Will the City Take Skid Row Residents to Court to Stop Creation of a Skid Row Neighborhood Council?

SKID ROW- For those that don’t know…..YES, last year’s Skid Row Neighborhood Council fight is still a thing … Seriously. 

While the uber-close election (a difference of 60 votes) was a compelling (gut-wrenching for some), local election which made history as the City’s first-ever subdivision election, it has also been a nuisance for others- mainly real estate developers who ultimately wish to rid Downtown LA of Skid Row and then convert it’s “prime real estate” into a completely gentrified “Hipsterville”. 

However, the resilience of Skid Row residents remains strong and with the help of a couple of truth-seeking, independent lawyers, have maintained what some have described as “the utmost of uphill battles”. 

While there are those who believe the Skid Row Neighborhood Council- Formation Committee (SRNC-FC), who is leading the effort to separate from the NC governing body currently-presiding over Skid Row - Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) - is merely exercising it’s “legal rights” but is actually wasting everyone’s time, however those much closer to the case (including the author of this article) know more and know differently…. Not even close to wasting anyone’s time ... The evidence is mountainous. 

With pending litigation in the current stage of this potentially geographic-changing decision, known as a Trial Setting Conference (or TSC), the SRNC-FC has already filed (in August 2018) with the court and also served the City with a 1281-page third-amended Writ of Mandate. This includes numerous “causes of action” and nearly 60 exhibits of documented evidence of a variety of the City’s missteps and violations, which will all come out in a trial. 

For example, e-mails obtained through the SRNC-FC utilizing Public Records Act requests, prove the City’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) violated it’s own election rules by DONE staff themselves personally assisting Blair Besten, Executive Director of the Historic Core BID (Business Improvement District) and member of Downtown’s powerful and influential business sector who also has close ties to City Councilmember Jose Huizar (whose district includes both Downtown’s business interests and Skid Row) to register for the Skid Row election the day after DONE’s-own registration deadline had passed…Talk about favoritism!....Others call it election fraud and/or voter fraud.

(NOTE: There’s SO much evidence against the City that this one little tidbit can comfortably be shared publicly without threat of thinning the gargantuan mountain of evidence against the City.) 

The troubling concern for Garcetti and the City is that there’s SO much dirt that’s going to come to light in a trial, this “Skid Row fight” could be the very thing that negatively clouds Garcetti’s future political aspirations…. And those of Huizar (think: Team Huizar) and others throughout City Hall as well! 

With all this “corruption”-type behavior, which also includes (per additional PRA’s) glaring mistakes made by local law firm Liner, LLP (who abruptly announced their merger with another law firm soon after last year’s Skid Row election [think: three months] which states on the larger firm’s own website that, amongst other things, they “advise governments and other public sector bodies”), the question then becomes, Will Garcetti risk his squeaky-clean image against the irreparable harm to his image by; 

1) Deciding to fight Skid Row residents in court (with taxpayer dollars, nonetheless) who simply want to improve the conditions where they live (of which if Garcetti chooses this direction it literally goes AGAINST the City and DONE’s official “purpose” as defined in the City Charter- Article IX, Section 900- To promote more citizen participation in government and make government more responsive to local needs…); 

2) Having all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that go on regularly inside the walls of City Hall be exposed on Garcetti’s watch, providing jaw-dropping, extended glimpses into backroom politics for all to see as a matter of public record? 

3) Have the political careers of multiple high-ranking City officials be thrown into political turmoil and possibly tarnished beyond repair due to a “Skid Row scandal”? 

The possibilities are endless but the negatives outweigh the positives for Garcetti and the City. 

At last week’s court appearance, the City Attorney’s office requested additional time from the judge to finish compiling all the “discovery” (evidence) the SRNC-FC seeks. The judge granted the City’s request and set the next court date to be in the first quarter of 2019. 

Meanwhile in Skid Row, it was announced last week that a flea-borne Typhus Disease outbreak (which was later upgraded to an epidemic by the LA County Department of Public Health) was detected in Skid Row. 

This is the very instance in which a Skid Row Neighborhood Council’s assistance is greatly needed. 

BUT, the real question is….With it being well-documented that the City has spent MILLIONS of dollars ANNUALLY on it’s homeless tents and encampments sidewalk clean-up program called Operation Healthy Streets, how then could it be possible for a flea-borne Typhus Disease outbreak to occur, which is said (by health officials) can spread in areas that accumulate large amounts of trash which in turn attract rats and other vermin who then attract fleas? 

With the already shocking revelation earlier this year from a report by the City’s CAO (Chief Administrative Officer) that the voter-approved $1.2 billion-dollar Measure HHH which was supposed to provide 10K new homes for homeless people is now on pace to provide 6K, only if all the remaining funding is used solely to build homeless housing … And we all know that won’t happen so Garcetti’s already got GUARANTEED negative press coming … Does he really need any more negativity attached to his name?... And also directly related to homelessness?... And his numerous failed solutions to homelessness? 

But isn’t Garcetti supposed to be compassionate, caring and proud of LA’s diversity.... How can Los Angeles be a “sanctuary city” but so horrible on homeless solutions on Garcetti’s watch? 

Instead of focusing on getting re-elected and/or furthering their political careers, Garcetti, Team Huizar and the rest of our City officials tasked with addressing homelessness across our city have a serious choice to make … And with worldwide high-profile sporting events like the 2028 Summer Olympics, 2021 Super Bowl, 2026 World Cup and LeBron James now in town, Garcetti and the City of Los Angeles better choose wisely because the world will be watching. 

Either challenge Skid Row and homeless residents by knowingly choosing to take them to trial and look extremely anti-homeless or…

 

(General Jeff … Jeff Page … is a homelessness activist and leader in Downtown Los Angeles. Jeff’s views are his own.)

-cw