Tag Archives: Lincoln Heights BCBID

North Figueroa Association — AKA Highland Park BID — And Lincoln Heights BID — Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — After I Exposed Their Mural Erasures — And Social Media Stalking — And Attacks On Street Vendors — In 2018 They Lawyered Up — And Stopped Complying With The Law — Apparently Litigation Is The Only Way To Get These Outlaws To Comply With Their Damn Obligations

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our old friends at the Highland Park BID but that’s certainly not because I lost interest in them! You’ll recall that in early 2018 they released a really rich set of emails in response to some requests made under the California Public Records Act. These records revealed, among other things, the BID’s complicity in the ongoing hurricane-force gentrification of Highland Park, using tactics like mural erasure and harassment of street vendors. The emails also showed the BID’s creepy Facebook stalking of local antigentrification activists, coordinated with weirdo CD1 staffer Bill Cody.

The Highland Park BID’s executive director, Misty Iwatsu, is also the ED of the Lincoln Heights BID.1 Lincoln Heights isn’t as under the gentrification gun as Highland Park, but it’s going to be very soon. So in May 2018 I sent some CPRA requests to the LHBID, seeking to understand their role in changing the neighborhood and also to understand their BID renewal process, which was just beginning. But by the middle of that month Iwatsu’s two BIDs had evidently had their damn fill of transparency.2 They hired ritzy Manhattan Beach lawyer Mark Abramson, who on their behalf immediately stopped complying with the CPRA.

And as usual I spent some time trying to convince the guy to straighten up and follow the law, but he simply would not do it. The previously smooth flow of records ceased. Abramson announced vague far-in-the-future deadlines for production and then blew through them, sent corrupted files and denied they were corrupted, and all the usual tactics that obstructionist agencies rely on. At some point it became clear that no one at either of these BIDs was planning to comply with the law, so on Monday, January 13, 2020, I filed a petition in L.A. County Superior Court asking the judge to compel them.

The public interest in accessing this material is huge even apart from the general public interest in having public agencies comply with the Public Records Act. The BID’s role in mural erasure was covered in L.A. Magazine and The Boulevard Sentinel and local activists Restorative Justice for the Arts have organized in opposition. The Lincoln Heights BID is actually involved somehow in the planned gentrification of that neighborhood, which has also been covered in the press. And in the 18 months since the BIDs stopped complying we’ve been kept in the dark about whatever else these publicly funded entities are getting up to. This cannot be allowed to continue! Read on for selections from the petition!
Continue reading North Figueroa Association — AKA Highland Park BID — And Lincoln Heights BID — Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — After I Exposed Their Mural Erasures — And Social Media Stalking — And Attacks On Street Vendors — In 2018 They Lawyered Up — And Stopped Complying With The Law — Apparently Litigation Is The Only Way To Get These Outlaws To Comply With Their Damn Obligations

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Has The Los Angeles Unified School District Turned Against BIDs? — At Its May 8, 2018 The School Board Voted Against A Staff Recommendation To Support Seven Renewals — On The Grounds That The Money Would Be Better Used For — Gasp!! — Educating Students

It’s well-known that the City of Los Angeles always votes its property in favor of BID formation. In fact, an ordinance passed in 1996 directs the Clerk to vote yes on both petitions and ballots unless the City Council specifically directs otherwise. And to my knowledge, the same has been true of the Los Angeles Unified School District. There have been signs, albeit not dispositive, of some LAUSD discontent with the policy, e.g. the probably intentional voiding of all petitions, but no open rebellion that I’m aware of.

And BIDs are evidently used to taking LAUSD petitions and ballots for granted. For instance, the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID is currently in the process of renewing.1 And I just received a huge release of emails about the renewal from BLQBID director Moises Gomez, which you can look at here on Archive.Org. It’s clear from the discussion that Don Duckworth and Moises Gomez were counting the LAUSD petitions as already-hatched chickens2 but, amazingly, it was not to be.

