Category Archives: Business Improvement Districts

It Appears That The Chinatown Business Improvement District Has Failed To Gain Sufficient Support For Its Scheduled 2021 Renewal And Will Cease All Operations On December 31, 2020

I would like to thank volunteers from Chinatown Community for Equitable Development for calling my attention to the monumental significance of these records.

Based on a set of records I recently obtained from the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office, it appears that the Chinatown Business Improvement District has failed to gain sufficient support for its scheduled 2021 renewal and will cease to exist on December 31, 2020. On June 8, 2020 the Clerk sent a letter to the BID’s executive director, the famously unhinged George Yu, informing him of the pending expiration:

June 8, 2020
George Yu, President
Los Angeles Chinatown Business Council, Inc.
727 North Broadway, Suite 208
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dear Mr. Yu:

The Greater Chinatown Business Improvement District (Chinatown BID) will expire on December 31, 2020 and must cease all BID operations after that date. The Office of the City Clerk is requesting a letter indicating the intention of the BID to renew or expire. If it is the BID’s intention to expire and not renew, this Office will require the following:

1. A letter from the Board President indicating intent to allow the BID to expire.

2. An inventory of all assets currently held by the Chinatown BID.

3. A timeline for winding down the Chinatown BID and an estimate of the associated costs.

Additionally, in accordance with Section 10 of Contract No. C-118431 between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Chinatown Business Council, Incorporated, all remaining revenues of the District, after all outstanding debts have been paid, derived from the levy of assessments, or derived from the sale of assets acquired with the revenues, shall be refunded to property owners in the manner described in Division 6, Chapter 9, Section 6.619 of the Los Angeles Administrative Code.

If you have any questions, please contact Eugene Van Cise of my staff at (213) 675-2960.

Sincerely,

Patrice Y. Lattimore, Chief
Business Improvement District Division
Office of the City Clerk
PYL:CG:RKS:ev

c: Honorable Gilbert Cedillo, Councilmember, District 1

Continue reading It Appears That The Chinatown Business Improvement District Has Failed To Gain Sufficient Support For Its Scheduled 2021 Renewal And Will Cease All Operations On December 31, 2020

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Here’s Actual Proof That Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott Is Refusing To Sign BID Establishment Petitions For LA City Property Until Half The Other Property Owners In The Proposed District Have Signed — This Is Not Exactly A Policy But Her “Preference” — According To Clerk Staff Anyway — Also See The Extraordinary Petulance Of Gil Cedillo’s Weirdo Flunky Jose Rodriguez When He Learns About It — And Turns Around And Covertly Threatens Clerk Staffer Rick Scott For Bearing The Bad News

This is a quick update on a technical but highly consequential issue regarding City of Los Angeles property included in business improvement districts. The state law is very clear that BID assessments apply equally to public property, which means that the City of LA gets to vote on BID formation and renewal. Furthermore, in 1996, when the modern era of California BIDs began, the City Council told the City Clerk to always vote yes unless specifically directed otherwise.

Which of course led BID proponents to include as much City property as possible within their boundaries since it made establishment very significantly easier given the guaranteed favorable votes from the City. This strategy reached a hitherto unseen level of absurdity in 2016 with the Venice Beach BID establishment process, in which City property constituted 25.05% of the assessed value and the non-City property owners who signed pro-BID petitions for only 27.26%. The BID would never have been established without the automatic yes from the City.

This already absurd outcome was surpassed in 2017 with the renewal of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID. The proponents in that case included huge tracts of essentially empty parcels belonging to the Port of Los Angeles. They brought the City’s proportion of assessed value to 37.24%, which left only 26.04% non-City property owners in favor of the BID. The case of the San Pedro BID seems not to have been widely noticed at the time, but of course the outcry over the Venice Beach BID was monumental, and the City’s role in ensuring its existence was discussed at great length.

