There are twenty types of 911 calls LAPD no longer intends to answer. Catalytic converter theft is among them.
Fear not, in the cosplay world of political mailers we still enforce civic order in L.A. and our local candidate is a super heroine bringing the hurt to swarthy criminals lifted from the pages of Nancy Drew.
So says Valley Families for Valley Values, a/k/a LIUNA Local 300, and a quarter million dollar donation.
No candidate has been asked to describe what enforcement measure they would deploy to return law and order to the status quo of 2019. Rick Caruso and Karen Bass weren’t during the Mayoral race and the council candidates aren’t now. That’s just icky and annoying and disrespectful of the Journey We Are All On.
Well, I asked. But who answers? Isaac Kim and Douglas Sierra did. You don’t get $200K money bombs for answering sensible questions. You get the money bomb in exchange for promises to send city business to groups who cut checks.
There’s no bigger business right now in L.A. than Shantytown, Inc. Here in the slushy, swampy pleasure pits of civic contracting and million dollar hand jobs, a quiet point of contention has emerged in the CD 6 Special Election to which few are paying attention: ‘By right’ development, wonk-speak for allowing large projects that pass building code to go forward without community input. Meaning homeless housing near you, like it or not.
Marisa Alcaraz is in favor. As is the Carpenters Union, the IBEW, L.A. Federation of Labor, all of which stand to book lots of business in this way. They’re buying mailers in which Marisa poses with a katana.
She’s foxy fighting! Who’s she fighting? The special interests! Who are they? Bad people! Standing in the way of homeless housingprogress. Not Good Valley people like you, whose love for the Homeless Industrial Complex is so abundant you wouldn’t dare turn the mailer over to confirm who or what is paying for it.
To her credit Imelda murmured an encouraging observation at a recent debate. ‘By right’ hasn’t been fleshed out. No kidding. There’s an issue with teeth. She might have run on that point, really leaned into it, but she or her people went with cosplay.
There are four versions of the Super Imelda mailer and she has grown progressively sexier in each one. There’s some compensating going on.
We embrace fantasy as a cope when the answers to grubby real world problems involve close work and commitment to hard decisions and require the courage to be yelled at by obnoxious people with a vested interest in the status quo.
We love shortcuts. We are a city of enablers with too much money and a supine media. Los Angeles is a self-licking ice cream cone.
I’m thinking of a mailer from homeowners to other homeowners. It would be two words long: Had enough? The graphic would be, well pretty much any random footage from the street scape, but with a strategically placed guillotine in the background.
If only I could get someone to pay for that. Are you there, Elon? It’s me, Van Nuys.
Engaging Los Angeles politics as a citizen or homeowner is to face the limits of patience. I offer a small illustrative example from the Special Election in District 6 to replace Nury Martinez:
Dakota Smith of the Times asked the candidates in a recent forum what the proper staffing level of LAPD should be. Who says we’re not talking about public safety? See, the box is being checked. Look!
In an exercise of pure conjecture, the progressives proffered fake numbers: 9700, 9200, 8500, abolition. None of it mattered. Left unaddressed was the wee inability of the LAPD currently to recruit at all. We are losing 50 officers a month to attrition. The recent Academy class was 27, a number only achieved under relaxed physical standards and lenient background screens following a billboard and online recruiting drive.
So, having installed a Soros D.A. and a Police Chief who banned the Blue Lives Matter flag from all precincts and tolerated a Mayor who literally kneeled before BLM and called them murderers, having de-criminalized theft, assault and civic disorder, having emptied the jails and closed four prisons; having incentivized miscreants to refuse handcuffs and turn any garden variety police encounter into a Jerry Springer-like throwdown for the benefit of social media, Los Angeles is discovering fewer and fewer are willing to sign up and now draws an academy class of 5’3″ single mothers and middle-aged recovered alcoholic ex-cops from the Midwest looking to put hay in the barn for retirement. Six foot 23 year olds with proper upper body strength and cardio fitness? Not so much.
In a reasonable media environment the obvious question would be, if the veterans are taking early retirement or transferring to Idaho and young, fit men are not replacing them, what policy changes do you intend to make? But our world is not reasonable and the Times does not ask. Instead the candidates are invited to play rotisserie baseball and everyone gets a pass.
