Category Archives: Los Angeles City Government

David Ryu Certainly Seems To Be Yet Another Landlord On The Los Angeles City Council — And Apparently Perfectly Comfortable Voting On Various Tenants’ Rights Issues Without Recusing Himself Or Even Mentioning It — He And His Sister Esther Bought A Four Unit Apartment Building In 2018 — And Immediately Signed It Over To A Shady Entity Called Daejopia LLC — Controlled By Their Brother Joseph — Ryu Acknowledged On His Form 700 That He Owns The Building — Although He Lists It By Parcel Number Rather Than Address — But Denies Receiving Any Rental Income From It — Which Seems Really Highly Unlikely Given That It Appears To Be Fully Occupied — But Maybe He’ll Explain Himself If For Some Unknown Reason It Is True — Did I Mention That Kenneth Yoon — Who Sold The Building To David And Esther Ryu — Turned Around And Gave Ryu An $800 Contribution A Month After The Deal Closed? — And That The Ryus Only Needed To Borrow $460K On What Was Apparently A $840K Transaction?

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020 the Los Angeles City Council considered an emergency ordinance to halt evictions and give renters 24 months to cover missed payments. Or at least that’s what the original motion, introduced by CD11 rep Mike Bonin, called for. During the debate,1 though, various other councilmembers, notably Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz, and Herb Wesson, argued passionately against the harm that such an ordinance would do to the proverbial mom and pop landlords by giving these deadbeat tenants so damn long to settle up.

Two years is far long, they said. Mom and pops can’t afford to wait, they said. Will increase default rate, said they. They said all kinds of impassioned stuff in favor of reducing repayment time by a murderous 75%. But one of the things they didn’t say was that all three of these councilmembers are themselves landlords. It’s impossible to imagine that they weren’t thinking of their own interests while arguing to amend this motion. I wrote a piece on this a few days ago, the research for which also revealed that they weren’t the only three, by the way.

It turned out that Jose Huizar, Nury Martinez, and Curren Price are also landlords and also voted yes on the change to a 6 month grace period. My method of landlord discovery relied solely on Form 700s, which are annual financial disclosure forms required of elected officials in California. And rental income is a specific category which must be identified as such. For instance, consider the relevant section from Paul Krekorian’s most recent filing.

But it turned out that this method was flawed. Not flawed in the sense of producing false positives. The six that I identified are in fact landlords. Flawed, though, in the sense of producing false negatives based, as it is, on the disclosures being honest.2 And that’s how I missed the fact that CD4 representative David Ryu is also a landlord,3 although it’s certainly not obvious at all from his most recent Form 700. First, take a look at the relevant section:

He lists an assessor’s parcel number rather than an address. I didn’t previously look up the property, though, because he checked off the box indicating that he’d received no rental income. It turns out, though, that skipping this was a huge mistake on my part. I finally did look into the matter and it turns out that I had previously missed everything! Read on for the whole astonishingly sordid story of David Ryu and this property!
Continue reading David Ryu Certainly Seems To Be Yet Another Landlord On The Los Angeles City Council — And Apparently Perfectly Comfortable Voting On Various Tenants’ Rights Issues Without Recusing Himself Or Even Mentioning It — He And His Sister Esther Bought A Four Unit Apartment Building In 2018 — And Immediately Signed It Over To A Shady Entity Called Daejopia LLC — Controlled By Their Brother Joseph — Ryu Acknowledged On His Form 700 That He Owns The Building — Although He Lists It By Parcel Number Rather Than Address — But Denies Receiving Any Rental Income From It — Which Seems Really Highly Unlikely Given That It Appears To Be Fully Occupied — But Maybe He’ll Explain Himself If For Some Unknown Reason It Is True — Did I Mention That Kenneth Yoon — Who Sold The Building To David And Esther Ryu — Turned Around And Gave Ryu An $800 Contribution A Month After The Deal Closed? — And That The Ryus Only Needed To Borrow $460K On What Was Apparently A $840K Transaction?

