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Sat, Apr

LA – 8Th Most Expensive City in the World.  Not Acceptable.

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - The 10 most expensive cities are: Tel Aviv, Singapore/Paris (tie), Zurich, Hong Kong, New York, Geneva Copenhagen, Denmark, Los Angeles, Osaka, Japan. 

Eighth?  

This made me think of Ricky Bobby, the central figure played by Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights, a hilarious collaboration with Adam Mckay, "If you ain't first, you're last."  What a nonsensical statement, yet the City of Los Angeles has had enough of getting ripped off by shady developers scamming the city... 

Mayor Garcetti:  Eighth most expensive city is not acceptable.  Get me Casey Wasserman, stat!   

Wasserman is the Chief Executive Officer of the Wasserman Foundation. He serves as a board member for the Saban Capital Acquisition Corporation and Vox Media. The latter owns a variety of publications including Polygon. He is also a board member for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the big dog at LA28, the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2028.  

On Friday he came down for the second time in a couple weeks to spin the crap out of the public and City Council and hammer out a deal.  

Mike Bonin of CD11 who is being recalled began his line of questioning like a cat with questions about financial risk, enhanced services and the all important working groups, that would be stuffed with cronies by LA28, but include city reps.  

But first Bonin lectured, that he had read in the Los Angeles Times, that the budget had risen from 5.3B to 6.9B an increase of $700M, the third such increase including the most recent 2019 inflation uptic, and 86% of that increase,"  he said. 

But Wasserman jumped in, "I'm not sure the LA Times should be the source for facts."  

Council President Martinez, had to mute the tiger's microphone for a minute. As a board member at Activision Blizzard,where they are managing their own frat style sex harassment crisis Wasserman was in no mood to be nickel and dimed by eggheads at the LA Times. (Officer Marco Duarte turned 50... and Nury Martinez practically pinched him, "You don't look a day older than 33." ) 

"Our plan will only change if there is an increase in revenue or decrease in expenses." Wasserman said. He continued singing the song about the lack of need to build permanent venues, "not a single house, no transportation --" 

Now, I'm jumping in.  What?  The Metro's LA28-related investments 28 by '28 is fully underway at our expense.   

Wasserman said, "Our our intent is to monitor very very carefully... there is always some risk.  Anyone who tells you there is no risk, I would tell you to take with a grain of salt."  

Bonin, reminded that at the Metro board, they often don't get to see the cost overrun reports until it is too late to do anything. "There's nothing we can do... " Krekorian agreed. Matt Szabo, the CAO also nodded in approval.  

Look, the City is going to get membership on some of the working groups, like for mobility, arts and culture... so that's something, right?  

The CLA Sharon Tso said, there had been a very close collaboration between LA28 and the city. "There would be no guarantees, but no surprises... either. There would be ample opportunity to assess, comment, give direction, at minimum every six months...  

Krekorian gave his rubber stamp, calling it, "As sound an agreement as we could have" and was sort of taking credit for te confusing Insurance scam and gambit, wherein, without stating the price or the length or start date of the term, but rather reading a long laundry list of things that could go wrong and could be covered... the city would somehow be protected.  

Casey agreed that there was no insurance in place, but that there was a robust line item...(to pilfer). "There is plenty money in line item to procure..." but he had been focused on guaranteed revenue, full commitment, have it in place... all the pieces." 

Koretz recognized the amazing array of failsafe mechanisms and said it was almost impossible to lose money.  Still, how badly can this go? he mused.   

Matt Szabo said, "the challenge will be on LA28 to bring in the revenue... under $6.9B...we'll actively assess how they're doing on their fund raising. If they are off schedule... we'll demand plans to adjust." 

Koretz was more specific,  he said, "What if we had a $1 billion dollar deficit?" 

Well, the City would cover the first $270 million, and the state would cover the second  ($270)...leaving the city on the hook for $730 million... with a major disaster. 

Gulp.  

Kevin Deleon, saw a moment, "Madame President..." there is no doubt, he orated, that as a city we can host the most successful... games...citing  '32, '84 and 2028 ...but "What about ICE?" 

Wasserman dismissed the question.  DeLeon asked about the Haves and the have nots and wanting to use the 17 days in 2028 to "lift people into the middle class."   

He said this would be the "Most successful Olympics... lifting people out of poverty."  

Krekorian reiterated that the LA28 ... are distinguished civic leaders ..."who would never stiff arm us."  Stuart Waldman serves on their board! 

