Category Archives: Business Improvement Districts

North Figueroa Association — AKA Highland Park BID — And Lincoln Heights BID — Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — After I Exposed Their Mural Erasures — And Social Media Stalking — And Attacks On Street Vendors — In 2018 They Lawyered Up — And Stopped Complying With The Law — Apparently Litigation Is The Only Way To Get These Outlaws To Comply With Their Damn Obligations

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our old friends at the Highland Park BID but that’s certainly not because I lost interest in them! You’ll recall that in early 2018 they released a really rich set of emails in response to some requests made under the California Public Records Act. These records revealed, among other things, the BID’s complicity in the ongoing hurricane-force gentrification of Highland Park, using tactics like mural erasure and harassment of street vendors. The emails also showed the BID’s creepy Facebook stalking of local antigentrification activists, coordinated with weirdo CD1 staffer Bill Cody.

The Highland Park BID’s executive director, Misty Iwatsu, is also the ED of the Lincoln Heights BID.1 Lincoln Heights isn’t as under the gentrification gun as Highland Park, but it’s going to be very soon. So in May 2018 I sent some CPRA requests to the LHBID, seeking to understand their role in changing the neighborhood and also to understand their BID renewal process, which was just beginning. But by the middle of that month Iwatsu’s two BIDs had evidently had their damn fill of transparency.2 They hired ritzy Manhattan Beach lawyer Mark Abramson, who on their behalf immediately stopped complying with the CPRA.

And as usual I spent some time trying to convince the guy to straighten up and follow the law, but he simply would not do it. The previously smooth flow of records ceased. Abramson announced vague far-in-the-future deadlines for production and then blew through them, sent corrupted files and denied they were corrupted, and all the usual tactics that obstructionist agencies rely on. At some point it became clear that no one at either of these BIDs was planning to comply with the law, so on Monday, January 13, 2020, I filed a petition in L.A. County Superior Court asking the judge to compel them.

The public interest in accessing this material is huge even apart from the general public interest in having public agencies comply with the Public Records Act. The BID’s role in mural erasure was covered in L.A. Magazine and The Boulevard Sentinel and local activists Restorative Justice for the Arts have organized in opposition. The Lincoln Heights BID is actually involved somehow in the planned gentrification of that neighborhood, which has also been covered in the press. And in the 18 months since the BIDs stopped complying we’ve been kept in the dark about whatever else these publicly funded entities are getting up to. This cannot be allowed to continue! Read on for selections from the petition!
Continue reading North Figueroa Association — AKA Highland Park BID — And Lincoln Heights BID — Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — After I Exposed Their Mural Erasures — And Social Media Stalking — And Attacks On Street Vendors — In 2018 They Lawyered Up — And Stopped Complying With The Law — Apparently Litigation Is The Only Way To Get These Outlaws To Comply With Their Damn Obligations

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The West Adams BID Formation Process Has Officially Begun — The Council File Is Opened — And The Draft Ordinance Of Intention Is Published — Largely Promoted By Supervillain Developers CIM Group — The Petitions Are In And Property Owners Holding 50.4% Of The Assessed Value Approve — The Management District Plan Proves That The BID’s Main Purpose Is To Support The Ongoing Tornado-Force Gentrification Of This Vulnerable Neighborhood — Almost Certainly This BID Can’t Be Stopped And Will Start Its Wicked Work On January 1, 2021

A business improvement district that has been in the works in rapidly gentrifying West Adams at least since the Summer of 2018 is finally moving forward and is very likely to be created by the City later this year and begin operations on January 1, 2021. The formation effort is largely backed by supervillainesque developer CIM group, which owns a huge plurality of the commercial property in the proposed district, slated to run along Adams from La Brea to Hauser.1 The formation materials are currently contained in Council File 20-0020.

Recall that a BID is a geographical area within which commercial property owners2 pay extra taxes3 to fund various services. The formal BID creation process begins with a group of property owners4 petitioning the City to allow a BID to be formed. It’s required by the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994, which is the authority under which BIDs are created and administered in California, that these petitions represent property owners “who will pay more than 50 percent of the assessments proposed to be levied”5

According to the report placed in the Council File by the City Clerk they received petitions representing $106,034.65 out of a total assessed value in the proposed district of $210,388.90, which is 50.4%. The report doesn’t say how many distinct owners signed petitions nor who they were, but I’m working on finding out. The next stage in the formal process is for City Council to pass a so-called Ordinance of Intention, the draft of which is available here.

