THE VIEW FROM HERE – Question. Does Karen Bass Get a Hundred Day Honeymoon?
Generally, Presidents have a hundred day honeymoon period. It begins when they take office, when they are popular. Thus, most voters are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for about one hundred days. Although Karen Bass is a mayor, her duties are somewhat similar in that she is the head of the executive branch.
In Los Angeles, however, the Cal. Constitution does not allow political parties at the municipal level. Thus, there is no organized opposition as exists on the national level. More importantly, candidate Bass promised an Emergency Declaration upon taking office. Since Mayor Bass declared months ago what she would do, Angelenos expect her to be prepared on day one.
Moreover, Karen Bass was born and grew up in Los Angeles and she has been active in Los Angeles community affairs since 1980, which is forty-two years before being elected mayor. If forty-two years is not enough time to prepare, another a hundred days will not help.
Also, as a member of the US House of Representatives when The Capitol was stormed by violent thugs seeking to murder the Vice-President based upon Trump’s Big Lie that the Nov 2020 election had been stolen, Karen Bass knows the connection between lies about public officials and political terrorism. Similar to how President Trump blamed Mike Pence for the attack, Karen Bass has blamed Kevin de Leon for the attacks on city hall and the physical attack on Kevin himself at a children’s Christmas party. Like Trump, Karen Bass is endorsing two Big Lies. Trump had (1) I Built the Wall and (2) Stop the Steal. Bass has (1) Los Angeles has a housing shortage and (2) Kevin de Leon is a racist.
Bass is Surprised to Discover Los Angeles has a Glut of Vacant Housing
While running for mayor, Karen Bass published the lengthy position paper, “HOUSING Keep People In Their Homes and Protect Existing Housing,” which never found out that Los Angeles has no housing shortage. It was unsettling to hear Karen Bass admit during an interview with KABC Channel 7 that she was “surprised” to learn that Los Angeles had vacant units! What else surprised her – that we have freeways? The estimated number of vacant housing units in the city runs from a low of 93,000 to a high of 115,000 with over 150,000 in the county. Los Angeles has less than 42,000 homeless. (Read the 2020 Vacancy Report, How Los Angeles Leaves Homes Empty and People Unhoused, here and here.)
One hot spot of densification is Hollywood, a portion of which Karen Bass once represented, which has steadily lost population since 1990 when it had almost 214,000 ppl to 2019 when it had about 195,700 ppl. Yet, the construction continues to build into the glut. What’s going on?
Money Laundering Loves Empty Housing
One has to understand the finances of money laundering by Russian oligarchs, Chinese businessmen, and narco-drug traffickers. They love Los Angeles’ glut of high rise apartments and condos. Of course, developers do not build housing for poor people. By definition poor people cannot pay high rents. But, billionaires laundering money, Wow, that’s a whole new ball game! Twenty years ago in 2000, mafias and corrupt officials were laundering at least $600 billion a year (over $1 Trillion in 2022). June 23, 2000, NY Times, 15 Countries Named as Potential Money-Laundering Havens, by Joseph Kahn
Learn to Think Like A Narco-Drug Trafficker
(1) You’ve got a billion or so dollars from selling Fentanyl laced pills to kids and you will soon have tons more drug money. How do you cleanse it? In 1970, the United States passed the Banking Secrecy Act, which required financial institutions to report suspicious activity to the Department of Treasury. You cannot show up with $50 Million and say, “Hi, I’m from Columbia (or Beverly Hills) and I’d like to open a bank account” without invoking the Act.
(2) Thus, you form an LLC in Liechtenstein and its owners are corporations in Panama and the Philippines. You create a series of businesses which own businesses with countries which keep the owners of the LLC (Limited Liability Companies) and corporations secret.
(3) Your Liechtenstein LLC opens a bank account in let’s say Luxembourg since that country already has highly placed operatives in Los Angeles to help judges and others to launder money.
(4) You buy Los Angeles real estate; apartments are great. Thru your multi-layered front organizations, you secretly own 300 apartments in Hollywood. Here are your options: (a) become a landlord - ugh, (b) leave your units empty, ugh, (c) pretend to rent your empty units. This is what makes LA real estate so wonderful for money laundering. Not only will all the loot you use to buy the apartments be cleansed when you sell, but you get to launder money every month by pretending that your drug money is rent which you are collecting from your non-existent tenants . Do you really think US Bank is going to be checking whether the rent checks you deposit come from apartments with live tenants? You need to create false backgrounds for your fictitious tenants, but that’s why the oligarchs and drug traffickers have accountants and lawyers, not to mention councilmembers and judges, on their payrolls.
(5) You force up prices. Not only does any place which is a money laundering haven bid up the value of real estate as corrupt money flows in from around the world, but the higher the purchase prices and the higher the rents the better for money launderers. The purpose of money laundering is to cleanse billions of dollars. Thus, the more an apartment complex costs, the more loot you can launder at one time. Money launders often pay higher than asking price. Developers know what they doing; so, they help by setting the prices sky high at the outset.
(6) Densification is fantastic for money laundering. Densification by itself increases land costs. The purpose behind Transit Oriented Districts (TODs) is not to make it easy for poor people to have transit. That lie was debunked back in 2000. The subways and fixed rail transit go almost no place that people need. Mass transit is dirty, slow and dangerous. More telling is the fact, that most TOD’s units are high end units priced for people who own one or more cars and never use the subway. TODs are false justifications to build into the glut of high end housing for money launderers.
Developers know that money launderers want high prices which is why they continue to build in extremely dense areas like Hollywood and DTLA. Some of the projects which councilmembers shove through the corrupt city council are ludicrous. Look at 5600 Hollywood Blvd. It epitomizes the insanity in Garcetti’s-O’Farrell’s CD 13.
The lot is between 40 and 50 feet wide and originally was to be 18 stories high. The lot extends down to Carlton Way where a low cost apartment complex is being destroyed. At the same time that Karen Bass thinks that we should pay developers between $700,000 and $1 Million per unit to construct Affordable Housing, CD 13 is destroying affordable housing. BTW, CD 13 is in the process of destroying existing low cost housing along Wilton Place north of Hollywood Blvd. To put it simply, CD 13 has been transitioning the homes of Hollywood’s poorest people into money laundering havens for narco-drug traffickers.
Back to the Ludicrous 5600 Hollywood Boulevard
Yep, it’s in a TOD with the Hollywood/Western station one block to the East. Who thinks that someone who can pay $4,000 per month for an apartment will take the subway? Even if they wanted to take the subway, it does not go many places.
Has Karen Bass forgotten that infamous line from Casablanca, “ I'm shocked, shocked to find that money laundering is going on in here!”
(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor. You may email him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed by Mr. Abrams are solely his and not necessarily those of CityWatch.)