When first we met Ms. Alyssa Van Breene, round about the middle of 2015, she was out in Boyle Heights, shooting off her privileged mouth about street vending and how it must be forbidden because she and her strange BIDfellows “…work very hard to keep the sidewalks clean, safe, and hospitable for all pedestrians: tourists, workers, residents, and students.” Make a note of that “clean” bit. It’s going to come up again later.
When next we met Ms. Alyssa Van Breene she was boasting in her Board bio that her family had owned the northeast corner of Hollywood and Gower for four freaking generations, as if this were some kind of accomplishment to be proud of, predicated as it was and is on the white supremacist real estate policies that made Hollywood what it is today.
And when last we met Ms. Alyssa Van Breene, she was sitting in a room watching, not protesting, a gang of her white supremacist BID buddies laughing it up with Cowboy Cory Palka of the LAPD’s Hollywood Division about how fucked up South Los Angeles is. And really, this is how we meet her every month, as the HPOA plots to turn its BID Patrol into a tool for the LAPD to avoid civilian oversight, as they arrange the destruction of their own records to avoid criticism, as the BID Patrol continues to arrest the homeless merely to harass them, as they plot and plan to keep arresting street vendors, not to mention illegally destroying their wares, and so on. Her silence, obviously, equals her consent.
But we had assumed, without evidence or even much thought, that her destructive activities were confined to Hollywood, that yes, she was willing to oppress non-zillionaires by arresting them, mocking them, and chasing them out of Hollywood, but that that was the extent of the damage.
So what a surprise it was when the almighty Google turned us on to the fact that her mom, Dickie Van Breene (née Dulgarian) and her uncle Duke Dulgarian (and a bunch of other Dulgarians, but they don’t concern us here) were sued every which way but loose in 2013 in Federal Court by Kamala Harris and the California Department of Justice for illegally dumping a bunch of poisonous shit at a nickel-chrome plating factory in on East 62nd Street in South L.A. that they all inherited down the generations along with the Hollywood and Gower property, the economic benefits of which inure to Alyssa Van Breene just as surely as do those of the famous strip mall. You can read the initial complaint here, and it has some interesting history in it:
“In approximately 1927, a plating operation, called ‘Dulgarian & Sons Standard Plating Company’ or ‘Dulgarian Sons Standard Plating Company’ was established by certain members of the Dulgarian family on property at the Site. The on-Site operations included plating operations, including the chromium plating of pipes for the oil industry. The business was later incorporated in 1946 under the name Standard Nickel Chromium Plating Company or Standard Nickel Chromium Company, Inc., a named Defendant in this action… Defendant Duke Dulgarian, individually and doing business as DDD & Associates, LLC, Defendant Dickie Van Breene (formerly known as Dickie Dulgarian), individually and doing business as DDD & Associates, LLC…were all at one time owners and/or operators of a portion of the Site.”
And what did they do out there on East 62nd Street for all those years? Well:
“As a result of the acts of each of the Defendants, hazardous substances have been, and continue to be, released and/or threatened to be released [sic], into the soil and groundwater at, around, and beneath the Site…As part of its investigation, the Department collected samples of soil at the Site. These samples revealed the presence of hazardous substances in the soil at the Site, including but not limited to, hexavalent chromium, total chromium, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), principally the industrial solvents trichloroethylene (“TCE”) and perchloroethylene (“PCE”). The levels of chromium, chromium-6, PCE, and TCE in soil exceed the California Human Health Screening Levels and Preliminary Remediation Goals of the US EPA. Groundwater samples have been collected at the Site. These samples revealed the presence of hazardous substances in the groundwater beneath the Site, including, but not limited to, hexavalent chromium, total chromium and VOCs, principally the industrial solvents TCE and PCE.”
And what did they do out there on East 62nd Street when Kamala Harris and the Enviro-coppers said “hey guys, you have dumped poisonous shit everywhere and it soaked into the water and now you must clean it up like good boys and girls!!”?
“Defendants failed to complete the investigation and remediation of releases and/or threatened releases of hazardous substance at or from the Site as required by the ISE Order and Amendment.”
