Sun, Apr

Raging Waters Studio City


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - This Friday, at City Council there will be an opportunity for public comment on all Items on the agenda, regardless of whether or not there was a previously held public hearing.  

Smart Speaker:  You’re welcome.  

On top of the Regular twenty-six-item meeting agenda, there will be an additional eight SPECIAL items for a total of 34 very nice items.  

People adore climate pollution reduction grants, and if we are going to get with the Mayor and her idea that a warren of lobbyists influencing and locking arms with the State crooks is in our interests, then thanks for the ever-increasing State legislative agenda.  

Airport police MOUs and another $6,000,0000 log on the fire of “The Skid Row Housing Trust Properties” ...fire.  Thank you.  

Yesterday, (Wednesday, March 20)  Marqueece Harris-Dawson (CD8), who chairs the Planning and Land Use Committee, ran the “lower his hand” play again.  

He’d just announced that he would take six callers in the queue to address the council.  Since I’d raised my hand early on, I was a shoo-in.   

I was particularly focused on item 4, because several years ago, after being denied a right to speak about the Sportsmen’s project at a special meeting, I sued Mr. Huizar's PLUM and Paul Krekorian's crooked City Council.   

Now, they take comments on all the items on a special meeting agenda.  

On Tuesday afternoon, however, Marqueece Harris-Dawson heard the item in PLUM and after taking some comments, denied three separate appeals to the project.  

Then, again in City Council, Harris-Dawson's signature empty, “Thank you so much."  

Marqueece did it again. Without my knowledge or consent, it was mysteriously lowered after I had dutifully raised my hand to speak.  

One day we will get to the bottom of this scam, but I just hope the stress on the city employees who are repeatedly asked or expected to engage in this kind of discriminatory conduct, don’t team up with the public and sue the bejesus out of the City.   Hope they do! 

Nithya Raman's aide reads it into the record ... 


Coming Friday: 

On Friday, item three, which will be totally and inappropriately off limits, directs, the City Administrative Officer (CAO) to identify funding of $3,840,000 to accommodate the shortfall needed to fund all current projections through March 2024 in outside counsel contracts.   

Increases as follows:  

C143190 Munger Tolles & Olson $1,200,000 

This appears to be $1,200,000 additional on top of the initial  $4,600,000 to fight the Mei Ling lawsuit.

Here, the city is fighting with the US Attorney’s Civil Fraud section… as many of us remember, HUD paid out many millions of dollars for accessible housing here in the United States, and the residents of Los Angeles, did not receive it.  For questions, feel free to reach out to the US Attorney, E[email protected].  

Here are some of the others… 

C138915 Burke Williams Sorensen $405,000 

C138838 Hurrell Cantrall $255,000

C141687 Burke Williams & Sorensen $ 80,000 

C141690 Hurrell Cantrall $335,000 

C141689 Orbach Huff & Henderson $295,000 

C142641 Nossaman $135,000 

C139740 Best Best & Krieger $140,000 

C143733 Shumener Odson & Oh $255,000 

For the scholars, Burke Williams Sorensen briefly defended the City of Los Angeles during an earlier fake lawsuit phase, in the historic rise of the Sportsmen’s Residences and the fall of the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel.   

I’ve been to many PLUM meetings, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson is always exercising his discretion (or something worse) to inadvertently "lose a brother's card." 

This is a reference to the teachings of his sensei, Herbert J. Wesson, who ran a scam wherein he would lose handwritten speaker cards on the way from the rails to his desk via LAPD.  His desk apparently had a hole beneath it. When you objected, he would have LAPD throw you out.  

Unite Here (and here! and here!)

At the Sportsmen’s hearing in PLUM the other day,  UNITE HERE Local 11, Erewhon, the upscale grocery store, and The Studio City Residents Association were all attorney’d up and appealing the approvals sought in item 4 and 5.  

The applicant and arrogant asshole from New York, Midwood Investment & Development, who was lucky enough to acquire a great deal of Hell’s Kitchen in New York when the getting was good, has relentlessly pursued an overbuild in Studio City at great cost and expense to the local residents.  