Once this is passed the City Clerk will mail out ballots to all the property owners and if enough of them, again weighted by assessment amounts, vote in favor of the BID City Council will pass another ordinance creating the BID. Before this can happen the owners have to know what services their extra taxes are going to fund, which is laid out in great detail in the so-called Management District Plan.6 When a BID is created this document7 is incorporated into the law establishing it and then they can’t spend money for anything not enumerated in the plan. The proposed West Adams BID’s MDP is here.

The West Adams BID’s proposed activities are limited in the MDP to “Sidewalk Operations, District Identity and Placemaking, and Administration Services.” The MDP makes it very clear that the BID is being formed to support gentrification, though, stating that its “services would be needed to accommodate hundreds of new apartments and businesses opening in 2019 and 2020, and these services would be needed by the beginning of 2021.” The surprise omission here is funding for security guards. During the pre-formation process CIM Group’s support-building outreach focused to a great extent on property owners’ perceptions of safety in the area.
Continue reading The West Adams BID Formation Process Has Officially Begun — The Council File Is Opened — And The Draft Ordinance Of Intention Is Published — Largely Promoted By Supervillain Developers CIM Group — The Petitions Are In And Property Owners Holding 50.4% Of The Assessed Value Approve — The Management District Plan Proves That The BID’s Main Purpose Is To Support The Ongoing Tornado-Force Gentrification Of This Vulnerable Neighborhood — Almost Certainly This BID Can’t Be Stopped And Will Start Its Wicked Work On January 1, 2021

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Larchmont Village BID Ordered To Pay $42K In Attorney Fees In My Public Records Suit Against Them! — Their Weirdo Lawyer Tom Cairns Savagely Rebuked By Judge For His Dishonest Nonsense! — I Hope Other BIDs Will Learn Their Damn Lesson From This Stunning Victory And Stop Obstructing Access To Public Records!

You will no doubt recall that in June of this year the creepy little South Central Hollywood white supremacist criminal conspirators over at the Larchmont Village BID crashed, burned, and utterly lost the public records lawsuit I was forced by their unhinged intransigence to file against them back in early 2018.

And the chariot of justice is creeps slowly along its path as if pulled by snails, friends, but it eventually gets where it’s going. Thus did it happen that yesterday, November 21, I found myself once again at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, right there in Department 82, represented by the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros, arguing for the fees which he so righteously earned in this righteous cause!
Continue reading Larchmont Village BID Ordered To Pay $42K In Attorney Fees In My Public Records Suit Against Them! — Their Weirdo Lawyer Tom Cairns Savagely Rebuked By Judge For His Dishonest Nonsense! — I Hope Other BIDs Will Learn Their Damn Lesson From This Stunning Victory And Stop Obstructing Access To Public Records!

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Judge Mitchell Beckloff Orders George Yu And The Other Directors Of The Chinatown BID To Appear Before Him And Explain Why They Should Not Be Held In Contempt Of Court For Continuing To Ignore His Order To Hand Over The Damn Public Records — They’ve Ignored Every Part Of This Lawsuit So Far — But If They Ignore This Part They May Be Forced To Pay Even More Money — And Be Arrested — And Go To Jail For Up To Five Days — The Hearing Is Set For December 27 At 9:30 AM

Here’s a summary of where we are in our public records suit against the Chinatown Business Improvement District. We filed it in August 2018 because the BID ignored our requests for records. The BID never participated at all and in July 2019 we prevailed over them and Judge Mitchell Beckloff subsequently ordered the BID to produce the records.

They continued to ignore the whole situation so last week our attorneys filed a motion asking the judge to hold them in contempt of court for refusing to comply with his order. They didn’t show up for the hearing on that either, which was on Friday morning, so the judge ordered them to show up on December 27, 2019 at 9:30 AM1 and explain themselves. The charge is contempt of court, which is defined in the California Code of Civil Procedure at §1209 to include “Disobedience of any lawful judgment, order, or process of the court.”

