Yesterday evening a number of emails protesting the formation of a BID in Venice were added to the Council File. These demonstrate the heartening fact that not every owner of commercial property within the boundaries of the proposed BID supports its formation. The arguments are solid, too. For instance, Kevin Ragsdale says:
At this point, the idea of a VERY small group of property owners who may be handed $1.8 million with NO oversight, even by the City, is frightening and not appropriate unless and until we know more and have some say in the process that may well drastically change the face and character of the Venice we know and love in the name of profit making and creating a private police force. The consequences of this action without careful analysis will be profound and must be discussed in a wider audience of people, who also include the majority of property owners who have to pay and those who have more at stake than a desire to clean up Venice Beach to make more money.
I’m writing to urge you to postpone consideration of the proposed Venice Beach business improvement district and to think about placing a moratorium on the formation of new BIDs until we as a City can have a much-needed, long-delayed conversation about their proper role. A major problem is that as they’re now constituted, there is no way for anyone not on their Boards of Directors to have any influence over property-based BIDs in Los Angeles. They have effectively isolated themselves from every one of the City’s means of contractor oversight. People who live in or near BIDs are directly impacted by their activities in many ways but have no effective means of influencing them. Since the property owners associations that administer the BIDs are mostly controlled by self-perpetuating Boards there aren’t even effective ways for the property owners in BIDs to influence their policies. Property-based BIDs also covertly and perhaps inadvertently perpetuate racist policies from the past in unexpected ways. Continue reading Open Letter to City Council Asking For Postponement of Venice Beach BID And A Moratorium On New BID Formation→
Ask anybody who’s making bank off BIDs. Ask the BID Consortium. Ask the freaking State Legislature, who has incorporated their findings in the freaking Streets and Highways Code at Section 36601(e)(1). Every zillionaire in the state of California and every zillionaire lackey legislator at every level will tell you that the flipping RAND Corporation Report on BIDs proves that they’re better for the health, wealth, and eternal salvation for the people of the Golden State than the the forthcoming resurrection of Jesus, Mary, and all 12 of the apostles.1 And yet when it comes to finding out who’s behind creating them, everybody lies, everybody hides.
Here’s the story. The City creates BIDs. This is no secret. When Aaron Epstein changed the world with his lawsuit the court found that yes, the City of Los Angeles created its BIDs. Read through the records from the years of work Jackie Goldberg dedicated in the 1990s to forming a BID in Hollywood. And yet if you ask anyone at the City for any records to do with the preformation of a BID, they will trot out their official story, which is a lie, that BIDs are formed by a spontaneous movement of property owners.2 This is what Laura McLennan, Mike Bonin’s Deputy Chief of Staff, told me this morning after I asked her for a copy of the list of property owners in the forthcoming Venice Beach BID. She also told me that CD11 didn’t have the list and that I should ask the City Clerk.
I don’t know if that was meant as bitter sarcasm or was just a symptom of ignorance (although I’d hope that someone as intimately involved with the VBBID formation process as Bonin’s senior staff must be would not suffer from the requisite level of ignorance), but actually I’d already asked the Clerk yesterday, been denied at multiple levels, and that’s why I was asking CD11.3 Staff members of the division that oversees BIDs told me that they didn’t have the list, that they didn’t have anything to do with the list, that the list didn’t have anything to do with the City, and that I could ask the shadowy private consultant who’s running the private side of the process, Tara Devine, for the list. I did ask Devine, even though it was obviously a waste of time to ask someone like Devine for anything she wasn’t obligated to provide by law. And it was a waste of time. Continue reading If BIDs Are Such A Good Good Thing For The City Then Why Is Everyone Involved In Their Creation So Darned Secretive?→
On Friday, July 1, the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles signed an ordinance of intention to establish a Venice Beach BID. It seems that this isn’t final, and there will be a hearing on August 23, 2016 at 10 a.m. “to determine whether to establish the District.” Please mark it on your calendars and come put the integrity of our City Council to the test. After all, if 169 signatures below one of the most eloquent anti-BID statements I’ve ever had the good fortune to read didn’t sway them, I don’t imagine that a huge public outcry will do much. But that’s no reason for remaining silent.