It’s not enough that the management of the Hotel and the ownership of the property who have quibbled amongst themselves for more than a decade, have manipulated the development process.   

This dirty dirty project, fueled by the bromance of Ambassador Eric Garcetti and Richard Weintraub, before Garcetti’s college chum and bottom feeder, Ben Besley took over, as head criminal is in trouble. 

When I heard “My name is Dave Rand with the law from Rand Pastor Nelson here representing Midwood, the applicant,” I was strangely encouraged.   

Rand is an expert on shitty public benefits printed on documents that are too small to read.  He used to work at Armbruster, Goldsmith & Delvac, effing the public for Mitch Englander, before setting out on his own. Now he has a robust practice effing over communities across the spectrum. 

The Sportsmen’s Lodge Mixed-Use Project includes the development of three above-grade low- to mid-rise mixed-use residential and commercial structures with a common subterranean parking structure on an approximately 8.76-acre (381,430-square-foot) Project Site.  

Smart Speaker:  I move that we amend the project to include the naming of the subterranean parking structure, "The Dave Rand." I believe it’s over 1300 spaces.  

According to Studio City Resdients Association SCRA, at least 10 mature trees will be removed as a result of this project – in addition to 90 mature trees that were previously removed. This is in addition to hundreds of mature trees planned for removal from the nearby Harvard-Westlake project.   

As Mark Pestrella the Director of Public Works knows well, because he was the featured speaker at the Safe Clean Water presentation at the County Board of Supervisors’ meeting this week, hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated run-off water will be captured by the elite private academy to irrigate landscaping.  

The wildlife habitat and foraging opportunities will most definitely be disrupted, but the state-of-the-art stormwater capture system will collect, clean, and re-use stormwater run-off.  [APPLAUSE] 

Smart Speaker:  Quick question, given the recent state of emergency regarding more than anticipated rain totals in a short period, shouldn’t we rethink the worst-case scenarios of building underground parking up and down the raging river?

Higher... goes the river in Studio City.

[Marqueece Harris-Dawson, CD8:  Mr. Preven, this is precisely why we de-select you on a routine basis. We don’t need people putting ideas like mass drowning in the minds of worried Angelenos.  Get Mr. Preven out of here.] 

“This is a historic property that it is very much a Valley institution.” 

“Consider what was written on the hotel's own website. ‘No other landmark hotel in Los Angeles predates the conception of the Sportsman's Lodge’ and the end is yet to be written.” 

The Valley Industry and Commerce Alliance rep, Victor Reyes referred to The Residences at Sportsman's Lodge …as a “transformative project.”  

No word if the recent findings and fines from the Ethics Commission related to the redistricting gasbag lobbyist, Stuart Waldman’s activities for VICA are related to the CD2 / CD4 series of dumpster fires that have been ignited by…  

“The homeless?”  

Smart Speaker:   No, the greedy lobbyists.  And I wonder if the LAFD station on Whitsett will come up with an honest assessment about what a great idea it is (not), to have a surging river adjacent to thousands of underground parking spaces?  

The bleacher seat capacity in the unwanted stadium was reduced from 2,500 to 2,005 so coupled with a smaller garage that has been rightsized from a tasteful 532 to just 403 spaces, this mutha is huge.   

We noted another 145 underground spaces challenged on Arch Drive along the river... 

Edgar Khalatian of Mayer Brown is a "reduced parking" expert.  

Hopefully, Mr. Harris Dawson or Ms. Raman, will ask Mr. Khalatian about the recent extreme weather conditions and whether or not he thinks it is wise to drown up to 1395 + 403 + 145 people in underground parking garages adjacent to the River.  


Liability... runs high! How much underground parking is enough? 

Smart Speaker:  How will 2000 people watch a game with 403 parking spaces?  5 people per car, silly.  So if the rain comes quickly, with 1900 spaces and 5 passengers in each space… this could result in 4,500 very wet motorists... 