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In Response To The Coronavirus Emergency Last Week Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez Ordered Council Meetings To Be Held Only Once A Week — But It Sure Looks Like This Is A Violation Of The City Charter — Which Requires The City Council To Meet At Least Three Times Per Week — And Grants The Power To Declare A Recess Only To The Full Council By Ordinance — Not To Council President By Unilateral Decree — And While We’re On The Subject Of Enumerated Powers — It Appears That Herb Wesson Did Not Have The Power To Remove Jose Huizar From All Council Committees

On March 11, 2020 Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez sent a letter to her colleagues announcing that in response to the coronavirus emergency Council would meet weekly for the rest of the month. The Los Angeles City Charter at §242 gives the Council the sole power “to organize its business [and] prescribe the rules of its proceedings” subject only to a couple of limitations. But one of these limitations is directly on point and requires Council to meet at least three times a week with no exceptions:

The Council shall hold regular meetings at least three days each week. Meetings may be held in City Hall or elsewhere in the City. By resolution, the Council may establish periods during which the Council or its committees will be in recess.

Three meetings a week are required by the Charter. And the office of Council President is established by the Charter as well, at §243, but the only power granted there is to replace the mayor when necessary. All other powers of the Council president are granted by the Council Rules. And obviously the rules can’t override the Charter.

Note that §242 does give the Council itself the power to go into recess, and probably the Council could choose to go into recess except on Tuesdays, but this power must be exercised by resolution, not by the unilateral decree of the Council President. Resolutions require a vote of the full Council, to be placed on a publicly posted agenda, and public comment accepted.

I’m not sure what penalties there are, if any, for violations of the Charter, but it’s surely a violation of the oath of office, found at §215, which includes the City Charter among the laws that Councilmembers are sworn to support. It’s true that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and that elected officials need extraordinary powers during emergencies. But extraordinary powers are extraordinarily dangerous and must be limited by law, which Martinez has exceeded here.
Continue reading In Response To The Coronavirus Emergency Last Week Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez Ordered Council Meetings To Be Held Only Once A Week — But It Sure Looks Like This Is A Violation Of The City Charter — Which Requires The City Council To Meet At Least Three Times Per Week — And Grants The Power To Declare A Recess Only To The Full Council By Ordinance — Not To Council President By Unilateral Decree — And While We’re On The Subject Of Enumerated Powers — It Appears That Herb Wesson Did Not Have The Power To Remove Jose Huizar From All Council Committees

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Yesterday The Los Angeles City Council Eviscerated A Reasonably Good Eviction Moratorium Motion — On The Insistence Of Paul Krekorian And Herb Wesson — Who Kept Talking Up The Needs Of The So-Called Mom And Pop Landlords — Who In Everyone’s Fantasies About Capitalism On A Human Scale Are Not Insatiable Villainous Psychopaths Like Non Mom And Pop Landlords Are — And Somehow Neither Krekorian Nor Wesson Thought It Was Worth Mentioning That They Themselves Are Mom And Pop Landlords — As Is Paul Koretz — And Nury Martinez — And Curren Price — And Jose Huizar — And Mike Bonin’s Husband — Although Bonin Voted Against Krekorian’s Eviscerating Motion — So At Least There’s That

Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council considered and passed1 a long list of motions intended to alleviate some of the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our City. One of the most essential of these was CD11 rep Mike Bonin’s motion to stop evictions and ban late rent fees until the end of the emergency declaration and then give renters 24 months to pay missed rent.

The meeting itself was interminable and the public is excluded from City Hall and had to sit out on the front patio under a tent. But fortunately a number of extremely hard-working reporters were on the case, and it’s due to the incomparable Sahra Sulaiman‘s live-tweeting of this episode that I’m able to tell the story I’m telling here.

Sulaiman reported that Paul Krekorian, our second fashiest councilmember, was all about 24 months to repay being far, far too long:

Can’t tell who (Krekorian?) suggests that we are shifting loss bc if we give tenants too much time to pay back, the grace pd may extend beyond their lease and therefore end up being uncollectable. And that we need to consider more options, like applying security deposit to rent.

