ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - The City Council heard from Fred Ali (Chair) and Frank Cardenas (Exec Director), the virtual masterminds behind the new redistricting recommendations that arrived Tuesday after months of mounting testimony and a contentious 2020 census.
In August, Nury Martinez said, "It’s undeniable that this council has listened and is focused on creating a more equitable city." She was not talking about redistricting; she was talking about caving on LAPD overtime.
On Tuesday, she had nothing to say to Fred, who she appointed, and Frank.
The comments from council followed an unusually lengthy public comment period peppered with O'Farrell allies calling in to qualify in the 2022 Nimby Olympics. There were dozens.
This made it impossible for me to get a turn, which is par for the course when the council perceives a high interest subject.
After the quid pro gratitude section (Kevin DeLeon was absent) for the yeoman contributions of the inside baseball redistricting commissioners (each council district appoints at least one, while some seats, like 7, 8, 9, 10, are afforded more seats based on the Voting Rights Act) it was go time.
Marqueece-Harris Dawson of CD8, who was facing a 2pm Land Use meeting, made a few quick points. He noted that four of his commissioner candidates had turned him down, because of the sheer time commitment invested by the civic heroes who went on to serve. Finally, he cluelessly mused, it was his fifth choice who he appointed and then thanked publicly for "a massive gift to the city."
Harris Dawson said he really wanted to do something nice for the commissioners.
Paul Krekorian had sailed through a Director's meeting of the metro board on Thursday without a single public comment, he was primed and ready to rumble. He petulantly argued that "It's very clear the council, not the commission, does redistricting," morphing into F. Lee Krekorian, a bad version of, Francis Lee Bailey Jr. one of America's most famous defense attorneys.
Krekorian's cross examination of Fred and Frank was a dud.
Even with help from Nithya Raman of CD4, who was much more articulate and on point, neither of them landed many blows.
Krekorian's smoking gun was laughable.
He was concerned about a series of "secret" group recommendations that resulted in real disenfranchisement. He seemed to be emphasizing the secretive part and though electeds are forbidden from having undisclosed ex parte contact with commissioners, "why were lobbyists not barred?," he demanded.
It was not helping that after every failed attack, a cheerful colleague would take a moment to thank Fred and Frank, like Mike Bonin, who said he'd known them more than 20 years.
Raman who had the most to lose, but the least to fear because she actually stands for progressive values and will attract constituents in any district, wondered why the labeling of the maps was such - a "confusing, frustrating and saddening process."
Krekorian administered a self-inflicted wound when he claimed the whole recommendation was founded on ... a Brown Act Violation.
Krekorian himself, has an impressive rap sheet with multiple convictions on this front including Preven v. City of Los Angeles, B287559 (Cal. Ct. App. 2019) Still, he pressed that "more half a million people voted for... " then corrected himself, "Sorry, had the opportunity to vote for council members and they won't be able to vote again until 2024."
His big finish was even weaker, “Isn't it true that all of the valley districts could remain the same?" he queried.
Frank Cardenas who is a very smooth operator (who is obviously not to be trusted) batted away Krekorian's concern about lawsuits. "If the objective of redistricting was to avoid lawsuits... there would be very few changes." He reiterated their focus on a total plan and adherence to section 204 (the law.)
Fred Ali, had the stinger. When Krekorian was railing on about how lobbyists should be blocked from contacting commissioners, Chair Ali agreed with Krekorian that limiting such contact would be a good idea... and then dealt the TKO. "Why didn't you take up all of these proposals BEFORE the process started! "
Council President Martinez saved Krekorian from having to answer by cutting to Raman, who closed by saying she felt the whole process was... unfair.
Chair Ali, who has donated so many hours that Marqueece Harris Dawson wants to order an full accounting of how much it was worth in dollars, really wanted to respond...
The camera frame expanded to allow him to speak... but after all the carrying on about transparency, the camera angle receded and Council President Martinez re-appeared, and said coldly, "She's not looking for a response, Sir."
A slap across the face...
One of the key questions that arose during redistricting was, "What is political?"
Why was CD3 labeled (and so not too political) while the two districts of K.25 were considered too political to label.
There is no short answer.
The Plum committee had scheduled a huge cannabis rewrite motion that had to be read into the record. Cat Packer, the Department of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) topper should have posted the changes. It was confusing.
A lot of people had called in to speak on the item and also on the first six items that were all mysteriously continued.
It never goes over well with (even virtual) attendees who make considerable efforts to be heard, when they find out that the hearings are not happening at the last minute. The snippy city attorney simply "noted" more than one person's pointed frustration.
Buried among the treasures in Planning and Land Use Committee on Tuesday was a particular item of interest for locals in Studio City.
Apparently, while Paul Krekorian was stumbling badly on center court in the John Ferraro chambers, his longtime helper Lisa Karadjian was being loaded onto the South Valley Area Planning Commission, for the term ending June 30, 2026.
Ms. Lisa Karadjian, sometimes known as "The Other Lisa" who previously co-chaired the Land Use committee with Lisa Sarkin in Studio City, is an old pal of Richard Weintraub's. He's a developer who got the city to lower his taxes, give him a fire house below market before stepping aside to make room for a Related companies project at the chokepoint of Ventura Blvd and Coldwater Canyon. The plan, now underway, is to massacre old trees, tear down a charming mid century hotel to erect a luxury mall with 520 units of housing and 1385 underground parking spaces.
Karadjian, who faced no comments, thanks to Marqueece's hostile inaction and incompetence, told the commission that she didn't know too many developers, because she had been focused on beauty.
