A couple days ago it came out on Twitter that a lot of people in Los Angeles don’t understand how homeless encampment sweeps get scheduled and why, in particular how encampments to be swept are chosen. I promised to write a post about it, and here we are!1 Part of the reason for the delay is that the story is really complex, so I’m just going to talk qualitatively about how encampments end up being targeted by Council Districts and leave the rest for another post or two.2 For instance, the City has two kinds of sweep teams, which are CARE and CARE+, but I’m not going to talk about the differences,3 which are probably important, but not for this post.
Each Council Office has a staffer whose job is to work out their District’s sweep schedule with LA Sanitation. I think that ordinarily every request for a sweep in a given District goes through this San contact.4 The scheduling is done by email as well as by editing Google Docs, and the emails occasionally reveal the reason a given encampment is being targeted. Here are the sets of records this post is mostly5 based on. If you’re interested in the subject it’s really worth looking at these. There’s a lot more information there than I’m using here:
Over the last few days I’ve received a few massive releases of records from Los Angeles Sanitation about homeless encampment sweep authorizations. There’s far, far too much information here for one post but I want to get links published because the information is essential. The records illuminate a number of important issues, not least of which has to do with the sweep selection process.1
For the most part encampments to be swept are chosen by Council District offices, who make selections based on complaints from property owners and probably other reasons too. These records reveal something I hadn’t seen before, though, which is that on its own initiative LAPD can also select encampments to be swept. Here are links to the new material, followed by a story or two gleaned from it.
The Los Angeles muncipal government, which can fruitfully be conceptualized as an incredibly efficient alchemical process for transformatively combining human misery and real estate into zillionaire gold,1 is, as you’d expect, right on top of this newly created opportunity for grift. And, also as you’d expect, they’ve hidden many parts of the process from the public, not by carrying them out in the proverbial but by now outmoded smoke-filled rooms, but by obscuring them beneath multiple layers of semantically empty words, distributing pieces of the process across multiple council files, mostly supplementary, in the effectively-unsearchable-by-design Council File Management System, and so on.2
But with careful attention to the City’s various announcements and close reading of motions it’s occasionally possible to become aware of some of their moves. This is how I learned that in June 2019 Joe Buscaino introduced a couple of motions with the phrase “City Economic Development / Asset Management Framework Review” in their titles, each along with a specific address. These are Council File 12-1549-S14, which is about 500 S. Mesa Street and Council File 12-1549-S15, which is about 1845 E. 103rd Street. Both motions note that the properties are located in Opportunity Zones. The motions instruct various City departments to evaluate the properties “for economic development purposes” according to some set of criteria called “the Asset Management Framework” and then report back to Council on their findings.
The report-backs hit the Council Files a few weeks ago (500 S. Mesa Street and 1845 E. 103rd Street). Both recommend, as they seem to have been intended to do, that the City issue a request for proposals to use the properties for economic development, potentially through private development. The fact that the two reports are identically worded except for a few specific details about the properties suggests that not much care was taken in their creation. This supports the view that the outcomes of the evaluations were predetermined. The fact that the criteria for what counts as economic development are so vague supports the view that the ultimate point is to sell these valuable parcels off to some developer with a superficially plausible story about tax benefits or whatever.
It has been clear all along that Jain had no one’s but her own best interests in mind and that placing human children in the custody and care of such a callow grifter was an awful idea, but details of what she was planning for her victims have been few. We did learn recently from a grant application Jain submitted to the California Department of Education that she believed in stringing together empty words about putative excellence, although again, what this would mean for the actual children wasn’t clear:
… rigorous academics, character development, and community engagement, GANAS Academy Charter School educates students in kindergarten through fifth grade for academic success, placing them firmly on the path to college. GANAS Academy believes that all students – regardless of zip code, race, or socioeconomic status – deserve access to a high-quality education that prepares them for success in college and career.
And a few weeks ago all these zillionaires got together and filed a motion with the court hearing the case, presided over by James Otero, asking for permission to intervene for the purpose of objecting to the settlement, a story covered by no one, it seems, other than the Daily News. There are transcribed selections below. And I don’t really know enough to be able to comment on the motion, other than to say I have mixed feelings.
That is, the people seeking to intervene are certainly fascists and liars. They mix incredibly disingenuous claims about their love and compassion for all humanity with lies about disease and advocacy for extreme oppression of homeless people. They actually cite the actual freaking Daily Freaking Mail in their brief. They lie about the levels of crime, of violence, they cite Drew Freaking Pinsky as if he were anything more than a lying hack himself. If they’re given a free hand to set policy they’ll deport homeless people, even housed poor people, off to the desert to live in camps, bleating the whole while about how they only want the best for their victims.
