Tag Archives: Department of Public Works

How I Finally — For Only The Second Freaking Time Ever — Got Advance Notice Of Some Homeless Encampment Sweeps From LA Sanitation Via The Public Records Act After Three Long Years Of Fighting With Them About It — And How They Told Me That I Couldn’t Look At The Next Day’s Schedule But Only Today’s — So I Showed Up At The Public Works Building This Morning At 7 AM And Eventually Did Get To See The Schedule — Which Is A Huge Breakthrough! — But It Also Became Clear That They Have Not Been Fully Honest In Their Claim That The Schedules Aren’t Produced In Advance — So The Next Phase Is To Get The Next Day’s Schedules Each Afternoon

I have been trying to use the California Public Records Act to get advance notice of homeless encampment sweeps for three years now. After a few months of arguing with LA Sanitation, in 2016 I actually managed to get a schedule one day in advance. I went out and filmed the whole thing, but then the City went back into full metal obstructionism and refused to hand over another advance schedule.

So I’ve been pushing them on it since then without making much progress. I did, however, get them to agree in principal that some of the records containing advance info about scheduled sweeps was not exempt from production. However, and frustratingly, this did not lead to my actually gaining access to schedules in advance. But in June of this year a lawyer, Michael Risher, agreed to help me out, and he evidently acted as a catalyst.

He wrote them a demand letter and they dragged their feet and dragged their feet but eventually did make various concessions, although still did not produce. One thing led to another, and we came to the conclusion that I would need to go to the Public Works Building in person and demand to see the schedule. I gave Sanitation notice that I would show up this morning at 7 am to look at today’s confirmation sheet.1 I showed up as promised, and after about 15 minutes of confusion with the guard, she let me go upstairs.
Continue reading How I Finally — For Only The Second Freaking Time Ever — Got Advance Notice Of Some Homeless Encampment Sweeps From LA Sanitation Via The Public Records Act After Three Long Years Of Fighting With Them About It — And How They Told Me That I Couldn’t Look At The Next Day’s Schedule But Only Today’s — So I Showed Up At The Public Works Building This Morning At 7 AM And Eventually Did Get To See The Schedule — Which Is A Huge Breakthrough! — But It Also Became Clear That They Have Not Been Fully Honest In Their Claim That The Schedules Aren’t Produced In Advance — So The Next Phase Is To Get The Next Day’s Schedules Each Afternoon

Share

How I Went To The Bureau Of Engineering To Check On Permits For Anti-Homeless Planters On Cahuenga Boulevard — And Discovered That There Were No Freaking Permits — And Not Only That But The Man Who Helped Me Said That Planters Aren’t The Kind Of Thing They Issue Permits For Anyway

Remember those infernal anti-homeless planters that are appearing on our sidewalks across the City from Venice out to Hollywood and beyond? Well, the Los Angeles Municipal Code is very, very clear about private people installing stuff on the damn sidewalk. It is required to get a permit before the installation goes in. This requirement is found at LAMC 62.118.2.

And it turns out that the existence of such a permit, called an R-permit, is completely a matter of public record. So I determined to check out the legality of the four arrays of planters on Lillan Way and Cahuenga Boulevard that I wrote about on Twitter at the end of February. Last week, mislead by the damn internet, I went to the Public Works Building at 12th and Broadway, but that turned out to be totally the wrong place.

The people there were really helpful, though, and they told me the department I wanted was at 201 N. Figueroa. I didn’t have time that day to continue the journey, but this morning I did. I found the right office and talked to two really helpful people, both of whom confirmed that none of these planters had permits, and that therefore none of them were legal.

Here’s a list of the addresses with illegal planters, and the next stop is the Bureau of Street Services to try to get an investigator out there. Also, read on for a description of the exact steps I took to check on permits, so you can do it too. Note that the relevant code section, LAMC 62.45, requires permits for fences, too. So you can check these out if you’re interested.

• 6350 Santa Monica Blvd. — NO PERMIT — ILLEGAL!
• 1000 N. Cahuenga Blvd. — NO PERMIT — ILLEGAL!
• 720 N. Cahuenga Blvd. — NO PERMIT — ILLEGAL!
• 706 N. Cahuenga Blvd. — NO PERMIT — ILLEGAL!
Continue reading How I Went To The Bureau Of Engineering To Check On Permits For Anti-Homeless Planters On Cahuenga Boulevard — And Discovered That There Were No Freaking Permits — And Not Only That But The Man Who Helped Me Said That Planters Aren’t The Kind Of Thing They Issue Permits For Anyway

Share

How Ellen Riotto And Wallis Locke Of The South Park BID Conspired With Michael Shilstone Of The Central City Association, Kevin James Of The Board Of Public Works, Lee Zeidman Of Staples Center, And A Bunch Of AEG Worldwide Stooges — Including Shelby Russell — To Encourage People To Call LAPD On Vendors And Hang Up Anti-Vending Signs Around LA Live — With A Generous Special Bonus Helping Of My Steaming Hot Amateur Theories On Why The Damn Signs Are Illegitimate And Will Ultimately Be Mostly Removed If Not Completely

The other day LA Taco tweeted out this picture of a no-vending sign near Staples Center and a lot of people were angry and confused. This is the story of how and why1 those signs appeared recently. The story begins with Ricardo Lara‘s monumental Sanity in Street Vending Bill, passed by the California Legislature last year over the strident objections of zillionaires and their BIDdie minions all over the state. The law essentially legalized street vending everywhere, while leaving some really minimal regulatory powers to cities.