It hadn’t been clear exactly what was going on, but something regarding the voting of City property changed over at the City Clerk’s office after the San Pedro BID fiasco. I first heard about it in 2018 in relation to the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID when Donald Duckworth, BIDdological freak show specimen and BID establishment consultant, told his clients that the City of Los Angeles would no longer vote its petitions in favor of formation until 50% of the private property owners had already voted in favor.

As we’ve seen above, this would be a major change. If this policy had been in place in 2016 neither the Venice Beach BID nor the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID would exist. But Duckworth is a liar and a fabulist and exceedingly unreliable, so while his testimony did in fact convince me that something was happening, it’s not really safe to assume that he’s telling his clients the full story or even accurately relating part of it.
Continue reading Here’s Actual Proof That Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott Is Refusing To Sign BID Establishment Petitions For LA City Property Until Half The Other Property Owners In The Proposed District Have Signed — This Is Not Exactly A Policy But Her “Preference” — According To Clerk Staff Anyway — Also See The Extraordinary Petulance Of Gil Cedillo’s Weirdo Flunky Jose Rodriguez When He Learns About It — And Turns Around And Covertly Threatens Clerk Staffer Rick Scott For Bearing The Bad News

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Historic Core BID Slammed With $40K In Costs And Fees As A Result Of My California Public Records Act Request — Defended By Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs — Who Has Not Won A Single One Of These Cases For His BIDdie Clients — His Whole Argument Here — And In The Rest Of The BID CPRA Cases He’s Defended — Is That I Should Lose Because My Entire Motive For Requesting Records Is To Trick BIDs Into Violating The CPRA — Then Sue Them Repeatedly — And Eventually Drive BIDs Out Of Business — This Is Provably False — And Patently Idiotic — And Explicitly Irrelevant Anyway — But Briggs Keeps Screeching About It — At Some Point I’m Expecting The BIDs To Realize That It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And Smarter — To Just Follow The Damn Law — But It Keeps Not Happening

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 on November 5, 2019 we finally had the damn trial and the BID lost big freaking time!

And when a local agency such as a BID loses a CPRA case the law is very clear. The judge must award costs and fees to the requester.1 It doesn’t happen automatically, though. The prevailing requester has to file a fee motion and if the parties can’t agree on it there’s a hearing. So we filed the motion, and by “we” I mean my attorney, the incomparable Colleen Flynn, and here’s a copy of the fee motion. The BID flipped out and you can read their reply to the fee motion and our reply to their reply if reading a flipout is interesting to you.

We were supposed to have a hearing in May, but of course that didn’t happen. However, the judge did issue a tentative ruling, of which there is a transcription below, and awarded us $39,720 in fees and $1,099.25 in costs. This may seem high, but Chalfant cut Flynn’s hourly rate from $740 to $400 based on his unarticulated evaluation of the difficulty of the case and the level of expertise involved, which apparently judges mostly just have the discretion to do.
Continue reading Historic Core BID Slammed With $40K In Costs And Fees As A Result Of My California Public Records Act Request — Defended By Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs — Who Has Not Won A Single One Of These Cases For His BIDdie Clients — His Whole Argument Here — And In The Rest Of The BID CPRA Cases He’s Defended — Is That I Should Lose Because My Entire Motive For Requesting Records Is To Trick BIDs Into Violating The CPRA — Then Sue Them Repeatedly — And Eventually Drive BIDs Out Of Business — This Is Provably False — And Patently Idiotic — And Explicitly Irrelevant Anyway — But Briggs Keeps Screeching About It — At Some Point I’m Expecting The BIDs To Realize That It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And Smarter — To Just Follow The Damn Law — But It Keeps Not Happening

