OK, I’m sorry, this post is on kind of a technical subject, but I think it’s important and also it reveals a kind of weird off-handed incompetence amongst the City Clerk’s BID analyst staff that I think is worth memorializing. The central issue is whether the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994 requires a BID to be in one piece. I’m going to use the technical term “connected” here.1
It’s not just an idle question, either. You may recall that the proposed Hollywood Route 66 BID runs up Santa Monica Blvd. from Vine Street to Hoover Street. The problem is that Vermont Avenue crosses Santa Monica right in the middle of that stretch, and every building that touches Vermont is already included in the East Hollywood BID.
Regardless of what the PBID law has to say about connectedness of BIDs, it’s very, very clear on the fact that BIDs can’t overlap.2 Hence commercial buildings on both Santa Monica and Vermont must be excluded from the Hollywood Route 66 BID, which leaves its territory disconnected. Plausibly, also, the EHBID could cede those buildings to the Route 66 BID, but, interestingly, doing so would leave the EHBID disconnected, so nothing would be gained. Here’s a copy of the map if it’ll be useful.
Thus a correct understanding of what the law allows is essential for the formation of at least that BID, and probably others in the future. And I’m not a lawyer, but I read the whole damn PBID law about a zillion times and the connectivity of a BID is not mentioned in there at all. It’s my not-a-lawyer understanding that if a law doesn’t explicitly forbid something then that something is allowed.
But the famous Rita Moreno of the City Clerk’s Neighborhood and Business Improvement District division didn’t agree with me in 2017! Then she did agree with me in 2018! And Misty Iwatsu spent some time in 2016 babbling on about the matter and thought 2017 Rita Moreno was right! And Rita Moreno didn’t just think, she advised! And it strikes me that her advice looked an awful lot like practicing law without a license, which is illegal in California!3
And of course you want to see details! And primary sources! Turn the page and there they are!!
Before we get into the gritty technicalities of BID formation, let’s take a soothing detour into the gritty technicalities of the meaning of the word “contiguous.” According to Cambridge, it means: next to or touching another, usually similar, thing. In particular, not only does it not mean “connected” in the topological sense, but it’s clearly not possible for a single thing to be contiguous. Like the borders of a BID. The borders of a BID are one single thing, so not eligible for contiguity. You have to have at least two of them. Keep that in mind when reading what follows.
Let’s take this jive in chronological order. And I think I neglected to mention at the time that I recently obtained a nice set of minutes from the Lincoln Heights BID?4 Well, I did so obtain, and you can look at the whole set here on Archive.Org. But the one we care about is from June 17, 2016, wherein we read, in Exec Direc Misty Iwatsu’s report:
BID Renewal- Contract ends 12-31-18. Renewal money needs to be budgeted. Get three proposals for engineering Report including Ed Henning. Only boundary change might be removing a couple of houses at Ave 26 and Workman. Main not included because the boundaries must be contiguous. The City required an outside consultant but can do in-house.
By the way, if you’re interested in what she’s talking about, you have to recall that in Lincoln Heights both Broadway and Main Street run East/West with Main about half a mile South of Broadway. Most of the blocks between them are purely residential and so cannot be included in a BID.5 The present BID runs along Broadway essentially from the 5 to Lincoln Park Avenue. Thus including the business district along Main would require a disconnected region. Here’s a map, if that’ll help.
Now let’s fast forward to October 2017, when Rita Moreno sent this email right here to Gina Trecher of Civitas Advisors, the BID consultant hired by the City to put the Hollywood Route 66 BID together. You can read it below, but the gist is that she’s telling Gina Trecher that the BID has to be connected so it can’t run to Hoover Street.
Rita Moreno <firstname.lastname@example.org> Wed, Oct 11,2017 at 9:55 AM
To: Gina T <email@example.com>
Cc: Ferris Wehbe <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Homer <email@example.com>, Jacob <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Jeff Zarrinnam <Jeff@hollywoodhotel.net>, Leron <Leron@hollywoodchamber.net>, “Morrie M. Zagha” <email@example.com>, Oliver Baker <OBaker@cimgroup.com>, Tyler <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Scott Hayner <email@example.com>, Larry Neuberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Nichole Farley <email@example.com>
I’ll be able to make the conference call. I’ve reviewed the maps and it looks like the East Hollywood parcels are included in the 3rd map where they are numbered as follows: 212, 230, 240, 241,275 and 276.
