Archive for jan perry

Central City Association, Jan Perry and DTLA 1% threaten Skid Row Residents…with Arrest?

Posted in video with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2012 by Cangress

Last week, on November 8th, LA CAN members again protested outside the Orpheum Theater during the Central City Association’s second mayor candidate breakfast. This time the CCA was hosting Councilmember Jan Perry – and, this time, CCA and the Downtown LA 1% called in the LAPD to try to shut us down.

After trying to silence the free speech rights of Skid Row residents by stating that we were “disturbing the peace”, we were informed by LAPD that the individuals inside the meeting – business leaders, Central City Association members, etc. – were going to arrest us. Please watch the video above to see just how it went down.


Business Community Appears to Believe Lies and Fearmongering Can Trump Constitutional Rights – Yet Residents Demand that the City do the Right Thing

Posted in civil rights, grassroots policy, human & civil rights, organizing, press coverage, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 2, 2011 by Cangress

Unfortunately, since the recent preliminary injunction decision that forbids the city and its agents from seizing and/or destroying the private property of homeless people living in Skid Row (blog post), misinformation and questionable journalism has continued to suggest that this injunction is the reason why trash and other health and safety concerns have escalated throughout the community.

At first it was local blogs and the likes of Estela Lopez (ED of the Central City Association) and City Councilmember Jan Perry who were perpetuating false information. Then this week a problematic article by Christina Hoag of the Associated Press was picked up by newspapers across the country. According to Hoag, since the court’s decision, “the streetscape has deteriorated. The number of people sleeping on the street has jumped at least 30% since June because they can leave mattresses and tents on the sidewalks.”

A recent piece from the LA Weekly blog even went so far to say that trash and belongings have begun to “pile up Third-World style” to the point that “trash and the belongings of homeless have festered on the row between Los Angeles and San Pedro streets, between Third and Seventh streets.” 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Let this be clear: there is nothing about the injunction that prevents the city from cleaning up trash in the community. They have, however, continued to use this as an excuse for not doing their job.

In fact, community residents recently voiced their concern about trash being neglected by the city to the office of their councilmember, Jan Perry. And it appears that those meetings worked. Since last week, the clean up crew seems to have resumed cleaning the streets – something conveniently omitted from any recent media articles.

In contrast to the degrading descriptions of our community promoted by the business community, the photos above (taken November 1) support LA CAN’s position that it is completely possible for the city to both respect the property of individuals while also doing their job of cleaning the streets. They also reveal that belongings are not piling up “Third-World style.” Rather, they show that the vast majority of personal belongings on the street during the day are neatly organized, often times covered, and placed tightly against against an wall/fence and away from the street.

This month-long media blitz seems to be the business community’s attempt to influence the court appeal process – the City’s appeal to the injunction is currently pending.  It is in their interest to perpetuate the myths that this injunction has created a “third-world” environment, so that the injunction will be overturned.  We hope that the fearmongering of the business community won’t trump the constitution, as the courts have ruled over and over to protect homeless residents’ right to possess property – no matter where they live.

We ask why would the City supported by downtown business interests (or vice-versa) want so badly to be able to have the right to steal people’s personal property?  If the City and business community supported the right to housing, invested in real solutions, and stopped wasting our police and legal resources to fight for the right to steal and destroy people’s things – there wouldn’t be a problem with property on our sidewalks, because people would store their belongings in their own homes.  We will continue to fight for this reality.

Jan and Estela – Quit spewing Garbage and just Pick up the Trash

Posted in civil rights, human & civil rights, press coverage, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 28, 2011 by Cangress

“A Legal Rulings Unfortuante Impact: June Decision Turns Skid Row Sidewalks Into a Health Hazard
Op-Ed by Estela Lopez, Executive of the Central City East Association (Los Angeles Downtown News August 26, 2011)

“Injunction and Growing Encampments Bring Health Fears on Skid Row”
by Eric Richardson, ( October 26, 2011)

The recent chatter regarding the impacts of a Preliminary Injunction ordered by Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge, has been one big ball of MISINFORMATION.

As background, in June Judge Gutierrez found that the City of Los Angeles was in fact violating the rights of homeless people living in Downtown Los Angeles by seizing and destroying their personal property. The violation(s) happened in a number of ways including confiscation of property directly from homeless people and seizing property that was left unattended for short periods of time. (Click HERE to read the decision).

As such, the courts PRELIMINARILY ENJOINED THE City and its agents from doing the following:

 1. Seizing property in Skid Row absent an objectively reasonable belief that it is abandoned, presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime, or contraband; and
2. Absent an immediate threat to public health or safety, destruction of said seized property without maintaining it in a secure location for a period of less than 90 days.

