Hi Reddit! A video of me speaking at an Artesia City Council meeting recently reached the front page. The video gained a lot of traction, and so did the subsequent AMA request. The Reddit post was a lot more clickbait than the actual video.

My main point was to shed light on what I considered to be shady circumstances surrounding the project such as:

All of what I consider to be shady may very well be legal. If this is the case, the project still seems to be an attempt the council to push for the gentrification of the city without the support of the community.

Keep in mind, I am by no means an expert in this field. If there are any experts, feel free to correct anything I may have said. I would appreciate any feedback you guys may have. I'll try to answer as many questions as I can!


  • Video in question - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUheS6tk_Mc&t=1s

  • Video of me at the site of Artesia Live I - https://youtu.be/vP9ddXOHJXc

  • Edit: More proof - https://imgur.com/a/uspok

  • Edit 2: Alright I think I answered most, if not all of the questions. I really never expected this entire situation to gather as much traction as it did, but I am grateful that it did. I learned a lot about project development that I would have never been able to learn without you guys. I think that wraps up this AMA. Thanks for all of the support and feedback! Take care Reddit!

Comments: 267 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

Lytre273 karma

Have you ever tried to get support from your local politicians?

LunarGopher177 karma

Actually I did have one local politician reach out to me. He was happy to see me getting involved in the process, and told me he enjoyed the video. I'm not sure how that person's colleagues feel about the issue, but I will be sure to try and reach out to them.

parkinsg156 karma

A lot of people are framing your comments as “calling out corruption” but in my opinion, it just looks like typical red tape/poor planning/bad elected officials.

Do you believe there’s actually corruption going on?

LunarGopher78 karma

When I originally went up to speak, I was trying to show ineptitude of this city council in regards to their history with project development. While I was researching this project, some things appeared to be shady, such as the developer's half-finished website, and donations made that were not the development fee. I don't have enough evidence to claim any sort of corruption, but I think some of the circumstances surrounding this project are shady.

_ChrisBlue_24 karma


LunarGopher18 karma

Thanks for the clarification. I am by no means an expert, and I do appreciate your input. While I still believe it is a bit shady to be doing this, I now know that it is common practice, for better or worse.

loginfliggle82 karma

Good on ya. Have you considered starting a career in politics? Perhaps you could be the first elected member of The Reddit Party. 😉

LunarGopher131 karma

Thanks! I don't really want to be a politician, but I will probably be involved in politics to some extent. Also, would the Reddit Party's stances be determined by upvotes?

loginfliggle24 karma

That'll work. Take all the political subs, nominate a few delegates from each, and publicly set policy positions through updoots.

LunarGopher37 karma

I can see it leading a rise of "Upvote this so" posts. Except now they will be for the party policy instead of google search results haha

emuslyfox80 karma

What was it like working with John Stamos?

LunarGopher160 karma

We haven't been on talking terms since the incident.

Norothian73 karma

can you elaborate on the callout of you AP gov teacher? Just kinda confused by it and context would help

LunarGopher233 karma

My former AP Gov teacher is a current member of the city council. He left the room as soon as I began to walk up to the podium, and returned in the middle of my speech. I thought that him walking out of the room when he is supposed to listening to members of the community was pretty disrespectful. Although, after having him as a teacher for a year I was definitely not surprised. He was far more eager and willing to tell the class about his recent Facebook arguments, and give his daily bashing of Trump, than actually teach the class. I don't think it's a problem that a US Government teacher gives an opinion on US politics, but its not even like he tied his stories into the curriculum. His stories were the curriculum. I was not planning on calling him out like that, but in the heat of the moment I let my emotions get the better of me.

dickthewhite42 karma

You are a legend for this. Applause.

LunarGopher26 karma

CynicalTree19 karma

That boggles my mind. I'm long graduated now but I never saw politics at school (live in canada). Is this common in the US?

I don't agree with putting political opinions on students. They're young and the teacher has a lot of authority.

LunarGopher12 karma

I know I can't speak for the entire US, but in my opinion politics were pretty unavoidable in the 2016 election. I know most of teachers will generally not bring up politics, but I think this previous election made it difficult to do so. One specific example I can think of would be the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. She is someone who has direct influence over these people's career, so it would make sense for them to have an opinion on her.

AtamisSentinus1 karma

A bit off point, but do you think his objections to DeVos were specifically because of him being a part of the teacher's union? I've been led to understand she's quite anti-union, so I can see how someone who relies on an arguably dated system for their livelihood would balk at her appointment. That said, his reaction wouldn't excuse his lack of professionalism. You can't accept the paycheck and the power, but leave the responsibility and accountability at the door.

