Must Read! Why the Subdivision of HCNC North Cannot be Allowed

VOICES—To Board of Neighborhood Commissioners–My name is Laura Velkei, I serve on the HCNC as the 3rd VP, Chair of Land Use and Bylaws Committees, and handle communications for our Board. 

I am writing to formally oppose the subdivision of the HCNC North.

My background is in educating and empowering community so neighborhoods having a voice is a prime directive for me.

However, the failure of the DONE management to work within a shred of protocol demands that this application not move forward.

I will start first by pointing out the glaring issues within the process and protocol.

It is abundantly clear that the ordinance and charter language on both the formation of NC’s and even more egregiously the subdivisions is fatally flawed. 

  • The first failure was allowing the formation of Hermon with only 3200 in population as this set a precedent for others to follow.  You cannot approve the application of one and deny that of another based on population as has been done to Laurel Grove.
  • From a financial perspective it is clear that this was not thought thru at 42k per NC and the size creates a massive inequity as compared to other NC’s

The word stakeholder is used throughout the City’s formalized documents, yet staff moves between the word stakeholder and population as if they are interchangeable.  They are not. 

  • A population is based on residency and is measureable by the Census.
  • To date there is no ability to quantify the number of stakeholders in a community so based on what criteria is the stakeholder being approved.  DONE’s own measure is 20k.

Application forms are not consistent and applicants should not be allowed to create their own criteria for why they are subdividing.

There is no protocol or metric given as to why DONE selects 200 or a 500 signature requirement.

There appears to be no protocol for a subdivision to be noticed to an NC by DONE

  • Does it seem appropriate to this body that a neighboring NC took action on and voted to support a subdivision that the HCNC knew nothing about?
  • Does it seem appropriate that the HCNC had to file a public records request to receive notification about the subdivision?

Systems get put in place when tax payer dollars are used.  DONE should not be in the position to do anything except to check and see if an application meets criteria and they seem to be incapable of eve doing that.  While skeletal at best, only one criteria is being used which is stakeholder numbers.  For Laurel Grove, their first application was rejected based on the population of 12k residents.  Their 2nd application, despite the application stating, “what is the number of stakeholders”, was presumably rejected because they had a 12K population.  GM Liu was overheard mocking the organizers population numbers which suggests that Ms. Liu does not understand the definition of stakeholder.

In the case of the HCNC the following conditions exist/existed:

  • Gerrymandering and disseminating false and skewed information prior to noticing the HCNC
  • A federal staffer was used to promulgate false and derogatory information to potential stakeholders using federal time and resources to lobby against communities he is paid to represent.
  • A neighboring NC agendized and took action prior to the HCNC being noticed about the subdivision
  • Application advertising states that this subdivision is designed to empower Chinatown, not the communities being gerrymandered.
  • The application that mandated 500 signatures by DONE, had only 128 at the deadline of January 15thand the application was marked complete. This was also confirmed by a PRA request filed for the complete application.
  • The application if truly to empower the Chinese community was never translated. 
  • Application signatures were penned and signed in the same handwriting
  • Late signatures were back dated.
  • Additional signatures were requested by Mike Fong on January 23th of the applicant 8 days after the deadline.  The applicant did not deliver them until January 30th.  When DONE Staff asked why it was being accepted, Fong stated, it was dated 1/15.  If that is the case why did it take 2 weeks to provide.  The document was clearly back dated again lacking in process and protocol.
  • By DONE’s own documents the HCNC as a whole does not meet the 20k criteria so the dismantling of the council would leave each side with approximately 8,000 each of residents? (Please see attached)
  • Signatures were falsified where applicant claimed that individuals signed when they did not.  No  confirmation of the source data was conducted.
  • Pre-application outreach was required as a condition of the ordinance.  This was not done.
  • Insufficient outreach was conducted based on the submission received both at the deadline and after the fact.  (see attached)

The Board multiple times stated that they would be in support of Chinatown if they chose to subdivide but this subdivision gerrymanders 3 separate and distinct communities, without their consent.  The argument that it be left up to the “voters” while in some respects true should not be allowed if they disenfranchise other minorities.  In the case of the HCNC North 98% of the combined signatures are Chinese and contrary to what is being stated, per the LA ALmanac the asian community makes up 38% of the population and 31% is Hispanic.  

This application needs to rejected and serious corrective action needs to be taken by the City to repair the public and NC trust and to ensure that the Department does not continue to be mismanaged.  A halt should be placed on all subdivisions and a committee be convened to address these issues.  It is not an accident that the Budget Advocates did not recommend additional funding for DONE, and it is not an accident that the Subdivision subcommittee is leaning towards recommending a halt on them completely.


Laura Velkei

Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council

3rd Vice President

Chair, Land Use Committee

Chair, Bylaws Committee

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