Krekorian went on to say that:

He acknowledges some folks will never be able to pay it back and that some landlords can absorb that, but others cannot, and that may have other negative consequences.

Got it? Paul Krekorian acknowledges that some landlords can absorb the loss from tenants not paying back rent while other landlords cannot absorb the loss. This is his reason for wanting to cut the repayment period down from 24 months to 6 months.

Hey, did you know that California state law requires public officials like Paul Krekorian to file annual disclosures of their financial interests? Well, it does. They’re called “Form 700s” and here’s Paul Krekorian’s from 2018. And as expected, rental income is income and thus counts as a financial interest to be listed on the form.
Continue reading Yesterday The Los Angeles City Council Eviscerated A Reasonably Good Eviction Moratorium Motion — On The Insistence Of Paul Krekorian And Herb Wesson — Who Kept Talking Up The Needs Of The So-Called Mom And Pop Landlords — Who In Everyone’s Fantasies About Capitalism On A Human Scale Are Not Insatiable Villainous Psychopaths Like Non Mom And Pop Landlords Are — And Somehow Neither Krekorian Nor Wesson Thought It Was Worth Mentioning That They Themselves Are Mom And Pop Landlords — As Is Paul Koretz — And Nury Martinez — And Curren Price — And Jose Huizar — And Mike Bonin’s Husband — Although Bonin Voted Against Krekorian’s Eviscerating Motion — So At Least There’s That

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Ever Wonder How One Of These Super-Sized Construction Projects Downtown Gets Built? — Here Is An Unprecedented Look Into How City Councilmembers And Developers Work As Partners To Subvert And Sideline Civil Service Staff And Basically Give Away Piece After Irreplaceable Piece Of Our City To Further Their Own Interests — Laid Out Step By Covert And Appalling Step — In The Case — Still Ongoing — Of 1330 W. Pico In CD1 — From Gil Cedillo’s First Meeting In August 2017 With Zillionaire Eri Kroh Of Sandstone Properties — Through Three Distinct Motions — Every Last One Of Which Signed By Cedillo But Written By A Lobbyist — And Sheparded Through City Staff — And Council Committees — And Council — By Cedillo’s Planning Director Gerald Gubatan — Who Insulted And Belittled Any Civil Service Staff Who Dared To Question Any Aspect Of The Project — Through CD1 Assistant Chief Of Staff Tony Ricasa’s Apparent Derailment Of Matt Szabo’s Plan To Use The Building For Homeless Housing — And Much Much More — Including Links To Hundreds Of Emails — And Draft Motions — And So On

Here in Los Angeles we read a lot of news about real estate development, real estate being the sun about which every local planet orbits. And this reporting mostly tells the truth, and probably nothing but the truth, but for the most part never the whole truth. Just for instance, consider the property at 1330 W. Pico Blvd. This parcel has been in the news since October 2017, when real estate developer Sandstone Properties bought it for $42 million, planning to build yet another hotel. Here’s The Real Deal’s story on the purchase.

The next reported-on milestone was in June 2018 when Gil Cedillo, in whose Council District the property is, introduced a rezoning motion allowing a hotel to be built at the address. Here’s The Real Deal’s story on that, and at this point Urbanize.LA1 initiated coverage with this equally superficial story. A few months later Cedillo moved to give the hotel hefty tax incentives,2 which was covered in the Downtown News as well as the two previous rags. And that’s the whole story, according to the local media.

The reporting rightly focuses on the motions themselves, although, interestingly, not all the motions.3 After all, without the motions, the rezonings, the tax incentives, and so on, the projects couldn’t get built. What all of these stories about this Sandstone project lack, though, what most such stories about all such projects are missing, is any sense of where the motions come from, how Council offices and developers collaborate to obtain the myriad permissions required for something like this proposed hotel to get built.4

And that story is amazing, really unexpectedly appalling.5 It’s revealed in astonishing detail by a massive set of emails I recently received from CD1, spanning more than two and a half years of discussions between lobbyists from at least three distinct firms6 repping Eri Kroh and Sandstone, CD1 planning director Gerald Gubatan, and various City of LA staffers in City Planning and elsewhere beginning in August 2017 and continuing to this day.

