Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

Is Target on Sunset targeting more litigation?

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

For almost two years the looming skeleton structure that once was thought be an operating TARGET store by the Holiday Season of 2014 might have to remain looming in place for a while longer.

The shadow it casts from the sun reaches the nearby residences, but the shadow is not the fault of the sun.

The sun, in fact, has nothing to do with it. The shadow, however, has everything to do with it.

The shadow over the Target on Sunset project was cast by Mayor Garcetti, who was the Council Member and City Council President when the project was approved in City Council several years back. A major project that could have been bringing in money to the Target Shareholders and the community. (link to video)

However, none of the current LA City Council Members are blameless either. They were back then and still are now all in favor of the project to proceed as is. The current Council Member for CD 13, Mitchell O’Farrell, has made it abundantly clear that the project needs to move forward, so that it can bring in Jobs and improve the quality of life in the neighborhood. (Link to video)

The only people who have a problem and, well yes, a legitimate concern about this Project are the so called “NIMBY’S” (Not In My Back Yard).

Their main concern is the fact that Target on Sunset is being built in Non-Compliance with the current laws, mainly: The SNAP Ordinance that governs, or rules, the area this Target store will be located in.

Guess what? The Court agreed with them when they sued the City and Target about the Height, amongst other things. Judge Fruin, in fact, had the construction of the project halted back in 2014. (Link to video)

So, why not blame the court then? – Simple: One cannot put blame on those who uphold the law.

Instead, one has to make changes to the Law! … And that is exactly what the City is now doing … without any regard to the community or its members or even the employees of Target, who apparently have lost out on a Child Care center, which SNAP requires.

When a community becomes the target of TARGET on Sunset, which apparently is backed by the back-room-deals of our City Leaders, then what’s left to do? Sue!?

Yes, in Hollywood it has become a standard practice as community members stand up to the seemingly corrupt system Los Angeles has turned in to.

Some, including City Leaders, call the opponents of projects NIMBY’S, but I think these fighters are the “guardians” of communities who are being taken for a downhill ride with developments that bring more traffic, less services and yes: more back-room-deals. When people feel that their back is against the wall and that their objections and concerns are not being heard or taken seriously, the only tool these people have left is to sue the City. That’s the last resort, but it seems to be the ONLY resort left in order to fight the machine we call City Hall. (link to video)

Sitting back and doing nothing is not an option when thousands of written pages and countless spoken words can’t seem to reach anyone in the Council Offices or even the Mayor’s office. The efforts of trying to work with the city leaders and their representatives are being disregarded and wasted by the same people who they are supposed to reach. (Link to video)

In Hollywood one lawsuit after another is filed, with quite a number of them being won in court. Yet, nothing ever changes as far as the business as usual in Los Angeles is concerned. – Instead, City Council Members and the Mayor put their heads together to figure out a way to make development easier for developers.

Instead of upholding current laws, rules, and guidelines they (The City Leaders) change these laws, rules and guidelines as they please without any regard to what the consequences would be.

In the case of Target on Sunset: They are amending the Vermont / Western Station Neighborhood Area Plan (SNAP), which is accompanying Ordinance 173749 just so that Target can be built taller and does not have to provide any real services to the community and its employees. SNAP requires delivery service to the community and child care facility for employees.

In this instant, though, Target got away with not having to do any of the above. (Link to video)

The city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) held a hearing on March 22, 2016 in order to give the people and appellants of the project an opportunity to address the members of the committee in regard to the Target on Sunset Project.

These “public hearings” are mandatory by law, but from the looks of it this hearing was nothing less of an unnecessary “courtesy” extended by the overwhelmingly tired looking and tired acting council members.

Council Member Felipe Fuentes set back in his chair, not to be heard one spoken word from, while Council Member Jose Huizar, who is the chairperson of the committee, had several yawning “attacks” and apparently had a hard time staying awake.

Council Member Marqueece Harris-Dawson just plainly closed his eyes for seconds at the time, if he was not wandering around to speak with someone at the sidelines of the meeting, and Council Member Gilbert Cedillo needed food to stay awake, which he so gallantly devoured during the statements given by Staff from Council District 13 and one last public speaker, George Abrahams.

Granted this has almost nothing to do with the Project, but it has everything to do with the fact that the Committee Members, who are also City Council Members, were all in agreement BEFORE the meeting even started.

On Wednesday, March 23, 2016 the LA City Council sent the issue of “Target on Sunset” back to Committee due to technical error, as the “Ordinance was not included”.

 

Does Discrimination go unchecked when it comes to NCs? If so: LA, We are having a Problem!

