West Adams is famous for many things, its signature Victorian architecture, having been the legendary home of many famous African-Americans in the 20th Century, center of black gay culture in Los Angeles, and so much besides. But none of that really matters in these latter days. Ultimately the fate of West Adams will be determined solely by the fact that it’s really close to Culver City but the rent is a lot lower at the very moment when Tech Bro World, having been priced out of Venice, is expanding in that very direction.
Which is why, in case you missed it, the thuggish Trump-buddy real estate zillionaires who call themselves CIM Group have been buying properties all over the neigborhood, developing live/work multi-use monstrosities and and hotels and God knows what-all. CIM Group is famous for its outlaw behavior, what with illegally chasing tenants out of rent-stabilized buildings, and illegally AirBnBing buildings that don’t have occupancy permits, and violating the terms of their building permits, and other such shenanigans.1
And CIM Group is also famous for its support of business improvement districts in neighborhoods where it’s parking its considerable capital. Just for one instance, there’s perennial Hollywood Entertainment District BID Boardie Monica Yamada, vice president for incomprehensible nonsense at CIM. And earlier this month I first learned that BID consultants New City America2 were working on setting up a BID in West Adams and, more recently, that CIM Group seems to be the main proponent.
In particular, CIM groupies Catherine Randall and Geffen Kuba3 seem to be walking point. These facts, and not much more, come from some recently obtained emails relating to the BID formation process. First see this conversation between Marco Li Mandri and Wesson staffer Kimani Black. There’s also this short note from Shirley Zawadski to the City Clerk letting them know that the formation process is underway.
According to Li Mandri the plan is to have the engineer’s report and the management district plan in to the Clerk’s office by the middle of January. I don’t know if they have gone to petitions yet. The BID is expected to raise $370,000 in its first year of operation. Turn the page for links to and transcriptions of the emails on which the story is based.
First, on November 26, 2018, New City America executive assistant Monica Montes emailed Kimani Black about a BID formation steering committee meeting, to be held in the Alta at 5359 W. Adams Blvd, which appears to be some kind of hoitsy soul food joint, all cleaned up and expensified for the incoming residents. The kind of place that is to human food as BIDs are to municipal government:4
Dear West Adams Steering Committee Members & Guest;
Please find the attached package for the West Adams Steering Committee meeting on:
Thursday November 29, 2018 @ 11 a.m.
Location: Alta Dining Room, 5359 W. Adams.
We look forward to seeing you!
The next day NCA honcho and noted crazyguy Marco Li Mandri emailed Black with a more personal invite. A plausible reason for this possible urgency is discussed below. Note that dude uses a Blackberry and CCs his emails to himself. ‘Nuff said, amirite?
Marco <email@example.com> Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 6:58 AM
To: Kimani Black <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Marco-NCA <Marco@newcityamerica.com>
I hope you had a nice thanksgiving. Please see if you can make this meeting of the West Adams PBID Steering Committee this week on Thursday. Thanks
Marco Li Mandri
New City America
Sent from my BlackBerry – the most secure mobile device
And evidently Kimani Black did not make it to the meeting. Nor did she respond to his emails, if we’re to believe CD10 that everything responsive was handed over. That’s why, it appears, that a couple days later, on December 1, 2018, Li Mandri emailed Black with a summary of what happened. Crucially, Li Mandri CCed this email to two people at CIM Group, providing all the evidence we have so far that this secretive real estate company is the main impetus behind the BID.
Also interesting is the budget Li Mandri reveals, $370,000 for the first year of the BID’s operation, and the timeline. He hopes to have the MDP and the engineer’s report in to the Clerk by the middle of January, and he claims to need Black’s help to rush the materials through, which is, presumably, why he was so desperate to have her attend the meeting. Not a word about the petitions, as I said above. More news as I have it, friends, and here’s that last email:
From: Marco-NCA <Marco@newcityamerica.com> Sat, Dec 1, 2018 at 3:01 PM
Cc: Catherine Randall <CRandall@cimgroup.com>, Geffen Kuba <email@example.com>
On Thursday we approved one of the options for the West Adams PBID. The district will generate around $370k for the first year primarily for cleaning, beautification and branding.
I am hoping to have the management plan done sometime in the middle of the month. I will then be submitting it to the Clerk along v/ith the Engineers report.
We will need your help to hopefully get it out of the Clerk’s office by mid January. Tell me if you think that will be a problem. Thanks
Marco Li Mandri
Consultant to the West Adams PBID Steering Committee
Image of Marco Li Mandri is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. If you wanna know the picture, know the roots!
- As a kinda-sorta mitigating factor, I will note that, at least in 2014 back when I cared enough to check my server logs on such a granular basis, they were also regular readers of this blog. What they’ve learned from it, if anything, I really couldn’t say.
- Run by the world’s angriest BID consultant Marco Li Mandri, about whom I will be writing so much more you won’t believe it. The guy is really freaking whack. He’s involved with BIDs all over the United States, and here in greater Los Angeles, with the Lincoln Heights Industrial Zone BID and Downtown Glendale at the very least. Just as a teaser for stories to be written in the future, Marco Li Mandri actually told me that the Lincoln Heights BID’s emails weren’t subject to the CPRA because the board members used their private email accounts rather than the BID’s email address to conduct BID business. This is his actual argument. He’s still discussing it with his lawyer and at some point you’ll hear about it in thrilling full color detail!
- Zillionaires are famous for giving their offspring weirdo zillionaire dog whistle names. I’m thinking that this one is parsable as being CIM Group principal Shaul Kuba’s kid that he named after David Geffen for some only-comprehensible-to-zillionaires kinda reason.
- I have not yet managed to obtain a copy of the attached package whose presence you can see in the PDFs of the emails, but I’m working on it. It promises to be quite interesting.