Last Thursday the Fashion District BID held its annual meeting. You may recall that Assemblymember Miguel Santiago gave a reprehensible little speech to kick things off, but CD14 repster José Huizar was the keynote speaker. You can watch his whole speech here, but the parts I’m specifically interested in tonight are his remarks about homeless encampments and, especially, his discussion with some guy whose name I didn’t get on the same subject. Of course there are transcriptions of all this poppycock after the break, as usual.
About homeless encampments, well, it was the usual jive. We’re going to build a lot of shelters and housing and of course, once we have enough shelters and housing we can start arresting the homeless again, so that’s good!1 Unsurprisingly, though, things got more interesting during the questions. An unnamed guy asked José Huizar about the homeless fires problem.2 After some chit-chat, the questioner asked José Huizar who, exactly, was allowed to remove the property of homeless people from the sidewalk. In response José Huizar said:
The police department. Not the fire department, the police department. They don’t give that right to the BIDs, unfortunately. But the LAPD can remove it if it is blocking the right of way.
What is the guy thinking? Is he thinking that the City and the BIDs haven’t been sued enough by Carol Sobel, LAFLA, and the National Lawyers Guild? There is a really good reason that only police are allowed to remove the property of homeless people, and that is because society endows sworn officers with extraordinary powers to take actions that would be and should be absolutely illegal for anyone else to do. Like kill people,3 or kidnap them,4 or take their stuff off the sidewalk, which is theft when anyone but an officer does it. This is why BID officers aren’t allowed to remove people’s property, because they’re just ordinary people and it would be stealing. Does he think it’s “unfortunate” that ordinary people can’t steal stuff? Maybe he also thinks it’s “unfortunate” that BID officers can’t kidnap and kill homeless people like the police are allowed to do.5 Bizarre.
And ironically, he’s speaking to the Fashion District, which famously was sued in Federal Court in 2015 for conspiring with the City to illegally confiscate the property of street vendors.6 The Fashion District is right next door to the Downtown Industrial District BID, also in José Huizar’s district, sued in Federal Court in 2014 for the very thing that José Huizar is lamenting the impossibility of here. The City ended up paying half a million dollars to LAFLA because the BID Patrol can’t keep its grubby hands off other people’s stuff and José Huizar thinks this is unfortunate? It’s not his money, of course, but still…
And, as usual, turn the page for transcriptions of the relevant remarks and a little more mockery!
It’s a little interesting, by the way, that even though everyone in the zillionaire elite is surprisingly open about the fact that they only want to build housing so that they can start arresting homeless people for sitting on the sidewalk and/or owning too much stuff, that is, to resume enforcement of the reprehensible LAMC 41.18(d) and LAMC 56.11, nevertheless, there’s always someone who doesn’t get the damn point. This unknown questioner is such a guy:
Is the fire department not concerned if there are streets that are blocked, locations that we can’t get to because of the homeless people, these poor homeless people that need to be helped?
Evidently, José Huizar’s remarks were just a little too subtle for the guy. I hear something like the following out of José Huizar’s mouth and I understand that José Huizar wants to arrest as many homeless people as possible as quickly as possible. This guy thinks José Huizar actually wants to help people:
Now that would help because we not only want to address the human suffering that is happening but we could also only clean up the encampments if we have a place for them to go.
I could go on, but what’s the point? Read the remarks for yourself below. Watch the whole episode, of which I only had the stomach to transcribe about two thirds. It’s essentially self-mocking. And essentially horrifying.
Transcription of José Huizar’s remarks about homeless encampments:
The good news is your advocacy in the budget we just adopted this past Monday in City Council, we have more money for cleaning up encampments. And that is very good news, because the Fashion District is one of the hardest hit areas in the City, where we do not clean up encampments or large bulky item trash areas. And we have or had a backup of requests, a backlog of requests, we had about five thousand two hundred requests on our backlog list of encampment cleanups. And we were adding two hundred a month to that list. So I did the calculations and we would not get that all cleaned up for another twenty years or so. We advocated, and thanks to the mayor and the City Council we were able to get seventeen million more dollars for encampment cleanups and we changed it so that we no longer equalize it for fifteen Council districts but we go to the highest need areas first. So that’s very good news, that means the next year, we’re going to gear up over the next three months or so, we’re going to have a lot more encampment cleanups. But along with that, we cannot clean up encampments unless we provide for shelter for homeless individuals, people who are experiencing homelessness. And as you all know we are in a historic time in the City of L.A. where we are now doing a whole lot more for homeless, and rightly so, because homelessness continues to increase. As you all know homelessness increased twenty percent from last year to this year, and it’s not unique to Los Angeles. That is happening across the country. What is unique to Los Angeles is that we have a higher concentration of homeless here in Downtown in Skid Row. So as we’ve done more to address that we now have a comprehensive strategic plan to address homelessness [unintelligible] very happy for. We’re implementing that plan now. We first wanted to put in a long term plan which was to provide more long term permanent supportive housing, so we passed measure HHH to provide 1.2 billion dollars to provide ten thousand units of permanent supportive housing over the next ten years. And now we are in the phase of doing some more immediate things, which means immediate emergency shelter. We have in the budget thirty million dollars to provide more emergency shelters throughout the City. I allocated twenty million dollars alone for Skid Row because the two thousand people that sleep on the streets every night, we calculated, based on what we did at the Pueblo, we put up emergency shelters there in the parking lot, it would cost us twenty million dollars to house two thousand. Now that would help because we not only want to address the human suffering that is happening but we could also only clean up the encampments if we have a place for them to go. So the idea would be, we’re looking for public property right now, for spaces where we can put up the emergency housing shelter, get individuals in there, no longer than six months, give them the services they need, eventually put them on a path to recovery, permanent supportive housing. And that’s the idea. So as we’re moving forward to implement a plan like that I would ask that you [unintelligible] housing first, emergency housing for the individual needs, and then we can do the encampment cleanups and have and implement more of that seventeen million dollars here to help with that. That’s the two step process we are faced with. We can decide [unintelligible] but that’s the idea, to move forward with that.