“Hello, honorable members I've worked at the Sportsman Lodge as a cook for more than 30 years and I am a member of Local 11 and a resident of the Valley. The conservation of this hotel doesn't seem that it would be an obstruction to building housing in this place.  I don't understand why the quantity proposed can't accommodate it in a different part of the site.  It could result in a mutual benefit as well as the preservation of a historical place as Living units, so please conserve the Sportsman Lodge.’

Discredited, Kevin De Leon (CD14) honoring human rights, fighter & Judge Miguel Angel Galdez. 

“This project could be done somewhere else where you could build the same amount of housing without destroying this hotel.” 

"My name is Jack Kerns, and I'm a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Labor Center which holds the archives of Unite Here and its predecessor unions."  

The lawyer for Unite Here said, “The project's SCEA does not consider the site's importance to labor history and critical importance to the career of Los Angeles Labor Leader Bill Robertson, former Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, and President of HERE Local 694. The Sportsman's Lodge meets the criteria for eligibility in the California Register of Historical Resources for reasons that have been detailed in numerous communications. Instead of demolishing this resource, the hotel should be preserved.” 

More Song, the planning agent said dismissively, "Planning does conclude that there is no merit to any of the appeals."  

He claims the project is compatible with the surrounding community, as it is not significantly taller or denser than existing improvements on the site or in the surrounding area. And the SCIA does appropriately analyze the project's potential environmental impacts and concludes that there will be no significant environmental impacts of any kind, including cumulative impacts and historic impacts. In particular, I will note that Planning has determined that the project site is not a historic resource. 

Smart Speaker:  What about a River surge? 

"This project will produce 78 units of very low-income housing, which by itself alone is already more than many projects that we see in the city in their entirety. " 

Jamie Hall: "The city has refused to allow my client and other interested parties to appeal certain entitlements related to the project. The city has asserted in a letter of determination issued for the project that the decision of the LA City Planning Commission related to off-menu density bonus incentives and waiver and development standards is not appealable. The city contends that its density bonus implementation ordinance does not provide for the right of appeal pursuant to LAMC 12.22A25G3IB. It's quite a citation. The section of this code states the decision of the City Planning Commission shall be final. However, the city has misread its ordinance. This particular code provision only applies to density bonus projects that are not subject to other discretionary actions. 

One lawyer noted, "The SCEA inaccurately refers to the Harvard Westlake Project as only a park and a gym when it's actually a massive athletic facility with two sports fields, an Olympic-sized pool, and tennis courts. Both projects would remove numerous mature trees that provide habitat for sensitive bat species and migratory birds along the river. There are also unaddressed cumulative construction impacts. This project includes 430,000 cubic yards of export, and the Harvard Westlake Project includes another 200,000 cubic yards of export.  

"Further, as proposed, this project allows for extreme deviations from height standards. The current height limit is 30 feet, while this project would be more than three times the limit at 94 feet. Whereas nothing else in the Studio City area is taller than 56 feet." 

"The project also eliminates the mandated transitional height requirements along the LA River. No justification has been provided that such extremely out-of-place high exceedances are necessary for the project to include an affordable housing component, nor does state density bonus law compel such massive height increases." 

Mr. Harris Dawson. Yes, Mr. Lee. Ms. Yaroslavsky. Yes, Miss Padilla is absent and Ms. Hutt. Yes. That's four members and those actions are approved.  

“Thank you so much,  everybody. Hello to the esteemed Mr. Ira Handelman Los Angeles legend. Good to see you, sir.” 

County Enforcement:  

Moderator: our first participant is Eric Preven. You may begin. 

Smart Speaker: Thanks for the safe clean water program. I take note that Teresa Villegas is the chair of the Upper L.A. River Watershed and Karo Torossian is the vice-chair which is where Harvard Westlake School and Studio City are located and, Mr. Pestrella, I've been trying to get a look at their proposed lease because we don't think it's a great idea to put a giant underground parking structure along a surging river but there seems to be some upscale school pushing that agenda.   