On a personal note, I actually switched classes when I was in high school because of a teacher that was known to let his personal (and heavily religious) views get in the way of teaching government. That, and I had several AP teachers that applied for country wide, universal teaching licenses to specifically get them out of being forced into the unions, so I'd have to imagine they'd be more favorable to a change of pace...although maybe not necessarily DeVos.

In short: Do you think your teacher's actions were born more out of union influence than they were of personal political views and/or his being involved with the city council?

LunarGopher5 karma

I am fairly certain that this teacher's opposition to DeVos was primarily fueled by his disdain for Trump. I would assume most teachers don't like her because she has no background in Education.

Yaverland4 karma

It’s so hard to speak publicly even when all your comments aren’t being analysed forensically by the court of reddit afterwards. I think this is a completely reasonable explanation. Good on you for getting out there and trying to give some legitimate challenge to people in public office.

LunarGopher7 karma

Thanks for the support, it means a lot!

Kougeru-2 karma

Can you give an example of "bashing Trump"? Because very often on reddit what people call "bashing Trump" turns out to be just calling him out on one of his thousands of lies. Calling politicians out on their lies seems perfectly suitable for a government class. Facebook arguments does sound stupid though.

LunarGopher4 karma

To be honest, his "lectures" were always so similar and they all seem like a blur to me so I don't have any specific examples. What I can tell you is that he did have legitimate criticisms about Trump and his policies at times, but other times he just resorted to Ad Hominems and the like. This did not happen my year, but I know that at some point in this school year he just put on an episode of Stephen Colbert for his class instead of teaching the curriculum.

Those Facebook arguments were always just ways for him to try and stroke his ego. Or in his own words "educating people on Facebook."

DeadlyDancingDuck39 karma

You were great, you totally slayed them. Has there been any progress in terms of an investigation into them or similar?

LunarGopher95 karma

Thanks I appreciate it! So far there has been no investigation but citizens are petitioning to hold a referendum on the project.

Thepulpfiction31 karma

Hello Omar: thank you for doing this. You did mention about Pioneer Boulevard and their inefficiency to straighten it up. What exactly were you referring to? Does Pioneer Boulevard affect the communities around in a bad way?

LunarGopher20 karma

Pioneer Blvd is a major street in Artesia. It is called Little India by many outside of the community, but officially is called the International Cultural District. A few years ago, the city council voted to create a promenade on a street island in the middle of Pioneer Blvd that was somewhat modeled after 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. This promenade would include things like a park and coffee shop.

Here is a video of their vision for the project - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yz5Vvng_dFE

So their plan was to remove lanes from the busiest street in the city and expand sidewalks. This would increase pedestrian traffic, while decreasing vehicle traffic, while allowing a center space for their promenade. While this probably works in theory, in practice it went nowhere near as planned. I believe the city almost bankrupted itself on this project. In the end, there was only one lane for each side of the street, with a divider of where the promenade would be in the middle of the road. This was the state of the street for years, until they recently scrapped the divider. Despite getting ride of the divider, the street still has only one lane per side. This project is known for having been a huge waste of time and money. Some friends and I even took graduation photos there to show just how much of a waste of space that divider was.

gueriLLaPunK3 karma

Some friends and I even took graduation photos there to show just how much of a waste of space that divider was.

Pics? It's been years since I've been down there. Google Street View is still showing the divider with trees and stuff.

Also, it's funny when you get to 176th, you see the fence says "coming soon Artestia Live!" and then it's all painted over when it transitions

LunarGopher5 karma

No problem, I'll try to get a picture for you soon!

Edit: sorry for the low quality buy here is a picture - https://imgur.com/a/wkbjt

mydogtaco30 karma

I watched your video at the council meeting and looked through the company's website. What else have you found about this issue regarding the Artesia Council and "developing projects"? With sources if you can, please. Thanks!

LunarGopher42 karma

To be honest, there is not much to find about these projects besides what is on the Artesia city website. The project has had a lack of transparency. There are agenda minutes from the city council and planning commission meetings. I'll leave the agenda from the council meeting where they vote to overturn the planning commission's decision to reject the development of Artesia Live II, as well as a letter from the company to the planning commission and city manager requesting that the city council appeal the planning commission's denial of the project.

modestexhibitionist7 karma

What do you want to know that isn't disclosed?

