Will the LA Times Editorial Board Keep Shilling for Billionaire Developers?

CORRUPTION WATCH-The massive multi-billion-dollar fraud behind Los Angeles’ homeless crisis has taken a gigantic leap forward with the LA Times’ multi-part editorial which has one basic solution: give billions more dollars to real estate developers. 

The crimogenic nature of LA City Hall goes unabated. Since I wrote about City Hall’s crimogenic nature in March 2012 (“Hollywood Becomes Fraudywood”) and again on June 26, 2012, “LA City Hall: A Temple to Crimogenics”, the criminal victimization of the disabled, the poor, the homeless and now the rest of Angelenos has grown worse. The most disgraceful display of disinformation and blatantly false information was the LA Times’ recent editorial series on homelessness. The sole ray of hope in the editors’ “Ode to Wonders of Corruptionism,” as explained in the Times’ online California Essential Newsletter, was their admission that the series was written by the editorial staff and not by the news reporters:  

“The Times’ Editorial Board, which is separate from the newsroom, came together to a produce a much discussed six-part series of stories about homelessness this week.” [bold added] (3-4-2018 LA Times’ California Essential.) 

The Mighty Trample the Weak 

The LA Times has always thrown its weight in favor of LA’s richest and against the average Angeleno. With the new ownership by Dr. Soon-Shiong set to begin in a month, perhaps the paper’s shameful legacy of shilling for the most corrupt segment of our society will end. 

In March 2012, I noted, “With the hubris for which the Los Angeles City Council is becoming renown, Garcetti, LaBonge and their gaggle of developer good old boys continued to loot the city treasury. After the years of fraud had been uncovered from the gargantuan financial losses like the $454 million debacle at Hollywood-Highland to the small $1.4 million appraisal fraud for CRA 1601 N. Vine Project, one would think that when billions of dollars will rest on the accuracy of the Hollywood Community Plan, the city would come clean and tell the truth.” Oh, how naive we were.   

Two years later in January 2014, Judge Allan Goodman ruled that the City intentionally used fatally flawed data and wishful thinking to the extent that it subverted the law. Did the City rectify its misconduct? No. Here we are, more than four years later, and the City refuses to issue a new Draft of the Environment Impact Report for an updated Hollywood Community Plan. Instead it relies on the 1988 Hollywood Community Plan which is based on 1970's and 1980's demographic data to justify its continued densification of Hollywood and now the rest of Los Angeles. 

Meanwhile all the ills foretold by my articles in CityWatch are coming true. In fact, in December 2013 a gaggle of civic leaders formed the 2020 Commission warning Angelenos of the city’s steep decline, writing:   

“Los Angeles is barely treading water while the rest of the world is moving forward. We risk falling further behind in adapting to the realities of the 21st century and becoming a City in decline.”  -- December 2013, A Time for Truth

Since his election in 2001, current LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has been promoting his campaign to destroy as many rent-controlled units as possible. The rate is up to 7 RSO units per day making a total of over 24,000 apartments destroyed. If we assume only 2.5 persons per unit, that is 60,000 poor people whose homes have been destroyed. Yet, the LA Times does not think that destroying the homes of the poorest among us contributed to the increase in homelessness. 

As Adam Fowler of Beacon Economics explained it, the City needs more market rate and luxury housing so that the homeless will have a place to live. (Huh ??) Speaking on Channel 4's News Conference, a perennial fountain of disinformation, Mr. Fowler explained that wealthy people are living in older apartments. As soon as the city builds new luxury apartments, the wealthy will move into the new places which will free up the older units for the poor. This is ultra-right-wing Trickle Down economics: tear down the homes of the poor and build luxury units for the wealthy. 

Garcetti’s Sodom, and Gomorrah Inspired Game Plan to Loot the City Treasury 

Step 1: Destroy the homes of the poorest among us, i.e. rent-controlled units. 

Step 2:  Because they are too poor to find new apartments, a significant percentage become homeless. 

Step 3: Do not provide adequate services for the homeless so that they become a nuisance for the residential neighborhoods. 

Step 4: Blackmail the voters into passing billions of dollars of bonds and taxes to “help” the homeless. 

Step 5: Use the bond money for Affordable Housing to subsidize the construction of market rate (luxury) housing under SB 1818 which not only gives a developer tax dollar subsidies but permits him to supersize his project. 

Step 6: After the developer gets and spends the Affordable Housing money, he goes bankrupt and has the Affordable Housing requirement removed from his project so that it can become all market rate units. 

As I reported in CityWatch in January 2018, Will Sunnyslope Bankruptcy Case Put the Brakes on LA’s Affordable Housing Scams?”, the federal appeals court stopped this part of the scam.  

Bats See Better than the LA Times’ Editorial Board 

In discussing the causes of homelessness, the LA Times editors, as opposed to the news staff, did not think that the intentional destruction of the homes of 60,000 poor people played any role in increasing homelessness. While the LA Times is blind to any link between billionaire developers’ destroying those homes and the parallel year-by-year increase in homelessness, it believes that the answer is to construct more high-density housing that will only make billionaires wealthier.   

The LA Times editorial series on homelessness may be the most egregious abuse of its power since the founding of the paper on December 4, 1881.


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.