You can read a description of the boundaries of the proposed BID in the ordinance, although it’s a little hard to follow even for someone who grew up out there. The District seems to be bounded roughly by the Boardwalk on the West, by North Venice Boulevard to the South, by Pacific Avenue to the East, and by Rose on the North. Now, I don’t know how much you know about the history of race relations in Venice, but it’s essential to an understanding of the deep politics of this BID1 to know that the area roughly bounded by Electric Avenue, North Venice Blvd., Lincoln Blvd, and (maybe) Brooks Avenue, known as Oakwood, was originally the only area of Venice that non-white people were allowed to own property in. Thus ownership of commercial property in the area encompassed by the proposed BID, like most such areas in Los Angeles, was restricted to white people only until sometime in the late 1960s, and then only as a matter of law. There is no question that the huge majority of that property is, even now, due to the way that commercial property is passed down in families, owned by white people. Continue reading A Dark Day in Los Angeles: Venice Beach BID Ordinance Approved by Council on Friday. Final Hearing August 23 at 10 a.m. in Council.→
As tragic as the demise of Venice has been to watch over the last five years or so, it turns out that she still has some life in her. If anyone had asked me five years ago which neighborhood of Los Angeles might successfully oppose a BID, I would have said Venice without even having to think about it. But the last half-decade, what with sociopathic techbros of both sexes in possession of orders of magnitude more money than sense buying every sliver of land in sight and thereby running the prices up into the stratosphere even as they’re hogging the waves with their irremediably Barneyfied GoPro equipped styrofoam surfboards, zillionaires remodeling the canals into a nightmare AirBnB horror show, stupid fucking restaurants that…evidently leave me speechless, all this had driven me into what I thought was an inescapable well of cynical despair with respect to the fate of this dearest of all areas of our City.
Well, tonight the Clerk’s office placed a petition with 169 signatures of Venice residents opposing the formation of a BID there and, just like that, my hope in Venice is restored! They oppose it articulately, wisely, and for all the right reasons, too:
We, the undersigned, oppose the establishment of a Venice Beach Business Improvement District (BID). We believe in public control of public resources and oppose the privatization of those resources. We support renters’ rights, both for residential and commercial renters, and oppose taxation without representation. BIDs impose taxes that renters often pay, but which landlords decide upon. BID private security forces have a track record of infringing on the rights of our lowest-income neighbors, especially those people who are unhoused. We oppose private security fources controlled exclusively by commercial and industrial interests when their impact will affect the entire community, especially those disenfranchised from BID governance.
In its meeting today the City Council is slated to act on CF 16-0749, establishing a property-based Business Improvement District in Venice. This is a tragic but expected development in the ongoing degradation of what was once the loveliest neighborhood in this city. The impending clash between BID security and the politically organized, aware, and active homeless population of Venice is going to be cataclysmic. Once this BID is up and running I will be covering it extensively. Continue reading First Step Toward Establishing Venice Beach BID to be Taken in Council This Morning→
I didn’t mention it at the time, but in February of this year, the heroic Carol Sobel filed suit on behalf of American heroine Peggy Lee Kennedy and the Venice Justice Committee against the City of Los Angeles for yet another set of bullshit shenanigans at the beach, this time to do with the LAPD arresting people for handing out pamplets while seated at a table after sunset in a “Designated space.”1 At that time I started collecting the documents from PACER and putting them in a directory here but I didn’t write a post or even put a page in the menu structure for it (although I have done so now), because it’s a little off-topic. Anyway, today the City of Los Angeles filed a motion to dismiss and it made me so mad I thought I’d initiate some coverage here. I’m still too mad to explain why I’m mad, but at some point in the future I’ll actually discuss the substance of the case. No mainstream media seems to be covering this matter, and even the Beachhead doesn’t have much, so I guess it must be up to me. More reasons after the break. Continue reading Venice Justice Committee v. City of Los Angeles→