So let me be the one to say it: an inverted recruitment curve is a bit like eating the seed corn. A city might get away with it for a few years, but the remorseless mathematics of scarcity take over. Los Angeles has reached the inflection point of triaging 911 calls for lack of personnel. Is the iceberg next?
Thomas Andrews, in life as in film, could have been undone by pride as the ships designer. Instead of denying the obvious to save face for a few hours, he persuaded people to board the life boats immediately, sparing hundreds of lives.
This might be a good time to ask: who is our Thomas Andrews? Where is is he? She? They? Public safety is the first obligation of the state. Without it, there is no commerce. Reduced commerce, lower tax base. Fewer stores and restaurants call into question the price point for houses. Zillow beckons. Starlink. Amazon. The frontier. The next great American metropolis may prove a virtual one, where people live on farms and trade direct to consumer beef for solar panels.
I’m an urban guy. I kind of liked my city. In 2019.
Is there no one running for office or holding a position of influence willing to acknowledge our bulkheads have been breached? Perhaps not yet five, but do we really want to put ourselves to the test?
The special election to replace La Nury is in full swing and UpintheValley has reached out to all the campaigns. First to respond is Issac Kim, small business owner, Columbia University graduate, political first-timer, and as it turns out, a neighbor. He joined me at MacLeod for some cheerful talk about purpose-driven politics. Isaac is relentlessly cheerful. We got substantive and he was open about the evolution of his thinking and the elusiveness of certainty in policy questions.
What has surprised you the most so far?
The importance of fundraising. How many people have you heard say “if I were on the council I would do this and I would do that,” but no one actually steps up. No one does it. Now that I am running I understand why. I thought with the short four month window it wouldn’t be as important. But I’ve been blessed to have a lot of volunteers of successful campaigns including from Kenneth Mejias campaign for instance. They came up with the logo of the phoenix encapsulating the rebirth of our district, a fresh start. I don’t want to be for just Asian people.
I want to gain the trust of our community by doing the small things right.
That’s one that rarely gets attended to because the districts are so big.
I would love to expand the number of council seats. To be honest its very hard for one person to help 200-300,000 people, let alone fight corruption. If you could give us your three policy objectives.
My three tiered platform is to redefine the role of council member. To be less political, more of a good and helpful neighbor. The second would be to regain the trust of the community. That’s as simple as having a virtual town hall once a week. Where people don’t want to use the Windows 95 service portal, or their emails aren’t getting a response, they can log in on Thursday evening and speak directly to me about their issues and I will be honest with them. To be clear, a weekly availability to the constituents online?
Yes. The third thing would be to restore the health and well being of the district, that everything from public transportation to climate. If you look around the district, the majority of bus stops don’t have shade. People who take the bus are more vulnerable, frequently older. We can put some shades up at bus stops for them. That’s a low bar. We also should subsidize Wi/FI accessibility for low income people. Do you support ending the eviction moratorium?
A tough one. I did support the one that just passed, in terms of extending it a bit further. But it can’t go on forever. This is the last warning, the last buffer. Its a band aid solution for a lot of people who might have been in trouble. Does someone have the right to get off the bus from Ohio, pitch a tent on the sidewalk, declare residency, start collecting county benefits?
Another tough one. I would have to say yes, but only because I don’t think homelessness is a crime. There may be one off cases, but no one really want to be on the streets. Or they are just different. For the vast, vast majority, they don’t want to be there. Even if they say differently in the moment. Or they tried getting services before and the system let them down. Those might be the people saying they are refusing help at this exact moment. In general no one wants to be on the streets. We built Tiny Home Villages to be compliant with the Boise decision. But they are not being utilized. Can we compel any homeless camper within half a mile radius to accept shelter?
Yes. I would do everything we can to compel them short of forcing them. If carrots aren’t working, what is the stick?
I just don’t think we can force someone into something they just don’t want. On the other other hand there are situations, troublemakers, people doing something totally illegal or causing a lot of trouble . I don’t think you’re going to get them into a tiny home. The more realistic situation is they are taken to a program, a clinic, some mental health facility.
Do you support care courts? The parallel legal system for mental health?
I would have to look into the specifics of that. Theres a local measure to ban sleeping or drug consumption on the Metro system.
I definitely support no drugs or sleeping. I believe the police budget just for the Metro is more than the Metro’s revenue so if they are not enforcing that, if that still an issue, we need to revise that whole budget because its not working. On the issue of crime. Shoplifting up to $950 being de facto legal…
Wow. I didn’t know that. I’ll be honest that is something I never thought of. They go into stores and fill their carts and security lets them walk out. You can’t call the police, they no longer enforce misdemeanors. Would you lower the felony trigger to say, $100?