Ronald Herrera, a LAANE member and longtime Teamster and leader in the battle to improve the lives of working families was the most frequently cited name during the meeting. 

Gil Cedillo, said he was the type of reasonable man... who he implied would follow his lead, once the temperature could be taken at to how hard to fight in the war against income inequality and corporate greed.  [Spoiler: not hard.] 

Mitch O'Farrell who has been dreaming of these Olympics during all sleep cycles for many years, talked about all of the bites of the apple every step of the way since... 1896.  

He saw 2028 as a way to solve homelessness, climate change and fear and cynicism. He stood up for hope and goals and follow through.  

He defined optimism as a "positive thought pattern." 

And he concluded his prepared remarks by saying that this olympics would be "faster higher stronger" together. 

But he reminded there would be seven years to get there. Let's make sure we follow through on all of our commitments. 

 

Ambassadors: 

When a CM terms out, many will soon, and almost all will be gone by 2028, a question has arisen, what will they do?  

Judging from the conversation at the last Metro meeting of 2021, Metro Ambassadorships might be available. 

Assisting, helping, guiding, so that Angelenos know that they are not supposed to drink and smoke on the train when Najarian is trying to bring his wife to a god damned Rams game. 

There were a lot of Sheriff supporters calling in about the reimagination of public safety and they were highly critical of the agenda and lack of clarity, as to what was happening.   

One caller said, "Look, we have jobs is there any way we can weigh in on the item we have called in to address, rather than having to wait through... I don't know what this is?"  

It was such a good and solid point that Supervisors Hilda Solis, who chairs the Metro Board, told the caller to call back in an hour and a half if she wanted to put them on blast for reimagining public safety on metro.   

The best way to dramatize the conflict before the 15 local leaders comprising the Board of Directors over the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority is to imagine a pay per view debate between Mayor James Butts of Inglewood who feels it is critical to have more police in the metro if we want people to use it, and Sheila Kuehl, the great wise one who wants to reimagine other types of services and protections on offer to those riding metro and also to those lying around metro seeking shelter.  

It's a polarizing debate. Reimagination is good, but what do the ambassadors do, exactly?  

Call the police.   

When the conversation turned to the police Mayor Eric Garcetti, clicked off briefly.  

An ambassador who is skilled at calling the police is not the type of ambassadorship Eric Garcetti is dreaming of.  Diplomats cannot be prosecuted or otherwise forced to appear in criminal court. Nobody can know for sure if he's dreaming of a Passage to India.  

Politicians are as a rule attracted to various immunities-- sheriff deputies and fire fighters, not so much. 

But before we delve into the international delegation, a moment on the local transit helpers... the so-called ambassadors  [Lightbulb]   

"There is no greater expert on CD3 than Bob Blumenfield" according to Kevin DeLeon who told colleagues he always turned to Blumenfield for CD3 matters.   Nobody knew what he meant.  

And certainly, nobody navigates the nooks and crannies of CD5 transit and fundraising circles better than Paul Koretz and Zev Yaroslavsky's daughter in law, who has her own name and should not be described as an appendage of Mr. Carmeggedon, who recently called the great Casey Wasserman's Olympic plan... (paraphrasing) irresponsible.   

Katy Young Yaroslavsky is running for City Council 2022 all by her big self. FYI, she's married to Zev's son David Yaroslavsky, who was a DA briefly and is now a Judge of the Superior Court of California.   

Certainly, Mike Bonin would have a great idea of how to solve the MTA Rubik's cube like problem that Sheila Kuehl and I have grappled with. 

Is it practical to take public transit from Santa Monica to the Hollywood Bowl?  Both Bonin and Kuehl did time at Harvard and a smart ambassador type might say, "Don't try that." and offer an alternative. 

"It will ruin your day. Take an Uber or fly a drone. JK, why not?  The 10 freeway can be torture. 

On my end, we adore the Red Line... and theoretically the Orange line, though I've never once set foot on it.  

But a very articulate bus driver drew the attention of the listening public when he cautioned that before the MTA dove head first into the swimming pool of electric buses, we should examine the charging problems that he said were not a trifle and highly worrisome. 

 

Guess: 

This item, for which Paul Krekorian recused himself because 'allegedly' while working as an attorney he represented Guess, should have been Rejected as an Untimely Claim Pursuant to the appropriate applicable Government Code.  

These claims are between 5 and 8 years old.   

