Not Only Did CD1 Senior Planning Deputy Gerald Gubatan Organize Little Tokyo Business Interests To Attend Council Meetings And Give Public Comment In Favor Of Parker Center Demolition But He Also Told Them They Ought To Place An Op-Ed In The Times As Part Of The Campaign — Of Course As A Member Of Gil Cedillo’s Senior Staff He Could Write An Op-Ed Himself — Or For That Matter Cedillo Could Write One — He’s Done It Before — But That Wouldn’t Contribute To The Illusion Of Community Buy-In — Hints Of The Connection Between Gubatan And Little Tokyo — A Preschool Couldn’t Pass Fire Inspection — Gubatan Helped Fix It

I recently wrote about the process whereby in 2017 José Huizar’s staff arranged for an ersatz show of community buy-in with respect to the demolition of Parker Center in what the putative buyers-in at least saw as a quid pro quo deal. And for reasons that remain unclear Gerald Gubatan, who is Gil Cedillo’s senior planning deputy, also participated in the ginning-up-of-support process, advising the astroturfers in embarrassingly painstaking detail on the ways and means of astroturfing.

Some newly obtained emails between Gubatan and various people in the Little Tokyo business community show that his advice extended further than previously known, to the point where he was suggesting that they write an op-ed for the L.A. Times pushing Cedillo’s view of Parker Center demolition and that they coordinate its appearance with Council hearings on the matter.

Certainly Gubatan or even Cedillo could write their own op-eds for the L.A. Times. A search in Proquest’s LA Times database shows that Cedillo’s published nine over the years.1 But of course, that wouldn’t have had the desired effect, not least because it would require Cedillo to reveal that he’d already made up his mind before the vote. It certainly wouldn’t have created and maintained the illusion of community buy-in on the creation of which CD1 was working so hard. Thus, if op-eds were to be written, it was imperative to find authors apparently independent of Cedillo’s office.

As this February 2017 email conversation shows, Gubatan chose his friends in Little Tokyo, Dean Matsubayashi of the Little Tokyo Service Center and Joanne Kumamoto of the Little Tokyo Business Improvement District to hit up for an op-ed. And Gubatan didn’t just tell them to write an op-ed, he told them that “ideally [it should] be timed with the City Council vote.”

Here’s that entire email. After the break find transcriptions of the rest of the conversation, along with more emails about an interesting 2016 episode involving the Little Tokyo Service Center a preschool that couldn’t get a fire permit and how Gerald Gubatan interceded with the Fire Department on behalf of the LTSC.

Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org> Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 3:47 PM

To: Dean Matsubayashi <DMatsubayashi@ltsc.org>, Joanne Kumamoto <jkumamoto@aol.com>

Dean, Joanne,

When one Googles “Parker Center,” the narratives which appear are mainly by the LA Times, JD Waldie, the LA Conservancy.

One does not find the perspectives articulated at the recent PLUM Committee hearing.

If there is a good, knowledgeable and articulate writer who has the time and energy to author such a perspective and forward the LA Times for publication, ideally to be timed with the City Council vote, I believe the narrative could fill an informational gap in the larger civic engagement.

Just a thought,

Gerald

Gerald G. Gubatan
Senior Planning Deputy
Office of Council Member Gilbert Cedillo
Council District 1
City Hall, Room 460
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: 213.473.7001
gerald.gubatan@lacity.org
http://cd1.lacity.org/

And Joanne Kumamoto at least was all over that. She wrote back in less2 than two hours with a detailed summary of what they’d already done. I’m not sure why she felt the need to explain past efforts to Gubatan, though. He’s not the boss of her and he was seeking action in the future. On the other hand, if, as would make perfect sense, these Little Tokyo-ites did see their astroturfing efforts as the quid in a QPQ deal, Kumamoto’s protestations would make perfect sense:

Joanne Kumamoto <jkumamoto@aol.com> Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 5:23 PM
To: gerald.gubatan@lacity.org, DMatsubayashi@ltsc.org

Hi Gerald and Dean,

We submitted a Op Ed to the LA Times, written by Chris Komai and one by Ellen Endo. With the first 15 days of our new President, there were so many issues that these may have been overlooked. I can check with Ellen and see if she can make a call to the LA Times again. I am sure we can get something in the Downtown News. There was an article in the Rafu Shimpo. This morning, NBC news reported that Parker Center was not recommended for HCM designation by the City Council committee (with photos of Parker Center). Now that the HCNC has a formal position they can also be more vocal. I know the Downtown Neighborhood Council and CCA also supported our position.

Dean, I don’t know if you sent any op-ed letters to any media outlets.