Yes. Definitely. You can’t stay in business and take a thousand dollar loss every day. We need to set a precedent. People can’t always think that is always okay. That they will always get away with that. It’s a fine balance. We can’t have public safety without the public’s trust. Whether its the police, or whoever it is. we all have to act with reasonability. And if something is unreasonable, like stealing at that level we need to confront that. That will also increase the public’s trust. What is your response to people who would say you are supporting the police, the carceral state. It’s crypto-racist…
I have friends who are cops. They are good people. Do we have shitty examples of bad policing? Definitely. The phrase “de-funding the police” is terrible marketing. I hate even saying the words. I’m not about either expanding or retracting the budget. Like any business, the budget needs a review. A real business will do that to find efficiencies. People like Antoinette Scully want to de-fund.
If you really think you are going to defund the police in the next five years, you’re crazy.
If that’s the headline, is that going to hurt you?
Maybe. But it’s the truth. For people who are reasonable and logical are like: “that’s not happening, that’s not realistic.” Unchallenged rhetoric can have a discretionary effect on policing even if the laws remain the same. Police can just stop enforcing things.
Yes, but I think a lot people who were saying defund the police have changed their rhetoric. For example Eunisses Hernandez, who used to be an abolitionist. She’s changed to lets re-invest. Lets reimagine. Let’s pretend there is a guy standing in the street with his shopping cart, no shirt, no shoes, speaking in tongues, holding a crowbar, blocking traffic. Do you think it’s viable to send a psychological team, rather than the police? Unarmed officials without handcuffs or police powers?
A crowbar could be a weapon, so no. If there is nothing in his hand, then yes. This is one of those things that is discretionary. I’m not saying in all situations don’t send guns.
Looking at the candidates, I see six people sharing the progressive lane, broadly defined. The person who claims the angry homeowner lane is going to take a big chunk of the vote by default. The public is tired of being scorned for expressing normal impulses about disorder.
I understand that. That’s a fair feeling. I think a lot of people do. I see an opportunity for someone who wants to go down that road. But I don’t want to influence you. (laughter)
I think a lot of my stances are semi-geared towards that, but at the same time not. What has surprised me as well is having to re-examine and come to understand what my views really are. Is there anything you’ve changed your mind on since getting in the race?
This might bite me in the butt but I put my foot down on (Ordinance) 41.18. The tag line being homeless people can’t be within 500 feet of the school. Of course its much more overarching than that, but thats what sounds really bad, if you explain it that way. Are you in favor or opposed?
As written now, it’s not allowed. I would actually repeal and replace 41.18, and this is the biggest surprise to myself as well.
I’ve been yelled at by both sides, including my parents, but to be honest, at the end of the day I don’t believe Jesus would kick homeless people off the streets because they are 500 feet from a school.
At the end of the day the data doesn’t support that there is necessarily so much violence and terrible things happening to children due to proximity of encampments. I’ll be honest, it’s the hardest choice I’ve had to make. Los Angeles has had a very fossilized politics for decades. Suddenly this year a DSA breakthrough in the party machine: Hernandez, Hugo Soto-Martinez, and Kenneth Mejia. My question is: are we going Venezuela?
No. I would not say so. What is the reassurance to the middle of the road voter who is wondering what the hell is going on? Why doesn’t it matter that DSA people are winning?
Why doesn’t it matter? For starters I don’t consider myself DSA at all. I’m a small business owner. Walking into some of these union endorsements, I’m like, “well I’m not getting this one. I’m walking into hostile territory but I’m here.” The left and the right, it’s just emotional. You say one thing that might make sense and they hate you for being you. I thought I was a moderate Democrat, but when I reflect on it issue by issue it turns out I’m positioned as progressive, and to be fair, that sort of comes as as surprise to me. It’s a process of self-discovery. We need to chill the f— out. Build relationships. Talk to people who don’t agree with you. You might surprise yourself. That’s the attitude we all need to move toward, especially now.
If you want to know who rules you, ask who you are not allowed to criticize. If the last three weeks in Los Angeles have taught us anything of our meticulously curated hierarchy of intersectional grievance, Mike Bonin, westside councilperson and Injured Gay Parent™ stands at the top. His tears are his megaphone.
