Have you ever seen small children put blankets over their heads and assume you can’t see them because they can’t see you?
The image brings us to the public officials and homelessness programs in LA—including a proposed emergency shelter on the 1400 block of Paloma Street on the industrial edge of Downtown. That’s where the city paid the owner of a warehouse $35,000 a month for empty space for a year and a half while homeless individuals lived in makeshift encampments on public sidewalks all around the place.
The latest line of inquiry about the delay on the Paloma Street shelter started on December 2, with emails to Mayor Eric Garcetti and several members of his staff. Requests also have gone to LA City Engineer Gary L. Moore; Mary Nemick, director of communications for the Bureau of Engineering; and Elena Stern, public information director for the Department of Public Works.
Here is the key question they refuse to answer:
I've been waiting for more than a month for an answer to the question of why Mayor Eric Garcetti would cite "structural issues" as a reason the conversion of warehouse space to an emergency homeless shelter has been delayed by more than a year, even though LA Chief Engineer Gary Lee Moore signed off on a 142-page report that was submitted before the project started and made no mention of any such problems.
Did Mr. Moore and the 900-plus employees of the city’s Bureau of Engineering miss something about “structural issues” in the report, which included contributions from two separate private sector firms hired as consultants?
Your colleagues at [the] LA County Department of Public Health estimate that an average of three homeless individuals die each day on local streets.
That comes to more than 1,500 dead since Mr. Moore signed the report on the Paloma Street shelter, and more than 100 [since] all of you have refused to answer the question.
Please consider that point of reference—and reconsider the disrespect you show the public by refusing to answer this basic question.
The city officials continue to behave like the children with a blanket over their heads. Or perhaps an ostrich with its head in the sand is the better analogy, given an email SullivanSays has obtained from the County of Los Angeles, which is paying for the renovation of the Paloma Street facility.
“Discovery has revealed new challenges in the structure and systems of the property with costs associated to repair or replace them...” wrote Leslie Jordan, capital construction projects manager for the Housing for Health program of the county’s Department of Health Services. “Unfortunately, a comprehensive building inspection was not completed during the front end of deciding on this site.”
The email was written on June 27, 2019. It went to Elizabeth Boyce, director of street-based engagement, interim housing, and enriched residential care for Housing for Health, and Paul Burke, senior real estate officer in the General Services Department of the City of Los Angeles.
Here are a couple of immediate follow-up questions for City Engineer Moore and Garcetti, with plenty more to come on this story:
How and why did a 142-page report from the city’s 900-member Bureau of Engineering fail to include a “comprehensive building inspection” before the city signed a three-year lease at $35,000 a month?
Or is that how a person gets and keeps a $300,000-a-year job in LA City Hall?
De Leon Goes South
There are 41,300 homeless individuals in the City of Los Angeles, according to the most recent estimates by the LA Homeless Services Authority.
Newly elected 14th District LA City Councilmember Kevin de Leon recently announced plans to make 25,000 units of housing available for the homeless by 2025.
De Leon called his plan the “North Star” on homelessness programs.
He should check his universe—a four-year plan to address just 60% of the problem indicates he’s going south after a few months in City Hall.
The Paloma Street mess, meanwhile, is squarely in de Leon’s district. He should use the power of his office to find out what’s gone on there if he really wants to fix the city’s programs for homelessness.
Private Sector Push on Supply Side
The biggest effort to bring new supply to SoCal’s overall housing market took another step forward at the Valencia community that’s rising inexorably about 35 miles northwest of DTLA in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Irvine-based FivePoint Holdings LLC recently announced the sale of 487 homesites at the development, previously known as Newhall Ranch, fetching $116 million for the land.
The development, which has been decades of regulatory wrangling in the making, is underway on a first phase that will include 1,268 lots spread over 18 neighborhoods. Homes will range from 775 to 3,680 square feet, with an eye on serving “a diverse pool of buyers,” according to FivePoint.
The community will be the largest provider of new homes in Los Angeles County for the foreseeable future, eventually reaching a full capacity of 21,000 homes, 11.5 million square feet of commercial space, and 10,000 acres of open space.
“In the midst of a generational housing crisis, this critically needed housing is a welcomed addition to the region,” said LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the area and called attention to the net-zero emissions standard and plans for an integrated healthcare component for the Valencia development.
“The Five Point team’s thoughtful innovation in the development of these new communities will be a model for the future,” Barger said. “I am grateful for this partnership of nearly two decades.”
Bobby Mac on MLK
OC Black Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bobby McDonald did a fine job of recalling local ties to Martin Luther King Jr. in advance of this week’s holiday to honor the late civil rights leader—it’s worth a look and listen here.
Chapman Passes Tough Test on Trumper
The administration of Chapman University in Orange did the difficult and correct thing when it stood by John Eastman’s right to participate in Donald Trump’s legal challenges to the results of the presidential election in various states.
The university was just as correct in parting ways with the professor at the Fowler School of Law in the wake of his role in the rally for Trump that preceded the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Eastman has the right to think however he might and to say what’s on his mind—up to the point of inciting sedition and insurrection. I believe he reached that point by standing with Rudy Giuliani and smiling as the latter called on the crowd at the Trump rally to engage in “trial by combat.”
It doesn’t help Eastman that numerous courts at various levels found that the legal challenges on behalf of Trump were bereft of factual support. The brick wall of legal failure on the election challenges cast doubt on the lawyer’s abilities in ways that could harm Chapman’s reputation.
Kudos to Chapman President Daniele Struppa and the school’s board of trustees on finding a proper balance on Eastman, whose resignation looks to be a fair and reasonable settlement of what became an acid test on freedom of expression.
UCI Gets Pass on Navarro
It’s surprising, meanwhile, how much criticism Chapman has gotten over Eastman’s involvement with the Trump operation in recent months compared with the relatively scant attention the legacy media has paid to the ties between Peter Navarro and UC-Irvine. The often controversial Navarro was Trump’s outspoken director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy at the White House for four years—one of the few presidential advisors to last the entire term.
Navarro retained the title of professor emeritus of economics and public policy at UCI all the while, according to the White House.
LB’s Super Mario
Has anyone had a better week lately than Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach?
Cordero got appointed to the board of directors of the Los Angeles Branch of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco on January 13.
The port he oversees announced on January 15 that 2020 was the busiest year in its history, with both imports and exports posting gains to total 8.1 million twenty-foot-equivalent units of cargo—roughly 4 million of those containers you’ll see on cargo ships, trucks and flat-bed trains.
Kudos to UCLA, Berggruen on Timing
Credit UCLA and the Berggruen Institute with an excellent sense of current events in joining to produce the upcoming “Possible Worlds” lecture series.
It’s slated to start on February 18 with Danielle Allen, director of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, where she focuses on democratic theory, political sociology and the history of political thought.
You can get more information on the lecture series here.
Hats off to veteran scribe Mark Madler of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal for being the lone representative of the local legacy media to cover the launch of Salem Si, the new streaming service outlet for the Latino-American market from publicly traded, Camarillo-based Salem Media Group, which specializes in Christian-oriented and politically conservative content on its 99 radio stations across the U.S.