Joanne

And then poor Dean has to confess to the inadequacy of his efforts. Wouldn’t wanna be Dean at this moment:

Dean Matsubayashi <dmatsubayashi@ltsc.org> Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 8:12 PM
To: Joanne Kumamoto <jkumamoto@aol.com>
Cc: Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org>

Thanks Gerald. We did not work on any op-ed pieces. Rey from my office received a call from the Downtown News today
to comment on the hearing.

And Joanne, who at this point I am betting was an insufferable teacher’s pet as a child, realizes that she forgot to mention to Daddy one little point in her favor.

Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 8:26 PM
To: Dean Matsubayashi <dmatsubayashi@ltsc.org>
Cc: Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org>

Alan [Kumamoto]3 received a call from the LA Times this morning.

Joanne

Sent from my iPhone 6s Plus

And the rest of the thread is more of the same nonsense, and you can read it if you want to. And I guess it’s not that surprising that if Gubatan is advising Little Tokyo on how many people to bring to a hearing to give public comment to his boss in order to create a show for the rubes about community buy-in, it’s not that surprising that he’d tell them to write an op-ed also. Not surprising, perhaps. But interesting nonetheless.

Now let’s move on to an also-interesting 2016 episode. It remains an open question just why Gil Cedillo’s staff and Little Tokyo businessfolk are so intertwined given that Little Tokyo itself is in CD14. This email conversation doesn’t explain everything, but it’s a start. It seems that the Little Tokyo Service Center runs a preschool in CD1, and occasionally they have to ask Gil Cedillo’s office for a favor.

The asking evidently extends even to advice and comfort about their inability to get a fire permit for their preschool which, one would think, would be important to follow the rules for given that no one likes the thought of a bunch of small children being burned to death, especially if it’s going to come out afterwards that Gerald Gubatan helped the proprietors evade the legal requirements for getting a legit permit. I’ll just leave you with the transcription here. Take special note of the stalwart fire captain and his unwillingness to be coaxed away by Gubatan’s implied show of power from his determination that the law be followed.



Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org> Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 10:04 AM
To: Gary Carpenter <gary.carpenter@lacity.org>

Hello Captain Carpenter:

I am Gerald Gubatan, Senior Planning Deputy with CD-I, Office of Council Member Gil Cedillo.

I am contacting you regarding a Fire Permit issue related to an existing affordable housing development which includes a pre-school / child care center. The building is located at Edgeware Road and Angelina Street in CD-I. (See attached map for location). The owner-operator is the nonprofit Little Tokyo Service Center (known as “LTSC”).

The housing complex includes a preschool / child care center. Recently when the Fire Inspector came for an annual inspection this year, LAFD asked to see the Fire Permit. Apparently, the Fire Permit which the preschool staff has is not the right one. It is a Permit for another childcare center operated by the same nonprofit organization, but not the Fire Permit for this particular preschool. The owners are unable to find the correct Fire Permit.

So now, they are figuring out how to get a new Fire Permit. Unfortunately they have been getting bounced from desk to desk at Building & Safety, and getting confusing responses. For instance, LADBS printed a Certificate of Occupancy for the entire building, and then told them to go through procedures to apply for a “change of use” since the C of 0 said it was an apartment building. LADBS may have been thinking that the use was a “stand-alone” preschool.

I am reaching out to you for any suggestions on how to go about figuring out what are the steps to secure a Fire Permit for the Preschool which is included within the affordable housing building? I asked for copies of any documentation and here is what they provided:

• Fire inspection report – the inspection covers the entire building, including the preschool – called “daycare” in the report (but apparently Fire requires a separate Fire Permit for the preschool)

• Certificate of Occupancy which includes the housing units, parking, community space and daycare (note that this was based on original design plans – after the building opened, we used part of the community space for an additional preschool classroom. The occupancy counts were based on the original plans, which is why it is higher for the community space than daycare)

• Floor plan (the space labeled “Community Recreation” remains a community space, but the “Computer Vocational” room is the one that was taken over as an additional preschool classroom)

I am hoping you or someone from LAFD can assist with sorting out these issues and providing guidance to LTSC. Thank you in advance,

Gerald

Gerald G. Gubatan
Senior Planning Deputy
Office of Council Member Gilbert Cedillo
Council District 1
City Hall, Room 460
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: 213.473.7001
gerald.gubatan@lacity.org
http://cd1.lacity.org/



Gary Carpenter <gary.carpenter@lacity.org> Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 1:39 PM
To: Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org>

Good Afternoon,

The Fire Permit is needed for a pre-school. The current C of O is for a daycare. Each type of business needs a C of O for what they are using the location for. A pre-school needs a C of O for that location with the correct classification, an “E” occupancy for a school. Building and Safety is correct that the pre-school needs a “Change of Use” from a daycare to a pre-school. The LA City Fire Department requires a Fire Permit for all schools in the city. The customer won’t be able to get a Fire Permit from the Fire Department unless they have the correct C of O. The customer must get a C of O from Building and Safety before they can apply for a Fire Permit. Once the C of O is obtained for a Pre-School, they go to the Office of Finance @ 210 N Figueroa St, 3rd floor, where they apply for the Fire Permit. If they don’t have the correct C of O when they go to the Office of Finance, the process will stop until they obtain one. Building and Safety is the only entity that can issue a Change of Use / C of O.

