get ticketed, if they get towed, they will have their lackeys grapple with the City on their behalf and get “relax enforcements,” whatever those are, put in place so it doesn’t happen any more.7 Has it ever occurred to you, oh non-zillionaire reader, that you could do this when you get a parking ticket or get towed? No? Well, that’s because you can’t do it. Suck it up, friends.

Image of downed stop sign on SMB is a public record, having been taken by Media District BID executive director Lisa Schechter in the performance of her official duties.

  1. Why should not old men be mad?
    Some have known a likely lad
    That had a sound fly-fisher’s wrist
    Turn to a drunken journalist.
    W.B. Yeats
  2. Yes, there is such a thing as three halves. It’s also known as 1.5. Trust me, I’m a professional.
  3. Or at least professionally obligated to be outraged, or maybe presciently spotting a professional opportunity the exploitation of which would be enhanced by adopting an outraged pose. It’s so hard to tell with these people when one is not native here, nor to the manner born.
  4. I’m purposely using this well-beloved-of-zillionaires Stadtplanungsprache in order to defuse their co-optation of urbanity into their evil scheme to reimagine Hollywood as a climate-controlled theme park.
  5. For some reason professional journalists take an inordinate amount of pride in spelling stuff wrong. Witness not only this, but “lede.” Oh, I know they have their reasons. But are they their real reasons?
  6. A three question mark cri de coeur, no less!!!
  7. We here at MK.Org tossed around the idea that this might be yet another violation of LAMC 49.5.5(A), and thus eligible for our reporting project. However, a little googling revealed the fact that “relax enforcement” orders seem to be a real thing, and thus, while R.C. Smith’s action did clearly create a private advantage for a number of Media District affliated zillionaires, issuing it probably didn’t constitute a misuse of his position. Both, of course, are necessary for a violation. It’s possible that there are official written standards for the issuance of relax enforcement orders, but I can’t find them, nor can I verify that they don’t exist. If they do exist and R.C. Smith violated them this would probably constitute a violation of LAMC 49.5.5(A), but it seems too tenuous to pursue, especially given the pressing nature of some of our other ongoing projects. On the other hand, if you know otherwise, let me know and I’ll look into it.

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