Tag Archives: Coronavirus Pandemic

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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Homeless Residents Of Echo Park And Their Supporters Tried And Tried And Tried To Meet With Mitch O’Farrell Earlier This Year — To Discuss Essential Human Needs — Like Bathrooms — And Not Being Killed By Police — And Hygiene Supplies — And Other Equally Important Matters — But Mitch O’Farrell Wouldn’t Meet With Them — Or Direct His Staff To Meet — Meanwhile Both He And His Staff Met Repeatedly With Psychopathic Echo Park Housedwellers — To Discuss Their Idiotic Concerns — Like How Unpleasant It Is To See Homeless People — And Property Values — And Freaking Cholera — And How They Could Fuck Up The Lives Of The Unhoused Even More Than Usual — And Sometimes Just To Drop Off Gifts — Like Care Packages — And This Led To The Damn Housedwellers Exposing O’Farrell — And His Appalling Field Deputy Juan Fregoso — To COVID-19 In April 2020 — Which — Given That Cholera Business — Is A Level Of Irony Rarely Seen In Actual Reality

In January 2020 the unhoused residents of Echo Park came together to protest their displacement by an ongoing series of sweeps ordered by CD13 Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. They wrote O’Farrell an exceedingly reasonable letter explaining their precarious situation, the dangers to which his sweeps exposed them, a number of proposals for assuaging the1 so-called concerns of the local housedwellers, and, for our purpose most crucially, a request to meet with him to discuss the burgeoning crisis.

This letter and the protests that inspired it turned out to be the beginning of an ongoing and still-active resistance movement in the Park, the story of which is ably told by Liam Fitzpatrick in Knock LA. This movement has merged seamlessly with the ongoing rebellion against police violence, as seen e.g. yesterday in a massive protest against LAPD and the City’s attacks on the unhoused residents, which culminated in a march to O’Farrell’s office, a series of really moving speeches calling out his weaponized incompetence, and an impressive display of art.

And over these six months of unrest, O’Farrell has repeatedly ignored the activists’ requests to meet, to discuss, to find solutions. According to Streetwatch LA, a group deeply involved in organizing the campaign, the only in-person contact O’Farrell’s office made with any of the activists consisted of O’Farrell’s absolutely despicable field deputy Juan Fregoso meeting with one resident of the Park and aggressively suggesting that the guy enter a shelter while continuing to ignore reasonable requests from these constituents for serious meetings to discuss policy.2

The City of Los Angeles is famous for using encampment sweeps and other violent tactics against unhoused residents in response to complaints, which are characteristically both deeply sociopathic and astonishingly trivial, from unhinged local housedwellers, and the Echo Park sweeps which catalyzed the protests are not an exception. I recently received a small but significant set of emails from CD13 on the subject which suggest that this particular round of violence was seeded by complaints in late 2019 from residents of Parkview Living, which is some kind of retirement home across the street from the Park.

The emails are heavily redacted, by the way, in accordance with a newly-adopted and highly illegal CD13 policy of hiding the identities of psychopathic anti-homeless constituents in order to encourage them to continue to freely express their psychopathic anti-homeless rage. Nevertheless it’s still possible to figure out what’s going on. The housedwellers are worried, as usual, about having to look at unhoused residents as well as the effect of a visible encampment on their property values. Not so much about the well-being, the health, or even the very lives of the unhoused residents.

Even more upsetting given his refusal to even talk to the actual unhoused residents is the fact that O’Farrell and his staff met repeatedly with these angry hypersensitive housedwellers to assuage their wounded sensibilities and to promise, accurately, to step up enforcement against the suffering residents of the Park. O’Farrell explicitly encouraged the Parkview housedwellers to bring their concerns to the media, presumably to bolster the appearance of public support for his violent encampment sweeps.

