Inglewood residents filled Community Room A at City Hall on the first of many meetings on the proposed Clippers arena. Based on the timeline given to the public, it became crystal clear why residents will be voting in June on whether to extend the councils terms from 2019 until 2020. 2UrbanGirls spoke to residents, a member of the Uplift Inglewood campaign as well as a noted writer, who were clear that #AnyoneButButts should be elected mayor in November.
[adsenseyu2]Residents were handed out documents detailing where Murphy’s Bowl LLC plans to build the arena. Conveniently, parcels owned by UPS, a multi billion dollar company, who only pays the city annual tax revenue of $55/year (verified by the city’s finance department) and other shipping and logistics companies, will not be on the chopping block. However, other businesses, including a recently acquired hotel, will be part of the parcels designated for the arena.
Two long-term residents of District 1, identified as “Barbara” and “Ruth” shared they were very upset with Mayor Butts about the traffic and how cars were parked at the cemetary due to limited parking space for the Forum. The Robert Group (TRG), a well-connected LACMTA consultant, was awarded a $300,000 no bid contract in November 2016, to create a parking and special events and neighborhood plan for the stadium, however a review of Parking and Traffic Commission meeting agendas show that no plan has been presented to them for approval.
The 18 month contract is due to expire next month. TRG has apparently been retained to lobby residents via a campaign called “Inglewood Forward” which entices community support by offering free publicity to local business owners in exchange for their picture and pledge of support on their website. The mayor, city of Inglewood employees, including the police chief and deputy chief and an employee of Republic Services, have also been recruited to drum up resident support. Inglewood residents received a mass mailing in their mailboxes a few weeks ago depicting their smiling faces to move “Inglewood Forward”. TRG had no comment on when the parking plan will be presented to residents.
District 4 resident and Construction Appeals Board Commissioner Gene Eldridge supports the project because “my property value is rising”. He says he doesn’t care where the arena is built just get it done quickly.
Members of the Uplift Inglewood coalition were present at tonight’s meeting but one member, who declined to be named, shared with 2UrbanGirls they are having a hard time gathering signatures to put rent control on the ballot. They would prefer to see housing built on the parcels vs an arena. “The community is apathetic and not willing to participate due to the Mayor’s bully tactics”.
Madison Square Garden (MSG) paid for campaign mailers to circulate the city, with residents pictures, however, Mayor Butts intimidated them and their families on Facebook. He threatened members of Eye on Inglewood (EOI) to tell him where the people lived so he could personally visit them. After Mayor Butts began subsidizing EOI, group creator Halimah Ginyard began deleting and blocking members and their comments made in opposition to Butts.
Noted journalist Larry Aubry is not happy with Mayor Butts either. “He has ZERO respect for citizen participation. He wouldn’t let residents vote on the Hollywood Park project.” Aubry stated that despite the move being legal, Mayor Butts misled residents by letting them sign a petition to vote on the matter, which the Mayor and Council voted on themselves.
In June, residents will be asked to give the council members an extra year on their terms, under the guise the city wants to consolidate elections. That may not be true. Currently the elections for city council members, minus the mayor, would be held in April 2019 months before the final EIR will be presented to the public and for council’s approval. It is due to be released in the Summer of 2019 and if the council were to change, Murphy’s Bowl LLC would be screwed. With the city facing a $17 million dollar budget shortfall, can residents afford to spend upwards of $100,000 for a unnecesarry election?
Finally, former Sen. Rod Wright chimed in that like most cities, Inglewood is facing trouble generating new revenue. The way you generate revenue to afford to maintain pensions and healthcare costs is to build new buildings with higher values, to reap higher returns.
“With any new taxes requiring 2/3 of the people’s vote, it is nearly impossible to raise revenue in this manner,” said Wright. “These parcels have been vacant for years and are not generating any income to the city’s general fund.”
Wright is also a landlord in the city and referred me to the debacle in the city of Los Angeles back in 1978 when their Rent Control Ordinance was enacted.
“Nothing got built and banks weren’t providing loans if the city can set the rent,” explained Wright. “By 1979 the city revised the ordinance to exempt properties built after 1979 from rent control and buildings got built again.” Wright further explained city’s can offer either a density bonus and/or tax write downs to encourage developers to include affordable housing units, however it is no slam dunk.
And based on the community turnout, this arena is no slam dunk either.