Jeffrey Katzenberg — the man who raised $1.75 billion in investor money to make prestige videos about people getting golden arms and Chrissy Teigen adjudicating small claims cases, only to find out after eight months that the only bite people wanted to be quick was his phenomenally bad business idea – has found a new purpose: harassing homeless people.
In late June, according to the Los Angeles Times, Katzenberg began meeting with city council members and soon-to-be-ex-Mayor Eric Garcetti to discuss “how he might influence homelessness policy and whether he intended to bankroll efforts to get people off the streets.” That sounds good enough. Los Angeles has been a hub for an expanding homelessness crisis. There are now 66,433 people living on the street, in shelters, or in cars across L.A. County – an increase of nearly 13 percent from last year. And in the past, Katzenberg has demonstrated some interest in the issue. In 2017, records show, he gave $50,000 to the campaign for Measure H, which raised taxes to pay for homeless services.
But reports suggest that the Quibi boss is now more focused on making the crisis less visible, enforcing “clean ups” on encampments and kicking out people who have literally no other place to go. Four different sources told the Times that Katzenberg, who sold his Beverly Hills mansion last year for $125 million, “wanted to know why so many tents now line the city’s sidewalks.” More insights on a man who is worth just south of $900 million:
In some meetings, Katzenberg urged council members to act quickly on enacting limits on where people can sleep, according to two sources with knowledge of those conversations.
“He wanted to be helpful on homelessness and then it quickly turned to ‘tents down,’” said one elected official who met with Katzenberg and asked to remain anonymous in order to speak candidly about a private conversation.
The Quibi guy said “tents down” and Los Angeles seemingly listened. In what could be generously read as a coincidence, the city council passed an anti-camping ordinance right around the time of Katzenberg’s “listening tour.” Here’s the Times again:
On a 12 to 3 vote, council members asked the city’s lawyers to quickly draw up a law prohibiting sleeping, lying and storing possessions near a variety of public facilities, including public schools and homeless shelters. It also would bar tents and encampments from blocking sidewalks in ways that prevent wheelchairs users from traveling on them, in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
The remarkable thing about this ordinance is that it had not been announced before the vote — neither the agenda nor any related documents mentioned the measure. The council had discussed a similar motion back in October that would have allowed officials to clear encampments across the city without offering residents any other place to go. But widespread outcry crushed its support. The vote in June came only after one council member, who is currently running for Mayor on an aggressive anti-homelessness platform, used an obscure procedural rule to pull the bill back out of committee and force a vote. It passed.
Did Katzenberg, who was allegedly the reason there were two animated bug movies in 1998, have anything to do with this? His representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (If you know anything about Katzenberg’s listening tour, email Tarpley@gawker.com). But the man’s had horrible ideas before. He made Antz.