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Already Heavily Rent Burdened Los Angeles Tenants Struggle To Make Payments — While City Council Whines About Its Own Impotence — Refuses To Implement Meaningful Relief — Creates An Inadequate — Overly Complex — Litigation Inducing — Contemptuous — Half-Assed — Relief Program — That’s So Underfunded The Money Will Be Distributed By Lottery — Of All Damn Things — But When It Comes To Commercial Property Owners — Whose Properties Are Located In Business Improvement Districts — Who Therefore Owe Tax Payments To The City — The Situation Is Quite Different — Apparently Without Any Difficulty — Without Any Whining Or Idiotic Reports From Idiotic Deputy City Attorney David Michaelson — The City Is Allowing Them To Pay Late Without Penalty — Without Proving Anything — Without Litigation — Because They Love Zillionaires More Than They Love You And Me — And Because They’re Not Ashamed Of Their Own Hypocrisy

It’s well-known that the economic destruction wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic is putting already severely rent-burdened tenants at even greater risk of eviction and homelessness. Activists have been pleading with Los Angeles City officials for months now to find ways to mitigate this looming crisis while the officials spend their time whining about how they don’t have the power to solve the problem.

The very few measures the City has actually implemented are overly complex, slanted towards landlord interests, half-assed, and very likely to require court intervention as part of the process.1 Not only are the City’s putative solutions entirely insufficient to meet the looming need, but the City only allocated $100 million to the program, which is so inadequate an amount that the City is going to distribute it by lottery.

Our present situation highlights about as clearly as can be the complete contempt, or at least clueless indifference, with which City officials approach the needs of non-zillionaire angelenos. And it’s not just residential tenants that are economically endangered by the pandemic. It’s also been hell on retail businesses, who are also having possibly insurmountable problems covering the rent.

In turn this threatens the income of their zillionaire commercial-property-owning landlords, who are therefore worried about their ability to cover their own expenses, including mortgages and property taxes. But the City government of Los Angeles is neither contemptuous not cluelessly indifferent towards the interests of zillionaires, of course, and their lack of contempt is demonstrated clearly by their attitude toward business improvement district (“BID”) assessments in the City.

The City of Los Angeles has more than forty BIDs. These operations are funded by assessments paid by commercial property owners in the districts. The assessments are not voluntary. They appear on the owners’ county property tax bills and are subject to the same kinds of draconian collection measures used to enforce payment of any tax. But unlike ordinary property taxes, which are paid to and collectable by the County of Los Angeles, these BID assessments belong to the City.

Which I suppose gives City officials some power over how and when they’re collected, or at least that’s the only way I can make sense of a statement made by Dr. Kris Larson, executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners’ Alliance at their recent board meeting. Larson told his board that “while property owners are technically still on the hook to pay their assessments the City is not penalizing those that are late collected.”
Continue reading Already Heavily Rent Burdened Los Angeles Tenants Struggle To Make Payments — While City Council Whines About Its Own Impotence — Refuses To Implement Meaningful Relief — Creates An Inadequate — Overly Complex — Litigation Inducing — Contemptuous — Half-Assed — Relief Program — That’s So Underfunded The Money Will Be Distributed By Lottery — Of All Damn Things — But When It Comes To Commercial Property Owners — Whose Properties Are Located In Business Improvement Districts — Who Therefore Owe Tax Payments To The City — The Situation Is Quite Different — Apparently Without Any Difficulty — Without Any Whining Or Idiotic Reports From Idiotic Deputy City Attorney David Michaelson — The City Is Allowing Them To Pay Late Without Penalty — Without Proving Anything — Without Litigation — Because They Love Zillionaires More Than They Love You And Me — And Because They’re Not Ashamed Of Their Own Hypocrisy