Dabbing theatrically, he had a prescription for setting things right. To ameliorate the grievance suffered at the mouth of Queen Nury, the banished witch, the good citizens of L.A. needed to vote in a slate of progressive candidates. Then he named them, one by one. On live local TV.
All DSA or DSA-endorsed people.
We are asked to pretend this is about Doing The Work of this Journey We Are All On, and not, you know, a City Council coup, a brass knuckled back room putsch.
In January, before the timely intervention of County Clerk Dean Logan (an act of bureaucratic grace extended seven months later to George Gascon) Bonin was on the verge of being recalled.
Now he’s dictating terms to the rest of us for after he leaves. Starting with demanding the additional defenestration of Kevin De Leon who said nothing which merits resignation. A man whose political crime was one of being changuito adjacent on a surreptitious recording.
The recording, over a year old, was held in reserve until it would trigger two special elections, favorable to the left. A thunderous silence, a journalistic incuriosity bordering on senility, hangs over its provenance.
Now the BLM/DSA mobs are camped in front of De Leon’s house in Eagle Rock with laser pointers, giving the full Kavanaugh treatment, demanding capitulation. How many times must he be told to resign? wonders the Times. They can’t get their heads around this defiance, this bucking of the pecking order.
For 30 years Harold Meyerson predicted a Los Angeles run by a critical mass of Latino labor. The mass was achieved decades ago yet Latinos remain underrepresented on the Council, four seats out of fifteen, two of which are about to be decapitated to satisfy the demands of a coalition of gentry liberals and Gen Z socialists. Progress! It only seems like an obvious turn of events in retrospect.
Herein the elusive dividing line is laid bare. On one side: essential labor, working class striving. On the other: the laptop class and young people with too little wisdom and too much time on their hands.
Wokeness launders privilege. You end up with the absurdity of people in $1.5 million houses in Glassell Park decorating their yards with signs for Eunessis Hernandez, who supports the abolition of the police department. You end up with anti-gentrifiers picketing Dunsmoor restaurant because it has $23 lentils on the menu, while ignoring the massive tip pool it creates front and back of house down to the busboy who works double shifts on Sunday and banks a $3000 check.
The road to working class uplift is paved with bougie lentils. The road to civic perdition is paved with language police but no law and order.
Can’t believe I’m writing this, but hang in there, Kevin de Leon, you corrupt ambitious political hack. Apres toi, le deluge.
In 1987 Ruth Galanter was nearly murdered by a transient on her front porch in Venice weeks before a special election for city council. In a moment of public sympathy, she would become the last non-machine candidate to gain office in Los Angeles at any level, for the next 35 years.
Elections have become entirely pro-forma. The Democratic Party selects the candidate internally, funds her lavishly against token opposition, do-gooders and neighborhood gadflies who offer themselves as road kill so Angelenos can tell ourselves we are not North Korea.
Termed limited pols leapfrog to a different legislative body representing the same district, from city council, to state assembly, to Congress, and back, inverting the normal democratic arrangements of selection.
As an illustration of dynastic politics, here’s my state Senator Bob Hertzberg, at a staged photo op with his son Daniel and hand-picked replacement. Bob is rotating over to the Board of Supervisors next year. Daniel is rotating into Dad’s warmed legislative seat. Do I have a choice in the matter? Depends on how we define “choice”. If Twitter de-platforms me, I have the choice to build my own social media network. It’s a free country and nothing but a billion dollars in capital is standing in my way.
Thus we have been governed in my beloved Los Angeles, long before Mrs. U and I arrived with our possessions piled in the back of my pickup truck like the Clampetts.
Enter the black swan. Changito-gate. If you’ve been anywhere near media this week, you already know the jist.
Nury Martinez, my Nury, longtime foil of Mr. UpintheValley, has been elevated overnight to national villain status -Trumpified- and is on the chopping block along with Kevin DeLeon. The White House itself just called for her resignation. Suddenly, Van Nuys is the center of American politics. Who knew?
Lost in the woke posturing is the actual scandal of the recordings: pols carving up their own districts, hand selecting voters. Also, the obsession with assets, like the airport and the Budweiser brewery, which can be leveraged for donations. You have to squint pretty hard to find the outrage over that. But “negrito”? Oof. Ecstasies of sanctimony. To the guillotine with her! But first, everyone must listen to the Oaxacan Peoples Band bleat discordantly in front of City Hall in response to being insulted as short, dark and feo by la Nury who is now somewhere in seclusion, sprouting a white streak in her hair and gassing puppies.
