Category Archives: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives

Anti-Gentrification Tagging Is An Informal Means Of Planning And Land Use Management – Used By People Excluded From Officially Sanctioned Formal Processes – Before You Tell Taggers That You Don’t Condone It Please Consider The Implications Of Your Condemnation

Neighborhoods in Los Angeles get gentrified and tagging is an antigentrification tactic.1 Carnicerias and panaderias and laundromats and all manner of businesses serving the to-be-displaced locals close down and yoga studios open up and get tagged repeatedly. Or art galleries. Or imposed-from-the-top-down hipster-pleasing murals. And the very predictable next move is for someone to disapprove of the tactics even if they approve of the sentiment. Or don’t approve the sentiment, like this fellow from El Sereno after some heavy anti-gentrification tagging earlier this year:

“The people who are behind this, they’re not open to discussion … They don’t want to be involved in policy-making, community planning, and updating processes… It’s just really a very narrow approach they’re taking.”

And as dense as this guy is, even he can see that tagging is related to, is an alternative to “policy-making, community planning, and updating processes” They’re part of the same sphere of action, that’s the key thing. Tagging and the official stuff that Mr. Galaxy Brain is contrasting it with are different roads to the same destination, which is local control over planning and land use.2 And one huge difference between the two has to do with who has effective access to each, who can use this one as opposed to that one to reach the goal.
Continue reading Anti-Gentrification Tagging Is An Informal Means Of Planning And Land Use Management – Used By People Excluded From Officially Sanctioned Formal Processes – Before You Tell Taggers That You Don’t Condone It Please Consider The Implications Of Your Condemnation

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Remember When Dozens Of Wise – And Sane – And Thoughtful – Advocates For The Rights Of Our Homeless Neighbors Spoke Before The Los Angeles City Council – And Gave Any Number Of Reasons – Based On Facts And Deeply Felt Lived Experience – For Council Not To Renew The Reprehensible LAMC 85.02 – Outlawing Vehicle Dwelling – And Council Renewed It – And Protests Broke Out – And They Cleared The Room – And Had Someone Arrested – And Lied About The Activists Being Paid For Their Commentary – Now Compare And Contrast – Last Week Some Unhinged Lobbyists Wrote An Ultra-Crackpot Letter Against Street Vendors – And Paul Koretz – Without Even Blinking At The Crazed Crapola Submitted By These Kooks – Introduced An Amending Motion Granting All Their Appalling Desires – More Despicably Characteristic Pandering To Zillionaires – When We’re Commenting We’re Commenting For History – Not For The Korrupt Klown Krew Running Things For Their Zillionaire Masters

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.
Continue reading Remember When Dozens Of Wise – And Sane – And Thoughtful – Advocates For The Rights Of Our Homeless Neighbors Spoke Before The Los Angeles City Council – And Gave Any Number Of Reasons – Based On Facts And Deeply Felt Lived Experience – For Council Not To Renew The Reprehensible LAMC 85.02 – Outlawing Vehicle Dwelling – And Council Renewed It – And Protests Broke Out – And They Cleared The Room – And Had Someone Arrested – And Lied About The Activists Being Paid For Their Commentary – Now Compare And Contrast – Last Week Some Unhinged Lobbyists Wrote An Ultra-Crackpot Letter Against Street Vendors – And Paul Koretz – Without Even Blinking At The Crazed Crapola Submitted By These Kooks – Introduced An Amending Motion Granting All Their Appalling Desires – More Despicably Characteristic Pandering To Zillionaires – When We’re Commenting We’re Commenting For History – Not For The Korrupt Klown Krew Running Things For Their Zillionaire Masters

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LAPD Chief Of Police Special Order No. 43 From 1967 Effectively Required Los Angeles Women Impregnated By Rapists To Convince LAPD Detectives That They Were Worthy Of An Abortion — This Was An Entirely Predictable Effect Of California’s 1967 Therapeutic Abortion Act — And Is An Entirely Predictable Effect Of Any Law Restricting Abortions But Allowing Them In Cases Of Rape Or Incest — So Predictable That I’m Convinced That Putting Police — POLICE — In Charge Of Women’s Bodies Is A Desired Outcome Of Restrictive Abortion Laws With Rape/Incest Exceptions