And the same Code, now at §1218, allows the judge to punish the contempt with fines of up to $1,000 and up to five days of jail time. Also the judge is allowed by §1212 to have people arrested and brought before the court to answer for contempt charges. So if the BID doesn’t show up for this proceeding things might get really, really interesting! Read on for a transcription of the judge’s order.
Continue reading Judge Mitchell Beckloff Orders George Yu And The Other Directors Of The Chinatown BID To Appear Before Him And Explain Why They Should Not Be Held In Contempt Of Court For Continuing To Ignore His Order To Hand Over The Damn Public Records — They’ve Ignored Every Part Of This Lawsuit So Far — But If They Ignore This Part They May Be Forced To Pay Even More Money — And Be Arrested — And Go To Jail For Up To Five Days — The Hearing Is Set For December 27 At 9:30 AM

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My Public Records Act Case Against The Historic Core BID Went To Trial Today — And The BIDdies Lost Big-Time! — Judge Orders Them To Do A New Search! — And Basically Scoffs At Their Argument That MailChimp Doesn’t Send Emails! — BID Lawyer Jeff Briggs Actually Argued In Open Court That They Shouldn’t Have To Hand Over Records Because Of The Upcoming Fee Motion! — Total Loser Move! — If They Were Mops The Floor Would Be Cleanest!

Quick summary! In August 2018 I was forced by the unhinged intransigence of Blair Besten, half-pint Norma Desmond of the Historic Core BID, to file a petition seeking to enforce my rights under the California Public Records Act. So the usual on-and-freaking-on process of CPRA litigation happened and after a few archetypally zany moments, like La Besten denying under oath that those things her BID sends out via MailChimp are, you know, emails, everybody filed their briefs in July and then today, Tuesday, November 5, we finally had the damn trial.

And the judge, James Chalfant, did as judges will do, and issued a tentative ruling the day before, and you can read it right here.1 And then this afternoon at the trial, after some characteristically futile yammering by counsel for respondent, the notoriously feckless Jeffrey Charles Briggs, the judge adopted his tentative ruling, handing us, that is me and my lawyer, the incomparable Colleen Flynn, a major victory. In particular, said the judge, those things that MailChimp sends are indeed emails and the BID is ordered to search for them and hand them over.
Continue reading My Public Records Act Case Against The Historic Core BID Went To Trial Today — And The BIDdies Lost Big-Time! — Judge Orders Them To Do A New Search! — And Basically Scoffs At Their Argument That MailChimp Doesn’t Send Emails! — BID Lawyer Jeff Briggs Actually Argued In Open Court That They Shouldn’t Have To Hand Over Records Because Of The Upcoming Fee Motion! — Total Loser Move! — If They Were Mops The Floor Would Be Cleanest!

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LAPD Transit Services Division Monitored Extinction Rebellion’s Social Media In April 2019 And Sent Out Reports To Allied Universal Security — A Private Security Firm Employed By Many Business Improvement Districts In Los Angeles — Subsequently AUS Distributed LAPD Intelligence Reports To Its Clients

As you may well know there is a group of activists here in Los Angeles, known as Stop LAPD Spying, which is dedicated to the goal of stopping LAPD from spying. Such a group is, sadly, really necessary because LAPD just will not stop spying. From the famous red squad to the present, they just will not cut it out. And one of the forms LAPD spying takes in the present day is the monitoring of social media accounts and the dissemination of so-called intelligence gathered there. For instance, in 2017 dedicated LAPD social media stalkers learned of an unpermitted demonstration planned by a group called Code Pink, and they emailed a bunch of security people and BIDs Downtown about it and possibly even sent cops to the event.

And just today I learned of another such incident, this time involving LAPD’s Transit Services Division. It seems that Extinction Rebellion Los Angeles was planning a protest for April 22, 2019 to take place on the Red Line train, although the location was not at first revealed. As folks will do these days they coordinated it via social media, and the TSD was watching. And screenshotting. And disseminating their work to various private security companies, who sent it along to their clients, which include business improvement districts.

I learned of this from an April 21, 2019 email sent by Brian Raboin of Allied Universal Security to his clients, including the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. Raboin quotes extensively from an LAPD email that I don’t yet have a copy of, in which it’s revealed that not only was TSD monitoring Extinction Rebellion’s social media, but that the Media Relations Division was as well. There is a transcription of this email below. And Raboin also sent an attachment consisting of thirteen pages of screenshots from various Extinction Rebellion social media pages. Selected images from this document appear below as well.