In April 2018 LAUSD staff prepared a report recommending that the Board sign petitions approving seven BIDs in Los Angeles. But at its May 8, 2018 meeting, the LAUSD Board voted down the staff proposal, and, according to staffer Yekaterina Boyajian, writing in an email to Moises Gomez on May 21, this is how it went down:

The proposal for the District to sign these petitions in support of the BIDs was not approved. The Board expressed the desire to support the BID petitions, and staff spoke to the positive relationships schools have with existing BIDs, but the Board felt that they could not justify supporting the expenditure of public education funds for purposes other than education in a time when the District is facing historic budget deficits.

It wasn’t just the BLQ BID that got its hopes dashed, either. The other BIDs whose petitions were rejected were the Arts District, the Fashion District, the Hollywood Entertainment District, the Hollywood Media District, the Lincoln Heights Benefit District, and the Melrose BID. Quite a distinguished list, eh?

And turn the page for a detailed explanation of the BLQ BID’s evolving thinking about these LAUSD petitions between February and May 2018, along with the usual links to and transcriptions of any number of really interesting emails!
Continue reading Has The Los Angeles Unified School District Turned Against BIDs? — At Its May 8, 2018 The School Board Voted Against A Staff Recommendation To Support Seven Renewals — On The Grounds That The Money Would Be Better Used For — Gasp!! — Educating Students

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Rita Moreno Thinks The “Boundaries Of A BID Must Be Contiguous” — Misty Iwatsu Agrees!! — No! Wait! Rita Moreno Thinks “There’s No Legal Requirement That The Boundaries Be Contiguous”! — Whichever It Is, We Think That Rita Moreno (A) Is Practicing Law Without A License And Ought To Stop It Right Now Cause It’s Illegal And She’s Confusing Everybody And (B) Does Not Know What The Word “Contiguous” Means

OK, I’m sorry, this post is on kind of a technical subject, but I think it’s important and also it reveals a kind of weird off-handed incompetence amongst the City Clerk’s BID analyst staff that I think is worth memorializing. The central issue is whether the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994 requires a BID to be in one piece. I’m going to use the technical term “connected” here.1

It’s not just an idle question, either. You may recall that the proposed Hollywood Route 66 BID runs up Santa Monica Blvd. from Vine Street to Hoover Street. The problem is that Vermont Avenue crosses Santa Monica right in the middle of that stretch, and every building that touches Vermont is already included in the East Hollywood BID.

Regardless of what the PBID law has to say about connectedness of BIDs, it’s very, very clear on the fact that BIDs can’t overlap.2 Hence commercial buildings on both Santa Monica and Vermont must be excluded from the Hollywood Route 66 BID, which leaves its territory disconnected. Plausibly, also, the EHBID could cede those buildings to the Route 66 BID, but, interestingly, doing so would leave the EHBID disconnected, so nothing would be gained. Here’s a copy of the map if it’ll be useful.

Thus a correct understanding of what the law allows is essential for the formation of at least that BID, and probably others in the future. And I’m not a lawyer, but I read the whole damn PBID law about a zillion times and the connectivity of a BID is not mentioned in there at all. It’s my not-a-lawyer understanding that if a law doesn’t explicitly forbid something then that something is allowed.

But the famous Rita Moreno of the City Clerk’s Neighborhood and Business Improvement District division didn’t agree with me in 2017! Then she did agree with me in 2018! And Misty Iwatsu spent some time in 2016 babbling on about the matter and thought 2017 Rita Moreno was right! And Rita Moreno didn’t just think, she advised! And it strikes me that her advice looked an awful lot like practicing law without a license, which is illegal in California!3

And of course you want to see details! And primary sources! Turn the page and there they are!!
Continue reading Rita Moreno Thinks The “Boundaries Of A BID Must Be Contiguous” — Misty Iwatsu Agrees!! — No! Wait! Rita Moreno Thinks “There’s No Legal Requirement That The Boundaries Be Contiguous”! — Whichever It Is, We Think That Rita Moreno (A) Is Practicing Law Without A License And Ought To Stop It Right Now Cause It’s Illegal And She’s Confusing Everybody And (B) Does Not Know What The Word “Contiguous” Means

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