Earlier this week I visited LAPD Discovery, all the way up on the 19th floor of City Hall, to look at very old special orders from the Chief of Police.1 I’m not sure what I was expecting, probably some combination of quaint and brutal, and that’s essentially what I got. You can look at some very few of the results here on Archive.Org.2

But there among these records I found this special order, that turned out to be the single most upsetting public record I have ever come across, and it’s not a close contest. It is almost too horrible to believe, and yet completely plausible. It’s nothing I would have predicted but after seeing it it’s obvious that it would exist. The title is “Reporting of Forcible Rapes”.

The context is the 1967 California Therapeutic Abortion Act. This law, among other things, allowed women to have abortions if they had certain medical conditions or in cases of forcible rape.3 And predictably no one in power was proposing to just believe women’s own stories about their pregnancies. The law required that abortions be performed in hospitals and that the hospitals have therapeutic abortion committees4 to approve proposed abortions.

In cases of pregnancy due to forcible rape hospital abortion committees were required to inform the District Attorney of the county, whose report to the committee that there was probable cause to believe that a forcible rape had caused the pregnancy was required for the woman to obtain the abortion.5 And the logic makes some horrible kind of sense.
Continue reading LAPD Chief Of Police Special Order No. 43 From 1967 Effectively Required Los Angeles Women Impregnated By Rapists To Convince LAPD Detectives That They Were Worthy Of An Abortion — This Was An Entirely Predictable Effect Of California’s 1967 Therapeutic Abortion Act — And Is An Entirely Predictable Effect Of Any Law Restricting Abortions But Allowing Them In Cases Of Rape Or Incest — So Predictable That I’m Convinced That Putting Police — POLICE — In Charge Of Women’s Bodies Is A Desired Outcome Of Restrictive Abortion Laws With Rape/Incest Exceptions

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Who Do We Speak To When We Speak Truth To Power?

Last week USC hosted a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti was invited to speak, but his speech was repeatedly interrupted by protesters from LA CAN, from the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee, from NOlympics LA, and others.

This prompted an editorial from the L.A. Times entitled Shouting down Mayor Garcetti isn’t ‘speaking truth to power,’ the theme of which is well summarized by this excerpt:

But protesters can overplay their hands. These days, tolerance of other people’s views seems low, and there’s an unhealthy willingness to silence one’s opponents rather than engage them, debate them and out-argue them. That’s a shame.

Protesters who shout down a speaker — or shut down a public meeting — aren’t just expressing their own views; they’re making it impossible for others to share theirs.

It’s silly almost beyond comprehension to believe that Eric Garcetti can be silenced by protesters, that anyone interrupting him can make it impossible for him to share his views. Every word the man says is reported on extensively. His press releases are reprinted or recited verbatim by major news outlets. His press conferences are attended by reporters from all over the state, even the nation. A few people interrupting a speech isn’t making it impossible for Eric Garcetti to share his views.

And why in the world does the Times think there’s something wrong with protesters being unwilling to debate or out-argue Eric Garcetti? Do they really believe that if Eric Garcetti just hears the right argument he’ll stop allowing his LAPD thugs to kill young men for no good reason, stop sending them out to arrest homeless people and incinerate their belongings, that he’ll stop accepting campaign money from real estate developers in exchange for enabling them to destroy neighborhoods and cause more homelessness, that he’ll suddenly see the light and stop being evil?

It’s not going to happen like that. He’s heard the arguments already. If he hasn’t seen the damage he’s doing, the pain he’s causing, the killings he enables, all for the sake of his campaign coffers and his career, it’s because he doesn’t want to see. He knows his constituency and he’s giving them exactly what they want from him. No reasoned analysis is going to change that. These kind of repeated demands for civil discourse in the face of racist police murders, genocidal policies on homelessness, gentrification by force of arms, are incredibly disingenuous.

