Tag Archives: Nuisance Abatement

LA City Attorney’s Office Admits That There Is No Evidence Outside Their Own Heads That Their Gang Nuisance Lawsuits “Improve” Neighborhoods — Whatever They Even Mean By “Improve” — And Jonathan Cristall — Supreme Commander Of The Gang Nuisance Prosecution Crew — Fails To Produce Evidence That He Actually Recieved Any Of The Series Of Honors He — Formerly — Listed On His Amazon Author Page — Which Of Course Doesn’t Mean He Didn’t Receive Them — But It Is Certainly Interesting How Much These Prosecutors Want People To Take On Faith Given The Fact That Their Cases Are Based On The Untested Word Of LAPD Gang Officers — A Famously Mendacious Bunch

As you may already know, I’ve been looking into civil nuisance abatement lawsuits and their relation to gentrification in Los Angeles. The City files dozens of these cases each year and they’re based on really flimsy but also mostly unchallenged evidence. A big part of this project is collecting copies of the complaints themselves, and so far I’ve obtained them for 2015 and 2016 and 2017-2019.

Apparently, though, the City Attorney inadvertently omitted1 a few of these from earlier productions and I just got copies of those the other day. They’re available here on Archive.Org. We’re still waiting for 2014 and earlier. And I have a bunch of other requests pending, of course, and I will certainly let you know if any of them are successful and result in interesting stuff!

But also sometimes even unsuccessful requests have interesting results! And that’s the main subject of today’s post! But first, some background! You may recall that Supreme Nuisance Prosecutor Jonathan Cristall and his unindicted co-conspirator Liora Forman-Echols published a really insidious how-to/why-to guide in the National Gang Center Bulletin in 2009, which I wrote about recently.

And this pernicious little document contains some really implausible claims. Just for instance, on page 6, Cristall and Forman-Echols state, without supporting evidence, that “[i]n most instances, the abatement of the nuisance at the property has a ripple effect, positively improving the surrounding neighborhood.” Oh, and also! Seasoned Supreme Gang Nuisance Prosecutor Cristall is not only a self-proclaimed expert on abating nuisances for fun and profit, he’s also a self-proclaimed expert on raising teenagers!
Continue reading LA City Attorney’s Office Admits That There Is No Evidence Outside Their Own Heads That Their Gang Nuisance Lawsuits “Improve” Neighborhoods — Whatever They Even Mean By “Improve” — And Jonathan Cristall — Supreme Commander Of The Gang Nuisance Prosecution Crew — Fails To Produce Evidence That He Actually Recieved Any Of The Series Of Honors He — Formerly — Listed On His Amazon Author Page — Which Of Course Doesn’t Mean He Didn’t Receive Them — But It Is Certainly Interesting How Much These Prosecutors Want People To Take On Faith Given The Fact That Their Cases Are Based On The Untested Word Of LAPD Gang Officers — A Famously Mendacious Bunch

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A Couple Of Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Details Of How And Why The LA City Attorney Uses Nuisance Abatement Suits As Part Of The Same Gentrification Process As Gang Injunctions — Low Evidentiary Bar In Civil Cases — No Juries — No Public Defenders — Comparably Low Burden Of Proof — And The City’s Revealing — And Appalling — Choice Of Illustrations — And Of Targets — And Of Rhetorical Strategies — Reveal The Delusional And Ultraracist Conceptual Underpinnings Of The Project — Basically Superpredators 2.0

The City of Los Angeles famously uses civil nuisance abatement lawsuits against property owners and residents in areas of the City being prepped for gentrification. These suits are yet another of the million superficially more acceptable forms into which old-fashioned urban renewal was reincarnated after it became clear to the world that James Baldwin was spot-on in his characterization of it as Negro removal.

For the most part news coverage of the hundreds of such suits filed by Mike Feuer’s office when there’s coverage at all has been uncritically accepting of the City’s unsupported-by-evidence story that these actions fight crime and increase safety.1 But the revelation after the murder of Nipsey Hussle that the City Attorney had been working towards filing such an action against Hussle’s property at Crenshaw and Slauson seems to have opened the door for much more critical coverage.2

Complaints that actually get filed, it turns out, are just a small part of the nuisance abatement program. The City Attorney sends out hundreds of demand letters to targeted property owners, most of which lead to settlements, evictions, and other such results sought by the City without ever having to file anything in court. I’ve been investigating this process via the California Public Records Act. The City Attorney denied my request for copies of the demand letters3 but they are in the process of producing copies of all the actually filed complaints.4

And just recently they turned over a couple of other interesting items. The first is a 2009 how-to why-to article by Los Angeles nuisance abatement pioneers Jonathan Cristall5 and Liora Forman-Echols called Property Abatements — The Other Gang Injunction. The other is a PDF version of an undated PowerPoint presentation about the nuisance abatement program. the PowerPoint thing doesn’t have much intentional content6 but the endless parade of photographs put the barely tacit racism of the whole project on vivid pictorial display. Some choice slides appear at the end of this post.
Continue reading A Couple Of Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Details Of How And Why The LA City Attorney Uses Nuisance Abatement Suits As Part Of The Same Gentrification Process As Gang Injunctions — Low Evidentiary Bar In Civil Cases — No Juries — No Public Defenders — Comparably Low Burden Of Proof — And The City’s Revealing — And Appalling — Choice Of Illustrations — And Of Targets — And Of Rhetorical Strategies — Reveal The Delusional And Ultraracist Conceptual Underpinnings Of The Project — Basically Superpredators 2.0

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In 2018 and 2019 The Los Angeles City Attorney Sent Out 479 Demand Letters In Nuisance Abatement Cases — And Filed 30 Cases In Court — According To Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson An LAPD Gang Officer’s Referral Is Sufficient To Open A Case File — Gang Officers Of Course Were Recently Revealed To Engage In Widespread Lying — And None Of The Demands And Almost None Of The Filed Complaints Get Litigated — So Almost None Of The City’s Allegations Ever Get Tested Adversarially — The City Is Already Reviewing Criminal Cases That The Lying Officers Were Involved In — But Who Will Review These Civil Nuisance Cases?