Here’s the thing. Black people call Asian merchants Ling-Ling and white folks Opie and Becky, and do so without apology. People on the alt-right refer to Central Americans as squatemalans. Butch gays refer to swishy gays as extra. Mestizo culture has an elaborate pecking order based on skin tone, with Jorge Ramos and the pneumatic telenovela blondes at the top and Oaxacans off-screen, sitting at home watching. White people have constructed a caste system based on educational pedigree and cultural signifiers that places TheNew Yorker subscribers at one end and Southern Baptists at the other.
In unfiltered settings people always tell on themselves.
Spike Lee nailed intra-ethnic insults around the time Ruth Galanter was elected. Watching this clip is to pay a visit was a whole other America, refreshingly truthful. Also an entirely different Spike. I kinda miss that guy.
Assume all ostentatious offense to be cover for other things.
The real question would be who made the recording and sat on it for a year? Qui bono, who was the Brutus in the room? Gil Cedillo, already a lame duck (and whose comments are the least damaging) has the least to lose. But I don’t think it was him. What does he have to gain? It’s a murky play.
I think it was a staffer. With a socialist agenda.
Here’s who has an entire city to gain: the DSA cadres in waiting. Changito was not first black swan of 2022. In July, baby socialist Eunisses Hernandez eliminated Cedillo in the primary on a platform of police and prison abolition and a permanent extension of the eviction moratorium. She prevailed by several hundred votes corralled by activist ballot harvesters after Election Day. It’s called E+7 voting, and it was quietly enacted this year. Get used to it, all close races will be decided this way going forward.
That’s one seat. They already have Nithya Raman in district 4. There’s two. Hugo Soto-Martinez is running in CD13. Erin Darling on the Westside. That’s four. Kenneth Mejia, twice endorsed by the Times, is the odds on favorite to be Controller. Add two special elections next year for the Martinez and DeLeon seats and that’s a potentially solid caucus for Venezuelan governance. No evictions. No law enforcement. Fungible private property rights.
Rick Caruso, here is your moment. If you really want to be mayor, defy expectations and side with the principles of privacy and free speech, and remind the city that no one is a virgin. Predictably, he is calling for resignations all around. His plan for winning the Latino vote is to demand Latinos surrender 3/4 of their representation on the City Council in the name of cancel culture.
Billionaires, hacks and socialists. Given the choice, I might stick with the hacks, grasping self-interest, potty mouth and all.
Bossy McBossypants, your moment is now. Remember July? You were against the ropes. Your year of telling everyone what to do was at an ebb. You were being shooed away like a covey of annoying birds. A scold of Karens, ignored.
Now we will be made to listen, won’t we?
The City Council is set to pass an ordinance this week requiring patrons to show proof of full vaccination at indoor areas including restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, convention centers, card rooms, museums, malls, play areas, spas and salons in the city beginning Nov. 4.
A passport in all but name, as a condition of enjoying the fruits of the city.
“No one is forcing anyone to get vaccinated,” Nury Martinez said. “But if you don’t, there are certain things you will not be able to do without showing proof of vaccination.”
“Venues can be issued a citation for not implementing the requirement, and may be fined $1,000 for a second violation, and even more for subsequent violations, according to the city’s ordinance.”
Say hello to the little commissars eagerly bursting forth, like the Lorax from the tree stump.
Perhaps this would be a good time to consider:
Los Angeles County is 77% vaccinated. Among those aged 50+ the rate is 85%. Add another ten percent for people who have recovered from infection and we have achieved the herd immunity threshold, historically. But, as with all things Wuhan, the normal rules are suspended.
If you are vaccinated, the un-vaxxed pose little threat to you. As in, a 0.004 percent chance of hospitalization.
Children are not at risk, full stop.
All the vaccines have a problematic safety record among younger vaxees. The danger of the jab, while statistically remote, exceeds the danger of the virus itself in, say, a healthy 25 year old.
Natural immunity has proved stronger, and less leaky, than the vax. Requiring America’s most immune people be injected with an unproven drug for which one is obliged to sign a waiver exempting the manufacturer from a lengthy list of side effects including myocarditis, has no sound basis in science and places Los Angeles in direct conflict with the Nuremberg Code.
