NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--In a June 4, 2019 letter to the Los Angeles City Attorney, Benjamin Reznik, attorney for the owners of Tom Bergin’s, demanded that Council District 4 representative David Ryu be “disqualified” from the Historic Cultural Monument (HCM) proceedings for Bergin’s. Reznik accuses Ryu of being “personally embroiled in the matter.”
Reznik also insists that the entire city council must be disqualified, too: “Moreover, to the extent any other councilmembers cannot fairly judge the merits of the HCM nomination without considering Councilman Ryu’s prior involvement, they must also be recused.”
In his letter, Reznik regurgitates the farfetched claims he made in an earlier letter – maintaining that Mid City West Community Council illegally instigated landmark proceedings for Tom Bergin’s. The Miracle Mile Residential Association has refuted these allegations in a letter to the City Council’s Planning and Land Use (PLUM) Committee.
The MMRA solely initiated the HCM nomination for Tom Bergin’s, engaged the firm that prepared the nomination, and financed the cost. The MMRA invited the Los Angeles Conservancy to be a co-applicant on the nomination because we value their expertise and their commitment to historic preservation. The MMRA’s effort to save Bergin’s from the wrecking ball was never contingent on Mid City West’s participation, financial or otherwise.
Councilmember Ryu has a strict policy regarding HCM nominations: He supports whatever the Cultural Heritage Commission recommends. “They’re the experts,” he explained at a MMRA community meeting last March.
In the case of Tom Bergin’s, the commission unanimously recommended that Bergin’s be approved for landmark status on March 8, 2018. Ryu did not announce his support of the HCM nomination until March 16, 2018.
“This attack on Councilmember Ryu (photo left) is outrageous,” said MMRA Vice President Ken Hixon. “The Councilmember has been very consistent about refusing to weigh in on Bergin’s until the Cultural Heritage Commission ruled on the matter. I experienced this personally when I pressed him on his position prior to the commission’s decision. He would not budge from his hands-off policy.”
Reznik has also constructed a sinister plot out of Ryu’s unsuccessful attempt to untangle the release of funds that Mid City West approved to contribute towards the cost of preparing the HCM nomination. Ryu’s efforts to resolve a bureaucratic snag did not constitute his endorsement of the Bergin’s HCM nomination. Neighborhood councils have the discretion to devote funds to a wide range of items from community beautification to office equipment. Councilmembers routinely provide clerical assistance to the neighborhood councils in making these expenditures.
The issue is rendered moot by the fact that the city never released the funds authorized by Mid City West. The entire cost of preparing the HCM nomination has been borne by the MMRA.
It is clear that the Planning and Land Use Committee hearing on Bergin’s this coming Tuesday will be ugly. Bergin’s owners and their representative will be smearing the intentions and actions of everyone involved – including elected officials. Their testimony will be rife with talk of conspiracies and illegalities. They will dismiss any and all talk of Bergin’s being an important landmark to the community and the city at large. But the one thing they won’t mention is what owner Derek Schreck told the Larchmont Buzz when he purchased Tom Bergin’s in 2013:
“It’s easy to shine when you’re working with gold,” Schreck said. “This place is an institution. This isn’t an ownership, this is a stewardship. We need to take care of this place for the next generation.”
Mr. Schreck has obviously changed his mind about preserving Bergin’s for the next generation. But the rest of us have not.
Planning and Land Use Management
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
John Ferraro Council Chamber
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
[Entrance on Main St.]
If you are able to attend the meeting shoot us an email so that we can have a head count and have enough Tom Bergin's shamrock stickers on hand.
(Posted first in the Miracle Mile Residents Assn Newsletter.)