Fregoso, on the other hand, apparently validated their weird self-pity by telling them falsely that the City had in fact singled them out by specifically allowing encampments near Parkview, probably with the same goal.3 In addition to meetings O’Farrell and his staff apparently dropped by in person to give gifts to Parkview residents. Which foolishness, ironically, led to O’Farrell and Fregoso being exposed to COVID-19 in April 2020.
Continue reading Homeless Residents Of Echo Park And Their Supporters Tried And Tried And Tried To Meet With Mitch O’Farrell Earlier This Year — To Discuss Essential Human Needs — Like Bathrooms — And Not Being Killed By Police — And Hygiene Supplies — And Other Equally Important Matters — But Mitch O’Farrell Wouldn’t Meet With Them — Or Direct His Staff To Meet — Meanwhile Both He And His Staff Met Repeatedly With Psychopathic Echo Park Housedwellers — To Discuss Their Idiotic Concerns — Like How Unpleasant It Is To See Homeless People — And Property Values — And Freaking Cholera — And How They Could Fuck Up The Lives Of The Unhoused Even More Than Usual — And Sometimes Just To Drop Off Gifts — Like Care Packages — And This Led To The Damn Housedwellers Exposing O’Farrell — And His Appalling Field Deputy Juan Fregoso — To COVID-19 In April 2020 — Which — Given That Cholera Business — Is A Level Of Irony Rarely Seen In Actual Reality

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Eric Garcetti And His Wife Amy Wakeland Own Three Rental Properties Between Them — One Commercial In The City Of Beverly Hills — And Two Residential In The City Of Los Angeles — But Even More Interesting Than That Is Garcetti’s Shares In Two Real-Estate-Owning Limited Partnerships — Formed Decades Ago By Zillionaire Gil Garcetti Crony Edward Zolla — And Now Controlled By His Widow Susan Zolla — Both Of Whom Have Been Major Donors To Eric Garcetti’s Campaigns — And Apparently Also To His Personal Wealth By Allowing Him To Partner Up With Them In A Hotel And An Apartment Building

I recently wrote on the fact that at least seven members of the Los Angeles City Council are landlords, which may well have something to do with their reluctance to implement serious and effective protections for vulnerable tenants during the pandemic.1 And in the last few days tenants’ rights activists have organized two demonstrations at the home of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to protest his failure to implement a blanket eviction ban and rent forgiveness during the pandemic.2

So it didn’t really surprise me that much to learn that Garcetti is also a landlord. But I was surprised by the layered complexity of his real estate holdings, at least as compared to the fairly straightforward setups the Councilmembers have.3 It all starts, of course, with his Form 700, which lists three properties on Schedule B.4 One of these is a commercial building in the City of Beverly Hills5 but the other two are residential rentals in the City of Los Angeles.

First up we have 1299 Meadowbrook Avenue, which consists of three units,6 bought by Garcetti and his wife, Amy Wakeland, in 2016 as reported in the Los Angeles Times. On August 8, 2018 Garcetti and Wakeland formed the 1299 Meadowbrook LLC and then a few days later signed over the property to that entity as recorded in this grant deed.7 According to the Times article in 2016 the main house was listed at $5K per month and the two apartments at at least $2K each.8

The next property listed is 1809 W. 37th Place, which is a duplex near Exposition and Western. This is listed as Amy Wakeland’s sole property, which is consistent with the grant deed, on which Garcetti’s name does not appear. She bought the property on July 10, 2018 and, I guess to be extra-safe, that same day Garcetti filed a transfer deed assigning his rights in the property to Wakeland.9

And then things get really interesting! On Schedule A-1 of his Form 700, which covers “Stocks, Bonds, and Other Interests,” Garcetti lists a couple of limited partnerships, which are IPDR Associates and Del Rey Vista Associates. Later, on Schedule C,10 it turns out that IPDR owns a hotel at 435 Culver Blvd and Del Rey owns an apartment building at 11519 Culver. These two corporate entities were formed decades ago by zillionaire real estate developer Edward Zolla and are now owned11 by his widow, Susan Zolla.12
Continue reading Eric Garcetti And His Wife Amy Wakeland Own Three Rental Properties Between Them — One Commercial In The City Of Beverly Hills — And Two Residential In The City Of Los Angeles — But Even More Interesting Than That Is Garcetti’s Shares In Two Real-Estate-Owning Limited Partnerships — Formed Decades Ago By Zillionaire Gil Garcetti Crony Edward Zolla — And Now Controlled By His Widow Susan Zolla — Both Of Whom Have Been Major Donors To Eric Garcetti’s Campaigns — And Apparently Also To His Personal Wealth By Allowing Him To Partner Up With Them In A Hotel And An Apartment Building

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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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