Gary W. Carpenter, Fire Captain I
Schools, Churches & Institutions Unit
Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety
People,Processes,Progress
Office: (213) 978-3664
Fax: (213) 978-3612



Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org> Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 2:25 PM
To: Erich Nakano <enakano@ltsc.org>

Erich,

Please review comments from LAFD Captain Gary Carpenter. I’m stepping into a meeting and haven’t had a chance to review in detail.

I’m available to bounce off further.

Gerald G. Gubatan

Senior Planning Deputy
Office of Council Member Gilbert Cedillo
Council District 1
City Hall, Room 460
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: 213.473.7001
gerald.gubatan@lacity.org
http://cd1.lacity.org/



Erich Nakano <enakano@ltsc.org> Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 3:19 PM
To: Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org>

Gerald thanks – so one more thing if we can clarify (or if you prefer, I can email the person directly) – that a “daycare” use is considered different than a “preschool” use? We had thought they were the same – the preschool is what was planned for from the beginning. From a childcare standpoint, there is no difference – preschool just means ages 3-5, whereas “daycare” means providing care for children of any age (0-5 or school-age).



Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org> Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 3:52 PM
To: Gary Carpenter <gary.carpenter@lacity.org>
Cc: Erich Nakano <enakano@ltsc.org>

Hello Captain Carpenter,

Thank you for your response and information.

I’d like to introduce you to Erich Nakano who is with the nonprofit Little Tokyo Service Center which owns and operates the building. He asked for clarification: Is a “daycare” use is considered different than a “preschool” use? He was under the impression that they were the same. The “preschool” is what was planned for from the beginning. From a childcare standpoint, there is no difference – “preschool” just means ages 3-5, whereas “daycare” means providing care for children of any age (0-5 or school-age).

Erich, please feel free to add any comments. You may wish to connect with the Captain so you and the appropriate city departments can resolve the matter. I see that the Captain has provided direction on the process.

Gerald

Gerald G. Gubatan
Senior Planning Deputy
Office of Council Member Gilbert Cedillo
Council District 1
City Hall, Room 460
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: 213.473.7001
gerald.gubatan@lacity.org
http://cd1.lacity.org/



Gary Carpenter <gary.carpenter@lacity.org> Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 4:49 PM
To: Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org>
Cc: Erich Nakano <enakano@ltsc.org>

Hello,

According to the Office of Finance 2015 Fire Permit Fees, Day cares are classified as F-519 to F-522 and Schools are classified as F-574 to F-579. Both facilities are classified differently according to the Office of Finance require different C of O’s. Please refer to the Fire Permit Fees on the Office of Finance website.



Erich Nakano <enakano@ltsc.org> Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 5:02 PM
To: Gary Carpenter <gary.carpenter@lacity.org>
Cc: Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org>

Thank you for the clarification, and I appreciate your assistance on this.

Erich Nakano



Erich Nakano <enakano@ltsc.org> Tue, May 17, 2016 at 11:02 AM
To: Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org>

Hi Gerald – just wanted to thank you again for your help. One of our real estate project managers had to go down to Building & Safety and Fire to clear up some confusion, but was finally able to get the Fire Permit without a CofO change of use. Thanks again!

Erich

Erich Nakano | Deputy Director
(213) 473-1685 | enakano@ltsc.org

LITTLE TOKYO SERVICE CENTER | Positive Change for People and Places
231 E Third Street, G-106 Los Angeles, CA 90013 | www.ltsc.org


Image of Joanne Kumamoto is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and bears a marked-ish similarity to this JK over here.

  1. A Los Angeles Public Library card is needed to use the link at that location. You can get one for free. Also, I don’t know how to link directly into searches there, but if you go to advanced search, choose “author,” and enter “cedillo” you’ll find the nine op-eds I’m talking about.
  2. If you think I oughta have said “fewer” here, come at me, bro! Not gonna splain why you’re wrong in this blog post, though, cause it’s way far more off topic than even I am gonna go this morning, which is usually pretty far.
  3. Alan Kumamoto is some kind of bigwig on the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council, as well as being married to Joanne Kumamoto.
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