And strangely, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the LA Times that the protesters already know they’re not going to change Eric Garcetti’s mind about anything. These protesters are accomplished, able, serious people, the value of whose contributions to civil society in Los Angeles is incomparable. None of them have done what they’ve been able to do by wasting their time trying to debate LA politicians into being nice. What, the LA Times pointedly did not even consider, might such protests actually accomplish?
Continue reading Who Do We Speak To When We Speak Truth To Power?

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A Potential Solution To A Perennial Problem At The Nexus Of Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts, The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, And A Few Widely Abused Exemptions To The California Public Records Act

The life-cycle of a request for documents under the California Public Records Act goes like this: A member of the public asks to see records held by some agency. The agency has ten days1 to respond with a determination which states whether the agency has any such records and, if so, when the agency will be ready to hand them over.2 In general agencies are required to produce all requested records.

However, CPRA lists certain classes of records which are exempt from production. Some of these so-called exemptions are weirdly specific, e.g. at §6253.5 we read:

…statewide, county, city, and district initiative, referendum, and recall petitions … and all memoranda prepared by the county elections officials in the examination of the petitions indicating which registered voters have signed particular petitions shall not be deemed to be public records…

One of the two most important sections of CPRA with respect to exemptions is found at §6254, which consists of innumerable sections, each listing an exemption or a broad class of exemptions. And as completely in favor of absolute government transparency as I am, it’s clear that at least some of these are absolutely justified. For instance, §6254(r) exempts:

Records of Native American graves, cemeteries, and sacred places and records of Native American places, features, and objects … maintained by, or in the possession of, the Native American Heritage Commission, another state agency, or a local agency.

And there are sections which exempt such things as reports on vulnerabilities to terrorism, library circulation records, certain financial data that people are required by law to submit, and so on. These are mostly noncontroversial. Others, however, are much less defensible, at least as applied.
Continue reading A Potential Solution To A Perennial Problem At The Nexus Of Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts, The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, And A Few Widely Abused Exemptions To The California Public Records Act

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Why Are BIDs In Los Angeles Allowed To Pay For Their Renewal Out Of Current Assessments? It Seems To Be Some Kind Of Pernicious Circular Reasoning And May Well Violate The Law

I’m presently working on a number of fairly involved projects which relate to the establishment and renewal processes for BIDs. There’ll be more news on that later, but, tangentially, in the course of my research I’ve noticed that BIDs that are up for renewal tend to state the fact in their Annual Planning Reports (“APRs”). Just for instance, here’s the Fashion District’s 2017 APR. In there, on page 3, you can see BID renewal under the heading “Management/City Fees (Zones 1-9): $487,795.00 (10.67%).”

It’s only recently that I’ve come to understand the importance of these APRs. First of all, BIDs in California are required by State law to produce them. According to the Streets and Highways Code at §36650(a):

The owners’ association shall cause to be prepared a report for each fiscal year, except the first year, for which assessments are to be levied and collected to pay the costs of the improvements, maintenance, and activities described in the report.

In the laconic dialect of the law, this seems to say that assessments are to be spent on “improvements, maintenance, and activities” if and only if they are listed in the APR. This is one reason these APRs are essential to understanding the operations of BIDs. They’re explicitly forbidden from spending money on matters not listed in the APR and they’re explicitly required to carry out matters that are listed. This is possibly part of the reason why the City exercises hyperspecific control over the content of APRs even as they categorically refuse to exercise any control whatsoever even over overt malfeasance by BIDs.