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Rick Lemmo — Super Genius — Caruso Flunkie — And Supreme Commander Of The Pacific Palisades BID — Goes On Paranoid Rant About Pretextually Protesting Violent Criminals Poised To Invade The Palisades — And Beverly Hills — And Brentwood — And Loot — And Wreak All Manner Of Havoc — But Don’t Worry — Says Lemmo To His Zillionaire Cronies — Your McMansions Are Safe!! — Because LAPD Has Secret Plans In Place To Stop These Scary Criminals — But Don’t Tell Anyone I Told You — (Says Super Genius Rick Lemmo) — Because Even Though This Is A Public Meeting — Open To The Public — Who Is Allowed To Video Record The Meeting — And Publish It On YouFreakingTube If They Want To — Neverthess I Declare It To Be Off The Record!!! — You Can’t Attribute This To Me!!! — (Says Rick Lemmo About Something That Rick Lemmo Said) — Feel Like You’re Not Smart Enough To Be A Zillionaire? — Rick Lemmo Is Proof That However Not Smart You May Be That Isn’t Why You’re Not A Zillionaire

Can I just say that Rick Lemmo is a moronic lying narcissistic zillionaire bootlicking authoritarian poobutt blundering weirdo? In any case, this dude, who I forgot to say is some kind of flunky employee of Rick Caruso and also runs the Pacific Palisades BID, presided this morning over a meeting of the BID’s board of directors, and you can watch the whole damn thing on YouTube if you’re interested.1 And they talked about the usual array of trivial crapola with which these backwater zillionaire BIDdies seem to be obsessed.

But also Lemmo went on an extended rant about violent looters poised to overrun the three most vulnerable areas in Los Angeles County today. He revealed that his top secret sources in “security” and “law enforcement” had blessed him with this information and also told him not to worry because they had plans to occupy the contested territories immediately if there were any threat at all to property.2 And in one of the most curiously stupid episodes I’ve ever experienced at a BID meeting, Lemmo told everyone that his rant was off the record, not available to the press, and not for attribution to him.

He said this in public. At a public meeting. In front of a freaking camera. What was he thinking, if anything?3 These three most especially extra threatened areas, if you’re curious, are Brentwood, Beverly Hills, and the Pacific Palisades. Those are the essential zillionaire strongholds which must be defended at all costs against the marauders. In case you’re wondering, Lemmo’s top secret sources in “law enforcement” have “identified a variety of criminal groups that utilize peaceful protestors as a smokescreen for them to loot businesses and promote violence.”

And not only that but “LAPD and National Guard are fully aware of the situation and prepared to fully deploy in and around these areas and protect them based upon whatever up to date intelligence they receive from the unrest.” Then there’s Lemmo’s zillionaire-specific version of the appalling all lives matter trope: “all business areas are small business areas.” And his overflowing abundance of whack-job paranoia: “And purpose of this statement is to let you that there is a lot more out there than what is visible to us from a protection standpoint and also unfortunately from a criminal element.”

There was more interesting stuff at the meeting, it’s worth a watch. And as usual the craziness speaks for itself better than I can speak for it. Read on for a transcription of Lemmo’s lunacy!
Continue reading Rick Lemmo — Super Genius — Caruso Flunkie — And Supreme Commander Of The Pacific Palisades BID — Goes On Paranoid Rant About Pretextually Protesting Violent Criminals Poised To Invade The Palisades — And Beverly Hills — And Brentwood — And Loot — And Wreak All Manner Of Havoc — But Don’t Worry — Says Lemmo To His Zillionaire Cronies — Your McMansions Are Safe!! — Because LAPD Has Secret Plans In Place To Stop These Scary Criminals — But Don’t Tell Anyone I Told You — (Says Super Genius Rick Lemmo) — Because Even Though This Is A Public Meeting — Open To The Public — Who Is Allowed To Video Record The Meeting — And Publish It On YouFreakingTube If They Want To — Neverthess I Declare It To Be Off The Record!!! — You Can’t Attribute This To Me!!! — (Says Rick Lemmo About Something That Rick Lemmo Said) — Feel Like You’re Not Smart Enough To Be A Zillionaire? — Rick Lemmo Is Proof That However Not Smart You May Be That Isn’t Why You’re Not A Zillionaire