The question we might ask ourselves is: why now? This is the finish line. Caveat: yes, there are people refusing to vax, who, given their health profile would be wiser to do so and may pay with their lives. This is their right in a free society. Despite what we are told they have not overwhelmed the healthcare system. The Delta wave is receding after two months, the typical timeline for a viral wave in every locale on Earth. It is the nature of infection. Each subsequent wave will be smaller. Wuhan will be endemic but manageable. There will be never be zero cases.
Unless of course the vaccines prove useless against subsequent mutations, in which case why are they mandated at all?
Why the biomedical police state?
Some people just love, love, love the new dispensation, safety being but a pretense for the really fun part: standing atop the parapet wearing the epaulets of emergency powers. Kathy Hochul, the placeholder Governor of New York, has given herself the authority to fire 100,000 un-vaxxed health workers and replace them with the National Guard. In the middle of a nursing shortage.
Why would 100,000 nurses, of all people, refuse the vaccine? It’s worth considering.
For now, the mandates are pandemic-based. This won’t last. Once the architecture is loaded on your phone, the passport will extend to other things entirely. So get ready for perpetual crisis theater. The clerisy has learned it can do whatever it desires when America Is In Crisis™. Who would stop them? Not the Times or CNN.
If gun control can be rebranded as a public health issue, then so has ‘racism’ and ‘transphobia’, however the nanny state chooses to define those terms. If the CDC can bar landlords from evicting non-payers of rent, then healthandsafety has no limiting principle.
A Chinese social credit system begins here, in exactly this newly claimed space. Anything our betters don’t care for will be loaded into it. Participation in society will be contingent on affirming things we may not believe.
If that sounds a bit hyperbolic please consider all the things in recent memory that were never, ever going to happen, except, well, maaaybe a decade from now, only to come true in under a year. Tell it to all the people de-platformed from Twitter and YouTube. De-monetized. Banned from banking services.
No one’s “being forced”, remember, only being denied entry to as many things as possible in Los Angeles, America’s best governed city.
Which is why, as a fully vaxxed person, I will not partake of the mandate nor carry the passport, and won’t do so even when conveniently embedded on my phone. Convenience is the road to perdition.
Last week I passed an opportunity to see James McAvoy in the National Theater adaptation of Cyrano. That hurt. It means I’m not seeing going to see Tannhauser and Aida at the LA Opera. It means, if the council resolution passes, I will be quitting my membership at LA Fitness after 20 years.
So where will my discretionary spending go? To Hermosa. To Santa Monica. To Culver. To Playa. To any city that will have my consumer dollars, the only means I have at present to assert my foundational liberties.
How will that help Los Angeles? It won’t. Those cities will prosper from our foolishness in the same way they have for decades. It’s worth noting the one element they have in common: populations under 100,000. Elected officials have to answer the phone in Hermosa, unlike here. Freedom doesn’t begin in Utah, it can be found just across the city limits.
It’s why Amazon Studios are in Culver and Disney and Yahoo are in Burbank and Skechers is based in Manhattan Beach. Why Mattel and Rocketdyne are in El Segundo. Why 99 Cents Only is based in Commerce and Avery-Dennison is in Glendale. The satellite communities of L.A. aren’t run by ignorant grasping hacks.
Meanwhile, in another America, getting further and further away from us by the day:
America’s primal yawp sounds like Metallica. It doesn’t wear a mask, nor require a passport and is rather altogether joyful. This is us, in sixty seconds. This has been us all along. Yes, even in Los Angeles.
If we build it, they will come. If we fund it, they will stay. If we tell them there shall be no rules about flammables, there will be five encampment fires a day.
We are four decades into abatement schemes and the more money we throw at the favela, the greater the number of tents we have, the larger the encampments. We have multi-story structures now, cobbled out of scrap wood and plastic, kitted out with big screen TVs and slash pools, generators and barbecue grills. We spend a billion dollars a year now in LA County, not including police and fire, to service the unhoused. Let’s call it what it is: a business, an industry, farming people like a crop.
Ugly metaphor? Perhaps. Inaccurate? You tell me.
Here is the Raymer Street pedestrian bridge, an ADA compliant right-0f-way for students atttending Fulton Middle School. This is what 11-year-olds have to walk through twice a day. At either end people smoke crack openly, within grabbing distance of passerby. This state of nature has been in place, uninterrupted, for over a year.