The lobbyists actually write and revise the motions that Cedillo introduces to further their cause.7 Gubatan works closely with the lobbyists basically in opposition to City civil service staff’s attempts to enforce the City’s laws and rules, and is outright contemptuous of their abilities.8 Cedillo himself stays distant from the process, but in no way detached. He met with the project’s zillionaire developer Eri Kroh and lobbyist Lali DeAztlan in August 2017, two months before the purchase was final. Presumably this is when Cedillo greenlighted the project.

In a post-meeting email to Gerald Gubatan DeAztlan shared her pleasure with the result: ” I think it went well, the Councilmember and the Owner Eri seem to speak the same language, and that gets us off to a great start.” After that Cedillo seems to have been briefed only once9 and otherwise didn’t have to do anything else once he’d set things moving except, of course, to sign the motions.10 The story is complicated and best understood by reading through the records themselves,11 but read on for a moderately detailed outline with link after link after link to the primary sources.
Continue reading Ever Wonder How One Of These Super-Sized Construction Projects Downtown Gets Built? — Here Is An Unprecedented Look Into How City Councilmembers And Developers Work As Partners To Subvert And Sideline Civil Service Staff And Basically Give Away Piece After Irreplaceable Piece Of Our City To Further Their Own Interests — Laid Out Step By Covert And Appalling Step — In The Case — Still Ongoing — Of 1330 W. Pico In CD1 — From Gil Cedillo’s First Meeting In August 2017 With Zillionaire Eri Kroh Of Sandstone Properties — Through Three Distinct Motions — Every Last One Of Which Signed By Cedillo But Written By A Lobbyist — And Sheparded Through City Staff — And Council Committees — And Council — By Cedillo’s Planning Director Gerald Gubatan — Who Insulted And Belittled Any Civil Service Staff Who Dared To Question Any Aspect Of The Project — Through CD1 Assistant Chief Of Staff Tony Ricasa’s Apparent Derailment Of Matt Szabo’s Plan To Use The Building For Homeless Housing — And Much Much More — Including Links To Hundreds Of Emails — And Draft Motions — And So On

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The City Of Los Angeles Emergency Operations Center On East Temple Street Houses The Unified Homelessness Response Center — And A Lot Of Other Departments As Well — It’s Managed By Two Committees — The Emergency Management Committee — And The Emergency Operations Board — These Bodies Meet Inside The Emergency Operations Center — And Their Meetings Are Subject To The Brown Act — Which Means That The Public Can Attend — Inside The Building — Therefore At Least Sporadically It’s Open To The Public — Which Is Big News For Various Reasons — And LAPD Chief Michel Moore Chairs The Board — Although Not The Committee — Which Would Seem To Offer An Interesting Opportunity For General Public Comment

The City of Los Angeles has an Emergency Operations Center situated at 500 E. Temple Street. There are a lot of different departments housed in the building, but of most interest to me is the Unified Homelessness Response Center. You may recall, if you follow my Twitter feed, that last November as part of our years-long quest to get accurate information about upcoming encampment sweeps, Tommy Kelly of Streetwatch Los Angeles and I went over to UHRC in person and demanded access to the schedules. And we were menaced by a confused-about-the-law cop and made to leave.

According to the cop at the time the building isn’t open to the public. This may or may not be true, but the fact that he said it at all explains how exceedingly interested I was to discover this very morning that the Emergency Operations Center is managed by two distinct committees, whose meetings seem to be open to the public. There’s the Emergency Management Committee and the Emergency Operations Board.

This last body is chaired by the Chief of Police, currently of course Michel Moore, and would therefore seem to offer an interesting and hitherto unexploited opportunity for public comment. You can sign up to receive agendas for both of these groups via email. There’s also an archive of old agendas and minutes on the Emergency Operations Center website — Here for the Board and here for the Committee.