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Rena Leddy — Executive Director Of The Drug Cartel Funded Fashion District Business Improvement District — Is A Bloodthirsty Psychopath Who Would Rather Kill The Mailman — And Me — And Surprisingly Even Herself — Than Comply With The California Public Records Act — She Apparently Thinks This Is OK Because Her Lawyer Said It Was OK — Which Is A Strange Way For A Self-Proclaimed Adult To Make Moral Choices — But Not Uncommon Among Zillionaires And Those Who Serve Them — Who Have Shown Themselves Willing To Risk The Lives Of Essential Workers For The Most Stupid — And Trivial — And Self-Serving — Reasons Including Haircuts — Manicures — And Unnecessarily Exchanging Physical Copies Of Electronic Data — The Real Question Is — As Framed By The Incomparable Kitty Wells — Will Her Lawyer Talk To God For Her? — Knowing Carol Humiston I’d Say The Chances Are About Zero That She’ll Even Get A Chance — Being Much More Likely To Head In The Other Direction When The Time Comes

All over the State of California local agencies are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to deny the public access to records required by the California Public Records Act. I don’t, therefore, have nearly as much material to write about so in response I’m writing about the lack of records instead, and the various ways agencies deny access. Here are the first and also the second post not to mention the third posts in this series, and you’re reading the fourth!

Rena Leddy, supreme commander of the cartel-drug-money-funded criminal conspiracy known as the Fashion District Business Improvement District, refuses to let members of the public inspect records in person due to the pandemic, which may well be fine and normal.1 But she also insists that in order to protect public health and safety the only way for requesters to get access to electronic records is to mail her a brand new unopened USB drive onto which she will copy the records and mail it back.

This is an element of her pre-COVID program of obstructing access to records by making the process as onerous and costly as possible. But obviously any method which requires physical objects to be transferred between strangers is more likely to transmit disease than a method which does not. This is true not only for the people exchanging the objects but also for all the intermediaries, like mail carriers, mail sorters, staff members who have to open the envelopes, and so on.

Leddy is willing to increase the risk of disease and therefore death for requesters, essential workers, her own staff, and herself for the sole reason of delaying and obstructing access to records, and to do so in the name of protecting their safety. When confronted with these facts Leddy declined to contradict them, merely stating that the narrative was “out of control.” And it’s certainly out of her control, but where’s the lie, Ms. Leddy?
Continue reading Rena Leddy — Executive Director Of The Drug Cartel Funded Fashion District Business Improvement District — Is A Bloodthirsty Psychopath Who Would Rather Kill The Mailman — And Me — And Surprisingly Even Herself — Than Comply With The California Public Records Act — She Apparently Thinks This Is OK Because Her Lawyer Said It Was OK — Which Is A Strange Way For A Self-Proclaimed Adult To Make Moral Choices — But Not Uncommon Among Zillionaires And Those Who Serve Them — Who Have Shown Themselves Willing To Risk The Lives Of Essential Workers For The Most Stupid — And Trivial — And Self-Serving — Reasons Including Haircuts — Manicures — And Unnecessarily Exchanging Physical Copies Of Electronic Data — The Real Question Is — As Framed By The Incomparable Kitty Wells — Will Her Lawyer Talk To God For Her? — Knowing Carol Humiston I’d Say The Chances Are About Zero That She’ll Even Get A Chance — Being Much More Likely To Head In The Other Direction When The Time Comes

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The City Of Los Angeles Shells Out More Than $2.2M Per Year To Business Improvement Districts — Add In Other Local Public Money — Like LAUSD — And Metro — And LA County — The Total Is More Than $3.7M Per Year To The BIDdies — Not Sure How Many People That Could Put In How Many Hotel Rooms For How Many Nights — But It’s A Lot — Not Sure How Many City Employee Furloughs That Money Could Prevent — But It’s A Lot More Than Zero Of Them — Remember That When They Tell You They Can’t Afford Something — They’re Choosing Not To Afford It

