closed doorsclosed doorscloseddoorclosed doors

Here’s an item on tomorrow’s agenda to be addressed by the City Council behind closed doors:


Property: 626 & 700 S. Euclid Street
Agency Negotiator: Rob Zur Schmiede
Negotiating Parties: Paul Kott, Pierre J. Nicolas Trust
Under Negotiations: Price and terms

Why is the Redevelopment Agency negotiating to buy this property?
This is a big deal. Where's the public hearing?

Let’s get this straight. The Redevelopment staff (aka Rob Zur Schmiede) is asking for council permission to begin negotiations for a huge piece of property off Euclid, presumably to build low income housing. He’s trying to do it behind closed doors under the cover of the “closed session” where he can get the ball rolling on a project that has NEVER been authorized by anybody. The key phrase here is “price and terms” which justifies the secrecy but that in reality is being used as a fig leaf to hide the fact that the council is giving tacit approval to a project that has never been offically authorized by them, in public – even in concept. In fact the very nature of the request is the first in what will be a long series of incremental approvals. In fact, this process is called incrementalization for that very reason.

Well, WE object to these shennanigans even though it happens all the time.  Authorization to negotiate price and terms is premature, and at this juncture issues that are not covered by under Brown Act exclusions are already occuring. What is involved is a secret commencement of the process that will lead to land use entitlements and rezoning. This is wrong, wrong wrong. This is obviously going to be a major project with major policy and CEQA implications.

The City Council should agendize this issue for a public hearing immediately with proper notification to all the neighbors. If they choose to go ahead with this (likely monstrosity), THEN they can schedule their “price and terms” meeting in the cozy confines of the backroom!

A Variation on the Old Shell Game

Keep your eye on the shell...
Keep your eye on the shell...

Our Friend Joe Sipowicz has added a great insight to a recent post on Dick Jones and Redevelopment about the way staff placates city councilpersons who ask questions. We’ll just let Joe say it in his own words:

“Staff also has another trick that may have been part of this little play, especially if it wasn’t rehearsed after all. That is answering the question that nobody has asked. In this tactic the question that was asked is dodged through answering some other question. The answer given is true, but non-responsive. It’s amazing how many people fall for this.

“BTW, this is also a tactic that our old friend Matthew Cunningham keeps using although it doesn’t appear to fool anyone in the blogosphere. It’s amazing how much more capable of critical thought bloggers are than city councilpersons!”

Joe, we know just what you mean. Former Planning staffer Joel Rosen is a master of this technique. You appear to be responsive and ever-so forthcoming, but in reality you give away nothing, and most of the time the councilperson is to too afraid of looking stupid to persist in getting a real answer. It’s like asking someone what time it is and having them tell you they live in a green house with red shutters in the 300 block of East Wilshire Avenue. It may be true, but it’s completely irrelevant!