And elsewhere in the law, specifically at §36622(k)(2), we find a statement of the infamous “special benefits” requirement for property-based BIDs:

In a property-based district, the proportionate special benefit derived by each identified parcel shall be determined exclusively in relationship to the entirety of the capital cost of a public improvement, the maintenance and operation expenses of a public improvement, or the cost of the activities. An assessment shall not be imposed on any parcel that exceeds the reasonable cost of the proportional special benefit conferred on that parcel. Only special benefits are assessable …

So BIDs are required to spend money on activities listed in the APR and all money they spend must be spent on special benefits to the property owners. Therefore the presence of BID renewal as a fundable activity in the APR implies that BID renewal in itself must be a special benefit to the property owners.
Continue reading Why Are BIDs In Los Angeles Allowed To Pay For Their Renewal Out Of Current Assessments? It Seems To Be Some Kind Of Pernicious Circular Reasoning And May Well Violate The Law

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BIDs Benefit Immensely From Coercive Collection Of Mandatory Assessments And Complain Incessantly About Being Subject To The California Public Records Act. They Can’t Have One Without The Other, Yet Both Are Voluntary, So Why Don’t They Grow Up And Quit Whining About The Consequences Of Their Choices?

A business improvement district (BID) in Los Angeles1 is a geographical area in which the owners of commercial property are assessed an additional fee for various services that aren’t provided by the City. These fees are collected either by the City of L.A. via direct billing2 or, more usually, by the County of Los Angeles as an add-on to property tax bills.

The state law authorizing BIDs requires each BID to be administered by a property owners’ association (POA).3 In the normal course of things these organizations are conjured up by the City at the time the BID is established, although sometimes previously existing nonprofits will end up as a POA. One example of this is the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which serves as POA for the East Hollywood BID, although it predates its existence.

The law requires these POAs to be nonprofits, although it doesn’t specify what kind of nonprofit they should be. For various reasons, at least in Los Angeles, they are usually 501(c)(6) organizations. Because the City is handing over what’s essentially tax money to these POAs,4 they have a great deal of control over their activities and what they spend their money on.
Continue reading BIDs Benefit Immensely From Coercive Collection Of Mandatory Assessments And Complain Incessantly About Being Subject To The California Public Records Act. They Can’t Have One Without The Other, Yet Both Are Voluntary, So Why Don’t They Grow Up And Quit Whining About The Consequences Of Their Choices?

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Central Avenue Historic BID May Provide Insight Into The Process By Which BIDs Evolved From Whatever They Were Originally Conceived To Be Into Weaponized Shock Troops Of The Zillionaire Real-Estate Power Elite

Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, consultant to the Central Avenue Historic BID, speaks at the November 2, 2016 meeting of the Board of Directors.
Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, consultant to the Central Avenue Historic BID, speaks at the November 2, 2016 meeting of the Board of Directors. I apologize for the crappy image quality. I didn’t plan to film.
After I spent some time looking into the Central Avenue Historic BID in the context of potential political goals for the post-approval Venice Beach BID, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about this newborn BID.1 The meetings are held at CD9’s district office at 4301 S. Central,2 so on a very pleasant evening last Thursday, I took the 210 out of Hollywood to MLK and Crenshaw, where I boarded the 705 to Central and Vernon from whence a couple blocks North on Central to watch the Board of Directors conduct their business.3 The meeting was scheduled to start at 5:30, but that evidently included some preliminaries, because when I got there at about 10 to 64 they hadn’t started yet.

Anyway, take a look at the agenda. You can see that they’re talking about the kind of things that one would expect BIDs to talk about from, e.g., reading the Wikipedia page on BIDs,5 like branding and marketing, cleaning the streets, having Halloween events, and so on. And watch this short clip of the meeting.6 That’s Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, the BID consultant, who also seems to be functioning as executive director, talking about some kind of partnership the BID’s working on with Hollywood Community Housing Corporation involving affordable housing at the corner of Central and Jefferson.7

Allan Muhammad, security director for the Central Avenue Historic District BID.
Allan Muhammad, security director for the Central Avenue Historic District BID.
And then you can watch here as BID security director Allan Muhammad introduces his employees, and then they proceed to hand out sample Halloween bags to everyone in the room. They didn’t once discuss custodial arrests, handcuffs, social engineering, mass relocations, self-aggrandizing 5150 holds, or any of the other hard-edged tactics of which the City’s older and ever so much more dangerous BIDs are so enamored. And even though I only got 15 minutes on tape of the 90 minutes I was there8 they didn’t really have anything objectionable to say even during the parts of the meeting I didn’t record. They talked about parking, they talked about their phone bills, they talked about how it was hard for the BID to patronize local businesses because they mostly only accepted cash.9

