Well, it’s always interesting to visit a new BID for the first time, and today’s journey out to Chinatown was certainly no exception. The BID meets in the Far East Plaza upstairs1 so up I went. They tried to get me to sign in, but I just ignored them because that’s illegal, innit?2 I did record the meeting, and you can watch the whole thing if you want here on YouTube and also here on Archive.Org if Google gives you the willies.3
There was a lot to write about at that meeting, but the most interesting thing4 was the fact that George Yu, just like that lady from the Arts District last month, decided he was going to confront me about recording his meeting, so he came over, just like she did, and stuck his face right in the camera, just like she did, and proceeded to embarrass himself in his anger and his shame, just like she did. Watch the whole frickin’ episode right here.
Now, a lot of other interesting stuff happened at this meeting, but I’m going to have to put off writing about it, because the very most interesting thing that happened today happened right after the meeting. As you’re probably aware, Howlin’ Rays does not actually define the the Far East Plaza, which also has some nice restaurants that are NOT overrun by zombie hipster hordes. And since the BID meeting was right at lunch time I thought I’d eat a banh mi and some pho before hopping the good old 45 southbound back to reality.
But after I ordered and before most of my food came,5 a security guard came busting into the restaurant and told me that the Far East Plaza was private property and that the owner didn’t want me there any more and that I would have to leave. Did I mention I recorded him too? Watch it here on YouTube or here on Archive.Org.6
I’ve been through a lot of crazy stuff when exercising my constitutional right to film BIDs,7 but this is right up there with the very craziest, which was the time I got screamed at for being possessed because I filmed meetings. Also, while George Yu’s argument makes some kind of sense theoretically, there are aspects to the situation that make it plausible that he can’t actually ban me from the property without some kind of reason. Turn the page for my amateur speculations on the matter!
Just for instance, consider the fact that the California Public Records Act, specifically at§6253(a), that “[p]ublic records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record…” As we know, BIDs don’t have offices, but the property owners’ associations that control them do.
The POA for the Chinatown BID is something called the Los Angeles Chinatown Business Council. According to the information that they filed with the California Secretary of State, their office is at 727 North Broadway, Ste. 208, Los Angeles, 90012. That’s the Far East Plaza. Also, don’t forget that the California Constitution at Article I, Section 3(b)(7) requires the Chinatown BID to comply with the public records act.
Clearly if property owners had some unqualified right to unilaterally and unconditionally ban people from their private property, even if there’s an office on the premises subject to the CPRA, then that constitutional right doesn’t mean much, if anything. Even if there’s a state law against trespassing the Constitution’s going to trump it.
Even if there’s a constitutional right to ban people from private property we’re talking about the conflict of two constitutional rights, and it isn’t clear which will prevail. Clearly my constitutional right to inspect the records does mean something, though, so there’s certainly an argument to be made against George Yu’s ability to ban me from the Far East Plaza even if it is private property.
And not only that, but the Brown Act at §54954.2(a) requires the BID’s agendas to “be posted in a location that is freely accessible to members of the public.” George Yu’s BID posts its agendas outside its office in the Far East Plaza Suite 208. If he can unilaterally and arbitrarily ban me from the premises there’s no way that the location is “freely accessible to members of the public.” So that’s a problem too. And there are certainly other problems as well, but we’ll save some for the pleadings.
In closing, though, I’d just like to note that it’s so peculiar that a fully grown adult human being, and a fairly elderly one at that, hasn’t learned to control his impulses more than George Yu. I mean, sure, he hates me and he’s used to exacting unquestioning obedience from his his weirdo criminal co-conspirators, so it makes him mad when I won’t answer him.
But hasn’t he learned, at his advanced age, that he’s only making himself even more vulnerable than he already was by acting out like this? I mean, evidently he has not, and evidently it is up to me to teach him the lesson,8 but it’s just so strange. Grow up, George Yu, you big poopy-pants whiny baby!!
Image of George Yu is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. It’s a screenshot from the damn video, innit?
- Downstairs you have to step carefully through the everpresent zombie hipster mob, praying to your higher power or whatever that they don’t mistake your face for something from Howlin’ Rays and proceed to chew it off in their hunger and confusion after three days straight in line. I’m pretty sure babies have been born in that line. I’m pretty sure it’s the same damn people in line from when the place first opened. At first I was waiting for the line to die down before I tried it. Now I’ve given up cause actually there’s no way food can be so good as to induce a years-long line, which means the hipsters are just fronting and who’s got time for that?
- See the Brown Act at §54953.3: “A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of a legislative body of a local agency, to register his or her name, to provide other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance.”
- And why wouldn’t it?
- The most interesting thing during the meeting. The most interesting thing of all happened after the meeting, and you’ll just have to read on to hear about that.
- I made it through half the pho and none of the banh mi.
- He also told me it was illegal to record him. Good luck with that one, friend.
- It’s the California Constitution, friend, which is still a constitution.
- Which, evidently, I’m going to do joyfully, gleefully, happily, zestily, and with a great deal of financial pain for Mr. George Yu and his damn BID.