By Joe Piasecki
Gangbangers Shoot Up Westchester Park
It took a gang-related shooting last weekend to find out who’s in charge of Westchester Park on a Sunday: nobody, apparently.
Gunfire erupted in the park at around 6 p.m. — only two hours after polls closed for the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa elections — during an event billed as the Fifth Annual Black Business Expo and Summer Jam Fest. Three young men shot in the back during the fracas drove themselves to the hospital and have not been cooperative with police. Investigators believe the shooting is gang-related, according to LAPD Officer Mike Lopez.
Even before shots were fired, Westchester Park Advisory Board President Scott Carni didn’t like what he saw — an event that was much larger in scope than what the promoter’s permit would allow. A park permit receipt shows event promoter Jabaree Spencer paid the city $192 to accommodate three picnic areas, a jumper and administrative costs. Photos of the event show dozens of vendor booths — at least one serving hard liquor from jumbo-size bottles — and heavy trucks parked on the lawn.
“There were people parked as far as half a mile away trying to get to the event,” said Carni, who believes Spencer “grossly misrepresented his intentions” to city Recreation and Parks officials and failed to consider the safety of his vendors and guests. But there was nobody on hand from the city to call him out on it because the city doesn’t staff Westchester Park on Sundays — a situation Carni is now campaigning to change.
Spencer denied misusing his permit, saying “the parks lady said she was OK with it” and that he stuck to the area of the park he was instructed to utilize. “I’m trying to do something positive for the community,” he said. “It was a great event.”
Trashing the Old Venice Post Office Pays Off
Sometimes failure is its own reward. Look no further than struggling movie producer Joel Silver, who turned the historic former Venice Post Office on Windward Circle into a monumental eyesore for five years, then made off with triple his purchase price when he bailed out on the property last month.
Silver bought the Depression Era post office for $7.2 million in 2012, then turned it into a construction site that sat idle for years as contractor liens piled up in excess of $1 million amid a series of box office flops, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
Now just recently the real estate news site TheRealDeal.com broke the news that Silver had sold the property to a British investment firm for $22 million — almost $15 million more than he paid for it.
We may never know how much Silver sunk into the building before walking away from it, but the story arc follows a familiar plotline for Venice real estate stories: Those with money may do as they please, neighbors be damned.
Anti-Bonin Sentiment Wins the Day in Mar Vista
Unofficial results of Sunday’s community council elections in Mar Vista portend future headaches for L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin.
Voters elected all seven members of the largely incumbent Standing Up for Stakeholders slate, which ran as an independent voice for the neighborhood (in other words, continuing to challenge Bonin and the Venice Boulevard road diet), and will retain majority control of the 13-member body. Voters also elected Bonin antagonist Selena Inouye, one of the leaders of a campaign to reverse the road diet.
By contrast, voters elected only two members of the Mar Vista Makes Waves slate — a young, diverse and highly educated group whom Standing Up for Stakeholders decried as being puppets for Bonin.
Results of the Venice Neighborhood Council elections, with many candidates fiercely opposing the council office on affordable housing construction and expansion of homeless services, weren’t available at press time.
LAUSD Parcel Tax Crashes and Burns
The teachers’ strike in January may have enraptured the city, but on Tuesday the parcel tax designed to pay for those smaller class sizes, nurses and counselors that everyone supposedly wanted went down hard at the ballot box, failing to muster 50% support (let alone the required two-thirds).
Expect to see some harsh LAUSD budget cuts in the next two or three years, further separating the haves from the have-nots.
Does the failure of the parcel tax mean voters don’t really care about other people’s kids? Maybe so. More likely, however, it means they don’t trust LAUSD with their money.
Staff writer Gary Walker contributed reporting on the Westchester Park shooting.