Well, the Dulgarians settled out of court and paid a bunch of money and didn’t admit their guilt and so on, but that’s just to be expected. And it leads us to wonder what Alyssa Van Breene was thinking in Boyle Heights when she argued that street vendors have to continue to be arrested to keep the sidewalks of Hollywood clean. After all, Alyssa, who needs to be arrested to keep the earth and water of South Los Angeles clean? Your mom, evidently. Are some relatively harmless ice-cream vendors on Hollywood Boulevard a more urgent problem? It doesn’t seem so to sane people.
Another interesting thing is the contrast with how Alyssa Van Breene and her family handle their property holdings in Hollywood and those in South LA. First of all there’s the superficial irony in the fact that they send the darling daughter of the Dulgarians out here to be on the HPOA Board and promote mass arrests of homeless people and to push forward Kerry Morrison’s weirdly neurotico-delusory visions of cleanliness on the streets of Hollywood while at the same time failing to keep the streets of South Los Angeles clean by dumping poison all around the place and laughing with policemen who should probably know better about how fucked up the whole place is down there. But really, that’s the way clueless white supremacist zillionaires always act. After making money, their main talents are generally oblivious condescension and rationalization. Zillionaires gonna rationalize. We’re not writing our Pulitzer speech yet, friends.
A really ironic part, a part of this mess that’s really so upsetting,1 is illustrated clearly by the fact that a bunch of these Dulgarians live in white supremacist stronghold Manhattan Beach. In fact, Alyssa Van Breene’s stepdad is the freaking mayor of Manhattan Beach. Two things that Manhattan Beach doesn’t have are tall buildings, (like Hollywood), and poison-spewing factories (like South Los Angeles).2 Sure, you might say, who shits where they eat? But, you know, civilized and mature people who understand this principle don’t shit where other people eat, either, you know?
In a strong sense, then, these Dulgarians (and their progeny Alyssa Van Breene) see both Hollywood and South LA as colonies to be exploited, polluted, ruined by their greed, using financial strategies that they don’t want around where they themselves actually live. This is one of the fundamental principles of the HPOA as well. Most of them don’t live in Hollywood, and those that do (we’re looking at you, Fabio Conti) don’t live in parts of Hollywood affected by their wicked shenanigans. They seem mostly to live in the white supremacist Hollywood Hills, which are the local equivalent of Manhattan Beach. They, like the Dulgarians, come here to make money, and to hell with the people, both homeless and housed, who actually live here.
Yes, it’s worse to have poison in your groundwater than it is to have another stupid mixed-use monstrosity on Hollywood Boulevard,3 but the attitude of the zillionaires who cause the damage is the same. They hate Los Angeles and, thanks to the misguided policies of the City, which creates BIDs for them to wield like swords to fuck up a place they won’t even stoop to live in, they have the power to indelibly stamp their exploitive hatred on our geography.
This is yet another example of how the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, and all BIDs in LA, serve to perpetuate and reproduce the pervasive racism of historical Los Angeles and to maintain the power of white supremacy covertly in the present day, even though it’s overtly shunned by everyone. We will continue our research into this issue, as we’re beginning to suspect that it’s the underlying explanation for most of what’s confusing about BIDs.
Image of Alyssa Van Breene is a public record. Images of Standard Nickel-Chromium Plating Company buildings are ©2016 MichaelKohlhaas.org. Environmental racism map is public domain, obtained from the 1996 Toxic Release Inventory (U.S. EPA), 1990 U.S. Census.
- From the point of view of Hollywood, obviously. Toxic-waste-dumping is objectively way more upsetting than anything these people get up to in Hollywood.
- We seem to recall that Manhattan Beach used to have a factory or two, maybe pottery? But they’re long-gone at this point.
- As far as we know, neither Alyssa Van Breene nor any other Dulgarians are directly involved in mixed-use monstrosity development, but they’re surely promoting it by having Alyssa sit on the HPOA Board, and they’re profiting off it through rising commercial rents at Hollywood and Gower.