Remember at the end of the hearing at which the City Council established the Venice Beach BID in November 2016 CD11 repster Mike Bonin told the audience that he was going to help get residential-use properties out of the BID. Listen to him here, and here’s what he said:
And I would just say one final thing to those who talked about the fact that they have properties that are zoned commercial but are used as residential. As I said when I met with [unintelligible] recently, I am happy to help those folks get their properties rezoned as residential properties.
Bonin reneged on that promise, and since then he’s been parroting Tara Devine’s mendacious theory that there’s no way for commercially zoned properties to be removed from a BID even though the PBID law very clearly states otherwise.1 It empowers the City Council to lower assessments and/or to remove properties from a BID for any reason or no reason at all.2
Thus it was not much of a surprise to learn from this January 2018 email exchange between CD11 Venice field deputy Taylor Bazley and City Clerk BID honcho Rita Moreno that Bonin was still obsessed with finding legal support, no matter how shaky and wrong it might be, for never ever removing any property from the BID ever.3
The short version is that Taylor Bazley wrote to Rita Moreno and was all can we remove a particular affordable housing project from the BID?! And Rita Moreno, who is evidently not even worried about getting popped for the unlawful practice of law, was all no way Taylor!! Properties can’t be removed from the BID for any reason whatsoever until the end of the BID!!
I created a page on Archive.Org to collect pleadings from the Okulicks’ case, and you can find it right here. Unfortunately right now I only have the original petition and yesterday’s tentative ruling, since adopted as final. This article from the Times is also useful background.
Last month, it seems, Chalfant agreed with the petitioners, stating in his tentative ruling at that time that:
The Petition for writ of mandate is granted in part. Only the portion of the assessment directed to properties used by their owner exclusively as their residence is unlawful. A writ shall issue directing a refund of that portion of the assessment and Petitioners are entitled to a declaratory judgment to that effect. In all other respects, the Petition is denied.
However, it seems that the respondents, i.e. the City of Los Angeles and the Venice Beach BID, convinced him to hold off on making this ruling final to allow for another round of briefing just on the specific part where he found in favor of the Okulicks. I don’t have copies of those briefs, but yesterday’s hearing consisted of the oral argument surrounding them. Whatever the City of LA put in its brief did the nasty trick, evidently.
I know we all have better things to do in our short lives than to voluntarily read a grant application written by a bunch of fedora-wearing Texan urbanists asking for boo-coo bucks to promote yet another weirdo theory about how BIDs are to cities as Jesus was to wedding-water. But it may, nevertheless, repay some attention, and I’m going to summarize and extract the interesting parts for your benefit. You’re welcome!
So it seems that in 2015 these fellows from Texas A&M got in touch with our old friend Ms. Miranda Paster and asked her for data and so forth for their grant application. Then they asked her to be a collaborator. You can get a copy of the whole darn stack of records I got from the City Clerk on Thursday. There are emails and a copy of the proposal itself in there.
And you can read the abstract here if you want to, and it’s transcribed after the break if you’re PDF averse, but the TL;DR is that they propose to prove that BIDs not only increase commercial property values but also residential property values.1 Interestingly, this topic of investigation turned out to be a big red flag for Holly Wolcott when it came to approving Miranda Paster’s participation. She approved Miranda Paster’s participation in 2015, but by 2016, when the professors were fixin’ to resubmit their grant,2 Miranda Paster declined to participate, citing unspecified “concerns.” See the full story after the break.
A couple weeks ago, a group of brave and determined residents of Venice filed a writ petition against the City of Los Angeles and the Venice Beach BID asking the court to set aside the ordinance that created it, to force the City to redraw the BID’s boundaries in accordance with the law, and, most interestingly, to order the City to contest the assessments levied against City-owned properties in the BID. You can read a copy of the initial petition:
Or here — on the new dedicated page, also available through the menu structure above.
Or here — directly from static storage; see the titles better!
They argue that their residential properties will get no special benefits from the BID, which violates the California Constitution. They argue that many of the proposed activities of the BID, specifically the security program, are inherently incapable of providing special benefits. And most interestingly from the point of view of general anti-BID theory, they argue that the City has a duty to its citizens to scrutinize the BID plan to be sure that City-owned parcels included in the BID actually benefit from being in the BID, and that by rubber-stamping the BID proposal, the City has abdicated this duty. If this argument succeeds it will shake the very foundations of BIDs in Los Angeles, which rely to various extents on the automatic yes votes provided by City-owned property. This automatic approval, by the way, was set up in 19981 via Council File 96-1972 which, in pertinent part, includes a directive to:
REQUIRE the City Clerk to sign off on Proposition 218 ballots and support petitions for property-based BIDs, unless the Council directs otherwise.