Corruption’s Partner Is Our Own Indifference.

I don’t do indifference. I don’t do close enough. I don’t accept half truths. When I want answers I’ll go to almost any length to get them. I’ve got them… in spades!

After several months of investigation, submitting numerous CPRA requests to the City Clerk with the hope of finding some truth about the Hines Brea Place project, I finally discovered the truth.

We, and I mean the City Council, the Planning Commission and concerned citizens, have been the victims of a deception of unprecedented proportions.

The deception begins to unravel.

I requested copies of an RFP to write/produce an Addendum to the Brea General Plan Final EIR, a list of firms invited to submit a proposal, all proposals received, other written communications between City of Brea staff and firms invited to submit a proposal. All I got was the now widely distributed proposal from Kimley-Horn plus the general response which had become painfully familiar…

“There are no documents responsive to your request.”

So I emailed the City Clerk with this inquiry, “Just to confirm, the non responsive results verify that multiple firms were not invited to submit proposals. The city policy to seek competitive bids was waived and the PSA ($59,981.00) with Kimley-Horn was approved on a sole supplier basis.”

The email was bounced to David Crabtree, Director of Development, who, on Monday morning, April 3, responded, “We solicited two proposals for this CEQA review, Kimley-Horn and ICF International. We selected Kimley-Horn for the job and executed a PSA with them. We do not have any responsive records to provide regarding the requests, other than what we have given you. We have not retained a copy of the rejected proposal from ICF — it was over a year ago and we don’t have any reason to retain. Hope this information is of benefit. Dave”

Red flags started going up like a May Day parade in the Kremlin!

I responded to David, “How were the solicitations made if there are no responsive documents? What, as you remember, differentiated the proposals such that you selected Kimley-Horn? Was the decision based upon low bid? Is the discarding of the ICF proposal in keeping with the city’s records retention policy?”

Thankfully I wasn’t limited to hammering the city with CPRA requests. Other resources became available so I shortly received a copy of the letter soliciting ICF’s participation in the project and the proposal they submitted. You know, the one staff decided to shred.

Busted!

The proposal was crystal clear, writing an addendum was absolutely the wrong thing to do… so wrong that ICF refused to do so and instead submitted a proposal to do a new EIR in accordance with CEQA. Forget all that legal mumbo jumbo tossed about by the City Attorney. Here’s what the ICF proposal said:

“We understand that the City’s goal is to tier (i.e. extrapolate) from the 2003 General Plan Final EIR and the 2005 Negative Declaration for the establishment of the Mixed-Use Zoning Districts to the extent feasible. However, the baseline conditions for the project-level analysis for the current environmental document will need to be existing conditions that exist on the ground, rather than the previously approved land use entitlements. Thus, we do not necessarily believe that tiering from these documents is the best option for CEQA compliance, and have attempted to explain our rationale below.”

Translation: You’re asking us to write an addendum “if feasible.” It’s not feasible. Let us explain why you should not do this.

“The General Plan Final EIR acknowledges that it is in fact a Program EIR…” Program, get it, not project! You can’t use a program level document to assess impacts at the project level — especially 14 years later!

“If a later activity would have effects that were not examined in the program EIR, a new Initial Study would need to be prepared leading to either an EIR or a Negative Declaration.”

Precisely what I and several others have been referring to as “cumulative” impacts. Like the traffic impacts created by Central Park Brea and La Floresta.

It gets better!

“While the previous environmental documents set the expectation for future development of the site in accordance with the General Plan and Zoning, it is our opinion that the previous environmental documents are not sufficient to cover the development project and that a standalone EIR be conducted, incorporating the previous environmental documents by reference. We believe this to be the best course of action for the following reasons:

  • The General Plan EIR is a first-tier program EIR. Tiering (i.e. extrapolating) from this EIR might be appropriate for new General Plan policies or actions, but not specific development projects.
  • Use of a Subsequent or Supplemental EIR, or even an Addendum, would be appropriate if there were minor changes to the General Plan (which was the previous action evaluated). Specific development proposals were not identified in the General Plan, and therefore the project does not represent a minor change to the previous project.
  • The impact analysis under the General Plan is at a program level, and does not address the impacts associated with development of the site and impacts on surrounding areas. Thus, the impacts associated with development of the site have not been adequately defined or disclosed.
  • Over 10 years have passed since certification of the General Plan EIR and the Zoning District Negative Declaration. Thus, existing conditions and circumstances have changed substantially since that time, and new issues must be examined under CEQA.

Thus, for the reasons above, we have proposed to prepare a stand-alone EIR for the proposed project.”

There it is, the smoking gun Zim Walker has been talking about!

Let’s get back to the sticky parts of the process.

Monday, late afternoon, I shared all of this with City Manager, Bill Gallardo. Somewhat stunned, he agreed to bring all of this to the attention of David Crabtree, first thing Tuesday morning. Early Tuesday I received this from Bill:

“Hi Rick: Not ready to discuss… still gathering the facts… if not today for sure tomorrow. Thanks. Bill”

Here is my response:

“Bill… After being deflected, misinformed and flat out lied to for almost two months I finally uncovered irrefutable evidence. I shared all of this with you Monday afternoon, saving you the months of time wasted I was subjected to.