On April 22, 2019 Extinction Rebellion announced via Facebook that the protest would take place, or at least start out, at Universal City Station. And, even more ominously in the jaundiced view of these cops and their henchies in private security, recommended that participants wear “clothes that can get stained.” The police sent out an update immediately and Raboin forwarded it along to his clients. That’s the story. I’ll leave the moral for you to formulate.

But it’s essential to continue to piece together evidence about what LAPD can monitor, what they do monitor, and with whom they share the fruits of their monitoring. Just yesterday it seems like the whole human population of New York City rose up against violent overpolicing on their subways. And the whole human population of Los Angeles can see that we have the same problem and that it might well lead to the same kind of reaction. So it’s worth remembering while we’re organizing, friends and fellow humans, that the cops are reading our Twitters.
Continue reading LAPD Transit Services Division Monitored Extinction Rebellion’s Social Media In April 2019 And Sent Out Reports To Allied Universal Security — A Private Security Firm Employed By Many Business Improvement Districts In Los Angeles — Subsequently AUS Distributed LAPD Intelligence Reports To Its Clients

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Fee Motion Filed In Public Records Act Suit Against The Chinatown Business Improvement District — Asks For More Than $51K In Costs And Fees — George Yu And The Rest Of The BIDdies Have Hitherto Failed To Participate At All — And Now It Is Time For Them To Pay For Their Crimes

In August 2018 Katherine McNenny, with the able assistance of Abenicio Cisneros and Anna von Herrmann, filed a lawsuit against the Chinatown Business Improvement District because they had ignored our various requests for public records concerning such clearly weighty matters as their involvement in the appalling zillionaire conspiracy against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council. They continued to ignore the requests, and in fact they ignored the lawsuit altogether.

And in July 2019 we prevailed over them and the judge, Mitchell Beckloff, subsequently issued an order requiring that they produce the damn records, which they have also ignored. It is well known that the California Public Records Act requires government agencies to pay legal fees to prevailing requesters, which requires a motion to be filed with the court asking to be paid.

Our attorneys filed just such a motion last week, asking for more than $51,000 from George Yu’s BID.1 I don’t know if the BID is going to ignore this or not, but I can’t imagine we’re not going to get it or something close to it. The hearing is scheduled for February 5, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. in Beckloff’s courtroom, Department 86 in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Get a copy of the motion here and stay tuned for details!
Continue reading Fee Motion Filed In Public Records Act Suit Against The Chinatown Business Improvement District — Asks For More Than $51K In Costs And Fees — George Yu And The Rest Of The BIDdies Have Hitherto Failed To Participate At All — And Now It Is Time For Them To Pay For Their Crimes

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My Public Records Act Suit Against The Venice Beach BID Is Finally Over — They Handed Over The Records And Paid My Lawyer $21,000 — A Purely Avoidable Waste Of Money — But What Do They Care? — Not Their Damn Money

Well, in case you missed it, in February 2017 I sent a request to the Venice Beach BID for various public records, and they ignored me and ignored me and ignored me, and finally I hired a lawyer, the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros, and in April 2018 he filed a suit against them seeking to enforce compliance with the damn law.

And now, finally, the case is done with the signing of this settlement agreement. Notably, the BID handed over the records and paid Cisneros $21,435 for his work on the case. This payoff is one hundred percent wasted money that the BID could have saved had they only complied with the law in the first place. But they did not. And I have another request in to them, so we’ll see if they learned their lesson. Meanwhile, behold a partial transcription of the agreement:
Continue reading My Public Records Act Suit Against The Venice Beach BID Is Finally Over — They Handed Over The Records And Paid My Lawyer $21,000 — A Purely Avoidable Waste Of Money — But What Do They Care? — Not Their Damn Money

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Court Summarily Denies Fashion District’s Idiotic Petition Appealing The Fact That They Lost My Damn Public Records Suit Against Them — It’s True That The City Of Los Angeles Unconditionally Bows Down Before These BIDdies But The Rest Of The World Clearly Isn’t So Impressed With Their Nonsense — There’s A Lesson In That For Them But Evidently They Aren’t Learning It

This is just the quickest of quick little posts with no purpose beyond reminding you that (a) I am suing the Fashion District BID over public records and (b) they lost the damn suit in July 2019 and (c) they had an embarrassingly toys-from-pram moment and filed a stupidly intemperate appeal less than two weeks ago. Well, today, this very day, September 30, their appeal was summarily denied by the court in a terse two sentence order which could be translated from the legalese as something like “stop wasting our damn time and get out of my office you civically illiterate six-fingered morons.”

