THE VIEW FROM HERE - Those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it.
March 1, 2012, CityWatch, Hollywood Becomes Fraudywood. We all know that Los Angeles is a kleptocracy run on the feudal model where each council district is its own fiefdom. Every lord and lady must vote Yes on each and every project which another councilmember places on the city council agenda. Despite the fact that this vote trading system turns the City Council into a criminal enterprise by habitual violation of Penal Code § 86, the FBI has persistently closed its eyes to the criminality, even in face of the needless deaths of thousands of homeless, and it has targeted councilmembers who disrupted the smooth functioning of the Garcetti machine, e.g., Alarcon, Englander, Huizar, and prophylactically persecuting, er, prosecuting Mark Ridley-Thomas (selective prosecution.) Nor should we overlook federal Judge David O Carter who decided that he should order the decimation of single family homes in stable R-1 neighbors in retaliation for his woker belief that white anti-Black racism caused the homeless crisis among Blacks.
The City is a Crimogenic Institution
One would think that no one could outdo the level of blatant corrupt disregard for the law of Garcettism – but then we see Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez. For the time being, we shall not mention the fact that he is the prime suspect in the release and promotion of illegal tape of councilmembers Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, and Kevin DeLeon. Not only did the leaker admit his/her last name was Martinez, but Soto-Martinez was intimately involved with the Los Angeles County Labor Federation which made the secret tape, but he has some apparent political feud with De Leon, Nury Martinez, and Cedillo for not being woker enough. Also, Soto-Martinez was in a run-off election for the lucrative CD 13 seat against Mitch O’Farrell, who also was no paragon of virtue. When the Reddit release of the tape did not take off, then Knock LA, who had expressly endorsed Soto-Martinez for CD 13, re-released the tape and provided the false commentary about its being racist. However, we shall not be mentioning those things in this article.
Corruptionism Has Been an Epidemic in LA for Decades
Garcetti’s 2012 Update to the Hollywood Community Plan intentionally used fatally flawed data and wishful thinking to the extent that it subverted the law. As a result, in January 2014, Judge Allan Goodman rejected the Update.
Back in 2010-2012, HELP, SaveHywd, Citizens Coalition of Los Angeles, Fix The City, Inc., and various neighborhood councils such as Hollywood United NC (HUNC) had submitted extensive documentation that the Garcetti update was based on fatally flawed data, etc. In fact, the city attorney and planning department had told Garcetti in March 2012 that the Update was untenable and legally it needed to be updated along the lines set forth in the March 21, 2012 letter from HELP plus extensive data from Fix The City, Inc. Garcetti rejected their advice.
At the June 19, 2012, city council hearing on Garcetti’s Update, then councilmember Richard Alarcon asked the Department of Planning Director, Michael Lo Grande, whether the Update for the Hywd Com Plan could be re-done using current data. Director Lo Grande uttered gibberish, but his assistant Kevin Keller finally answered for the Planning Department. Although he used a plethora of words, Mr. Keller’s answered, “Yes.” Lo Grande’s lack of honesty was punctuated when in 2019 he was fined $281,250 by the city ethics commission. Aug 16, 2019, LA Times, Former L.A. Planning Director Faces $281,000 Ethics Fine, the Largest of its Kind, by David Zahniser, Emily Alpert Reyes
Councilmember Richard Alarcon’s honesty of asking the unwanted question whether the community plans could be based on accurate data was met with more bogus criminal prosecution and his being excised from the city council. Later, the courts did exonerated him, but that did not help his career nor Hollywood which devolved into the Homeless Crisis, the deaths of thousands of homeless, the vast corruption of the housing market so that Millennials fled the city. In fact, so many abandoned LA that the entire state lost one Congressional set. However, the most important goal of the Garcetti machine was the endless densification of LA.
Could Anyone Be Worse Than Garcetti, O’Farrell, and Wesson?
Meet Hugo Soto-Martinez who makes his predecessors look like amateurs. On the other hand, his behavior may be so egregious that finally the powers-that-be will recognize that Los Angeles cannot survive without reform. Although smooth operator Garcetti honored the legal procedures while subverting the substance, Hugo Soto-Martinez has assumed the role of the dictator of a banana republic. Neither procedure nor substantive law mean diddly to him.