As you are abundantly aware, I have documents that prove staff knowingly ignored information from a highly reputable source, one solicited by staff specifically for their guidance and assistance in the Hines Brea Place matter. Staff was clearly told, in no uncertain terms, why relying upon an addendum to our 14 year old General Plan and FEIR violated CEQA guidelines on multiple grounds.

Members of the Planning staff violated current city records retention policy by destroying the incriminating communications mentioned above. They also knowingly violated the CPRA by reporting to Lillian Harris-Neal, City Clerk, that they possessed no records responsive to my requests when the truth was, as clearly admitted to in the email I received Monday morning from David Crabtree, Director of Development, that the documents had been destroyed.

Any reasonable person discovering what I’ve discovered would likely reach the same conclusions I have, that there has been collusion amongst some members of the Planning Department and City Attorney’s office, to violate environmental law (CEQA) and the public’s right to know (CPRA), with the ultimate objective to hide everything from the Council, the Planning Commission, the City Manager and the public they’ve been hired to serve.

Please, regardless of who may be counseling you to circle the wagons, finding a way to minimize damages and public exposure, I ask you to do the right thing. Choose instead to serve the people’s best interest. And please, provide full accountability and transparency while you strive to resolve these egregious acts.

Restart the Planning Commission on a proper course of action in the matter of the Hines Brea Place development so it might reach a positive conclusion that benefits all concerned.

Purge city staff of those who hold themselves above the law and follow personal agendas that ignore the people they’re hired to serve. Re-educate members of city staff who have inadvertently been duped into facilitating the misconduct of their peers.

You’re asking for an extra day beyond what we discussed on Monday. If it means the people of Brea will receive the service and justice they deserve… of course.

Respectfully, Rick Clark”

Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon.

smoking gunAgain, Bill and I had a lengthy conversation about what I had uncovered and what he intended to do next. He shared the response he received from David Crabtree, “Early last year we conducted meetings with the City Planner, City Attorney, Hines staff and their attorney and John Koos, the Hines consultant. We evaluated both proposals and elected to go with the one from Kimley-Horn.”

Hang on, wasn’t I told by Hines’ Project Manager Bhavesh Parikh, “they were only invited to participate in initial discussions about the addendum but were given no role in the final decision. The City Planner unilaterally made the decision.”

So “they” included the Hines attorney and consultant. No mention of reviewing two contradicting proposals. No suggestion “they” played a role in the decision.

I’m having a pretty damned hard time buying off on all of the smoke and mirrors surrounding the Hines project and everyone concerned.

I told Bill that as there seemed to be no attempt on the part of staff to rectify anything, they left me with no alternative but to publish my findings and opinions on Brea Matters.

The Russians are coming! The Russians are Coming!

One might think so since Brea Matters, less than 5 hours later, was hacked! Yup, obliterated from the interwebs! Scrubbed, deleted, summarily violated! Six years of hard work and dedication erased.

Thanks to a brilliant webmaster, most of the site through 2016 was recovered by morning and I’ve republished the balance today. In sharing what happened with a couple of close friends, this was best characterized as a malicious targeted criminal enterprise.

Okay folks, it’s up to you now.

I know this has been a lot to absorb. My first reaction to finding out the truth was, “Oh no, not in good ol’ Brea!” Get over it. It happened here and we need to step up and do something about it.

Both City Council and the Planning Commission have been alerted to this post. Most of it, especially the ethics and legal ramifications, are brand new to them. As this starts to sink in, I suggest you send them an email letting them know how you react to it.

Haul your feelings into the Planning Commission meeting on April 25th and speak up. Get there early or Hines will have already filled the good seats with their Hollywood extras and you’ll be left standing in the back again.

Is this how you want your city run? Is this how you believe your community can create a sustainable future for itself? For you? For your kids and grandkids?

Some serious housekeeping is in order!

Markman & Flower

 

16 thoughts on “Corruption’s Partner Is Our Own Indifference.

  1. Thanks Rick for being so determined to find out what happened. It is such common sense to have a new EIR and yet, City Staff seemed to have tunnel vsion. I will certainly be making my opinion known and will finally be able to be at a meeting. I hope you also shared this with the Chamber of Commerce. Certainly looks like the Chamber has been hoodwinked as well. Or, at least I hope so. So sad.

    • Christie… Yes, sad and at the same time so angering. The malfeasance is so apparent to me and the “system” is so unable to attack the problem. I haven’t shared with the Chamber, access is so protected there. With a Hines employee on the Board and John Koos their Chairman I don’t see them shifting to support Breans.

  2. Whoa, this is crazy! It’s insane that someone would go so far as to hack your site just to keep the truth from coming out. It just proves that you’re getting uncomfortably close to the truth and making someone really nervous.

    Everyone in Brea needs to read about this – it sounds like the Planning Department was counting on us being a bunch of ignorant bumpkins who don’t know or care enough to get involved, but they were dead wrong.