Why do you think the city council has to do what the planning commission says? If that were the case, why have a city council?

LunarGopher15 karma

The biggest thing I want to know is why there has been such a a delay in the construction of Artesia Live I. If they had begun to make the first project, I would have waited to see what sort of impact it had on the city. If it was a positive impact, I would likely be a strong supporter of this second project. But after this council's history with previous projects, it's hard for me to trust them on this new one without seeing results first.

Also, I agree that the council is not subject to the planning commission. If it was a more divided vote by the commission I could understand them overriding it. However, I find it a bit worrying that they are ignoring a unanimous vote against the project by the planning commission.

vicemagnet5 karma

Can’t you gain discovery with a FOIA request?

LunarGopher3 karma

I think FOIA requests are only at the federal level. However,if Cunningham's Law holds true I'm sure we will quickly find out.

vicemagnet4 karma

You absolutely can at a state level. I am unsure about a city level. Some meetings can be closed door or executive session to keep some topics off record. Generally there are rules surrounding this. Obviously I believe if tax money is used, there should be visibility of how it is applied. If a TIF is used, it should be justified and monitored. There shouldn’t be collusion or a family member who profits directly or indirectly without full visibility or accounting of the project. Visibility provides accountability.

LunarGopher1 karma

Thanks for the clarification. I'll try to submit one. It may take a while, but if anything comes of it I will be sure to update.

modestexhibitionist2 karma

What previous projects like this has the city done? What were the issues on previous projects and what were the reasons?

LunarGopher1 karma

The city has not had any projects like Artesia Live, which is why I am skeptical of them wanting to push a second project without properly assessing the impact of the first.

Bisping17 karma

Im a bit late to the party, but i hope you answer more questions.

Anything change between you and your teacher after you roasted him?

LunarGopher33 karma

He is actually not my teacher anymore, as I graduated last year. However, he never really liked me because I did not bend the knee and blindly accept his political views. I don't think he takes challenges to his viewpoints well, which explains why he left as soon as I went up to speak.

w8w810 karma

Can you provide more proof verifying that it was you in the video?

LunarGopher24 karma

I uploaded a picture as proof. I hope that helps!

modestexhibitionist5 karma

Why do you consider the developer giving money to the city corrupt/shady? Are you familiar with development impact fees, where developers must pay school fees, park fees, traffic impact fees, etc.?

Did you talk to anyone at the city (Planning, city council, etc.) before talking to the council?

Can you explain why you think the community is opposed to gentrification when the first hour of speakers was almost entirely in favor of the proposed Artesia Live projects? What would you prefer to see developed on the sites designated for Artesia Live I & II?

LunarGopher5 karma

What I find shady about it is that this extra $2M was being given in addition to the $3M development fee. I doubt that it is uncommon, but it seems strange that a company would want to give away more money than they are required to.

I had known where the city stood before the meeting even occurred. The planning commission had voted to reject the project, so I knew where they stood. The council and chamber of commerce had made it known that they were greatly in favor of the project.

The first hour of speakers was almost entirely comprised of either city officials, developers, friends of the developers, and people who do not live in the city. Whereas, those against project were almost entirely residents of the city.

These projects are likely aimed at trying to piggyback off of the success of the Cerritos Mall. I think they could probably have built a similar project and not seen as much backlash. For instance, a 3 story housing complex with one floor dedicated to retail. This would not have raised as many issues with the community, while also be faster to complete. This faster completion would also allow for the people to gauge the impact it has on the community. Should this project be beneficial, I'm sure they could carry on with their plans for Artesia Live II, while also being able to cite the success of this first Artesia Live as their justification.

Drinkingcola5 karma

What's your favorite pizza?

LunarGopher4 karma

It's a toss-up between none pizza with left beef or pepperoni and mushroom.

Drinkingcola3 karma

What about pineapple, would you eat or reject?

LunarGopher8 karma

Would you put a pine tree on your pizza? Would you put an apple on your pizza? Why would the combination of the two be suddenly make it ok?

jetatx1 karma

That better be halaal bro. You should know better. Good shit fighting corruption though btw.

