Now Available: Miranda Paster’s Weekly Reports to Holly Wolcott on the Activities of the Neighborhood And Business Improvement District Section of the City Clerk’s Office

city_clerk_logoI’m pleased to announce the availability of 30 months of weekly reports from Miranda Paster in her capacity as head of the Neighborhood & Business Improvement District Section of the Los Angeles City Clerk to City Clerk Holly Wolcott. These are available through this page in the menu structure or directly from here. Finally, they are available at Archive.Org. They are full of fascinating information.

In particular, they show that as early as the week of September 30, 2014 the Clerk’s staff was meeting with Venice Beach BID Proponents. The Clerk’s staff also met with VBBID proponents on August 17, 2015 If you look at the weeks surrounding that date you’ll see that they were meeting with Tara Devine on a weekly basis even that early, not to mention the fact that they met with CD11 staff on January 13, 2015 about the BID and Mike Bonin himself in February of 2015. I’ve requested records relating to that meeting from everyone in sight, but don’t have super high hopes anything more will turn up. This rounds out the story of this set of handwritten notes by someone at CD11 of that very meeting. And there is a lot more stuff in these reports, some of it quite shocking.

The August 17, 2015 report also shows that the Clerk’s staff met with CD15 staff about a proposed BID on Gaffey Street in San Pedro. This is interesting because both Council Districts and the Clerk’s office deny that they’re involved in BID formation. To hear both agencies tell it, they do nothing and the private BID proponents do everything. If that’s actually true, then they could explain meetings with City staff that involved the proponents, but what could be the reason for a Council District to meet with the Clerk about a proposed BID? The reason is, of course, that the Clerk and the Council district are actively involved in BID formation from the very beginning of the process so they have reason to talk with one another without the BID proponents being present.

And this is super-interesting! During the week of December 14, 2015 the report states:

On December 14, 2015, staff met with proponents for a proposed Gaffey Street Business Improvement District in San Pedro with representatives of Council District 15. CD 15 is opting to hire a consultant for outreach to property owners.

Maybe it’s just a mistake on Miranda Paster’s part, or maybe despite everyone’s denials, CD15 was actually so intimately involved in the process that they were the ones who got to choose to hire a consultant. Even if it were a mistake on Paster’s part, though, it must feel plausible to her, because it’s consistent with reality. After all, if one accidently typed something really outré like e.g. “The advance guard of the Martian invasion force is opting to hire a consultant… one would catch it right away. Unfortunately I don’t have time to look into this what with the Venice Beach crisis and the ongoing horror show here in Hollywood, but if someone else wants to and you have any questions, get in touch via email.

And perhaps most interesting of all, in a kind of esoteric way, is the fact that in the report for the week of June 15, 2015 we read that:

On June 18, 2015, staff mailed out notice of public hearing and ballot packages for the renewal of the South Los Angeles Industrial Tract and Granada Hills Business Improvement District and notice of public meeting and public hearing for the renewal of the Los Angeles Tourism Marketing District.

This is important because of course the Clerk denies that they have mailing lists for BIDs. They told me explicitly that they did not have a list of the Property owners in the VBBID and suggested that I inquire of shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine. But this report shows that the Clerk’s office actually is directly involved in mailing out materials to property owners. In some sense it’s not a surprise that they are. The City is required to follow the requirements of California Government Code section 53753 when establishing a BID. This is an extremely stringent statute and, not coincidentally, is the basis of LAFLA’s protest against the formation of the VBBID. That law requires that:

Prior to levying a new or increased assessment, or an existing assessment that is subject to the procedures and approval process set forth in Section 4 of Article XIII D of the California Constitution, an agency shall give notice by mail to the record owner of each identified parcel.

Note that it’s neither the consultant nor the property owners who are required to give notice by mail, but the City. So it’s not especially plausible when they deny having a mailing list,1 however, it’s still shocking to see statements in print that contradict explicit statements the Clerk’s office has made to me. Anyway, that’s your records fix for this fine Sunday night in Los Angeles. Tah!

  1. I have a CPRA request pending with the Clerk for the VBBID mailing list based on this section of the statute. Their response is now almost a week overdue. The list might not be useful at this late date, but if the request is successful it will serve as a proof of concept for obtaining such lists in the future. This in turn will be invaluable for organizing protests against BID renewal or trying to incite BID disestablishment hearings.
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