Lawsuit Claims Wesson Withheld Documents on Koreatown Shelter

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Koreatown activist and lawyer opposed to a temporary homeless shelter being planned for the neighborhood filed a lawsuit today on behalf of a local resident who claims Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and his office might have withheld documents from a public records act request.

The lawsuit is the latest conflict between Wesson and a group of Koreatown activists trying to stop the shelter from being installed at a city- owned parking lot at 682 S. Vermont Ave., since Wesson and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced it as a potential site during a May 2 news conference.

Chan Yong ``Jake'' Jeong, a lawyer and president of the Wilshire Community Coalition, claimed that a public records act request fulfilled by Wesson's office appears to be lacking emails and documents.

``Council President Wesson said a lot of things during the meeting with the media and at public meetings here and there, and said that he did all this analysis, he has known all this data, and he has been talking to like all these other councilmen, and other people, and none of them are produced or in the documents,'' Jeong said.

The lawsuit was filed by a local resident, Hye Kyung Joung, and names Wesson, his office and the city as defendants.

A spokeswoman for Wesson referred all questions about the lawsuit to City Attorney Mike Feuer's office. Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for Feuer, said the office had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

Jeong claims that only one email from Wesson's city account was included in the documents provided, and it was Wesson forwarding an email to someone else on a subject that was not important. He also said the document showed no correspondence between Wesson's office and Garcetti's office about the parking lot other than an invitation to the news conference. Jeong also said there appeared to be no correspondence with community leaders, other council offices or with Wesson's staff, but that the emails should exist.

``Between Councilman Wesson and his staff there should be correspondence for analyzing or discussing about this matter, but there was no such document whatsoever. It was very strange,'' Jeong said. ``There were no emails from or to Councilman Wesson's email account. We are very sure there are more documents.''

He added, ``There was no public input at all. But Councilman Wesson claimed he has been talking to community leaders, and there was no such document at all. And he said this plan is ready to go, that they are fully ready, but there was no single correspondence talking to a homeless expert about any issue about a homeless shelter, and there was no report analyzed or discussed. There was no memo or anything.''

The proposed shelter would be the first site in a $20 million plan to install temporary shelters in each of the city's 15 council districts.

The shelter would house no more than 100 people at a time in a neighborhood the city estimates has 368 unsheltered people. The plan would also call for 24-hour security and on-site support workers who would offer services and attempt to transition people into permanent supportive housing.

At least four major protests have been held in opposition to the temporary shelter being located at that site. Jeong also participated in a demonstration outside City Hall earlier this week with dozens of Koreatown residents who claimed Garcetti's office created a blacklist of Koretown residents who were barred from attending a meeting about homeless issues.

Garcetti's office denied the claim and said the meeting was by invitation only sponsored by the Jewish Federation to educate religious and community leaders on how they can support Garcetti's homelessness strategy.

Photo: Getty Images

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