    Thanks for waving the flag and getting us off our butts and into the fray!

    • Matt… Have taken extra precautions to avoid a recurrence but the more others spread the message outside this platform, the more likely we’ll force the city to respond and do what they should have done from the start.

  3. We think of Brea as a small town with small town values — it is so disheartening to see the same duplicity employed with Hines as was done with Madrona.

    Most folks are too busy to be engaged in the discourse that occurs when these matters come before the Planning Commission and/or City Council.

    I am personally grateful to you for your dogged persistence in discovering this information and your willingness to fight for the average citizen of Brea.

    The average Joe needs advocates willing to do the dirty work — I am sorry and alarmed that this ended up with a website hack. Godspeed Rick- we need more like you in this world!

    • Theresa… The tyranny of the urgent, we’re all in such a rush to get where? In our rush we lose sight of what truly benefits us the most — and small town Brea is at the top of my list too. Lets all keep a close eye on this and not be afraid to hold our elected and appointed officials accountable. Thanks for your support Theresa!

  4. It’s relieving to see Brea’s “Golden Circle” exposed for what they truly are. Another thought—Slick (Murdock) has been in deep hibernation just waiting to pop his head out of the cave. Us concerned Brean’s will be right here standing behind you Rick

    • Mike… The “Golden Circle’s” crossed a line. They hid documents germane to the process from the Planning Commission. They shredded the documents in violation of the city’s records retention policy. They lied in response to legitimate CPRA requests. They publicly presented misinformation an attempt to validate a position they knew to be prohibited. They hoodwinked Council into approving a $60k dollar Professional Services Agreement without a proper multiple bid process.

      The Pool Boy is probably the least of our worries, he squandered what little political capital he ever accrued long ago. I’d be keeping an eye on BOUSD Board member Bill Hall. The big fat rumor du jour is that he’s considering a run for Council in 2018. Personally, I believe that ego and arrogance have taken him about as far as they can and his resume is brimming with one failure after another.

      I’d love to see a couple of folks emerge out of the Avocado neighborhood and make a serious run for Council. City Hall needs to become the people’s house again.

  5. Thoughts as they randomly emerge. First, I am so sorry for the hack assault. Though mitigated to some degree, in my experience, it is rude, ball bashing blindside.

    Second, I so appreciate your ‘legwork’, with consequent depth of understanding.

    Third, as newcomer to all of this, understanding would come more easily with acronyms explained, e.g. I imagined that ‘EIR’ refers to ‘Environmental Impact Report’.

    Fourth, logic and impact, if not law, would lead to conclusion that current ‘EIR’, if I am correct in my understanding, is imperative.

    Fifth, in my clinical career, we were required to keep records for at least 7 years, beyond treatment. (Though retired, my mancave is stuffed now with those records.) In my field, as far as the courts were concerned, no records retained, meant no credibility for the putative record holder.

    Finally, Rick, and thought at substantive rather than procedural/process level: since the Brea Place developers ignored realities of both drought from which we are still recovering and droughts anticipated for years to come, I propose that every room, whether it be hotel, apartment/condo, be equipped with state of the art ‘divining rod’.

    I am getting the Hines’ itch: start from scratch! Glitter from their fools gold, no longer blinds.

    Keep the good work going.

    Doug Matthews

    • Doug… Always good to hear from you. It’s easy to see that you’ve transitioned well from novice to veteran in this battle for common sense. I hope you represent the majority of Brea Matters readers and Brea residents. Such being the case, we will prevail.

  6. Smoking gun indeed!

    I think it’s about time that we as Brea’s residents got together and hired an attorney for the battle that is ensuing! The city is NOT playing fair, (or performing their tasks in a legal manner if you prefer). I can only hope that the exposure of their long list of illegal activities results in starting over and firing the culprits!

    Sadly, as of now, that’s all I can HOPE for. The criminals, (and we now know who they are), better do a better job of covering their tracks or better yet, avoid prosecution, admit your deceptions and start over!

    I’d hate to have Rick Clark on my trail! I’m glad you’re on our side Rick! Keep up the good work!

    • Zim… Where there is smoke, there is fire. As I’ve said all along, I have faith in the Commissioners. Now that, maybe for the first time really, they have the full picture of what this project represents and how the process should honestly proceed — it will be a win:win for everyone.

      Keep your nose clean Zim and you’ve got nothing to worry about. LOL!

  7. The note by Zim Walker has a good ring to it. Here’s a thought (without any knowledge on my part):

    Channel 2 has a guy that is always asking for issues to be investigated and make public. Maybe we should have him take a look — and make it really public.

    Thoughts?

    • Stan… Great idea. I believe you’re talking about David Goldstein. His specialty is investigating government corruption. Call him.

  8. This is exactly why the people running the city should have to be long time residents of the city!

    • Regina… Interestingly, Brea’s Community Development Director, David Crabtree, is a long time resident. Maybe you’d like to shoot him an email with your opinion about this whole situation: davidc@cityofbrea.net

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