420 FILE-So here we are: cannabis has been legal in our state for a while, yet more than 500 illegal shops continue to operate in the City of Los Angeles. WITH NO END IN SIGHT. And LAPD says they have no overtime to help close the stores.
DWP has the authority to cut off Power and Water to these shops, yet they want a police presence when doing so.
There is verified proof that our city has not received taxes from many -- if not all -- of these illegal shops and verified proof that one westside shop does not have any BTRC or State permits. It boggles the mind. Why does Los Angeles – a city that is so deep in debt with structural deficits and failures to fully fund pensions and infrastructure repairs, not to mention being the homeless capital of the world – NOT go after these shops?
If all 500 shops were paying the city taxes of $50,000 per quarter, Los Angeles would be collecting $100,000,000 each year. Yes, that’s one hundred million annually.
The legal shops all suffer because the rogue shops charge less, and are selling tainted, dangerous product purchased in the underground market.
Calls to City Council members asking them to formally agendize this issue have fallen on deaf ears. Crickets. Who are they protecting? Why will they not enforce the laws?
Simple solution: Take $10 million from the reserve account, give it to LAPD, do zero tolerance enforcement, and get the money back from the tax increases from legal shops. A no brainer. Right?
Now let’s talk about the permitting problems. LA lags behind everyone in issuing permits. Obviously, this leads to a continued lack of taxes.
Then there is the social equity program about to be launched. The City Attorney should begin to investigate who is married to whom in these ventures as some in City Hall are putting together social equity partners with financial people.
This is a fact. And certainly, an ethics if not felony issue. The District Attorney himself should be the one investigating, because the City Attorney’s office has its own issues with ethics and possible corruption.
The reputation of our City is clearly tarnished for both inept management and corruption.
Time for some changes.
(Jay Handal is Co-Chair of the LA Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates committee.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.