Since the boundaries of a BID must be contiguous, I’m not certain we will be able to extend the boundaries to Hoover St.
I’m looking up the law to find out.
City of Los Angeles
Office of the City Clerk
Neighborhood and Business Improvement District Division
200 N. Spring Street, 2nd Floor #237
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Office (213) 978-1122
Fax (213) 978-1130
And keep in mind who runs Civitas and who is, therefore, Gina Trecher’s boss. It is, of course, the famous John Lambeth, the man who wrote the damn PBID law in the first place.6 Wouldn’t it display infinitely more politesse to say something like “I’m under the impression that BID boundaries have to be contiguous [sic] but maybe you could ask your boss, who WROTE THE DAMN LAW IN THE FIRST PLACE?!”
In any case, something happened, maybe John Lambeth gave her a little talking to, because by January 2018, just a few months later, Rita Moreno sent this little email to Taylor Bazley, the world’s smartest field deputy just ask him,7 in which she states definitively that “And there is no legal requirement that the boundaries be contiguous.”8
Talk about chutzpah, amirite? She didn’t say “And there is no legal requirement that the boundaries be contiguous but for years I also thought there was!” She didn’t even acknowledge the exceedingly likely possibility that Taylor Bazley caught the contiguity disease from her, since e.g. he’s using the same wrong word for it that she uses. And that, my friends, is the whole sordid story! Make of it what, as always, you will!
Oh, p.s.! I was going to write about Rita Moreno practicing law without a license, and I really believe that that’s exactly what she’s doing here. But this is too long, it’s late, and you can read about it yourself in the Business and Professions Code at §6125 et seq.
Image of Gina Trechter is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and was obtained like a phoenix rising from the ashes of this lil item right here-io.
- This is topological parlance. It turns out that this is a fairly tricky concept to describe in ordinary language. A region on the surface of the earth that’s eligible in reality for being a BID is connected when it’s possible to draw a (possibly curved) unbroken line between any two points in the region without the line’s ever leaving the region. Note to pedants: I know that this description is actually of path connectedness. Are the distinguishing counterexamples eligible for BIDitude? I don’t think so. Do we need to go into them here? I really don’t think so.
- This is found at §36622(c), which states in pertinent part that “The boundaries of a proposed property assessment district shall not overlap with the boundaries of another existing property assessment district created pursuant to this part.”
- Per Business and Professions Code §6125 et seq.
- There are actually two BIDs in Lincoln Heights. One of them is the Lincoln Heights Industrial Zone PBID. That’s the one this post is NOT about. I’m not precisely sure what the other one is called because it’s not a normal BID, it’s an Alpha BID. What’s an Alpha BID? Good god, life is too short. It’s an obsolete kind of BID formerly authorized by the LAMC but no longer. Evidently these were a favorite of Misty Iwatsu’s, since her other BID, the infamous Highland Parkies, are also an Alpha BID.
- Of course per the PBID law at §36632(c), which states that “Properties zoned solely for residential use, or that are zoned for agricultural use, are conclusively presumed not to benefit from the improvements and service funded through these assessments, and shall not be subject to any assessment pursuant to this part.”
- He is, of course, public enemy number three at this blog (after Kerry Morrison and a player to be named later), but nevertheless to be admired. Although the PBID law has wreaked much purely avoidable havoc on the lives of many Californians, it has had a huge impact on the culture and history of this state. Such an accomplishment, as evil as it might be, is not an easy thing to attain. All respect to the fellow, even as I do my very best to undo his life’s work.
- It’s cause he went to UCLA, just ask him. Whatever you are, if you’re an X, if you also went to UCLA, then you’re the world’s smartest X. Just ask any of them. And they can’t be wrong, cause they’re the world’s smartest. Check freaking mate, USC grads. (Not the University of South Carolina, obvvy. The University of South Carolina is not known as “USC,” it’s known as “wait, what??!”
- Sorry to omit the entire context of this email. It’s detailed and this post is already getting quite long. I wrote at length about other aspects of this email in May, so there’s that anyway.