Would you let you kid walk here? Probably not. This is known as adverse possession. A public conveyance now belongs to the favela, managed by Homeless, Inc., the key participants whom feed off the giant tit known as the City of Los Angeles, then go home to sleep in the neat orderly satellite cities like Glendale, where no one is allowed to camp or park overnight.
Don’t look now, but change might be brewing in Los Angeles. In July the City Council quietly altered Municipal Code 41.18 as follows:
“The ordinance prohibits sitting, sleeping, and keeping belongings within ten feet of a driveway or loading dock, within two feet of a fire hydrant, or in a way that obstruct sidewalks or right-of-ways. It also gives council members the ability to flag encampments near sensitive sites in their districts—daycares, schools, parks, libraries, freeway underpasses and on ramps—without establishing a blanket ban on camping in those places. Enforcement in those locations can’t take place until the City Council has reviewed the location and voted to approve action being taken.”
Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the ordinance, says it gives he and his counterparts the freedom to “take action as deemed appropriate” when a problematic encampment has been identified in a sensitive area.
Yay, fiefdoms! Mr. UpintheValley approves.
There are two interpretations of 41.18: it’s either A) Kabuki theater, unenforceable by design. What is the criteria for “obstruction”? If its statutory, why should each eviction require a vote? I see opportunity for the Council to masquerade as responding to public outrage while pretending their hands are tied by others.
Or B) Leverage. 41.18 has usable teeth and each council member will now have the ability to establish how much chaos will be tolerated in his/her district, and act accordingly. Nury Martinez, in theory, could turn Van Nuys into the Glendale of LA by enforcing anti-camping laws within her district. Mike Bonin can continue to hand over the beaches and parks to temporary™ housing solutions and answer to his voters. Performance discrepancies between districts will no longer be off-loaded to “systemic complexities” of the issue.
Self-responsibility is not a burden I see the council taking on willingly. So I suspect the answer was going to be A. Or would have until recently.
Now there is a wrinkle. A big one. The recall elections in District 4 and 11. Don’t know about Nithya Raman, but Bonin might be toast. I work his district every weekend and hear the loud talk of people determined to speak freely and to cast ballots in anger.
There are lots of angry homeowners in the Valley as well, but we are too busy subdividing amongst ourselves over Trump or BLM or personal grievances to organize. Besides, who would listen to us? Venice eats up all the good press.
Tellingly, the last non-machine candidate elected to the City Council was also from Venice, Ruth Galanter in 1987. Since then, the uniparty has gone approximately 120-0 in local races. With dominance comes disregard. The recalls might alter that calculus.
About thirty years ago a revolution took place in urban policing, beginning in New York. Precinct captains were required to stand in full dress before their peers and answer for the crime stats in the neighborhoods under their watch. No longer could one shrug: don’t blame me. It’s Snake Plissken country out there.
It’s time for each Councilmember to be made the sheriff of his district.
The most impactful structural changes come in under the radar. Has anything done more to increase housing supply within the zoning footprint of LA without distorting residential neighborhoods than the ADU law? It has added to the tax base, put additional equity onto homeowners balance sheets and didn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.
If successful, the Recalls + 41.18 might, might, set in motion an era of accountability. What a delicious irony it would be if the first blow against the machine occurred as an expression of tribal solidarity by upscale white liberals.
*Historical photos courtesy of LA Herald-Examiner Collection
Suppose we were to have a civil war in L.A. Suppose the breakaway provinces north of Mulholland Drive declared a sovereign city. Suppose the armies assembled in the Sepulveda Basin for the first pitched battle, Blackwater vs. the Valley Militia. Suppose after sustaining heavy losses to sniper fire Mayor Garcetti called in a napalm strike from the air to give his Hessians cover to retreat.
My question is: would the result look different than what the homeless army has done to the Basin this summer?
If I want to camp in a state park, I have to purchase a space and obey a long list of prudential diktats. Squatting in dry brush with a gas grill and a crack pipe would be at the top of the NO list.
The line between civilization and a state of nature is drawn with butane.
And unlimited EBT cards.
And the right to shit on the pavement forever.
And loot store shelves.
And break windows.
And step off a bus from Ohio with a heroin habit, a bedroll, and an incontestable claim to residency.
All this is de facto legal now.
In fact, it’s a billion-dollar-a-year business.
Want to guess the budget for the Valley Audubon Society?