I certainly plan to attend these meetings in the future when possible. It’ll be really something to get inside that building, to even be allowed to make video of the goings-on, without being menaced by loony-tunes know-nothings from LAPD. See you there, perhaps?!

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Interesting New Records From Gentrification-Enabling Highland Park Charter Academy — El Rio Community School — Show How The Cultish Charter Grifters Known As Reframe Labs Funnel Public Money Into Their Own Deep Zillionaire Pockets — Reframe Labs By The Way Is Really Just A Front For Russ Altenburg — Also Chair Of The Board Of Astroturf Charter Lobbying Mafia Speak Up Parents — And How ERCS Supreme Commander Doctor Katie Chau Spent More Than $2K In Public Money — Meant For Educating Children — To Attend CCSA’s 2019 Annual Conference — And Learn How To Destroy Public Education — Which Is Appalling — And Ironic In A Bitter Way — But Not Surprising

El Rio Community School is a charter school opening in Highland Park in September 2020. Of course charter schools in California are subject to the California Public Records Act and so last summer I hit these folks up with a request. They demurred. I filed a freaking lawsuit. And, thank goodness, last week they started to produce records!1 The stuff they handed over is all interesting, even if it’s not close to everything they ought produce, and worth your time to look at:

Bank statements — January through July 2019. A rare look into the financials of an independent charter startup.

58 pages of emails — And also a bunch of contracts between ERCS and various vendors.

Like I said, it’s all interesting. But here I’m focusing on two particular items. The second is the bank statements, and read on for that. The first is this contract between ERCS Supreme Commander Dr. Katie Chau and a peculiarly cult-like outfit called Reframe Labs. Reframe’s founder and CEO is Russ Altenburg, famously also chairman2 of charter school astroturf conspiracy Speak UP Parents. For context, it’s worth taking a look at the Reframe Labs manifesto,3 or at least this snippet here:
Continue reading Interesting New Records From Gentrification-Enabling Highland Park Charter Academy — El Rio Community School — Show How The Cultish Charter Grifters Known As Reframe Labs Funnel Public Money Into Their Own Deep Zillionaire Pockets — Reframe Labs By The Way Is Really Just A Front For Russ Altenburg — Also Chair Of The Board Of Astroturf Charter Lobbying Mafia Speak Up Parents — And How ERCS Supreme Commander Doctor Katie Chau Spent More Than $2K In Public Money — Meant For Educating Children — To Attend CCSA’s 2019 Annual Conference — And Learn How To Destroy Public Education — Which Is Appalling — And Ironic In A Bitter Way — But Not Surprising

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LA City Attorney’s Office Admits That There Is No Evidence Outside Their Own Heads That Their Gang Nuisance Lawsuits “Improve” Neighborhoods — Whatever They Even Mean By “Improve” — And Jonathan Cristall — Supreme Commander Of The Gang Nuisance Prosecution Crew — Fails To Produce Evidence That He Actually Recieved Any Of The Series Of Honors He — Formerly — Listed On His Amazon Author Page — Which Of Course Doesn’t Mean He Didn’t Receive Them — But It Is Certainly Interesting How Much These Prosecutors Want People To Take On Faith Given The Fact That Their Cases Are Based On The Untested Word Of LAPD Gang Officers — A Famously Mendacious Bunch

As you may already know, I’ve been looking into civil nuisance abatement lawsuits and their relation to gentrification in Los Angeles. The City files dozens of these cases each year and they’re based on really flimsy but also mostly unchallenged evidence. A big part of this project is collecting copies of the complaints themselves, and so far I’ve obtained them for 2015 and 2016 and 2017-2019.

Apparently, though, the City Attorney inadvertently omitted1 a few of these from earlier productions and I just got copies of those the other day. They’re available here on Archive.Org. We’re still waiting for 2014 and earlier. And I have a bunch of other requests pending, of course, and I will certainly let you know if any of them are successful and result in interesting stuff!

But also sometimes even unsuccessful requests have interesting results! And that’s the main subject of today’s post! But first, some background! You may recall that Supreme Nuisance Prosecutor Jonathan Cristall and his unindicted co-conspirator Liora Forman-Echols published a really insidious how-to/why-to guide in the National Gang Center Bulletin in 2009, which I wrote about recently.