Spend some time hanging around business improvement districts and you’ll certainly hear a bunch of entitled zillionaires whining, bragging, or lying about how they voluntarily agree to spend their own damn money to provide services that the City of Los Angeles is too incompetent, too broke, or too both of these to provide. They just love explaining this to everyone. And the City of Los Angeles is also thrilled with that narrative. This City-produced BID FAQ explains it quite clearly:

[A] majority of business owners of commercial property owners in a given area decide to acquire special benefits and to pay for those benefits themselves.

The story serves everyone’s interests. The BIDdies get to imagine themselves as heroes of putative private sector efficiency and the City gets a bunch of useful idiots to carry out policies that would be incredibly illegal if the City did them directly. Everybody wins but the citizens of Los Angeles. The part you don’t hear too much about, though, the part that none of them really like to discuss, is that when property owned by the City or by other public agencies is included in a BID then the City or the other public agency is also subject to these assessments.

This is specifically authorized by the Property and Business Improvement District Law under which BIDs are established in California.1 This means that when the City Council approves a business improvement district it’s often also approving an ongoing annual payment to the BIDdies. Which, by the way, can be substantial. Over the last few days I looked at various public records involved in BID formation in LA and learned that the City of Los Angeles is on the hook for annual payments to BIDs of at least $2,278,604.2

If LAUSD, Metro, and the County are included the total is $3,710,281 and property owned by the State of California brings the total amount of public money paid annually to LA BIDs to $4,203,276.3 These days, with the City of Los Angeles furloughing employees and moaning about the price of hotel rooms to protect unhoused residents from the ongoing pandemic, there are much, much better uses that that money could be put to.4
Continue reading The City Of Los Angeles Shells Out More Than $2.2M Per Year To Business Improvement Districts — Add In Other Local Public Money — Like LAUSD — And Metro — And LA County — The Total Is More Than $3.7M Per Year To The BIDdies — Not Sure How Many People That Could Put In How Many Hotel Rooms For How Many Nights — But It’s A Lot — Not Sure How Many City Employee Furloughs That Money Could Prevent — But It’s A Lot More Than Zero Of Them — Remember That When They Tell You They Can’t Afford Something — They’re Choosing Not To Afford It

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Starting January 1, 2020 The California Public Records Act Requires Agencies To Allow Requesters To Make Copies Of Records At Inspection Time Subject To Some Limitations — The Limitations Are Clear For Tangible Records — The Means Of Copying Must Not Require Contact With The Record — But Things Are Not So Clear With Respect To Electronic Records — The Legislative History Of The Bill Makes It Clear That Copying Actual Files Must Be Allowed Though — But The Downtown Center BID — Which Has Adopted A Ludicrous Series Of Obstructionist Policies Over The Years Did Not Agree — Said I Could Photograph Electronic Records On The Screen But Not Copy The Files Directly — But I Was Like No Freaking Way And Here Is Why — And In A Rare Moment Of Sanity They Totally Caved!

Last year the legislature passed and Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill amending the California Public Records Act to allow requesters to copy records at inspection time using their own equipment. The precise language added to the law at §6253(d) is:

(d)(1) A requester who inspects a disclosable record on the premises of the agency has the right to use the requester’s equipment on those premises, without being charged any fees or costs, to photograph or otherwise copy or reproduce the record in a manner that does not require the equipment to make physical contact with the record, unless the means of copy or reproduction would result in either of the following:

(A) Damage to the record.

(B) Unauthorized access to the agency’s computer systems or secured networks by using software, equipment, or any other technology capable of accessing, altering, or compromising the agency’s electronic records.

(2) The agency may impose any reasonable limits on the use of the requester’s equipment that are necessary to protect the safety of the records or to prevent the copying of records from being an unreasonable burden to the orderly function of the agency and its employees. In addition, the agency may impose any limit that is necessary to maintain the integrity of, or ensure the long-term preservation of, historic or high-value records.

