Development/Gentrification

RECENT MEETING OF THE VENICE BEACH BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT

By John Okulick

Screenshot 2018-05-18 12.42.30

Map of Venice Improvement District.

With well over $3,000,000.00 (three million) dollars in their private account, the property owners association (and I use the term lightly) continued to support Tara “Sara Huckabee” Devine, whose smug posture and rolling eyes continued to stonewall residents of the community. This wannabe political figure, who has lied to residents regarding the exclusion of properties from the BID and its purpose, now thinks the services might start in May. A year and a half from its approval from the city council in violation of its contract with the city. She is the head of a corporation and should be fired for incompetence. “Will there be refunds for the first year”, was asked. Her reply, “It’s up to the city clerk’s office to refund or not.” This is your money being tossed around like a hot potato. Asked about the expenses to date from the BID, she stated that it’s too complicated for you to understand and she could not say where you could find this information. Evasive is an understatement. The board continues to gloat on her lack of accomplishments. It is also revealed that she, who as a paid lobbyist by this board, gave merchants on Abbot Kinney, not property owners, a right of refusal to join the BID, and they refused since they will benefit from others whose property taxes go up for business “improvement”. This is a clear form of discrimination, since others were not given the same options. It also violates the benefits provided assessed property owners. We were told by her and Bonin that we could not, under any circumstances, be excluded, especially residential properties. Residential properties, according to law, receive no benefits from business improvement. So we have been lied to and refused information by this so called non-profit corporation by the lobbyist running it and Bonin defending her.

Other issues mentioned were:

Recovery Costs that the city charges the BID to process the assessments. Devine states that it’s $30,000.00 and city documents state that it’s closer to $80,000.00.

“Basic City Services” – It was also mentioned by the board whether or not “basic city services” would be reduced by the BID. This is another attempt to privatize services like policing and sanitation which will cost everyone more money.

Risk Management – A department that oversees contracts with the city said the liability the BID should have should be reduced from $3,000,000.00 to $1-2,000,000.00. With the recent and ongoing shootings in public areas, stabbings, and increased crime, a lawsuit could easily bankrupt BID funds and hold property owners liable. Devine knew nothing about this.

New Member to Board – A new member was chosen, not elected, in private by the current self-appointed board members. Another example of the non-inclusive nature of these minority property owners to control the lack of oversight. At least she is a woman who is approachable, if not misguided.

$8,000.00+ a Month Office in the heart of Venice. Your tax dollars to make Devine comfortable while she takes money from Westminster school children and teachers, public parks, etc. Devine has no ethics and, like the political lobbyist she is, no concern about the community’s well-being and its future since no one will be able to afford property in years to come.

Removal of Street Lighting paid by Jeremy Weinstein, BID board member and property manager for Larry Fields, Google property. DWP truck removed lighting on the corner of Sunset and Hampton at Jerome’s request. Doing something for Venice?

Special Police Officer for properties only in the BID was mentioned by one of the board members. Then the rest said that it would be good for all of Venice but only available to BID properties. Board member statements suggest a change of mandate to allow BID assets to be used for all of Venice in violation of the State Prop. 218 13D.

No Police Powers – The security guards that patrol the BID properties will have no more authority to enforce municipal codes than you or I or the homeless.

Responsibility to Inform – Devine stated that it was the property owners’ responsibility to ensure benefits are equal to assessments. Devine thinks this is her corporation empowered to do as she pleases. And the city attorney’s office, along with private attorneys possibly paid by the BID, defends her and her civil engineer Edward Hennings on improper procedures creating the BID.

That’s it. The fight for Venice goes on.


Venice Beach

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