Could this be what a BID looks like as BIDs were intended to look? Well, the very question is based on a false assumption. And there were foreshadowings of bad news to come. And on the way home, and for the last few days, it’s got me thinking about what BIDs were meant to be,10how BIDs11 evolve under selective pressure, and how it’s probably inevitable that this BID is going to end up like the worst of the Downtown BIDs, the worst of the Hollywood BIDs. The short version is that BIDs probably started out as helpful tools, but as a wise woman once said, “every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.” So turn the page if you’re still interested…
Continue reading Central Avenue Historic BID May Provide Insight Into The Process By Which BIDs Evolved From Whatever They Were Originally Conceived To Be Into Weaponized Shock Troops Of The Zillionaire Real-Estate Power Elite

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What To Press For After The Venice Beach BID Is Approved

palm_trees_at_venice_beachBecause it will be approved. We know that. But we also know that Mike Bonin might be susceptible to political pressure. He even thought about moving the hearing date, presumably in response to political pressure and cogent criticism. Maybe the same tactics can help improve what’s presently looking like it’ll be yet another version of the worst that this City’s BIDs in Hollywood and Downtown have to offer. So here are some things which might be attainable politically and which might help mitigate some of the worst excesses to which BIDs are prone.

First of all, maybe you remember the recent tumult over the Arts District BID. If not, there’s a1 version of the story here. In short, some property owners got a judge to dissolve the BID, there was a big fuss about getting a new BID formed, and in order to settle the controversy, José Huizar stepped in and brokered a compromise involving the composition of the Board of Directors. As the L.A. Business Journal put it:

City Councilman José Huizar, whose district includes the neighborhood, on Tuesday announced that the Arts District Community Council Los Angeles has agreed to drop its application to create a BID and support an application sponsored by a group called Arts District Los Angeles. The ADLA, in turn, agreed to give Community Council representatives at least four seats on an expanded 23-member board. In addition, the area’s homeowners association will get three additional seats on the board.

If Huizar can negotiate seats on the Arts District BID Board, Mike Bonin can certainly change the composition of the Board of Directors of the Venice Beach BID if he wants to.2 The composition of the Board is a political matter which can be influenced by political tactics. The Arts District dissenters got four seats out of 23, not enough to change things, although by no means an empty victory. A vote, four votes, is not nothing in such a closed-off political entity. Another moral is that the homeowners association got seats on the Board. That is, Huizar got people who live in the BID a voice on the Board. This is also not trivial.

But one of the City’s newest BIDs, the Central Avenue Historic District BID, suggests an even more promising goal, one which would go a long way toward making something not so bad out of the presently horrifying prospect of the VBBID.
Continue reading What To Press For After The Venice Beach BID Is Approved

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Scanned Archival Documents About BID Implementation and Policy From 1998 Now Available

Somehow BIDs, like everything else, are all Richard Riordan's fault.
Somehow BIDs, like everything else, are all Richard Riordan’s fault.
Recall that last month last month I raised the question of where the City Clerk gets the authority to vote all of the City’s property in favor of BID formation, and about two weeks ago, this question was answered by Miranda Paster, who pointed me towards Council File 96-1972, part of which is the ordinance that directs the Clerk how to vote the City’s parcels. Well, the file is too old to include online material, but a couple days ago I had a chance to visit the L.A. City Archives over on Ramirez Street to look through the file. There was a lot of stuff, most of it not that interesting,1 but I did copy a few items, and here they are for your sake and the sake of history! You can get them at Archive.Org for one thing. Also here in the menu structure, and finally directly here. They’re also linked-to and discussed a little bit after the break.
Continue reading Scanned Archival Documents About BID Implementation and Policy From 1998 Now Available

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