And this pernicious little document contains some really implausible claims. Just for instance, on page 6, Cristall and Forman-Echols state, without supporting evidence, that “[i]n most instances, the abatement of the nuisance at the property has a ripple effect, positively improving the surrounding neighborhood.” Oh, and also! Seasoned Supreme Gang Nuisance Prosecutor Cristall is not only a self-proclaimed expert on abating nuisances for fun and profit, he’s also a self-proclaimed expert on raising teenagers!
Continue reading LA City Attorney’s Office Admits That There Is No Evidence Outside Their Own Heads That Their Gang Nuisance Lawsuits “Improve” Neighborhoods — Whatever They Even Mean By “Improve” — And Jonathan Cristall — Supreme Commander Of The Gang Nuisance Prosecution Crew — Fails To Produce Evidence That He Actually Recieved Any Of The Series Of Honors He — Formerly — Listed On His Amazon Author Page — Which Of Course Doesn’t Mean He Didn’t Receive Them — But It Is Certainly Interesting How Much These Prosecutors Want People To Take On Faith Given The Fact That Their Cases Are Based On The Untested Word Of LAPD Gang Officers — A Famously Mendacious Bunch

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Since 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Has Paid Out More Than $1.7 Million To Settle Public Records Act Litigation — Most Of Which Could Have Been Avoided By Taking Compliance Seriously — This Is Not Only A Betrayal Of The Public Trust But It’s A Huge Damn Waste Of Money — If Only There Were A City Official Charged With Reducing Waste Who Could Look Into This — Oh Wait Of Course There Is! — The City Controller! — So This Morning I Sent Him A Letter Asking Him To Use His Audit Power To Evaluate The City’s CPRA Policies — And Assess The Risk And Liability Created By Noncompliance — And Recommend Ways To Avoid This Waste In The Future — Including The Creation Of A Centralized CPRA Coordinator For The City — And You Can Read That Letter Here! — Along With A Bunch Of Other Nonsense!

As you may well know, the City of Los Angeles has a really, really hard time complying with its obligations under the California Public Records Act. And as you may also know, the only remedy for noncompliance provided by the Legislature is to file a lawsuit against the violators. If the requester prevails1 the law requires the judge to award litigation costs and lawyers’ fees to the requester.

And, it turns out, the City of Los Angeles not only has a hard time complying with the CPRA but they get sued a lot over it. And they usually settle quickly but when they don’t they lose. A lot. And they pay a lot of money to requesters’ attorneys. In fact, since 2016 they’ve paid off in 26 cases to the total tune of more than $1.7 million. Here’s a list of all of these cases, both as a PDF and in the original XLSX.

Probably some of these cases involve legitimate controversies over the City’s decision to withhold records from release, but as you know if you follow this blog, most of them are due to very little more than the incompetence, indifference, or intransigence of City departments. Most of these cases could have been avoided if the City had just released records that they ended up releasing anyway as a result of the suit. Many could have been avoided if someone had just explained to a few City staffers what their obligations under the law actually were.

So not only does the City’s continual, habitual flouting of the CPRA deprive citizens of our constitutionally guaranteed right to access public records promptly,2 but it also costs the City an immense amount of money. All of which is wasted since had the City just followed the law in the first place they wouldn’t have had to pay any of it. Or to pay the salaries of the Deputy City Attorneys who had to handle these cases after they were filed.3

The City doesn’t even have a CPRA compliance policy, but if it did and if it followed it, none of this money would be wasted. The City of San Diego, it turns out, has a very similar problem, which I only found out about because they have an officer called the City Auditor. He recently investigated San Diego’s CPRA practices and policies and made recommendations for improvement.

