|Lisa Goodman went to war with an inflatable Godzilla over these apartments.|
1. “Homeowner Revolution”
Millions of dollars in NRP money helped drive the 1992 takeover of the Whittier Alliance by property owners hostile to affordable and supportive housing. Keep in mind that the reason Whittier received so many millions of dollars in city money was because of their large population of poor and minority renters.
Two years before the “Homeowner Revolution” many activists against more subsidized housing had already formed The Whittier Homeowners Association. This coalition “was a key force in the campaign”, and after its adherents gained a majority on the 1992 Alliance board, it simply moved itself into the Alliance. The Homeowners Association had made itself defunct because while it had scant money and legitimacy, the organization it took over had reams of cash and was certified by city hall as the official representative of the neighborhood. (Ch 2, p 12)
2. Culture Shift
The big change in 1992 turned the Whittier Alliance away from its long history of supporting low income housing.
Between the Alliance’s birth in 1978 and the 1992 revolution, the Alliance had developed “330 units of low income housing … The Alliance was one of the most productive nonprofit low income housing producers in the city.” (Ch 2, p 11)
3. “Elitist Cabal”
Champe describes how difficult it was for the Whittier Alliance’s new leadership (the “Friends of Whittier”) to get along with its staff:
I find that it was naïve of the FOW [anti-affordable and supportive housing] faction to think that they would find people to work in low paying, non-profit, inner-city, community jobs, in a poor, racially diverse neighborhood, who were not “social justice” oriented, and who did not see the poor, the renters, and the minorities as underdogs deserving of extra help. Even hiring a community organizer and a director who were Republicans did not solve this problem, as both still found the board an elitist cabal that was impossible to get along with. (Ch 2, p 14)
4. Opposition to school for the blind.
In 1993, a school for the blind proposed moving into the Pillsbury mansion. Board Chair Dave Hoban is reported to have said something to the effect, “I don’t even understand why they would want to buy that building, because it is so beautiful, and they wouldn’t be able to see it anyway.”
5. “Rode out of town on a rail, honey.”
A Board Member from 1993 tells her story:
When the Pillsbury mansion was converted from a residence to the school, oh my god people flipped out. And you know, the Dave Hoban’s of the world, which I’m sure you know, went nuts, that’s how I lost my board position because I voted for Blind Inc. Lucy and I got rode out of town on a rail honey. (Ch 2, p 32)
6. Mafia-style street justice.
After the Blind Inc. vote Dave called me and wanted me to come out into the street so we could wrestle in the street. That same night the husband of another board member who voted for it got punched in the jaw outside the Black Forest and we’re convinced that Dave arranged for that. (Ch 2, p 32)
7. Political Parties
The early 1990s sees the advent of political parties in Whittier, called Friends of Whittier (FOW) and Diversity & Democracy (D&D):
Naming themselves “Diversity” was a jab at the FOW, who were seen as hostile to ethnic minorities and the lower classes. And “Democracy” was a way to show how they were opposed to what many considered the decidedly undemocratic methods of the FOW activists – their privileging of homeowner participation, and their “dirty tricks.” (Ch 2, p 40)
8. Bylaws Shenanigans
the FOW appeared to have a three pronged strategy – mobilize the base to come out to vote for your slate at the annual meeting, manipulate the bylaws to get other FOW members on the board after the election, then harass the rivals that did get elected to the board until they quit. (Ch 2, p 41)
9. Rooftop Godzillas for Responsible Development Coalition
Lisa Goodman meets her match during a 2001 battle over low-income housing:
At that time, city council representative Lisa Goodman hosted a monthly “Lunch with Lisa” chat session with local constituents at the Acadia café across the street from Plymouth Congregational. At her lunch immediately following her public statement of support for Lydia, Citizens picketed outside the cafe while their Godzilla held his own twenty four hour protest on the roof above. (Ch 1, p 8)