The City was also directed to leave a notice in a prominent place for any property taken on the belief that it is abandoned, including advising where the property is being kept and when it may be claimed by the rightful owner.

The intent of the order is very clear and is consistent with constitutional and California law. More important, however, it in no way, shape or form, instructs the City of Los Angeles to stop picking up trash—but stop collecting trash on a consistent basis is exactly what they have done. As a response to this action, the strategy on the part of the City and the Central City East Association appears to be to point fingers at “said” trash and say that it is the judge’s fault. Why? To hopefully influence the appellate court to see things their way.

In a recent conversation with Central Bureau Deputy Chief Jose Perez , he unabashedly confirmed the obvious: that LAPD and other city agencies were in fact not picking up trash because the decision prevented them from doing so, which, of course, is a straight out non-truth. Now, you have City Councilmember Jan Perry parroting new nonsense about health risks that have been created as a result of the decision and some bogus business about a process needing to be created that instructs people to move their PERSONAL PROPERTY so that the sidewalks can be cleaned.

For the record:

  • The LAPD HAS NOT lost their ability to enforce laws prohibiting appropriate sidewalk access.
  • The judgment DOES NOT prohibit LAPD from taking property that   presents an immediate threat to public health or safety, or is evidence of a crime.
  • The judgment DOES NOT prohibit the City from cleaning the streets and sidewalks.
  • The City of Los Angeles HAS an obligation to keep the streets and sidewalks clean for the health and enjoyment of all residents.

Lastly, the current situations regarding personal property and trash in Central City East represents an immature bureaucracy hell-bent on denying the rights of downtown’s poorest residents for the sake of a few. Most passersby will quickly realize that most residents in downtown have a stringent routine (some of the routine is based on ordinances that forbid standing, sleeping, or sitting on public sidewalks during the hours of 6:00am – 9:00pm) whereby personal property is neatly stored and areas cleaned up first thing in the morning.

So, we must ask, what are Lopez, Perry, and similar groups really after?  Clearly they are more concerned about winning their appeal of the decision and getting “permission” to steal and destroy people’s personal property than they are about ensuring a clean and safe community for ALL residents.

“A million dollars of tax payer money that could help the poor – why is it going to one of the world’s largest architecture firms?”

Posted in community connection, education, politics, Uncategorized, video with tags , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by Cangress

As first reported in the LA Weekly, LA Times, and the Community Connection a few months ago, Gensler – an architecture firm that made over $450 million in profits last year – is set to receive $1 million of public money to move their offices from Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles.

If this wasn’t bad enough, the deal – facilitated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – involves taking away from federal community-development block grant funds that are earmarked for City Council District 9, which includes Skid Row. These funds are supposed to assist in homeless services, serve low-income individuals, and/or address an urgent need. Instead, they are being used to subsidize the office move of one of the richest architecture firms in the world.

Last week, CBS2 did a investigative report on this:

A few days after this report, Steve Lopez wrote a column on the Gensler Million. The article is embedded below. It can also be found at the LA Times Website.


Why does a thriving business need a $1-million handout?

To lure an architecture firm to downtown L.A. from Santa Monica, the city helped get it $1 million in federal funds with the promise of new jobs. In fact, the firm is required to add only 29 positions.

October 08, 2011 | Steve Lopez

In tough times, with stiff competition for scarce public money, how did a thriving multinational company manage to win more than $1 million in tax dollars to move its local headquarters from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles?

It was a piece of cake, thanks to the help of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and two people who’d like to be the next mayor — Councilwoman Jan Perry and former jobs czar Austin Beutner.

The contract is now being completed by city officials, and the high-powered Gensler architecture firm — which designed L.A. Live and the proposed downtown football stadium and is a partner in the design of the new Broad Museum — is preparing to load up the trucks and move east on the 10 Freeway.

The public handout will include a three-year holiday from the city’s gross revenue taxes — a deal the city offers to relocating companies, and one that could save Gensler hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That would have been enough, you’d think, and hard to argue with. But city officials also paved the way for Gensler to receive a $1-million Community Development Block Grant, a federal program that historically has focused on stimulating economic growth and housing in low-income communities.

Gensler, with headquarters in San Francisco and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues, will use the $1 million to reconfigure its cushy new digs in a building on Flower Street known as the “Jewel Box.” The space sits above Drago Centro and Chaya Downtown, two of the swankiest restaurants in the city.

Finally, an economic stimulus package to encourage $50 lunches and $100 bottles of wine.

To qualify for the grant, all Gensler had to do was promise city officials and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that it would create new jobs, with 51% of them going to people currently defined as low- to moderate-income.

Thousands of jobs? No.

Hundreds of jobs? Not exactly.

