ImageGeneral Jeff

(Note: For some odd reason, Downtown News has not made public comments available on their blog for this particular editorial item at this time, hence our separate correspondence here)

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES- On behalf of the Skid Row community’s residents, it is paramount that I respond to the Downtown News editorial piece titled “Panel Makes Wrong Choice Rejecting Booze at New Genesis Restaurant” (3-25-2013).

Please allow me to make the following points as I scan through their article; (I ask for your patience in advance)

While understanding that their piece is clearly an editorial, because of the stark contrast to our community’s reality, a clarifying rebuttal is undoubtedly needed.

First regarding the specific location of the building in question, according to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Skid Row’s borders are from 3rd street to the north, 7th street to the south, Alameda street to the east, and MAIN street to the west. This clearly establishes Skid Row Housing Trust’s New Genesis Hotel as existing IN Skid Row and NOT in the Historic Core!

To add, also located on Main street and in Skid Row is the Pershing Hotel (also owned by Skid Row Housing Trust), the Leonide Hotel (owned by SRO Housing Corporation), Chrysalis and also the headquarters for the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN). So there is an obvious presence of Skid Row-related businesses and residential units on Main street. PLUS, SRO Housing Corp.’s Rossmore Hotel is directly across the street (also on Main street). To be clear, not only does Skid Row have a strong presence on Main street, but the ENTIRE eastern side of Main street from 3rd to 7th is NOT in the Historic Core, but indeed in Skid Row!

Second, SRHT has NEVER previously held a liquor license and/or alcohol permit in their nearly 25-years of existence (since 1989), nor equally has Great Balls on Tires and/or Great Balls (the restaurant proposed to open in the ground floor retail space of the New Genesis that wishes to serve alcohol). In other words, there is NO responsible alcohol proprietorship-type “track record” in either of these organization’s combined history which brings into question their true understanding of all the potential drawbacks (seen and unforeseen) in these critical alcohol-related parameters.

Third, in addition to the Appeals Commission not supporting their effort, there was NO clear community support for this alcohol permit/liquor license- While SRHT’s request for a letter of support BARELY got through the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council’s (DLANC) Planning and Land Use Committee (PLUC), it was soundly defeated by DLANC’s full Board of Directors, only garnering four votes of support. In other words, DLANC did NOT support this. Also, LAPD did NOT support this. To add, LAPD took a position of “No Position” and attached strong operating conditions to these “brand new alcohol-serving hopefuls”. It is STILL unclear where City Councilmember Jose Huizar (CD14) stands on this- but if he did support it, it would have been made clear during the appeals hearing. (And we already know how that hearing turned out)

jeff new

To be perfectly clear, the Skid Row community more than welcomes BUSINESS to our community! We also agree that businesses who also appeal to nearby communities is a plus. For instance, the “other” retail tenant at the New Genesis will be an ice cream parlor. THEY didn’t ask to serve liquor. We are very pleased with them thus far and the last time I checked almost everybody young and old, both in the Historic Core and Skid Row, likes ice cream (or did at one point of their lives).

•     QUESTION TO THE WRITER(S) OF SAID EDITORIAL: If the “no alcohol where we live” position taken by the Skid Row community “sounds reasonable”, then why does the decision seem so far-fetched and “foolish” to you?

Now, to add, as one of the “well-intended opponents” that spoke at the appeals hearing against this booze permit, I, too, (at least in MY mind) have an extensive “track record” in Skid Row (while not as long as SRHT, it is arguably equivalent over the past five years, seeing that my efforts have been done with ZERO funding compared to the millions and millions of dollars in SRHT’s annual budget). For example, on behalf of the Skid Row residents I led an effort to end the unfair, unapproved and unregulated “overnight guest fees” that Skid Row Housing Trust charged it’s tenants which was in addition to the rent and government subsidies. These charges occurred EVERY time a tenant wanted to have a visitor (think since 1989). In 2012, our efforts (which first started with two buildings in 2008) led to both SRHT and SRO Housing Corp. abolishing this practice but only after making millions of “undetected” dollars off of it’s tenants without any recourse. And trust me when I say there’s much more flaws in SRHT’s “track record” that will all come out soon!

As for Great Balls, while I serve on DLANC’s Planning Committee, I was present when their owner presented that GB would ONLY offer five pre-selected alcoholic items on their menu. He clearly indicated that this was because alcohol would NOT be their primary revenue-generator. If this was the case, why go for a “full line” of alcohol to begin with and not just beer and wine instead? Plus neither GB, nor SRHT indicated at any point of this entire process that they would offer any JOBS to the Skid Row community, not even the residents that live in the New Genesis. Does this sound like “inclusion” or them being “community-friendly”? Oh, that’s right, because they expected ALCOHOL to be involved and of course they wouldn’t want to discriminate against jobseekers in recovery, right? Well if they thought that it wouldn’t be a good idea for those in our community who struggle with recovery to be around alcohol, then why in the he-ck would it be okay for alcohol to be around us? (As in those that live directly above this business in the New Genesis?

Lastly, it should also be duly noted that both of Skid Row’s two biggest landlords, Skid Row Housing Trust AND SRO Housing Corporation, are members of the powerful business advocacy group Central City Association (CCA), which may explain SRHT’s new “business-first” approach which again is NOT reflected anywhere in their mission statement, nor on their website (But “It’s about business” was definitely spoken by SRHT Executive Director Mike Alvidrez during the appeals hearing directly to the appeals commissioners)

For the record, this appeal has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Historic Core and EVERYTHING to do with Skid Row. Moving forward please remember, if it directly affects Skid Row and is within our borders, our voice WILL be a major part of that conversation.

(DISCLOSURE: I, General Jeff, am a former tenant of one of SRHT’s residential buildings in Skid Row. I was there for three years, was NEVER late with my rent and even intentionally left my security deposit upon my departure from their building as a good faith gesture. I have NO ill will towards SRHT. I merely speak out on behalf of ALL Skid Row residents, many of which happen to be tenants in SRHT buildings. Even as an outspoken community activist, I have NEVER been “86’ed” from any of their buildings [ask SRHT what that means if you don’t know])


General Jeff

Skid Row community activist-


Central City East/ Skid Row-Resident Director

Board of Directors

Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (2008-present)

Former VP, Outreach and Communications (2011-12)


Skid Row Community Advisory Board

Department of Mental Health (2012-present)

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