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

 

  Over a decade ago, the people of LA hoped that the Neighborhood Council System [NCs] would become a great institution. The question is: How is that working out?

  Clint Eastwood’s Movie “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” stands true for the NCs. There are some good ones; there are some bad ones; and then there are some that are downright ugly, especially in the way they are treating their fellow community members.

  According to the 2002 “Executive Directive No PE-1”, which was signed by Mayor James Hahn, the City of Los Angeles has a “Non-Discrimination” policy, which states in part that:

“City policies and personnel practices, including but not limited to, recruitment; selection, advancements, work assignments, compensation, benefits, training, discipline and terminations, … will continue to be established and administered without regard to race, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, marital status, disability, medical condition, … .” (Bold added for emphasis)

http://ens.lacity.org/mayor/hahned/mayorhahned248358517_02082005.pdf

NC board members are officials who serve on a city agency and they are part of the city government and thus, Executive Directive No PE-1 applies to them. And even though there is no salary for serving on a Neighborhood Council Board, the city’s standards and policies apply to them as they do to the paid city employees.

That is why Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Religion and any Political Affiliation with a specific group should never be an issue as is it against the law.

The policy also states that:

“Any City employee or employment candidate who believes the City’s policy of equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination has been violated is strongly encouraged, and must not be prohibited from reporting the alleged policy violation. Further, employees and employment candidates can be assured that the necessary steps will be taken promptly to address all reported violations.”

   The City is not necessarily that adept at implementing its anti-bias directives.  For example, the City is turning a blind eye and a deaf ear on a situation involving the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council [HSDNC], which has been openly and notoriously discriminating against one community member since April 2015.

  The HSDNC’s Bylaws and Election Committee held its public meeting on April 22, 2015 (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0t_jgBk3TW7Qm1nRFlWWVQ1cm8/view?usp=sharing), during which board and committee members of the HSDNC decided that it was Okay to bash down on the applicant, who happens to be Venezuelan, and who was applying for one of the open seats on the HSDNC board.

  The applicant, Mr. Jimenez, alleges in his 05-09-2015 letter to the City Attorney that during the meeting members of the committee called him a liar, asked him personal questions about his income and told him that “they [the HSDNC] did not want anyone on the board who has any affiliations with any Latino Community Groups or any “little something” in the area.”

   Mr. Jimenez was hoping that based on his letter someone from the City Attorney’s office would start investigating the situation. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0t_jgBk3TW7SGRXbFFUbG5XQUU/view?usp=sharing

    I was seriously disappointed and disgusted by what I read in the May 9, 2015 letter from Mr. Jimenez and by what he describes in detail of what occurred at the HSDNC’s Bylaws and Election Committee meeting.

   The applicant alleged that two of the four committee members, who are also board members, felt it was OKAY to not only discriminate against Mr. Jimenez due to his affiliation with a group called “Little Venezuela”, but also to interrogate him for his personal info such as his personal income and his Driver License.

    When Mr. Jimenez pointed out that he not only lives in the area, but also has his business there, one of the committee members asked him to provide his Driver License in order to prove that he (Jimenez) was not lying.

    We all have to remember that NC’s are supposed to be inclusive and not to discriminate against any individual or group. The HSDNC has it even in its bylaws per ARTICLE II – PURPOSE, B. The POLICY:  5. To prohibit discrimination against any individual or group in the Council’s operations on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, income, homeowner/renter status, or political affiliation or belief; … (Bold added for emphasis)

    HSDNC Bylaws: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0t_jgBk3TW7cUl3TjhDenBrcEU/view?usp=sharing

    The response from the City Attorney’s office to Mr. Jimenez’ letter was not at all reassuring.

     The e-mail from the City Attorney’s office stated in part that “… we [The City Attorney’s Office] don’t process “complaints;”. It concludes with the only reassurance that the City Attorney’s Office will “… provide our client with any and all appropriate advice.“

     In the meantime it leaves one to wonder if the City Attorney’s office “advised” the HSDNC to address the issue at the next meeting, and if so, to combine both issues: Mr. Jimenez’ application to the board and the now so-called “Grievance”.

     It took the HSDNC one quarter of a year to finally address something, but it was not the letter / grievance, but instead the original application.

     Well, let me correct that: The HSDNC didn’t agendize the letter / grievance, but that did not stop the board from talking about it during the 07-13-2015 Board Meeting, in violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0t_jgBk3TW7Ul9qVTR6TzJaSkE/view?usp=sharing

     In order to address the “Grievance”, the HSDNC had to take action based on its Grievance clause in its Bylaws and place the Grievance on the agenda for one of the subsequent HSDNC Board Meetings, which could have been the July 13, 2015 board meeting. They did not.

