Thursday, December 19, 2013

Anti-Neiman-Marcus and MaceRich ► If you can't beat the referendum beat their petitioners

By PETE BENNETT - Contra Costa Watch EMAIL
Phone: 510-460-5641
Posted: 12/19/2013

 Protect My Sons

_________________________________

Walnut Creek CA: In 2009 there was a referendum against Broadway Plaza's expansion related to Nieman-Marcus.  That referendum was defeated in part by brute force.  There are few witnesses and no investigation as that's what happens when the powerful have their way with your community - they put up pretty domes to convert public assets into private property.  Pretty we build and they take what need for themselves. 

On Dec 10th 2013 I arrived at City Hall for the MaceRich hearing.  Upon arrival I spoke with and had a minor but productive and cordial conversation.  When I was speaking across the room to Mr. Wedel, Mr. Simmons walked in then walked out.  I'm sitting quietly in the back when several officers arrive with allegations I was disturbing the meeting.  

It's apparent that Mr. Simmons was the caller but luckily for me I knew Officer Martinez and the Sargeant so things went smoothly but then I was told I couldn't speak at the hearing that there was no public comment. Fortunately the officers checked with the City Attorney who said that indeed Mr. Bennett can speak as it's the American Way and we stand united in letter the public process move forward.  I spoke against Macerich and apparently my complaints in the third attempt to raise issues went unheeded. 

A few days later I attempted to get public records on MaceRich and this time again the police were called - they raced over from less than 100 feet as their offices are ... on the same floor.  

IN 2010 I was told I couldn't get records and it required a police officer, in 2011 the same and in 2012 i was ticketed over 500, my truck was towed from layers of tickets from Broadway Pointe who are connected to Benny Chetcuti Jr. who is Mr. Forgery 

as I met the man who was attacked at the Safeway just I've been attacked at Safeway, just like my friends have been attacked.  This is not a complaint about Safeway at 500 South Broadway this is a complaint about attacking a referendum.  

In the Anti-Neiman-Marcus as per ballotpedia so these poor little petitioners are often down on their luck.  

Unfair Competition
Any fraudulent, deceptive, or dishonest trade practice that is prohibited by statute, regulation, or the Common Law.

How more dishonest can you get - beating up suspects (me), beating up residents (Marina Evans left in coma), beating up petitioners (Anti-Nieman-marcus) and then of course were going to venture into the Broadway Plaza Crime Wave.  

I've been through this and seen the Fake Crime Wave many times including my own in Walnut Creek.   


$10 signatures

According to Joe Mathews of Blockbuster Democracypetition signature collectors in Walnut Creek "say they are being paid $4 for each signature they collect outside retail establishments -- and $10 (yes, you read that right) a signature for door-to-door work. Those are among the highest payments for work on a local petition that I've ever seen in California."[8]



Walnut Creek Referendum on Neiman Marcus (2009)

Broadway Plaza
The Walnut Creek Referendum on Neiman Marcus is an attempt by Taubman Centers, the owner of Sunvalley Mall in Concord, California, to use the veto referendum process to overturn a May 19 decision of the Walnut Creek City Council that would allow a Neiman Marcus store in Walnut Creek to add 48,000 additional square feet in the open-air Broadway Plaza development.[1]
Opponents of the Neiman Marcus development collected signatures, for the second time in a year, to oppose the Walnut Creek City Council's approval of the expansion plans of Neiman Marcus. They are organized in a group called RAMPART, which stands for "Residents and Advocates for More Parking and Reduced Traffic."[2]
However, the Walnut Creek City Council declined to put the referendum measure on the ballot, instead putting Walnut Creek Measure I on the November 3, 2009 ballot. On September 1, a Superior Court judge rebuked the city council, and ordered them to put the referendum measure on the ballot. However, the deadline for certifying a measure for the November 3 ballot has passed. The city council will therefore have to put the measure on a special election ballot after November 3. The city council is also considering an appeal of the judge's decision.[3]
Walnut Creek, located in Contra Costa County, has a population of about 65,300. Neiman Marcus would like to build an expanded retail presence in the currently vacant former David M. Brian store. they've proposed a two-story, 35-foot-high building and a parking garage with 175 free spaces.[4]

Two anti-Neiman referenda

RAMPART, the Taubman-backed group opposing a Neiman Marcus expansion at Broadway Center, circulated two veto referendum petitions challenging decisions of the Walnut Creek City Council:
  • One petition asked voters to put a measure on the ballot that seeks to overturn the city council's approval of the Neiman Marcus project.
  • A second petition asked voters to put a measure on the ballot that seeks to overturn the city council's approval of a development agreement between the city and Macerich, which owns Broadway Plaza.
Signatures on both referenda were turned into election officials and were validated as sufficient. However, the city declined to place the measures on the ballot.[2]