The current Update to the Hollywood Community Plan has been underway since the last one was rejected. It’s Notice of Preparation of Environmental Impact Report (NOP) was issued on April 29, 2016. Although the NOP was based fatally flawed data, e.g. it asserted, “Hollywood’s population was 206,000 ppl,” when in reality it was in descent from the 198,288 ppl in 2010 to around 195,000 in 2019, the public had the opportunity to submit accurate data. On August 17, 2021, the City gave its Notice of Completion and Availability of the Final Environmental Report. People could still submit comments and accurate data so that there would be an Administrative Record in case the Plan had substantial defects and required judicial review.
Last Minute Alterations to the HCP2
On April 4, 2023 Councilmember and multi-millionaire Nithya Raman wrote a letter, requesting limited amendments. On April 4, 2023, CM Katy Yaroslavsky asked for limited amendments. Both letters raised the issue whether a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) was required.
April 21, 2023, CM Hugo Soto-Martinez wrote his letter demanding a basic rewrite of the Plan with extreme densification of East Hollywood. There is no doubt that his demands required a new EIR as his demands impact the entire HCP2. Ignoring known data and not providing a single fact, he demands “Additional work needs to be done to accelerate the production of higher densities of housing,” for East Hollywood. He omitted that East Hollywood is already the city’s third most dense area with 31,000 ppl square mile.
If his April 21, 2023 letter were not enough to be framed for the Hall of Grandiose Hubris, he added oral comments at the April 24, 2023 PLUM meeting. CEQA does not allow oral amendments. Then on April 29, 2023, Soto The Ego writes the oral comments overhauling the HCP2 on his council page.
He falsely alleges: “East Hollywood, a predominantly working class community of color, wasn't included at all in the current plan.” If it were true that East Hollywood was not included at all, then a new EIR is undeniably required.
Next come his demands: “In addition to incorporating East Hollywood into the plan, we made it clear that our support for approving it is contingent on the ability to make the following changes after its adoption: (bold added)
Before we show some of his demands, notice that by adopting the Plan, the city is committing to making all these changes to HCP2 with no EIR, no data, and no public comments.
Increased affordable housing and density.
Add more affordable housing requirements for new developments.
Rezone to build housing more easily on public land.
Sustainability and safety
Reduce the car-centric uses in the plan.
Reform parking requirements.
Remove street-widening requirements.
Study earthquake resilience to improve retrofitting.
Additional sustainability measures, including an environmental justice program.
Due to the 2012 fiasco, Hollywood area has deteriorated into a hell hole of crime with thefts, stabbings and murders on the subway; a police officer even had his finger bit off by a deranged lunatic.
Yet, Hugo The Ego thinks that at the last minute, he can upset the entire Hollywood Plan and demand major changes without an EIR.
The city council agenda item (53) for May 3, 2023 made clear that after the Plan is adopted, Planning Department and the City Attorney will write up major alterations in the Plan, e.g., more density, to be anti-auto, and equity. The Plan now includes Hugo’s concept of equity – whatever that may be. The city council agenda actually says that the Update to the Hollywood Plan will be written after it is adopted. All Hail dictator Hugo Ego. The law is dead, long live the dictator.
Now Let’s See What the City Council Did with this Megalomaniac
On Wednesday, May 3, 2023, the City Council one again opted for litigation by adopting Hugo The Ego’s revamped HCP2 including the writing of material parts of the HCP2 after its approval. Today’s absurdity is beyond anything even Garcetti tried and his Plan was an enormous failure.
At the Council hearing, Hugo The Ego complained that the Hollywood Community Plan was passed in 1988 when he was a child. He forgot to mention that corruption, such as his behavior, is why there has been no Update since 1988. Now that Hugo The Ego is repeating history, Hollywood will have no new Plan. There was a legal way to have his desires proposed, vetted and added to HCP2; it’s called “following the law.” While one could legitimately argue that CMs Raman’s and Yaroslavsky’s ideas were amendments not requiring EIRs, Hugo The Ego’s outlandish demands have destroyed the 2023 Update. Allowing this fiasco to occur seriously calls into question the competence of our new city attorney.
(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])