     Instead the HSDNC only placed Mr. Jimenez’ application on the agenda for that meeting. There was no mention of the letter / grievance in the item description nor was there any other item alluding to it. https://youtu.be/n_LWSDHML0s

    Despite all the mistreatment, Mr. Jimenez never lost sight of being part of the HSDNC Board and to do his share as a board member in order to serve his community.

     The July 13, 2015 Board meeting offered him a new chance and opportunity to address the full decision making body.

     Here is how Bylaws and Election Committee Chair Orletha Andersen introduced the candidate, who then got a chance to speak, too.

     Ms. Andersen: https://youtu.be/S0370USqTvo

Mr. Jimenez: https://youtu.be/m0pz6f44OAQ

     Instead of denying the accusations made in the letter / grievance, one of the alleged Discriminators, Mr. Durkee, acknowledged and even agreed with Mr. Jimenez as he had quoted him (Durkee) verbatim. The underhanded Thank You was promptly followed with an accusation that Mr. Jimenez recorded the committee meeting with a “microphone in his pocket”. https://youtu.be/Pn70260UCpE

     Another board member then continued the already escalating situation when he took the opportunity to offer the Applicant an ultimatum by asking Mr. Jimenez to send out another letter to City Hall. “If you were just to write another letter to City Hall saying we talked about [it] everything is fine … If you are willing to do that and just tell me you’re burying this thing at that point I won’t have any problem voting to have you on the board …” https://youtu.be/6K07VaFqNBI

     One can say that in the end Mr. Jimenez prevailed as he was appointed to the board. But to what cost?

     More importantly, perhaps, the question should be: why did it even come this far? Where do we find these people? – Who trains these people? More over: Who steps up to make sure that these types of ridiculously close-minded-bigoted remarks won’t happen in the future?

     Imagine yourself in a situation in which you are insulted, discriminated against and basically poo-poo’ed on, resulting in you filing a complaint.

     Next you are being told that, in order to make things “better”, you are to withdraw your complaint and to bury the issue just so you can be part of the “gang”.

     I call that not only immoral, unethical and wrong, but also utterly stupid, disgusting, infuriating and insulting to anybody who ever filed a complaint or grievance with a Neighborhood Council.

     On one hand the City of LA has a policy that basically promises “… the necessary steps will be taken promptly to address all reported violations.”  … While on the other hand the City has a system that does not comply with it.

     If Neighborhood Councils can pick and choose with the guidance of the City Attorney’s Office and the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) when and when not to address a grievance or if these groups are allowed to offer up ultimatums to have a grieved party withdraw a grievance / complaint, then when can the stakeholders feel safe to report any violation of any laws? Let it be the NC’s bylaws, the City Ordinances or even the State Laws, nobody will ever come back to speak up against something they felt was done wrong.

     However, if that is the goal of the City of Los Angeles to allow its NC Board Members to be racist, discriminative, demeaning and sexist (just watch this again and pay attention to the “Do you type, too?” remark: https://youtu.be/Pn70260UCpE) and put potential candidates through the ringer not once but twice, then the NC system is on its way to become the greatest institution of horrendous leaders the city has ever seen.

     In closing let me point out that in the case of the HSDNC the Grievance system or the understanding of such has been a long time problem that just didn’t rise up overnight. – In fact, back in 2012 the HSDNC Board had a grievance on its desk for many months and one its then board member is now the chair of the HSDNC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuI_Ip0oNKg

     Answer me this, if you can: How long will it take the City of Los Angeles to take any real interest in the ongoing “Shenanigans” of its Neighborhood Councils?

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Note: Here is the link to the entire un-cut Item 6  http://youtu.be/SaX9IboLnVI

 

Open Letter to Federal Court Judge addressing the Proposed Settlement in the Sidewalk Case …

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

OPEN LETTER 03_Final

HNN-TV does not get involved in Legal Issues, but as it turns out there are issues addressed in this particular case that we feel it is necessary to get the word out.

On April 1, 2015 the City of Angeles announced through the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti that it is proposing a settlement of $1.3 Billion dollars in the case of Willits vs. City of Los Angeles.

This case is currently being heard in Federal Court by honorable Judge Consuelo Marshall and she will have the final say in what the agreement will be.

