VIEW FROM HERE--Generally, litigation is between two parties. After Jack runs a red light smashing into Bette’s car, Bette sues Jack for damages.
The court may not enter judgment against Charles, who owned the car but allowed Jack to drive it unless Charles has been made a defendant. The law requires all parties who may be forced to pay damages to be sued so they may defend themselves. (Fed. Rule of Civ. Proc., Rule 19 Most judges realize that they may not randomly penalize Sally, because she lives in a nice neighborhood, and hence, she is somehow responsible for Bette’s injuries.
Some of the remedies of U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter’s LA Alliance for Human Rights vs City of Los Angeles case may run afoul of Rule 19. The homeless case is more complex than a traffic accident, but the same principle applies, i.e., the court may not enter judgment against parties when they have been omitted from the case.
Where LA Alliance Case May Violate Rule 19
Not all the remedies which Judge Carter may order raise the indispensable party issue. For example, his order that the City deposit the $1 Billion into an escrow account only impacts the City of Los Angeles, which is a party. Unfortunately, after his escrow order, Judge Carter blinked. Judge Carter quickly backed down and said the city only had to submit a “plan.” (April 26, 2021 Order p 12) We know what other courts have found about Garcetti’s plans: “intentionally fatally flawed and wishful thinking to the extent it subverted the law.” Judge Allan Goodman January 14, 2014, rejecting Garcetti’s 2012 Hollywood Community Plan (HELP v Los Angeles, BS 138 370).
The city still ignores the court’s order in the Citizens Against Gated Enclaves v. Whitley Heights Civic Assn. 161 Cal.App.4th 1168 (2008), prohibiting gating off public streets for private use. Hollywoodland Specific Plan v. City of L.A 161 Cal.App.4th 1168 (2008) is ignored. Yet, Judge Carter capitulates and allows the city to substitute another “plan” in lieu of putting the cash into escrow. His Honor could have slightly modified the order, saying that to the extent the city actually has the $1 Billion, it must place the money in escrow now. Then the city controller must document the whereabouts of the balance of $1 Billion and add it to escrow as soon as those funds become available.
The sequestered funds should include all money earmarked for Affordable Housing so that verification of developers’ expenses be submitted to the court before the funds are released. In February 2020, the City of LA had to pay a $3.1 Million fine for theft of federal funds to provide disability accommodations to CRA housing. United States ex rel. Ling, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., No. CV11-00974-PSG (C.D. Cal.). https://bit.ly/2QG16Fp The US Attorney Nick Hanna explained the city’s dishonesty:
“Despite millions of dollars of federal taxpayer money sent to Los Angeles to create affordable housing over many years, the CRA opted to lie about its failure to ensure that these projects were accessible to everyone,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna for the Central District of California. “This settlement resolves only a small portion of this case, and we are prepared to litigate additional allegations that the City of Los Angeles covered up its failure to comply with federal laws enacted to protect the civil rights of all citizens.”
Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division added: “Today’s settlement demonstrates our continuing vigilance to ensure that developers receiving federal grant money for affordable housing satisfy their legal obligations to make such housing accessible to people with disabilities.”
Fool Us Once, Shame on the City; Fool Us Again and Again, Shame on Judge Carter
Although the city has been repetitively caught in Lies and Myths, Judge Carter trusts the city to follow a plan. Garcetti’s 2012 Hollywood Community Plan was a plan. The city’s plan to HUD providing accessibility to Affordable Housing was step one in massive fraud. One could say the Ellis Act requirement to compensate tenants evicted from rent controlled units was a state-imposed plan which Garcetti ignored.
Immediate Action vs Long Term Action
Injunctions are to prevent immediate irreparable harm, yet much of Judge Carter’s April 20, 2021 order lays the groundwork to decimate Los Angeles’ single family neighborhoods by mandating that each must allow multi-unit Affordable Housing to be constructed among single family homes. Not only is there no statistical basis for the judge’s belief that single family neighborhoods have contributed to the homeless crisis, but the affected homeowners are not part of the litigation.
We know what has caused the Homeless Crisis – the intention destruction of tens of thousands of rent-controlled units, leaving poor people with no shelter. If Garcettization had not targeted thousands of poor people’s homes for destruction, Los Angeles would have enough homes for every homeless person. No one who bought a single-family home, thousands of whom are Black, Mexican, Asian, Armenian, Gay, Filipino, played any role in causing the current housing crisis.
Of course, it is easy to rule against the empty chair in litigation. All plaintiffs and defendants point to the homeowners who have been excluded from the lawsuit and shout, “They did it!” Hearing no opposition, Judge Carter assumes that some mysteriously undocumented de jure racial discrimination by people who live in detached homes caused the thousands of homeless who are dying on LA streets. Garcettization’s vast destruction of rent-controlled housing certainly played no role.
The City’s Behavior is Non-Justiciable
In 2015 SaveValleyVillage sued the city for violating of Penal Code § 86, which forbids vote trading. Superior Court Judge David Fruin ruled in December 2016 that the city council’s actions are “non-justiciable.” In other words, the courts may not second guess the city council, which is free to disregard the constitution, state laws including the Brown Act and even its own city council rules.
SaveValleyVillage was attempting to stop the wanton destruction of rent-controlled housing which was causing a homeless crisis (741 deaths in 2015 rose to 1,383 deaths in 2020) and to halt the city’s excessively densifying parts of the city for the profit of a few developers.
The city council’s unlawful Vote Trading Agreement (Penal Code §86) is why destruction of rent controlled housing was unanimously approved. By giving his official stamp of approval, Judge Fruin judicially protected the unprecedented decimation of poor people’s homes knowing full well where it was headed. Homelessness was not caused by Angelenos who live in nice neighborhoods but by corrupt developers who bribe city councilmembers and judicial officers who protect them.
(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor. The views expressed herein are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch. You may email him at RickLeeAbrams@Gmail.com)