Does the City of LA et al. realize they are giving away more money at $1.8M to Guess IP HOLDER  LP than Skip Miller of MIller Barondess LLP demanded that the county counsel payout to former CEO Sachi Hamai $1.5M, who was as thick as thieves with indictee and civil rights leader Mark Ridley-Thomas.     

Hamai also served on the SoCal United Way Board that agreed when Community Partners wouldn't to arrange $100k to USC with special earmarking for Sebastian Ridley-Thomas' new "nepotism" ... program.   

A close observer speculated, "One way to keep the Sachi Hamai payout on the down low would be to let Mr. Ridley-Thomas slip out the back... jack.  

Insufficient evidence.  Sorry. 

Because if MRT is going up the river he would be inclined to hand the paddle to a wide variety of complicit frenemies in order to shorten his time.  

The entire regulated community is rooting for Mr. Ridley-Thomas to get off... big time.   

Why did Krekorian recuse?  

We can only Guess. 

 

Public Transportation:

Here's what the concierge from Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel suggested... "You need to walk two blocks north of the hotel... four little blocks to the east. Then take the train to downtown, transfer to the number 1 train, the Hollywood train. 

"Cool, how long a walk from train to the Hollywood bowl... Is it,  easy?"  said the guest. 

 "No, it's not easy... it's about a two mile walk from the train, once you get there... "  

Alright, said the guest, "Forget about the Hollywood Bowl. Where are the bottomless mimosas? And has there been a feasibility study on bottomless mimosas and scenic bike path proximity-- 

The concierge, growing impatient, "Sir, come to the desk, and I'm happy to help you..." 

"Is this the scenic bike path with the encampments?" said the guest. 

"I'm sure we can find something for you, Sir." 

I'd love to visit one of those places where they are "theoretically wanting more housing but practically not allowing it"? 

"There's a lot to see."

 

A Fifteen Shovel Salute: 

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council Members Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz were on hand at Old Firehouse 88 on Balboa Blvd in Encino.

I counted 15 shovels as a series of dignitaries including Henry Stern, who despite being the son of Danny Stern who starred in Diner and Home Alone, consistent with the council's steadfast efforts to keep local control, was not given a shovel.  

At the ground breaking moment choreographed by Koretz's team in association with the Armenian Community, the fifteen shovels started gently pitching sand forward from a long wooden planter that looked like a casket for a very tall person or perhaps a very tall person in pointy hat or perhaps two people. This thing was over fifteen feet long and full of sand. 

I wondered if such a makeshift solution had arisen because, like with like the Sunnyslope Project near the corner of Whitsett and Ventura Boulevard, a permit was not properly pulled.  Note: Stash has moved to that area. Stash is a Pre-ICO Prop D Marijuana Dispensary providing quality Cannabis for Studio City et al. 

Without going too deeply, here, Karo Torossian and the "Old CD2" guard facilitated a vacation of city property in exchange for... cool stuff, while city planners and public works helpers were diligently arranging, Karo assumed the incredible dual position of "I have no knowledge" and "campaign contribution" recipient from... Mr. Peter Austin.  "Bofe." 

Not being aware of your own campaign contributions and the surplus thereof is a young man's game. Marqueece Harris-Dawson, one of the youngest councilmembers at 51, once implied that he couldn't possibly know about a pair of donations from a power couple with whom we have a lot of city business.  When shown the contributions from the Goldbergers had shifted from Richelle Huizar's failed campaign to his own office holder...  

Sir, you're disrupting the meeting.  

The moment Karo Torossian pled ignorance about the Sunnyslope project was when local extraction specialist Randall Fried emerged from beneath the skirt of Lisa Sarkin to silence unproductive inquiries.   

Inquiries, for the record, have been rising steadily and are up year over year, year after year.   

In Encino, the Armenian cultural foundation has agreed to a thirty year lease for the 5600 sq foot property... where they will provide educational classes, after school services, senior services, and community meetings.  

LA is a city of belonging and the cultural center is "a means to teach Angelenos the rich history of Armenians." Garcetti said.  

Quick question: What are the precise terms of the lease? 

Answer:  Mind your own business.  

The next Controller of Los Angeles would be happy to answer, and I believe his name is Mejia or Koretz...  

Paul Koretz of CD5 ought to know as it was his outreach tent flying in the background of KCAL's excellent team coverage.  