I thought someone said how the climate has been changing and we get more water than we’ve been expecting and I agree with the supervisors who said we need to move this program forward, but we have to be safe.  We can’t put housing right up against this L.A. River, the way we originally thought— nobody wants development more than Supervisor Horvath and me along that corridor, but i think we're going to have to rethink it in the interests of public safety. 

Moderator: Your time has expired. Our next participant is Eric Preven.  

Smart Speaker:  Thank you. And this is a complicated issue, of course. The LADOT handles the city citations and enforcement and I think we should remember the "do no harm" edict during the instant housing crisis.  

Also, I think somebody mentioned we are green-lighting like crazy all sorts of housing accommodations with much less parking than we need,  so we're facing a major disaster. And one question I have, is whether this is going to lead toward something which I don't like, which is automated citations where the county government just decides, “Hey, paying all these citation workers, is not that much fun. Why don't we just suck the money directly out of the residents' veins through their chests with a device that we can affix to people from afar?  You know, like a digital funnel. I think it makes more sense to leave parking enforcement with the Sheriff's Department rather than building out Public works. Let's give the Sheriff the $38 million that Pestrella wanted.  This will free him up to fix the mess along the River in Studio City with Harvard Westlake. So shameful.  

Executive Officer: Thank you, next speaker, please. 

Moderator: Our first participant is Eric Preven You may begin. 

Smart Speaker: Thank you, board of supervisors. What a generous board going around trying to make it a little easier for folks, even after they've died, often from parking enforcement-related injuries. Sometimes.  

But I do think it makes sense, and I like the idea of waiving -- well, it was a frothy idea to waive property taxes for people who endured impacts from the storms. The Tax Collector always looks at this carefully and then gives his slightly sad report.  Not much he can do.   And it's good that Mr. Prang is cruising in Sacramento, again.  Because we do need all of our elected officials to be flying around influencing one another.  But as for this item, I just want to say thank you to this board for finally getting this right.  People who lose their loved ones should not have to ask to have the transportation fee waived by the compassionate Medical Examiner.  This is a much better approach and waiving it for everyone will only cost the county about $400,000 a year,  so Fesia, Mrs. Feasibility, will not be too upset. 

Executive officer: Thank you, next speaker, please. 

Moderator: Our first participant is Eric Preven. You may begin. 

Smart Speaker: Thank you. And thank you to the supervisors. Of course, I stand with you against any kind of sexual violence and shout out to your old chum, Patti Giggans, but I wanted to say a word about PREA. The prison rape elimination act.   

It needs to be scrutinized very carefully. When I reviewed it, found it to be an astonishing ripoff and not what you would expect or frankly what we need. To me, it was a series of weird paperwork requirements.  

What we need is safe places for the unfortunate times when people have to be behind bars, which should be increasingly reduced.  And what a shock that that creepy guy Dan Schneider of Josh and Drake.   Reading the coverage in the Hollywood Reporter has been so upsetting. The young man who played Drake was taken advantage of as a kid while working on a string of television hits. It's so upsetting that this was all done with TV network approval, signing off on these scripts — We simply have to do better.  

Executive Officer: Next speaker, please. 

Lindsey P. Horvath, chair: Thank you, Supervisor Solis. I’m so sorry, you -- public comment is concluded. Public comment You can be given services from our constituent (shouting) you're welcome to speak with our constituent assistance team. (shouting) I'm so sorry, the time for public comment is concluded. We need you to conclude your comments. If you would like to speak with someone after the meeting, you can do that but you can't disrupt the meeting. Otherwise, you have to leave the chambers. (shouting) we're not going to arrest you. We're just going to ask you to leave the chambers. Please do so. Please do so, so we can finish the meeting. When we finish the meeting, someone can speak with you. That would be much easier than this back and forth. If you could please wait until the end of the meeting, that would be most helpful. Otherwise, we need you to leave the chambers. this is your second warning. (shouting) I'm so sorry to say this is your final warning. (shouting).   I'm so sorry, someone will be able to help you outside.  

Thank you very much. Supervisor Mitchell? [inaudible] 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions are of Mr. Preven and not necessarily those of CityWatchLA.com.)