What I can offer you today, friends, is Twitter block/mute information for eleven of the fifteen council districts, the City Attorney, the Mayor, and a small selection of official LAPD accounts.1 There’s also an interesting line of hypothetical bullshit from deputy city attorney Strefan Fauble2 about some pretty technical claims about CPRA exemptionism,3 but that, being übernerdlich, is way at the end of the post.
Most of the accounts blocked are porn or spam, but Jose Huizar and David Ryu are notable exceptions. Both reps block accounts that are obviously controlled by actual individual people. Huizar’s list is by far the most extensive, and includes wildly inappropriate blocks like @oscartaracena and @BHJesse.
In the high and far off times, O best beloved, there was a candidate for Los Angeles City Council District 9, endorsed by the L.A. Times in 2013 and a favorite of both Bernard Parks and Jan Perry. Well, nothing works out like one expects in this mean old world and in these latter days our hero, whose name, by the way, is David Anthony Roberts, rather than having his own council district to do with as he might please, is instead some kind of high mückety-mücklischer poo-bah type guy in Joe Buscaino‘s employ over at CD 15.
Perhaps you recall, dear reader, that in August 2016, San Pedro BID Executive Directrix Lorena Parker interceded with Joe Buscaino’s office on behalf of a member of her Board of Directors who was being criminally charged with not keeping his damn dumpsters clean. Now, normal people, like you, like I, tend to assume that it’s easier to not commit crimes than it is to commit them and then later try to fix them with our Council office, but, as the hallowed F. Scott Fitzgerald once noted:1
Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves.
Once upon a time in 2016 an organization called Hot Import Nights was going to host a car show in Downtown San Pedro. This would seem to be a natural fit, since San Pedro is nestled between such motorhead meccas as Torrance and Gardena and Carson and Long Beach, famed hot spots of both formal and informal Southern California car culture due not in small part to the feverish and innovative automotive, aerospace, and marine manufacturing activities centered in the subregion for more than a century at this point.
But if there’s a BID in the woodpile they’re going to have an opinion, either puritanical, stupid, or both, on any proposed activities within their jurisdiction, whether it’s any of their concern or not. And it’s well-known to those who know it well that Downtown San Pedro is cursed by being chronically subject to the tender mercies of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID. And thus it is no surprise that the BID weighed in on the car show. And it’s no surprise that they hated it. It’s exactly the kind of thing that knee-jerk puritanical real estate minions will hate.
But what is a surprise is that they changed their little minds and came to love it. They loved it so darn much that they signed an MOU with it and agreed to lobby the City on its behalf. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch and white supremacy will exact payment for any favors it bestows. In exchange for the BID’s aid and comfort, the car show had to agree not to play any rap music or hip hop at their event, and a bunch of other, as weird but possibly less racist, conditions as well.
I know the headline sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The L.A. Times reported on it this morning, although their article, as is their wont, did not mention business improvement districts at all, and, at least briefly, I thought they were kidding. But this is the Los Angeles City Council we’re talking about, and they were not. Huizar and Price first made a motion to legalize street vending in November 2013, three years ago, and, over the last three years we have been subjected to an endless stream of hysterical, mendacious, probably illegal, lobbying by the BIDs and their ideological allies against the very idea. They even managed to get the Times itself to accept their misbegotten point of view as somehow legitimate. In response to this outpouring of unregistered lobbying behavior,1 the City Council essentially responded by ignoring the issue,2 as you can see from the council file, which has no official City action since October 2015, until yesterday, when Curren Price and Joe Buscaino slapped this little number on the table. It’s a letter, which does indeed refer, albeit obliquely, to Darth Cheeto himself:3
Despite the undeniable division and polarization that exists in our country right now, there is one common characteristic that is shared by Americans of every gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status and political party: our entrepreneurial spirit. We value the notion that everyone deserves the opportunity to start a small business, on a level playing field, with failure or success determined by our own talent, hard work, and perseverance. At an early age. we teach our children concepts like overhead, profit, and loss by encouraging them to sell Girl Scout Cookies, candy bars, and lemonade. Yet, if they sell any of those on a public sidewalk in Los Angeles, they are committing a crime of the same seriousness as drunk driving.
They go on to urge the Council to go ahead and legalize street vending because otherwise Trump has already won, and I can’t say that I disagree:
Recent talks about changes to our nation’s immigration policy, including threats to deport millions of undocumented immigrants – starting with those with criminal records – has created significant fear amongst our immigrant communities. Continuing to impose criminal misdemeanor penalties for vending disproportionately affects, and unfairly punishes, undocumented immigrants, and could potentially put them at risk for deportation.
Furthermore, Buscaino and Price claim that:
The core question the Council must answer is whether sidewalk vending poses a threat so grave to public health, safety, and welfare that it is worth continuing to expend limited police and prosecutorial resources enforcing a citywide ban.