Enough gloom. Let’s take a peek on the other side of the dam. Something seems to be happening on the spillway. Some kind of roller skating party. A clandestine meetup of photographers and models and dance troupes. That’s not allowed! No one is supposed to be there.
Breaking the rules, all of them. Until the park police chase them away, it’s all spinning girls and illicit smiles and the possibility of the city reclaimed from those who stole it from us.
He was a bottom feeder, a man without talent. He plied the tourists on Hollywood boulevard for tips. When I crossed paths with him five years ago, his costume was visibly grungy, like he’d slept in it for days. He hassled me for money for taking his picture. I hadn’t been. He just happened to walk through the frame as I photographed a mural. He was missing teeth. He looked exactly like what he was, a meth-head impersonating his former self impersonating a comic book hero, badly.
Earlier in his two decades on the boulevard, Christopher Dennis looked the part. He had the length of bone, the jawline, an aquiline nose topped off with dyed black hair to evoke a reasonable facsimile of the DC comics version of the Man of Steel. Padding filled out the suit. By the end, he looked like Superman down to his last 50 T-cells.
During the descent, he managed to wrangle appearances on Late With Jimmy Kimmel and the Morgan Spurlock documentary Confessions of a Superhero.
He claimed to have lost his costume and his front teeth in a mugging. Crowdfunding appeals raised money for him to get his cape back and fund a web series about his life, neither of which materialized. He told different stories to different people to explain his circumstances. Sometimes he would be slumped in the street, in a fugue state, babbling to himself, drawing in his notebook. His decline was covered with uncritical sympathy by local media, heavy on the passive voice, always with appeals for assistance, as though his schtick was worthy of the character he was feeding off. His life became a meta-hustle of the public for the means to return to hustling the tourists for drug money.
Naturally, he ended up in Van Nuys, on Nury Martinez’s Skid Row North™.
Last week his body was discovered in a Goodwill collection bin. He had climbed inside seeking to pilfer donated clothes. This is his last known photograph, from the website People Helping People LA.
If you’re not sensing much sympathy for a dead man, I’ll tell you a story. I picked up a stand-up comic at the Orange Line station not long ago, on his way home from a gig in NoHo. I’ll call him Doug. He’d been working out new material, he said. After much trial and error, he found a way to make it click. He killed his set, and now he was treating himself to an Uber ride home. Not that Doug had been paid anything for his work on stage. Normally he would walk the two miles up Van Nuys Blvd. to his garage apartment off Saticoy. But tonight, on such a high, to navigate Nury’s Living Room for the walking dead, that would be asking too much of himself. It would call into question his entire life in LA.
Doug was avoiding Christopher Dennis, whose superpower was self-indulgence. I turned the app off and gave him a ride the rest of the way home for free. It was the least I could do.
Los Angeles runs on guys like Doug, who keep the cocktails flowing and the cash register ringing to pay the headliner. It takes balls of steel to get onstage and do original material. You can’t hide behind a cape. Even modestly successful road comics end their careers unmourned and little remembered.
That’s Sandy Baron second from left in a still from Broadway Danny Rose, Woody Allen’s sweetest work and a tribute to those on the fringes of show business. Sandy started in the Borscht Belt, and would have faded from pop culture right about here, in a cameo role at the Carnegie Deli, and probably died broke, were it not for this:
His turn as Jack Klompus was so successful Seinfeld brought the character back in five episodes, and Sandy got to spend his final years in notoriety, with some extra money in his pocket. He passed in 2001 in a nursing home in, where else, Van Nuys.
The upper picture was taken in April. The second one I took at the open house last week. That’s framing to Zillow in two months. This ain’t your grandmas accessory dwelling unit. Granny flats will be granny-free in three years. Sooner, perhaps. For this kind of rent money, people will let her sleep on the living room couch.
In its own halting way, Van Nuys is going Sherman Oaks. Sherman Oaks is going West Hollywood, which is going Tokyo.
In a related development, one of my neighbors put new siding on his house.
And the City of Los Angeles chipped up some perfectly good wheelchair ramps and filled them back in again. Because the money has been appropriatedprogress.
Ask the city for basic beautification and neighborhood street lighting and you will be told there is no money at all. The City is broke. Broke! The field deputies rattle their chains of poverty the way my mother used to wail over her $100/month land payment. But when it comes to Keynesian ditch-filling stimulus, the bucket of Monopoly money is bottomless.