So that’s another fifty grand or so in public tax money, burned at the altar of their narcissistic self-regard by Rena Leddy, Mark Chatoff, and the rest of the Fashionista BIDdies.1 If only their lawyer, the weirdly angry Carol L. Humiston, would advise them in their own best interest to stop fooling about wasting other people’s money and hand over the damn records, which they’re ultimately going to be forced to do anyway, well, the world would be better off, but then I guess we wouldn’t have all these interesting blog posts! Stay tuned for round infinity, friends, cause you know it’s on the agenda!
Continue reading Court Summarily Denies Fashion District’s Idiotic Petition Appealing The Fact That They Lost My Damn Public Records Suit Against Them — It’s True That The City Of Los Angeles Unconditionally Bows Down Before These BIDdies But The Rest Of The World Clearly Isn’t So Impressed With Their Nonsense — There’s A Lesson In That For Them But Evidently They Aren’t Learning It

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World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Carol Humiston — Counseled Her Clients — The South Park BID — To Violate The Law — Not That They Needed Counseling To Do This — But It Is Against The State Bar’s Rules Of Professional Conduct For Lawyers To Do This — So — As You May Recall — I Turned Her In To The Bar Investigators — But The Other Day They Rejected My Complaint — For Reasons That Would Make That Particular Bar Rule Completely Unenforceable — Which Can’t Actually Be Correct Because Why Would The Bar — Or Anyone — Have Intrinsically Unenforceable Rules? — So I Filed An Appeal Of The Closure — And You Can Get Your Copy Here!

Oh boy, friends, a small setback in my ongoing project aimed at getting Carol Humiston, the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, disgraced, disgruntled,1 and, of course, disbarred. As you may recall, she counseled her ne’er-do-well clients, the South Park BIDdies, to absolutely flout the law by violating the public records act in any number of really weirdly flamboyant ways. And I discovered this because the BIDdies were kind enough to waive any possible exemption claims, if there ever were any, to some emails in which Humiston discussed her advice with them and with others.2

And the California State Bar Association has a rule against this kind of thing, Rule 1.2.1, which states “A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal, fraudulent, or a violation of any law, rule, or ruling of a tribunal.”. So, naturally, I reported Humiston to the Bar Association in April. Well, they finally got around to responding, and, sadly, they rejected my complaint with this spiritually bankrupt letter, basically claiming that (a) the evidence was all privileged so they couldn’t consider it and (b) they weren’t able to determine if the BIDdies had broken the law.

Of course, these reasons miss the point entirely, which is that (a) the BIDdies waived any privilege by releasing the emails freely and (b) whether or not the BIDdies broke the law is beside the point since the complaint was about whether Humiston told them to break the law. This can’t rely on them actually breaking the law, otherwise you’re going to have to allow lawyers counseling their clients to, e.g., lie in wait to kill and eat their enemies, and as long as the clients don’t actually do it the lawyers haven’t violated the Bar rule.

That can’t be right, so obviously my complaint was closed in error. So I wrote a lengthy and comprehensive appeal and sent it off to the head office up north in the City and County of3 and you can read transcribed selections below, and stay tuned for the latest news!
Continue reading World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Carol Humiston — Counseled Her Clients — The South Park BID — To Violate The Law — Not That They Needed Counseling To Do This — But It Is Against The State Bar’s Rules Of Professional Conduct For Lawyers To Do This — So — As You May Recall — I Turned Her In To The Bar Investigators — But The Other Day They Rejected My Complaint — For Reasons That Would Make That Particular Bar Rule Completely Unenforceable — Which Can’t Actually Be Correct Because Why Would The Bar — Or Anyone — Have Intrinsically Unenforceable Rules? — So I Filed An Appeal Of The Closure — And You Can Get Your Copy Here!

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