Gensler said it hoped to add 110 new jobs to the 300-plus that it’s moving downtown. But the program requires only one job per $35,000 of public money. That works out to just 29 jobs, and only 15 of them have to go to low-income people.

Is that a good use of your tax dollars — a million bucks for fewer than three dozen jobs?

Absolutely, Villaraigosa, Perry and Beutner say. Villaraigosa said he would have preferred to limit the grant to $700,000, but he isn’t bashful about taking credit for poaching Gensler, claiming the company will create millions in revenues.

Let’s back up, though, and take a look inside the sausage factory, something that is possible thanks to strings of emails and other documents dug up by the Legal Aid Foundation, which tried unsuccessfully to derail the grant. The law firm, acting on behalf of L.A. Can, a skid row nonprofit, argued that there are far greater needs in the homeless capital of the United States than remodeling prime real estate for one of the country’s most prosperous architecture firms.

Our story starts with the Thomas Properties Group, a major downtown player, which owns and manages a ton of property. Including the Jewel Box.

Late on the evening of Nov. 17 last year, Thomas executive Ayahlushim Getachew sent the following email to Marie Rumsey, an aide in Perry’s council office.

“Do you have any available block grant available at CDD for a really great opportunity in the 9th? What do you think?” said the email, referring to the city’s Community Development Department and the 9th Council District.

Rumsey responded early the next morning.

“It is a bit of a longshot but possible,” she wrote. “What do you have in mind?”

“Confidentially,” Getachew replied, “Gensler just agreed to move their corporate headquarters to our building. We are quickly and quietly working to make this a good move for everyone.”

But there was a caveat:

“I need about $1 million or more for tenant improvements and about $600,000 from DOT or Metro for transportation incentives … transit passes, etc…. Do you think that is doable? Can we work together on this?”

Is that the way it works? A private company contacts a council office and matter-of-factly asks for a $1.6-million handout, as if City Hall is a giant ATM for corporate welfare?

Apparently so (although the transit passes never came through), and Perry’s aide was more than happy to oblige. So, it turns out were the mayor and his then jobs-czar Beutner, who says he was trying to lure the company even before Perry got involved.

“Yes!” Rumsey responded to Getachew. “I think we can cobble something together. What is the timing? When do you need the funds?”

I would have had a few different questions, including:

If Gensler had “just agreed to move,” why did the city need to offer sweeteners?

Perry — whose mayoral campaign has received $4,000 from Thomas Properties employees and $2,500 from Gensler employees this year — told me the move downtown was not a certainty and that Gensler made clear it needed help.

So the city is practically broke, Gensler is prospering and it’s Gensler that needs help?

Gensler managing director Rob Jernigan told me his company was considering several new locations, but relocating costs were prohibitive and the $1-million grant was “one of several important factors that made the move a reality for us.”

No doubt.

He said Gensler has signed a 12-year lease downtown, the staff has grown to 300 and he expects continued growth.

Good for Gensler, and it may be good for Los Angeles in the end too. But as jilted Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould put it, the poaching of companies is a risky use of scarce public money, and it’s “a zero sum game” with no net gain for the regional economy.

The way this one was cooked up, it doesn’t smell too good, either.

LA Times Uncovers Amerland Group / Council member Cardenas Connection

Posted in civic participation, education, grassroots policy, housing victories, legal, organizing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2008 by Cangress
City Councilman Tony Cardenas.

City Councilman Tony Cardenas.

When Ruben Islas, Jules Arthur and their San Diego based Amerland Group arrived downtown they were met with open arms. Without question, dollars were funneled in their direction as they paraded a solid wall of prestigious supporters before a mayor appointed Community Redevelopment Agency [CRA] board.  LAPD Captain Andy Smith, Richard Montoya of Culture Clash, Council-members Perry & Cardenas, just to name a few of the “dignitaries” in attendance.

In one particular CRA hearing–Council-members Cardenas & Perry waited hours to give Amerland Group the firm backing of their offices–it became clear that the majority of people & organizations that supported Amerland had a financial incentive to do so. LA CAN did extensive digging and released a story in their March/April 2008 Community Connection that began to show a disturbing pattern. It appeared, in the cases of Council-members Huizar & Cardenas, that campaign & special contributions coincided with their favorable votes for Amerland Group project’s.


On July 10, 2008 Tibby Rothman of the Los Angeles Weekly would also release a story similar to LA CAN’s Community Connection article further delving into the questionable activities by council-members in what appeared to be a “pay to play” scheme.

Now, David Zahniser of the Los Angeles Times, has released yet another story pointing to questionable relationships between Tony Cardenas, Amerland Group and their hiring of his step daughter. We leave it to you to be the judge but we believe that something fishy continues to go on here.

Buckle your seat belts because this story surely will not stop here.