When we first heard about the proposed agreement and the outrages amount of money to be “allocated”, we thought it was an April’s Fool thing. However, it turns out that it is indeed something that the City of Los Angeles is planning to do with Angeleno’s Tax Dollars.

Online Blogger John Walsh (www.hollywoodhighlands.org and www.jwalshconfidential.wordpress.com) sums it up pretty nicely in his latest posting, which also includes a long Open Letter by two community groups who are seemingly fed up with the ongoing “fleecing” of the city’s funds.

Link to Mr. Walsh’s webpost: http://wp.me/p3eXP9-C3

Link to the PDF of the open Letter: https://jwalshconfidential.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/2015-4-14_open-letter-to-judge-marshall.pdf

Feel free to read and chime in by using the letter as a template …

Update: Judicial Corruption Gains Momentum … by Scott Zwartz

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

CORRUPTION 06

Update:

Judicial Corruption Gains Momentum

by Scott Zwartz

ScottZwartz@gmail.com

January 19, 2015

Last time we spoke, we explained how Justice Paul Turner was doing his imitation of Louis XIV, L’Etat, c’est moi (“I am the State”).

More evidence has popped up. Justice Turner’s December 26th illegitimate order does not appear on the court’s own Dispositions webpage. When the Appellate Court issues a bona fide order, it is logged on to the court’s Dispositions webpage under the case number B257712.

As the court’s webpage shows, the Disposition page has a legitimate Justice Turner December 26th order, granting a real motion, but it omits the bogus order removing Mr. MacNaughton as SaveHywd’s attorney and thereby removing SaveHywd as the petitioner in is own litigation. Thus, the court itself did not recognize Justice Turner’s order as legitimate.

Oh, if we only had a NSA spy cam inside the offices office of Division 5! It’d be great to see and hear what happens when Justice Turner discovered that some employee had the temerity (i.e., honesty) not to log his illegitimate order as if it were real.

While most people retreat in the face of an abuse of power; SaveHywd advanced and obtained collaborating evidence from the court itself. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott.

And now, we see the tangle is getting more complex. The Dispositions webpage also does not have Justice Turner’s January 8th illicit order denying the request that his December 26th order be stayed until matters may be investigated. Meanwhile, Justice Turner knows that his order has been given to the trial court in order to deceive and mislead it. Does Justice Turner stop his choo-choo train of corruption? No, rather he confirms his original illicit order by not staying it. That is no different than the corporate executive who writes out an authorized check calling up the bank, saying, “The check is good. You can cash it.”

Are there any indications where this bit of judicial corruption will go next? Yep, there sure is.

The appellate court’s cover-up machinery has been geared up. The justices should have read Sir Walter Scott before going down this path, but men of hubris see no higher goal that protecting themselves and their miscreant colleagues.

The Dispositions webpage does show that on January 16th all three of the justices re-considered the request to stay Justice Turner’s bogus order. Did they have the integrity to stay an illegitimate order? No way! They affirmed the denial of the Stay.

That bit of judicial treachery should give us lowly folks down here on the streets an inkling of things to come.   If the justices cannot find it within themselves to stay an order which the court’s own records do not recognize as legitimate, how can anyone have any faith in anything else they will do?

Does anyone believe that these judges will place the sanctity of the judicial system above covering up their friend’s abuse of power? Remember, L’Etat, c’est moi!

If you believe that judicial integrity is vital to America’s soul, this Tuesday, January 20, 2014, please call 213/830-7000.

Remember, they do not want to hear from you, me or anyone else. The powerful have allotted to us subjects our proper role.” “Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

(Note: This follow up story was posted on JWalshConfidential:

Update: Judicial Corruption Gains Momentum … by Scott Zwartz

HNN-TV felt it was necessary to keep our readers informed about any issue that can impact the quality of life and the overall “justice” system we live in)

The New Developer-Friendly Policy at City Hall; How Can We Help You Cover Up Your Crimes?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

On Tuesday, October 8, at 10 AM, a hearing before a Zoning Administrator will be conducted in Room 1020 in Los Angeles City Hall regarding the February 21, 2012 razing of Hollywood’s Old Spaghetti Factory Building at Sunset Blvd. and Gordon Street. This hearing concerns politically-connected developer CIM Group’s illegal “midnight demolition” of this historic structure.

CIM also recently demolished historic buildings on the former Pickford Studios lot in West Hollywood, and was the beneficiary of the $30 million taxpayer loan from then Councilmember Garcetti to modify the Kodak Theatre for Cirque du Soleil – which after only 18 months closed its show in CIM’s Hollywood Highland boondoggle.

