Monday, October 17, 2016

LA-AYKM #3: SELF-HELP GRAPHICS

The City Council decided on Sept. 20 that it would sell a Boyle Heights non-profit the building in which it had been operating, for an undisclosed price. The property on 1st St. in the gentrification-resistant neighborhood sits just across the LA River from the Arts District, at the eastern edge of Downtown Los Angeles.

The non-profit, Self-Help Graphics & Art, had been leasing the property from the city.

What kind of community benefit does Self-Help provide in order to get discounted (free?) property in this market? What arrangement existed between Self-Help and Mayor Garcetti? Why wasn't the sale price shown in the council packet - the bundle of relevant documents attached to City Council meeting agendas - or spoken during the actual meeting? Is it typical for the city to give property to a non-profit it is already paying - with grant Department of Cultural Affairs money - to produce arts workshops and events? Most recently Self-Help was granted $17,940 for a series of workshops between mid-2015 and mid-2016. Contracts available in the city's database extend back to 2002, some with specific deliverables while, some, like a 2012 contract to "administrate visual arts" for $7900, are a bit more vague.

My request for the sale price of the building is pending.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

LA-AYKM #2: CITY OVERCHARGES MARQUEE BUSINESSES IN THE SIX FIGURES

To have a healthy economy and a consistent tax base, a city needs respected companies to site within its borders, hiring and paying employees whose spending boosts the local economy. To do this, companies of course must expect reasonable policies, equal application of those policies, and affordable taxes. 

Leave it to the City of Los Angeles to overcharge marquee businesses whose names are valuable brands in validating LA as an important business center.

Marriott Hotels was overcharged nearly $900,000 in taxes, not counting interest, last year. The hotel chain, apart from itself being a major employer whose employees pay rents and mortgages in this high housing market, and make retail, restaurant, and gas station purchases to further fill city coffers, houses visitors to the city, who make the same purchases to boost retail receipts. 

Marriott filed a claim in November of last year and was only just approved for a refund on its transient occupancy tax, a percentage tax applied to the nightly room rate, on Sept. 27.

Tom's Shoes, which practices sustainable manufacturing and allows the environment- and labor-conscious to express their values with a "dollar vote", and keeps its headquarters in Del Rey just off north of Jefferson Blvd., was overcharged $221, 374.10 for the city's standard Business Tax, not counting interest. Tom's, too, had its refund approved Sept. 27. 

City documents did not reveal a deadline for the refunds.