LunarGopher2 karma

I was baptized and raised Catholic, but am no longer religious so I think I'm good on the halal part haha.

gueriLLaPunK2 karma

Ha! My mom is Catholic and my dad is Muslim. I dabbled in both religions but I'm also 'no longer religious'

LunarGopher2 karma

Wow! Small world haha. I went to Catechism to get my first communion but that was when stopped going to church. I never participated or learned anything about Islam, but its interesting to see that others have a similar background to me.

infinitum175 karma

What was the dig about your AP Government teacher about? Is he on the city council?

crochetthrowaway56 karma

He was the former mayor while teaching. He would leave the room at all times, be on his phone, and use his position to preach his own political views. He would threaten students to fail them for a number of reasons, including failing them if they failed the ap exam, even if they had a passing grade. Students got tired of his shit and collectively signed a petition asking for him to be removed. The students brought it to the assistant principal, who promptly threw the petition on the trash. Nothing happened to him or the petition since him and the a.p were close friends.

LunarGopher3 karma

It is also difficult to do anything about him because he has tenure. He can basically continue to do as he pleases without consequence.

mric1243 karma

Reduce his pay to $1. But so long as the administration likes him, you're correct -- he's got a nice cushion.

LunarGopher1 karma

I'm sure that would work as an incentive to get him to improve his teaching haha. However, the district has fixed payment for the teachers which can be seen in this chart here - http://www.abcusd.k12.ca.us/files/_aOL6J_/b7e0e13cbd39756f3745a49013852ec4/Certificated_Salary_Schedule_2016-17.pdf

ItsChadReddit4 karma

have you had the oxtail poutine from Belly Bombz?

LunarGopher6 karma

Last time I went to Belly Bombz the oxtail poutine was $18 and I was not ready to drop that much on poutine haha

Notaroadbiker4 karma

You drive a subehroo?

LunarGopher4 karma

I guess I don't really have a choice now.

Quindi2 karma

I'm curious about your motivation for this.

I agree, the investor company's website looks like there is something off. Like, why does it has a photo of the Statue of Liberty and US citizenship and immigration. But it's a website.

The donation to the city. I see no issue with this (as long as it occurs). Unless the city mismanages this.

However, the visit to China on the city's payroll is odd to me.

But really, what is your issue with the project?

LunarGopher5 karma

My biggest issue is that we haven't seen the effect of Artesia Live I. If the first project was a success for the city, then there would be no reason for me to oppose the second project. However, I find it weird that we are pushing for a second project from the same developer that has not been able to show progress on their first project.

Also they had a groundbreaking ceremony in December, but I believe that it was mainly to serve as a photo op. I checked out the site a few days ago, and it doesn't seem like there has been any progress since that. Their recording of the groundbreaking makes it seem like they have done far more work than they have actually done. The majority of the lot is just an overgrown lawn, with a back corner where they filmed the groundbreaking.

Quindi2 karma

This makes sense. I feel this message is diluted with additional information/jabs that is/are not related to this central message.

I do wonder if within you or within the community there is greater frustration that is manifesting through speaking out against this project. (Like thoughts of corruption, mismanagement, not supporting the needs/wants of the residents)

LunarGopher4 karma

I am sure that the frustration at the mismanagement by the city is prompting these responses. People will only take so much before they decide to take matters into their own hands, and I believe that is what we are seeking now. Thanks for the feedback, I'll try to keep your advice in mind for the future!

WaitedTill2015ToJoin2 karma

Did you ever try to reach out to the developers and ask them what's up? I'm using EB-5 money right now for a development and can tell you, it's very difficult to get that type of financing lined up for a development and even harder with the current political climate.

It seems like they were most likely tied up with USCIS background checks (which can take years during the last administration) and couldn't start Phase 1 (only a guess) but were trying to get Phase 2 started knowing it might take years again to get that phase in order.

LunarGopher3 karma

I had figured that the city council would be a better choice to ask, but in hindsight you make a valid point. I'll try to get in contact with the developer and see what is causing the hold up. Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it!

Also just to clarify, Artesia Live I and Artesia Live II are not phases of the same project, but separate projects entirely.

xJokerz2 karma

Do you plan on studying political science at a university ? Name recognition is one of the toughest obstacles a politician can create for themselves. You being only 18 gives you a huge advantage.

LunarGopher5 karma

I am currently majoring in Political Science, but am also looking into minoring or double majoring in urban development. I'm not interested in any elected positions, but I appreciate your support!

Kougeru1 karma

Was the "I'm not millennial" thing sarcasm? Because 18 year olds are millennials.

LunarGopher3 karma

I thought term Millennial was meant for those who had come of age at the turn of the millennium. I had always assumed I was Generation Z, who are those who grew up with the Internet and technology. I feel like I can relate more with Generation Z characteristics that Millennials'