Not sure how that characterization comports with serving on the Land Use committee in Studio City that does nothing but squeeze and vett and provide help to developers who are adding one monstrosity after another.
Karadjian was being proposed (in second position) to fill the vacancy created by Mr. Harout “Harry” Semerdjian. Semerdjian’s withdrawal from consideration was not explained, but he used to work in CD13, which is not a valley district.
Karadjian, is the consummate Krekorian proxy. He's appointed her to the Ventura/Cahuenga Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan which touches districts, 2, 3, 4, and 5. They meet on the First Thursdays of the month.
And the Prop K, Local Volunteer Neighborhood Oversight Committees LVNOC, a group whose chair voted against the councilmember before Karadjian shoved through a vote that resulted in ...the suppression of opposition. The project to destroy our Studio City park is not being funded (yet), but no thanks to her efforts.
And Lisa has served dishonorably on the Land Use committee in the Neighborhood Council. I say that with backup.
Her most egregious effort was acting as if she had no idea about the so-called Sunswept project, 700 feet west of Whitsett.
Subject: Mystery Project
Hope you’re well.
While your investigative work in all matters of Studio City is greatly appreciated, when discovering issues that have to do with land use should be brought to my attention and collaborated with me. Not just a discussion for government affairs.
My concern is in regard to the preliminary information for the parcels of land across Bed Bath and Beyond from Dept. of Public Works that does not have a council file number.
Please share your findings and any additional information you have.
Studio City Neighborhood Council Board Member
Chair Land Use Committee
Councilmember Krekorian CD2 Appointee - Plan Review Board - PRB
Ventura / Cahuenga Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan
I wrote to Karadjian, "I disagree with you and Karo that nothing is happening at that location 700 feet west of Whitsett."
I cited the information in the form of the February Government Affairs Agenda GAC -- it was my last as Chair of GAC.
I told her that "When this matter was agendized on a Public Works committee meeting, we asked Karo Torossian what was up and he claimed that he had no knowledge."
Possible? He took two contributions from the owner and consultant, Peter Austin, requesting the Street Vacation on 4/28/2017 and 7/15/2016. I guess he never saw the contributions. Pffft. Ya right.
This is not a pretty story, even though Lisa is an esthetician. If you ask me, she's a tool of the Council District office.
Homelessness coverage at the Times had hit some choppy waters with all the attention on redistricting and corruption of late.
But the shift toward less tolerance and the expansion of tiny little homes on the VA property has refreshed Times enthusiasm for more coverage.
Big names in the category, like Alex Villanueva and Mike Bonin have been refueling and retooling for further battle. The city ordinance 41.18 and the "not here, here or here" initiative caused the the intervenor in the Alliance lawsuit Shayla Meyers, to say we are “just sinking the city's resources into an interim shelter system, which itself still perpetuates homelessness.”
Many homeless people avoid congregate shelters, which they find dangerous and demeaning, and say they prefer life on the streets if they can’t have permanent housing or a temporary room that they don’t have to share. Which is why an initiative at UCSB caught my attention.
Apparently, Charles Munger, the Warren Buffett chap who bought the Weddington Goif and Tennis courts in Studio City is also a big donor up in Santa Barbara, not a big surprise, and he has sponsored a controversial housing arrangement at UCSB for students that may have some applicability here. More than 4,500 students are intended to fit into "an 11-story warehouse-size building in which the overwhelming majority of rooms do not have windows.
The Times called it "Dormzilla." Perfect!
Munger once said, "Acquire worldly wisdom and adjust your behaviour accordingly. If your new behaviour gives you a little temporary unpopularity with your peer group... then to hell with them."
Welcome to Studio City, Sir.
4500 is a lot of ... indigenous peoples. In Echo Park, of the 178 people who moved from Echo Park Lake into interim housing, 18 people have obtained rental subsidies for permanent housing and four people have gained permanent housing, according to LAHSA.
In Venice, with $5 million from the city’s pandemic recovery funds, Bonin brought in Venice-based St. Joseph Center who divided the half-mile long encampment into five zones. Sort of like little districts.
The St. Vincent’s outreach teams persuaded 226 people to relocate to shelters. More than 180 of them have received housing subsidies, mainly through emergency pandemic vouchers, and 49 have found homes. The City has refused to show me the money and how it was spent.
At the VA in Brentwood, “It’s about compassion and understanding,” according to Geoffrey Deedrick of the Sheriff's Homeless Outreach Service Team (HOST). Surrounded by the drone of the bulldozer and sheriff’s deputies, Alex Villanueva, the Sheriff himself said, “Having people camp out in the street is not an option.”
What would General Jeff say to the Sheriff Villanueva?
Voice for the Voiceless:
I always viewed General Jeff, the homeless advocate who died last month, as a voice for the voiceless. He was a very charismatic, knowledgable man, who had a quality that is in high demand these days, but also short supply: he was collaborative.
After Koretz sort of explained/apologized for his 41.18 plans on Wednesday, the no sitting ordinance launched by the cleanser extraordinaire, Mitch O'Farrell, took the mic and prattled on about Colombus day.
General Jeff probably shifted a bit in his grave.
O'Farrell's strategy of policing history....and the city streets of Los Angeles has been fraught.
His research is comprehensive, and he claims his conviction is just, but why not name the Christopher Columbus highway... the General Jeff ... no more scapegoating highway.
(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions expressed by Eric Preven are solely his and not the opinions of CityWatch)