Sometimes you can find Barry Johnson, Studio City Neighborhood Council strongman and CBS camera operator behind the lens

 

Beverly Hills, 91604 

In the first half of the 20th century, the Sportsmen's Lodge was known for its trout-fishing lake where families came to catch and eat their own dinners. The fish may not be jumping but the underground parkers will be soon.  

To suggest that Sportsmen's Landing was orchestrated under the radar and out of public view may be a gross understatement. From the moment Lisa Karadjian arrived we could see what was happening. 

Karadjian, who is a beautician by trade entered local politics in Studio City as the wicked witch of the west has emerged as a candidate for Mayor.   

As a Studio City Neighborhood Council Board Member, Chair of the Studio City NC Land Use Committee, Councilmember Krekorian's CD2 Appointee to the Plan Review Board - PRB, the Ventura / Cahuenga Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan,  and most recently added to the South Valley Area Planning Commission, for the term ending June 30, 2026, she's moves swiftly up the rubber stamping ladder. 

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.    

As a handy dandy friendly consultant for Richard Weintraub, the man who called Studio City the most difficult place he'd ever seen. 

Weintraub's 101 freeway adjacent project looks to be coming online very soon and he does get credit for personally bungling Malibu Hardware.  

Now, Steve Soberoff and Bezos wonder how Lucky's at the Malibu Country Mart is hotter than hot,  and the weekly pop up auto show is infuriating the natives.  

It's important to acknowledge the traditional, lands of the Fernandeño Tataviam, Gabrieleño Tongva, and Ventureño Chumash. We recognize that Indigenous Peoples have stewarded this land from Studio City to Malibu for thousands of years, many of whom still call it home today, and we give thanks for the opportunity to live, work, and learn on their traditional homeland. 

 

Learning: 

Anyway, Karadjian pivoted from being Weintraub's gal Friday to the visionary leader behind Rediscover Studio City East, a not for profit committed to the promise that residents would never have to go more than a mile down Ventura Boulevard without encountering another Sugar Fish restaurant. 

It's been 4 years 11 months, and 21 days since she established her vision and 501c3 to assist (without any financial interest at all, just a love of progress and local development) in the knocking down of several board and care facilities on Arch Drive to erect 100 units of market rate with 6 affordable units, if you consider $3,300 affordable.   

As for Sportsmen's, it's too soon to tell, about whether we should adopt a wait and see attitude on the planned 500 units of which 75 would be classified as affordable with over 1300 underground parking spaces.    

At one point, Ventura Blvd. was required to be widened at the developer's expense by LADOT, but that was before the 1300 underground spaces.   

Hello? Seleta Reynolds, may have to assert jurisdiction and personally revisit the removal of the widening requirement that was intiated with a longtime transportation helper who with the help of a lobbyist, was able to retire just after deciding... no widening necessary.  

Erewhon needs to widen it's aisles as well... because finally the local fatcats have some prices that are befitting a luxury community like Studio City.  $24 for a 12 oz. juice or a pasta sauce with mushrooms. "Bofe."

 

Fifteen Rows of Affordable Housing: 

In a 2015, a report by a private citizen who is sometimes referred to as "the county butt-kicker" found that accountability and transparency were sorely lacking in the City of Los Angeles government, with a City Council who seemed to have contempt for the public and any kind of open process.   

Nury Martinez has capably built on Wesson's multi-pronged approach to denigrate and downplay city council meetings. She has shamelessly upended the meetings into a circus of favoritism including a strange audio-only public comment section. As if the public, who are saavy and on to the council's antics, would not know how to flip on our cameras, like city staff.  

The public are happy to face the city council, want to confront our problems head on, but if we are not afforded the same opportunity as the ITA staff whom we pay to operate our TV cameras and channel 35.... what does that say?  

If the City Council is not going to meet with the public and not going to fill the fifteen front rows that were previously kept taped off for donors, maybe they should be make the space available for affordable housing.  

 

Corruptivus: 

After the Feds were finally expelled from Los Angeles, the city and county actors returned to Grand Park and built a brand new self-promotion apparatus, with lots of ballot initiatives, consultants,  and giant pots of discretionary funding.  

Despite finding only a small bottle of oil that would last a single night at best, and the city's multiple bans on flashlights, petroleum products and vaping, the oil lasted for eight years, giving the council time to prepare complicated legal defenses and keep the flame of their dedication alit.  

Corruptivus is a story about everybody's life turning upside down in a flash, and how the city and county families were able to be resilient and persevere. 

(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)