Which reminded me that here in Los Angeles there is a also City official whose charge includes the right to audit and investigate the expenditures of City departments and to recommend policy changes to stop money wasting. This, of course, is the Controller, whose powers and duties are defined by the City Charter at §260 et seq. and which include the ability to “conduct performance audits of all departments and may conduct performance audits of City programs, including suggesting plans for the improvement and management of the revenues and expenditures of the City.”4

So he’s empowered to look into this matter, but of course, how’s he going to know to do that unless someone brings it up? Thus did I write Galperin a letter this morning asking him to get on it and audit the City’s CPRA compliance and policies and make recommendations. In particular I asked him not only to consult with requesters about needed policy changes, but also to consider recommending that the City create a central CPRA coordinator whose job would include receiving, processing, and assigning requests to departments and then tracking and ensuring compliance. Read on for a transcription and stay tuned to find out if anything comes of it!
Continue reading Since 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Has Paid Out More Than $1.7 Million To Settle Public Records Act Litigation — Most Of Which Could Have Been Avoided By Taking Compliance Seriously — This Is Not Only A Betrayal Of The Public Trust But It’s A Huge Damn Waste Of Money — If Only There Were A City Official Charged With Reducing Waste Who Could Look Into This — Oh Wait Of Course There Is! — The City Controller! — So This Morning I Sent Him A Letter Asking Him To Use His Audit Power To Evaluate The City’s CPRA Policies — And Assess The Risk And Liability Created By Noncompliance — And Recommend Ways To Avoid This Waste In The Future — Including The Creation Of A Centralized CPRA Coordinator For The City — And You Can Read That Letter Here! — Along With A Bunch Of Other Nonsense!

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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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A Couple Of Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Details Of How And Why The LA City Attorney Uses Nuisance Abatement Suits As Part Of The Same Gentrification Process As Gang Injunctions — Low Evidentiary Bar In Civil Cases — No Juries — No Public Defenders — Comparably Low Burden Of Proof — And The City’s Revealing — And Appalling — Choice Of Illustrations — And Of Targets — And Of Rhetorical Strategies — Reveal The Delusional And Ultraracist Conceptual Underpinnings Of The Project — Basically Superpredators 2.0

The City of Los Angeles famously uses civil nuisance abatement lawsuits against property owners and residents in areas of the City being prepped for gentrification. These suits are yet another of the million superficially more acceptable forms into which old-fashioned urban renewal was reincarnated after it became clear to the world that James Baldwin was spot-on in his characterization of it as Negro removal.

For the most part news coverage of the hundreds of such suits filed by Mike Feuer’s office when there’s coverage at all has been uncritically accepting of the City’s unsupported-by-evidence story that these actions fight crime and increase safety.1 But the revelation after the murder of Nipsey Hussle that the City Attorney had been working towards filing such an action against Hussle’s property at Crenshaw and Slauson seems to have opened the door for much more critical coverage.2

Complaints that actually get filed, it turns out, are just a small part of the nuisance abatement program. The City Attorney sends out hundreds of demand letters to targeted property owners, most of which lead to settlements, evictions, and other such results sought by the City without ever having to file anything in court. I’ve been investigating this process via the California Public Records Act. The City Attorney denied my request for copies of the demand letters3 but they are in the process of producing copies of all the actually filed complaints.4

And just recently they turned over a couple of other interesting items. The first is a 2009 how-to why-to article by Los Angeles nuisance abatement pioneers Jonathan Cristall5 and Liora Forman-Echols called Property Abatements — The Other Gang Injunction. The other is a PDF version of an undated PowerPoint presentation about the nuisance abatement program. the PowerPoint thing doesn’t have much intentional content6 but the endless parade of photographs put the barely tacit racism of the whole project on vivid pictorial display. Some choice slides appear at the end of this post.
Continue reading A Couple Of Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Details Of How And Why The LA City Attorney Uses Nuisance Abatement Suits As Part Of The Same Gentrification Process As Gang Injunctions — Low Evidentiary Bar In Civil Cases — No Juries — No Public Defenders — Comparably Low Burden Of Proof — And The City’s Revealing — And Appalling — Choice Of Illustrations — And Of Targets — And Of Rhetorical Strategies — Reveal The Delusional And Ultraracist Conceptual Underpinnings Of The Project — Basically Superpredators 2.0

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