And this new requirement took effect on January 1, 2020. Agencies have been all over the place on allowing requesters to photograph paper records at inspection time, but mostly the new language is clear enough that they’re just complying. Even the extraordinarily psychopathically obstructionist Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control conceded with respect to paper records.
Continue reading Starting January 1, 2020 The California Public Records Act Requires Agencies To Allow Requesters To Make Copies Of Records At Inspection Time Subject To Some Limitations — The Limitations Are Clear For Tangible Records — The Means Of Copying Must Not Require Contact With The Record — But Things Are Not So Clear With Respect To Electronic Records — The Legislative History Of The Bill Makes It Clear That Copying Actual Files Must Be Allowed Though — But The Downtown Center BID — Which Has Adopted A Ludicrous Series Of Obstructionist Policies Over The Years Did Not Agree — Said I Could Photograph Electronic Records On The Screen But Not Copy The Files Directly — But I Was Like No Freaking Way And Here Is Why — And In A Rare Moment Of Sanity They Totally Caved!

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George Yu Fails To Appear At His Last And Final Contempt Hearing — Judge Mitchell Beckloff Orders Yu Seized — And Detained — And Chained — And Hauled Bodily Into Court — To Explain In Person Why He Has Been Ignoring The Judge’s Order To Hand Over The Damn Records — And Also He’s Ordered To Pay Our Lawyers An Additional $21K In Legal Fees — Looks To Me Like Now He’s Pushed His Luck Too Far — I Am Guessing That Gil Cedillo Will Have To Withdraw His Support At Some Point — Beginning To Look Very Much Like Yu’s Days Are Numbered


UPDATE: Today, February 7, 2020 Judge Beckloff changed his mind about the bench warrant for technical reasons that I don’t understand. Not sure what’s going to happen next and even though it remains quite likely that George Yu will be hauled off in chains in the near future, it won’t be because of the warrant that was issued on Wednesday. Here’s a copy of today’s order.

In 2018 Katherine McNenny and I sued the Chinatown Business Improvement District over their failure to comply with the California Public Records Act. And for the last 18 months neither BID director George Yu nor anyone else from the BID has appeared in court at all. In due course they lost, Judge Mitchell Beckloff issued an order to them to hand over the records, and they ignored that as well. Late last year we moved to have Yu held in contempt for his failure to obey the order, and the judge issued an order for Yu’s arrest and suspended it pending a hearing at which he ordered Yu to appear in person and explain why he shouldn’t be held in contempt.

That hearing was held this morning. Perhaps predictably, Yu didn’t show up today either, and the judge released the arrest warrant.1 Apparently this isn’t the kind of warrant where the cops go out and hunt down the offender, but if he’s pulled over or a cop has some other reason to enter his name into a computer, this will come up and he’ll be arrested and hauled before the judge. The Chinatown BID is in CD1, Gil Cedillo’s little kingdom, and as do all BIDdies with their Councilmembers, Yu has hitherto enjoyed Cedillo’s unconditional love. But having the guy arrested and hauled by force before a judge to explain why he refuses to obey the law may, just may, not saying for sure, erode that affection, that tolerance, just a bit. We can hope!
Continue reading George Yu Fails To Appear At His Last And Final Contempt Hearing — Judge Mitchell Beckloff Orders Yu Seized — And Detained — And Chained — And Hauled Bodily Into Court — To Explain In Person Why He Has Been Ignoring The Judge’s Order To Hand Over The Damn Records — And Also He’s Ordered To Pay Our Lawyers An Additional $21K In Legal Fees — Looks To Me Like Now He’s Pushed His Luck Too Far — I Am Guessing That Gil Cedillo Will Have To Withdraw His Support At Some Point — Beginning To Look Very Much Like Yu’s Days Are Numbered

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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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