Transcription of José Huizar’s discussion about homeless encampments with an unidentified interlocutor:
Unknown questioner: Yes, Councilman, in regards to the homelessness issue and so forth, in the Fashion District, I’m sure you’re aware of the increased amount of fires being [unintelligible] and we had lost a pretty large [unintelligible] because of it. I understand, I hear exactly what we’re [unintelligible] somewhat long run [unintelligible] short run. But until that happens, do you know of anything that has taken place in terms of policing or surveillance, any increase of [unintelligible] funds? Because we have an issue right now, that by the time these people get taken some place where they can be taken care of, some of these buildings aren’t going to be here. So is there anything that’s going to be done between now and the time all this happens ultimately that’s going to increase the surveillance on this very, very dangerous situation, where buildings are coming down due to these fires?
JH: Yeah, I’ve spoken to Chief Terrazas about that particular issue. We established it before with local fires. We also spoke to LAPD, and LAPD tells me they can be more vigilant about fires, people who put them up, put them out. You know, in the past it was, before we got this most recent number of high-profile homeless fires, it was yeah, our personnel would see it, and unless it was a big, large enough fire, that they’d come by and ask them to turn it off, et cetera. But now they’re being vigilant to any spark, any little fire, any little sign of somebody having equipment to start a fire, a fire [unintelligible] set, anything else, they’re going to go out immediately and confiscate that and/or ask them to remove it. So, we’re being more vigilant about it and we’re hoping that even over the summer months we won’t see as many coming up, but our fire department and our police are being more vigilant about it.
UQ: Cause literally we have two different cities. We have a day time operating businesses [unintelligible] and a night time transients and the [unintelligible] situation [unintelligible] worsen. So … can I ask you if there are any laws on the books now in regard to the fire department. Is the fire department not concerned if there are streets that are blocked, locations that we can’t get to because of the homeless people, these poor homeless people that need to be helped? But is the fire department not concerned with laws that they have on the books and we’re blocking the streets with the people and buggies and mattresses and … maybe their trucks can’t get through. How do they feel as a fire department?
JH: The law is that if a public right of way is blocked we have the right to remove it immediately.
UQ: Who’s we?
JH: The police department. Not the fire department, the police department. They don’t give that right to the BIDs, unfortunately. But the LAPD can remove it if it is blocking the right of way. Second, and this is the big problem we have right now I think, is that right now, on the law, the law is on the books, that tents are supposed to be taken down during the day. However, given the resources, ask LAPD to go out there and enforce that right now, that’s all they would be doing. We don’t have the resources to tell them to come out and take the tents. So without saying it’s official policy, I think what’s happening right now in the City is like, let’s do the emergency housing, then we would have more resources, more personnel out there to ask people, hey, you have a place to go, you can’t have a, take down your tents [unintelligible]. I’m not saying that’s official policy but it’s kind of what I see happening in practice. So hopefully we find some sites in the near future, put up some emergency housing, and then have the ability to ask more people to take down their tents during the day.
- This kind of thing used to bother me but now it’s clear to me that it’s way better that the right thing get done for the wrong reasons than that it not get done at all. It’s politics, eh? The arresting of the homeless people can be successfully fought separately once the housing is built.
- This has gotten more press in Skid Row than in the Fashion District. I don’t know if the problem is actually getting worse or if it’s more breathless white zillionaire hysteria, or, of course, both might be true. The above-linked article on Skid Row fires doesn’t do much to convince me that this is anything more than a propaganda effort on the part of Estela Lopez, especially given that Lopez, Ernie Doizaki, and Andy Bales were all quoted in the article and identified as if they’re completely independent of one another. Of course, they’re not. Ernie Doizaki and Andy Bales are both on the board of directors of the Central City East Association and Estela Lopez is, famously, the director of the CCEA. Reporters aren’t supposed to let sources get away with this kind of thing, but obviously sometimes it happens. More pressing is the question of why the sources dishonestly created this impression of independence if the story they’re telling is true. It’s possible that it’s true but that they can’t resist the extra spin, but it seems more likely to me that Estela Lopez is just making it up as yet another reason to oppress the homeless residents of her BID.
- Ordinary people can kill people too, of course, but it must be in self defense or defense of others. This standard is far higher than it is for police officers, in practice if not under the law (I don’t actually know what the law is on this matter, but anyone can see what the practice is).
- Of course it’s not kidnapping when police physically subdue you, put you in handcuffs, shove you in the back of their car, drive you to their secret headquarters, and lock you in a room against your will, which is why it’s an extraordinary power, eh?
- Under “appropriate” circumstances, obviously. Spare me your outrage and ill-informed commentary K thx!!
- You can read up on the background in this 2015 LA times story and also in our multiple stories on the subject. Most of the paper filed in the case is available here.