By John Okulick
After two months of partial services, and little to no benefit to property owners, the self-appointed Venice Business Improvement District Property Owners Association’s six members have voted to increase, by 5%, property assessments to those in the BID.This means that six individuals, several who do not even reside in Venice, have been given the authority, by Bonin, to raise our taxes.Which, in turn, raises the rents and cost of living of all involved.
With seventeen months of no services from January 1, 2017 to mid May of 2018, there have been only four public meetings and no services.August’s meeting has been cancelled.However, Tara Devine, the mastermind behind the BID, was paid a $150,000.00 salary and given $1,800,000.00 of tax money collected by the city in 2017.
At the July meeting, this unrepresentative board decided to change the rules once again.So, now you have one minute at the beginning of the meeting and no comments after the meeting starts.Another undemocratic and divisive move by Board President Sokol and his minions to silence property owners.When a vote is made, it appears they frantically read what they are voting on as all hands go up automatically.Do any of these people really care about what is going on in Venice?Rats, hepatitis, crime, assault in the streets, garbage, the crimes against Venice?
At the meeting, a “master services agreement” was voted on between the BID and Devine’s company allowing her to avoid “performing services at any particular time” or “location” and by her “method, details, and means”.In other words, a part-time manager sworn to confidentiality with limited liability and who owns the works of the BID which may be sold to others.All for a mere $175,000.00 a year for five years!
Another resolution voted on was to agree to pay $700.00 an hour for legal services.Another was to secure a baseline services agreement with the city of L.A.It’s called privatization of public services for profit when BID tax assessments replace general services with a private contractor.Also $13,000.00 was spent on a website.
They, Bonin and Devine, took away funding from our public elementary school, library, parks and recreation, senior center, all community assets, and are giving those funds to a handful of business owners.Even the MTA lot is being used for political purposes and is assessed a tax, even though there are no persons on the property, in an effort to rig voting that established the BID.
$2,000,000.00 (two million) of your (citywide) tax dollars are being removed from the community and given to a group with no oversight.In all, $10,000,000.00 over five years.We don’t have enough trained police. Their numbers patrolling Venice are a mystery and, when called, they may or may not show up in a timely fashion.Sanitation is poor, traffic is horrendous, and crime is on the increase with more shootings and attacks on citizens.Now Bonin, behind closed doors, is supporting multi-story developments on Lincoln.
Another insight to the last meeting was the use of the safety patrol by property owners to complain about someone or a neighbor, and having the patrol person report the complaint to the police.This secret informing to police is a tactic to intimidate others and it is reprehensible.
In the end, Sokol, with his usual punitive attitude toward comments, laid praise on the nefarious Devine for seventeen months of nothing and deceiving property owners about their rights, but was satisfied to discriminate against the poor, the elderly, the homeless and those on fixed incomes, and those they feel are undesirable to Venice.
By John Okulick