Maybe you remember how in June and July 2019 the Los Angeles City Council was considering renewing the appalling LAMC 85.02, which makes vehicle dwelling illegal? And dozens of advocates for the rights of the unhoused took time to appear and give public comment urging the Council not to renew the law. They stayed away from work, from family, from the countless obligations and responsibilities that unpaid volunteers have to neglect in order to participate in civic life.
And the City Council ignored their wisdom, their experience, their sincere and deep understanding of the facts, they ignored the fact that not one single public commenter spoke in favor of their wicked ordinance, not one. They voted to renew their reprehensible legal ban on vehicle dwelling and then, when the chamber erupted in protest, the Councilmembers first had the police arrest one member of the public and clear the rest from the room. They then assuaged their own fully justified guilt and shame by telling one another the soothing lie that the protesters were paid for their advocacy? Well, anyway, that’s what happened.
And maybe you also remember that for the last eleventy seven years or so the local zillionaires have been fighting rabidly against street vending in Los Angeles, weaponizing the municipal power they pay so dearly to control through many violent conduits against these helpless workers. Their psychopathic campaign got so out of hand that last year the State Legislature had to step in and pass a law forbidding municipalities from outlawing vending.
But there are some loopholes, or at least some language that can be made by zillionaire lawyers to appear enough like a loophole to serve their purposes for now, and the zillies have been hard at work chipping away at the protections afforded by the law to the vendors, telling blatant lies when it serves their wicked purposes.. And it seems that one of the things away at which they’re determined to chip is food vendors who actually cook on stoves and stuff, and maybe have some chairs for their customers.
If you live in actual real live Los Angeles instead of some kind of collective zillionaire delusion like the Pacific Palisades, which almost certainly doesn’t actually exist in normal reality, this is the kind of thing you see every day, or at least every evening, when they really come out in numbers. Pupusas, tacos, pollo rostizado, churrascos, and so on. This is a ubiquitous style of street food vending. Street vending, even complex setups like these, are an essential part of the cultural fabric of Los Angeles, and are to be celebrated, not outlawed.
But the zillies can’t bear it, or at least that’s the message conveyed by this unhinged letter from some unhinged lobbying group known as the SO CAL Restaurant Association Org. And I’m not engaging in hyperbole by calling this letter unhinged. It’s on a literary par with those taunting letters that serial killers in movies stitch together from clipped newspapers and send to the police announcing their next victims in code.
It is complete madness, along with characteristically bizarre typography, inappropriate quotation marks, SCREAMING CAPITALIZATION, sometimes with EXTRA ITALICS for that next-level unhinged appearance. Blaming disease up to and including childhood leukemia on street food, whining about how food vendors are hurting their businesses, and so on. This letter was submitted to the City Council as public comment for their hearing on the matter last week. And did our Council dismiss this crazed ranting the way they dismissed the wide variety of deeply informed thoughtful comments asking them to stop and not further torment our vehicle-dwelling friends and neighbors by renewing their punitive law? They did not.
In fact, in yet another instance of the cartoonish performance of putative deliberation for which our Council is renowned, bootlicking buffoon Paul Koretz introduced an obviously prearranged motion asking the Bureau of Street Services, an agency whose leader is on record supporting fairly crazed enforcement measures, to figure out how to satisfy every single insane desire of these insane restaurant lobbyists and, not only that, but to figure out how to enforce a ban on more complex food vending operations by even stronger, probably criminal, bans. Given that the ordinance is already poised to have permit rules enforced by armed BSS agents, this is really terrifying indeed. As you probably recall, Koretz has a history of precisely this kind of anti-vendor pandering.
So there’s a lesson here for advocates for the rights of our homeless neighbors and friends. If you want the City Council to act on your comments experience is not enough, understanding, articulate presentations, moral strength, being on the right side of history, promoting principles accepted and celebrated by every religion and spiritual tradition known to human history, none of this is enough. Appearing sane? Not enough. Maybe detrimental. Instead, it appears, you have to be representing some zillionaires. That’s enough. Maybe appearing completely unhinged is helpful, but it’s certainly not a drawback. Read on for the text of Koretz’s shameful amending motion and a few samples and screenshots from the lobbyists’ bizarre1 screed.
First, the motion itself, which is bad enough:
I MOVE that the matter of Continued Consideration of Communication from the City Attorney and Ordinance First Consideration relative to amending the Los Angeles Administrative Code and the Los Angeles Municipal Code to retitle and update the special trust fund for the City’s Sidewalk and Park Vending Program and specify the graduated permit fee amount, Item No. 40 on today’s Council Continuation Agenda (C.F. 13-1493, 13-1493-S5 and 19-0600-S155), BE AMENDED, to instruct the Bureau of Street Services to report with options to address unpermitted vending businesses such as restaurant-style operations, with equipment, tables, and chairs that obstruct the public right-of-way and create unsafe environments for our communities and include compliance strategies that could be enforced by other municipal enforcement agencies.
And here are images of the letter itself, if you can stand to read the lunacy. Don’t forget, never forget, that this letter was apparently enough to get Koretz to make the above motion, whereas hours of reasoned, caring, wise, temperate, calm, sane commentary by accomplished and extremely experienced activists is routinely ignored not only by Koretz but by his fourteen complicit colleagues as well.
Image of Paul Freaking Koretz is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and is then well over yes acourse and stuff, right?