One of the regulatory powers that the law allows is the establishment of no-vending zones. But these can’t be established on a mere whim, or just because people hate vendors. Rather any such restriction must be “directly related to objective health, safety, or welfare concerns.”2 But the City of Los Angeles never met a loophole that it couldn’t stretch into a six lane freeway at the behest of the local zillionaires, and our esteemed Councilmembers jumped all over this one.

They went into an embarrassing frenzy of zillionaire-pleasuring and directed the City Attorney to figure out how to establish no-vending zones everywhere any BID or anyone else with enough influence asked them to. The list ended up including the Hollywood Bowl, the Venice Boardwalk, most of Hollywood Blvd, and, of interest to us today, the area around Staples Center.

Lara’s bill took effect on January 1, 2019, so prior to that, in preparation for what they saw as the impending Vendorgeddon, zillionaires all over the City began preparing for vigorously psychotic enforcement of these last few no-vending zones they’d managed to preserve, at least for now. As I said, today we’re focusing on Staples Center, but I’m sure the same kind of thing is happening in all the putative no-vending zones.

I’ve managed to uncover two distinct phases of the process so far. In early January 2019, Ellen Riotto of the South Park Business Improvement District, in which Staples Center situates, notified businesses in the no-vending zone and encouraged them to call LAPD on vendors. A little later, around January 20, 2019, Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center and member of the board of directors of the South Park BID, used his considerable political power, focused by his flunky Riotto, to harangue City staff about the need for superexponentially increased anti-vending enforcement along with no-vending signs.

He also threatened to hire private security to enforce anti-vending laws on public streets if the City didn’t start enforcing the law itself. And all this focused power ultimately had its effect with the placement of the signs, as we have seen. I don’t presently know if enforcement was in fact stepped up, but I am continuing to look into the matter. Turn the page for a detailed account along with links to and transcriptions of selections from the relevant emails.
Continue reading How Ellen Riotto And Wallis Locke Of The South Park BID Conspired With Michael Shilstone Of The Central City Association, Kevin James Of The Board Of Public Works, Lee Zeidman Of Staples Center, And A Bunch Of AEG Worldwide Stooges — Including Shelby Russell — To Encourage People To Call LAPD On Vendors And Hang Up Anti-Vending Signs Around LA Live — With A Generous Special Bonus Helping Of My Steaming Hot Amateur Theories On Why The Damn Signs Are Illegitimate And Will Ultimately Be Mostly Removed If Not Completely

Share

Update On Attempts To Use CPRA To Get LA Sanitation To Provide Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups

Los Angeles Public Works building at 1149 S. Broadway.
Los Angeles Public Works building at 1149 S. Broadway.
Last Summer it occurred to me that it should be possible to use the California Public Records Act to get advance notice of City of LA homeless encampment cleanup actions. After an inordinate amount of bitching and moaning on my part, three weeks ago they actually handed over a schedule one day in advance. Since then, though, the person who gave me that record has been removed from my case1 and the new person assigned to it, Veretta Everheart, Senior Management Analyst with the Department of Public Works, is as obstructionist as everyone else I’ve dealt with at LA Sanitation (although perfectly friendly and delightful to deal with). In other words, no new advance schedules have been forthcoming.

On a slightly hopeful note, though, Veretta Everheart did actually tell me explicitly that they weren’t going to give me advance schedules.2 The reason she gave is that they “are living documents” which are “not retained.”3 Although she doesn’t say so explicitly, this is evidently a nod in the direction of an exemption enumerated in CPRA at Section 6254(a), which states that it’s not required to release

Preliminary drafts, notes, or interagency or intra-agency memoranda that are not retained by the public agency in the ordinary course of business, if the public interest in withholding those records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Now, if this is actually what she’s claiming,4 it’s probably not going to fly. First of all, even if these calendars are in fact drafts, there’s a solid argument that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in withholding. In fact, there’s no discernable public interest in withholding these.5 Not only that, but all of these calendars, drafts and preliminary versions included, are, in fact, retained, making the applicability of this exemption even more implausible.
Continue reading Update On Attempts To Use CPRA To Get LA Sanitation To Provide Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups

Share