How much longer will the people of Los Angeles tolerate a City Council and City Planning/Building and Safety Department where the unwritten policy appears to be to enable and make excuses for developer criminal violations of Project conditions and City laws put in place to protect our health, safety and quality of life?  Recently, Los Angeles officials, including Mayor Garcetti, went on record trying to deny that active earthquake faults cross the Millennium Project lots even though emails show Building and Safety General Manager Ray Chan discussing this “problem” with the developer’s attorneys – the same attorneys who hired Chan’s son to work for them as the Millennium project went through City hearings.

It is time for Hollywood residents to express to City officials just what they think of a City Hall that is willing to risk life, limb and quality of life to enrich their biggest campaign contributors.  Our collective fury over this outrageous conduct can be productively vented at the October 8, 2013 hearing at 10:00 am in City Hall, Room 1020.  Be there.

What Happened at Sunset/Gordon

The Sunset/Gordon Project has a lengthy history of City Hall ineptitude and corruption.  In 2007, developer Gerding Edland entered into an agreement with the former CRA and then-Councilman Eric Garcetti to construct a 23-story skyscraper at the site of the Old Spaghetti Factory building.

The project sought extraordinary taxpayer subsidies, on the theory that government assistance was necessary to bridge the “funding gap” between the estimated cost of a redevelopment project and a “fair” developer profit.  Based upon this principle, the CRA determined that Sunset/Gordon could only be built if the taxpayers of Los Angeles contributed $17.24 million in public funds, in order to assure that the developer would make his profit goal of $28.39 million.

As part of the project’s public benefit to preserve an important piece of Hollywood history, the façade of the Old Spaghetti Factory building was required to be retained and restored to its original beautiful appearance as the former Peerless Auto Showroom building.

The Sunset/Gordon project subsequently received the most variances in the history of the City of Los Angeles.  Hollywood/Highland had 4; Sunset/Gordon received 17, allowing a skyscraper with twice the allowed residential density with half the required parking, a 260-foot tall building where the zoning allowed only a height of 45 feet.

When community members sued the City over this project in 2008, the CRA and Councilman Garcetti had City Council advance the developer $3.668 million in public funds to pay Gerding Edland’s litigation expenses, money that was supposed to pay for a public park.  Gerding Edland subsequently defaulted on that advance, using the public’s money to buy property in Venice for another development.  Gerding Edland also defaulted on all of its other subsidized condo tower projects: Evo, Elleven, and Luma all went bankrupt.  When the CRA’s finance officer was asked why the CRA wasn’t trying to recover these funds, the officer responded that “The Government is in the business of giving out money, not getting it back.”

When the CRA originally approved the Sunset/Gordon project in 2007, developer Gerding Edland stated that the office skyscraper would cost $200 million.  CIM Group purchased the site in 2011, and now acknowledges that the cost of the project is $102 million, or a savings to CIM of $98 million.  CIM has also increased its built-in profit margin for the project over what Gerding Edland was taking.  Yet the CRA’s successor agency, led by Nelson Rising, is still giving CIM $6 million in public funds to include 40,000 sq. ft. of office space in this development, at a time when a glut of such space is available.  Also, if CIM cannot rent out the space, it does not have to repay the $6 million taxpayer loan.

As for the former Old Spaghetti Factory building, after saving millions of dollars by not having to shore up the structure and dig around it during construction as was enacted by the City into law as a mandatory requirement, CIM now says that it will “recreate” the building façade and incorporate it into the skyscraper.  The CRA is counting this “recreation” expense as CIM’s required “art” contribution to the people of Los Angeles, and is refunding CIM back its $628,000 required art fee.

All of this is, of course, in addition to the news that County Assessor John Noguez was allegedly bribed by the original developer in exchange for a reduction of the assessed value of the Sunset/Gordon property.  As reported by the LA Times, Noguez reduced that assessment from $20 million to $7 million after receiving the developer’s campaign contributions.  CIM Group purchased the site in 2011 for $21 million.

In the pending court proceeding over CIM’s violation of the City’s requirement to restore the historic building in place, a Superior Court judge has already ruled that CIM violated the law, but the Court is requiring the City to conduct a series of administrative hearings to give it the opportunity to revoke CIM’s building permits and correct the violations.  Anyone want to tell the City what it ought to do with CIM’s misdemeanor violations of City law?

The people of LA have been ripped off enough on this massive waste of taxpayer funds, and you have a chance to speak out about it on October 8.  Please attend.

related story: http://paradiseleased.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/r-i-p-old-old-spaghetti-factory-building-1924-2012/