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program ostensibly attacks gang crime by filing civil lawsuits against property owners whose properties are allegedly involved in ongoing criminal activity. And even though there are obviously people committing all kinds of crimes, dealing drugs, shooting guns, hanging out listening to music,1 in houses and apartments all over the City, the vast majority of these suits are brought in South Los Angeles, a significant fraction in East and Northeast LA, and almost none in other areas.

These disparities support the widely held view that nuisance abatement suits are used as an aggressive gentrification tool. The neighborhoods targeted are gentrifying neighborhoods. The settlement conditions, and by far most of these cases settle, support gentrification and displacement by, among other things, forcing property owners to sell or to evict putatively undesirable tenants or to install surveillance equipment or otherwise function as LAPD informants. Most of the cases are brought against owners of single family homes or small multifamily or commercial properties, maybe because they’re less likely to have the resources to defend themselves.2

I’ve had some trouble learning how the City Attorney picks its targets, but recently, Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson, in an important series of emails, revealed that for the most part they’re chosen as a result of referrals from residents or law enforcement.3 According to Wilson, irrespective of the source of the referral, an LAPD “gang officer’s communication would be sufficient for the DCA4 to open a case on the property.” And the information supporting the case also comes from LAPD, according to Wilson: “The criminal activity at the property would have to be chronic and well-documented by LAPD before a DCA would even consider filling nuisance abatement action.”

And it turns out that for the City, filing a case essentially amounts to winning it. I recently obtained almost a hundred of these nuisance petitions, filed since 2015, from the CA via the California Public Records Act.5 and for the most part the targets don’t fight back. I checked all 67 of the cases opened between 2017 and 2019 and no more than ten involved any significant defense before settling essentially on the City’s terms.6 This means that the allegations in the petitions almost never get tested adversarially.

There’s no cross-examination, no documentation, and, surprisingly, not even testimony under penalty of perjury. In California Civil Procedure7 a petition is called verified when the complainant asserts belief in the truth of the allegations under penalty of perjury. For whatever reason nuisance abatement petitions are unverified, so no one even gets in trouble if parts of the cases turn out to be made up.8
Continue reading In 2018 and 2019 The Los Angeles City Attorney Sent Out 479 Demand Letters In Nuisance Abatement Cases — And Filed 30 Cases In Court — According To Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson An LAPD Gang Officer’s Referral Is Sufficient To Open A Case File — Gang Officers Of Course Were Recently Revealed To Engage In Widespread Lying — And None Of The Demands And Almost None Of The Filed Complaints Get Litigated — So Almost None Of The City’s Allegations Ever Get Tested Adversarially — The City Is Already Reviewing Criminal Cases That The Lying Officers Were Involved In — But Who Will Review These Civil Nuisance Cases?

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City Of Los Angeles Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act – I Asked The City Attorney For A Bunch Of Nuisance Abatement Demand Letters – Which Everybody Knows Are A Major Tool Of Gentrification – And Although The Lawsuits Filed By The City Are Public – It Is Impossible To Understand The Scope Of The Problem Without Seeing The Demand Letters – Since Surely Many If Not Most Of These Cases Don’t End Up In Court – But Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson Was All Like Naaaah! – So I Was All Like You’ve Been Served!

It occurred to me that maybe you might want a link to the petition right away without having to read through this whole damn blog post to get to it at the end. If so, here is a link to the petition!

The Office of the City Attorney of Los Angeles has a thing called the Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program, or CNAP,1 in which they use various civil laws to have tenants or property owners declared nuisances and evicted, required to put up security cameras and allow LAPD warrantless access to them, or other such conditions.

Often allegations of gang activity are involved. So just for instance, there’s this case against the Chesapeake Apartments on Obama Blvd between La Brea and Crenshaw. Or this smaller scale one against a woman with a house near 52nd and Vermont. Or this against a small apartment building near 56th and Western.

Most famously this year the City Attorney has been relentlessly pursuing such an action against Slauson and Crenshaw Ventures LLC, owned by the late Nipsey Hussle and his partner David Gross. The allegations against Hussle and Gross’s property seemed unsupported by evidence, though, and this is apparently not unusual.

This program and others like it have long been understood as part of the gentrification machine, particularly pernicious in Los Angeles. That is, the City can drive out tenants in rent stabilized apartments, or force property owners to install cameras and give LAPD unfettered access to them, or impose various other conditions to serve their ends. This lets landlords raise rents or forces residents to become essentially LAPD informants.
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act – I Asked The City Attorney For A Bunch Of Nuisance Abatement Demand Letters – Which Everybody Knows Are A Major Tool Of Gentrification – And Although The Lawsuits Filed By The City Are Public – It Is Impossible To Understand The Scope Of The Problem Without Seeing The Demand Letters – Since Surely Many If Not Most Of These Cases Don’t End Up In Court – But Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson Was All Like Naaaah! – So I Was All Like You’ve Been Served!

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