After 52 days of Occupy L.A., City Hall is ready to make a deal. According to Jim Lafferty, an attorney working with the Occupy movement, the city has offered to lease space in the L.A. Mall for $1 a year to the Occupy movement.
The city — which won't confirm any of this — apparently offered the old B. Dalton Bookstore, now vacant, to the Occupy L.A. group. Because that space worked so well for B. Dalton…
So: temperature check?
From the looks of last night's G.A., the Occupiers are pretty frosty toward the idea. There were allegations that the “city liaisons” were negotiating behind the backs of the Occupy movement.
There was also resistance to the idea of leaving the City Hall encampment behind. The City Hall site is much more visible than the underground mall. Also, “Occupy B. Dalton!” just doesn't have the same ring to it. On the plus side, however, the Occupiers would have a roof over their heads, and a sustainable home base from which to conduct their operations.
If it were accepted, the city's offer would represent a substantial public subsidy to the Occupy movement. Other merchants in the L.A. Mall rent their space for $1.50 per square foot per month. The B. Dalton space, by that math, would be worth $180,000 a year. (Though it's obviously worth nothing as long as it's empty.)
According to Lafferty, the city has also offered a plot of land for farming, and some housing assistance for the homeless Occupiers.
At this point, though, it seems unlikely that Occupy L.A. will reach a consensus. Too many hard blocks.
Update: Jared Iorio, who was moderating the discussion last night, on the chances that Occupy L.A. will accept the city's offer: “I don't think that's a real possibility based on what I saw last night.”
“An offer to appease us as a group of protesters only is a lowball offer that doesn't address the concerns that brought us to City Hall in the first place,” Iorio continued. “It's a bit offensive to me personally that City Hall would think we would go away without serious change coming to those who are oppressed in the system.”