Neiman Marcus supporters

Logo of "Say Yes for Walnut Creek"
A group called "Yes for Walnut Creek" is in favor of the Neiman Marcus expansion. This group unsuccessfully attempted to dissuade residents of Walnut Creek from signing the referendum petition through a petition blocking campaign. Among other activities, the group sponsored a robocall from former Mayor Gwen Regalia asking people not to sign the anti-Neiman Marcus petitions.
Chuck Davis is the vice-president of development for Macerich, the company that owns Broadway Plaza. He said, "We hoped the outpouring of community support for the new plan would be enough to convince Taubman to stop interfering in the decisions that should be left up to Walnut Creek's residents and leaders. We expect, however, that this time it will be much more difficult for Taubman....But if it happens, we are prepared to fight for the future of Walnut Creek and Broadway Plaza. It's just too important to let a rival developer set the course of this community for generations to come."[1]

Measure I

See also: City of Walnut Creek Broadway Plaza, Measure I (November 2009)
Store owners in Broadway Plaza and other supporters of expanded retail opportunities in Walnut Creek filed ballot language and collected signatures on a ballot initiative that competes with the anti-Neiman Marcus ballot measures. Measure I will authorize a 92,000-square-foot "anchor retail building" to be built at Mt. Diablo Boulevard and South Main Street, the site of Broadway Plaza. If that is approved, Neiman Marcus intends to take up that slot.[5]
Former arts commissioner Carole Wynstra, former Mayor Gwen Regalia and Rossmoor resident David Smith filed the wording for the proposed initiative. Wynstra said, "A key purpose of this initiative is to preserve the retail vitality of Walnut Creek ... and make sure decisions about Walnut Creek's future are made by Walnut Creek residents."[5]

"Right to vote" initiative

Walnut Creek residents organized in the group RAMPART ("Residents and Advocates for More Parking and Reduced Traffic"), the same group that circulated two veto referendum petitions opposing the city council's approval of the Broadway Plaza developed, have also now filed a 21-page initiative in that will, if approved, give the city's voters a direct say on any proposed developments in the city over a certain size. Such developments would have to go on a city-wide ballot for voter approval, according to this initiative.[6]
According to Selma King, an organizer of this initiative, "What we are hoping is it will wake people up, especially the City Council ... and make them realize people are unhappy. You can send messages out and say 'fix this.'

Provisions

Some of this details of this initiative include:
  • Any proposed retail project at or over 40,000-square feet in the "retail gateway area" would have to go on the ballot for a vote of the people.
  • Height limits in the retail area can't change without a vote of the people.
  • Physical parking spaces must be built for development at or over 40,000 square feet. Valet or mechanical parking lifts could not be used or considered as new parking.

Opposition

Opponents believe that this "right-to-vote-on-development" initiative is aimed at Broadway Plaza but would have negative ramifications for all development in Walnut Creek. Walnut Creek developer Brian Hirahara says that if this initiative gets on the ballot and passes, it will shut down development in the city.[6]
Hirahara also believes that this proposed initiative:
  • Encourages strip mall development
  • Will "destroy the quaintness and character of our downtown and force retailers and jobs into neighboring retail districts such as San Ramon."[6]

Campaign donations

Against Neiman-Marcus

Rival developer Taubman Centers has spent $224,337 in 2009 on its efforts to qualify two referenda intended to block the Neiman-Marcus development from going ahead. Taubman funds RAMPART ("Residents and Advocates for More Parking and Reduced Traffic"). As of August 5, 2009, it had given the group $169,000 and had $54,000 in unpaid bills. Taubman is the only donor to this group, as of early August. Taubman also spent $95,000 in 2008 on a different effort. Of the funds spent by Taubman in 2009, $154,000 went to paid circulators.[7]

For Neiman-Marcus

Macerich spent $217,803 to qualify an initiative for the ballot. A different group, "Yes for Walnut Creek", that supports the Neiman-Marcus idea, spent about $33,000.[7]

How initiatives get on the ballot

Once the language has been filed, Walnut Creek's city attorney must review it. Once the attorney has said that the language is suitable, circulators have 180 days to collect the signatures of 15% of Walnut Creek voters.

$10 signatures

According to Joe Mathews of Blockbuster Democracypetition signature collectors in Walnut Creek "say they are being paid $4 for each signature they collect outside retail establishments -- and $10 (yes, you read that right) a signature for door-to-door work. Those are among the highest payments for work on a local petition that I've ever seen in California."[8]

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