In November 2016 the voters of Los Angeles approved Measure HHH, which provided a huge amount of funding for housing homeless people. The measure also created a Citizens’ Oversight Committee, putatively for the purpose of making sure the money was well-spent. Subsequently, Eric Garcetti appointed Hollywood BIDdie and famous mayoral pookie-pie Kerry Morrison and some other people to the Committee and the City Council appointed Downtown BIDdie and famous José Huizar pookie-pie Blair Besten to the Committee.
These appointments meant that 2 of 7 committee members work for business improvement districts,1 which was bad enough in itself given that one of the main purposes of BIDs is to banish the homeless from their districts and to basically waste public money in the form of their assessments while doing that. But on Wednesday matters got immeasurably worse.
What happened is that Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Mitchell Englander introduced a motion proposing to expand the remit of the CoC to include making
comprehensive recommendations to the Homelessness and Poverty Committee regarding changes to the permanent supportive housing process and funding structure to enable a more expedited delivery of homeless housing.
That is, the Committee is now charged with weakening the funding process and the permitting and building approval process for projects that will help house the homeless. This sounds superficially like a good thing, but there’s at least one huge problem with it. Blair Besten’s employers, Kerry Morrison’s employers, are huge commercial property owners and developers and weakened processes are their bread and butter. They know exactly how to turn weakened processes into strengthened profit margins.
At least some of them, e.g. Ruben Islas, make immense amounts of money from building and owning housing for the homeless. Blair Besten has lobbied the City intensively on relaxing zoning codes and on granting psychotically expansive tax breaks to such developers. This new proposal, therefore, would grant Blair Besten and Kerry Morrison the power to make recommendations directly to City Council on issues that they are already paid by developers and property owners to lobby the City over.
Continue reading A Motion In City Council Asks The HHH Citizens’ Oversight Committee To Recommend Ways To Speed Up Development Of Housing For The Homeless, Creating An Unacknowledged But Not Unexpected Conflict Of Interest For Members Kerry Morrison And Blair Besten, Whose Salaries Are Paid By Real Estate Developers For The Express Purpose Of Advocating For Their Interests With The City