Righteously rankled with how the March 28 Planning Commission meeting played out, flooded with Hines’ hired guns, whining millennials and out-of-towners singing Hines praises, lifelong Brea resident Dwight Manley took up the people’s cause.
In addition to delivering a stern admonition to the Commission, Dwight followed up, sending all of Brea’s key leadership this correspondence:
Dear City of Brea Leadership,
I am writing you regarding something that I feel is of vital importance. After participating and attending the Planning Commission meeting two days ago, I witnessed an unmitigated hijacking of the democratic process.
Due to the Hines Corporation’s efforts to have all of their out of town paid consultants, as well as the now corrupted Chamber of Commerce’s leadership’s efforts to have letters read into the record, the Planning Commission summarily reduced the public comment time limit from five minutes to three.
Compounding this, the Commission chose to forego open discussion prior to the public’s comments, depriving the public of the Commissions thoughts.
If the Commission wisely chooses to take up to a week to formulate their thoughts and questions, why are the people they are supposed to represent forced to do any differently?
Are we now in a world in Brea that if one wants to silence the actual resident, you just have to pay outsiders to show up and babble about millennials?
As an example of what I did not have time to ask; Hines stated six months ago they spent $10,000,000 improving the property, and now they say $30,000,000 — receipts please?
They claimed six months ago that the rents would be $2,500-3,000, and we heard $1,300-1,400 at rebuttal — show us the actual pro forma rental charts they are using.
Where are the sight and sound studies on the roof top pools? Show us pictures of the west side that we now hear supposedly has a window that can’t be used to escape an emergency, and are too high to see down into the homes yards next door.
Six months ago the proposed hotel had a kitchen for room service only. Now there is a full restaurant and bar. How many seats, what hours of service, menu example, hours of operation?
Should that not have the same scrutiny as all of the existing Brea eateries have? Is a hotel lounge bar appropriate there?
Hines claims $1,600,000 annual (property) tax revenue to Brea from this. Show me the math! The properties would have to be assessed at over $1,000,000,000 (one billion) to net that much for us.
Hines’ lawyer claims the parking agreement with Regency is void. I detected some deception in the ladies voice, and read this as they want it to be void.
Was the theater lease assumed by 24 Hour gym? The parking for the gym at the rear of Regency, in which the school district has a financial interest, should be of top priority in whatever happens with Hines! In the Hines plans, it is an afterthought.
In closing, I urge you to not let Brea democracy be corrupted by billion dollar hedge funds or paid lackeys. Put the Brea resident first, and let actual Brea citizens have their full opportunity to be heard after the Commission has publicly discussed this — as has been done in Brea for 100 years.
Dwight Manley, a Brean since 1966
Taking people out of the process.
Dwight is right, the people have been deprived of meaningful participation from day one. The moment the City Planner decided to abandon standard practice, choosing instead to create an addendum to the 2003 EIR, she took the public out of play.
I believe this was a purposeful attempt to fast track Brea Place approval by the Planning Commission. In a single decision, public commentary was reduced to little more than white noise.
Challenges to this decision have been met with repeated reminders that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) permits such a choice under specific conditions. It remains to be seen of these conditions actually exist.
The gorilla in the room, the question that the Commission either fails to recognize or choses to ignore, is how did this decision get on the table to begin with?
According to Hines’ Project Manager Bhavesh Parikh, the developer was “… only invited to participate in initial discussions about the addendum but was given no role in the final decision. The City Planner unilaterally made the decision.” – that muffled public comment to a dull hum.
Consultant John Koos, in a separate conversation, suggested that, “… neither he nor anyone at Hines ever saw a draft of the addendum, that they saw what the Commissioners and public saw when it was posted a week before the February meeting.”
(These assertions ultimately prove to be either fractionally true or a shameless lie, both designed to disguise actual events. See blog post published on April 7.)
If you were a developer investing millions upon millions into a project of this magnitude, a developer with a 60 year history, $96.5 billion in assets, 533 properties with over 213 million square feet, would you really agree to be kept in the dark and excluded from decisions of this significance?
A cluster of contradictions.
In addition to the countless errors and misinformation littering the documentation and reports supporting the addendum… are the wild and wholly unbelievable marketing claims Hines offers to prove the project’s value to Brea.
In an ad Hines paid the Brea Chamber of Commerce to flood the city with, is the statement, “Economic benefits — millions in net annual revenues for critical city services such as public safety and street maintenance.”
Net annual revenues from what? As Dwight points out, that can’t possibly mean property taxes. After the state and county take their share, Brea gets only a fraction of property taxes… suddenly millions is reduced to hundreds!
If not property taxes then can Hines provide a detailed breakdown of where these “millions” would come from and how they would pay for city services?
The same ad claims, “Support of local businesses and new jobs ‑ $400 million in economic activity each year, bolstering the city’s businesses and creating hundreds of permanent new jobs.”
It’s easy to see how Hines duped the Brea Chamber into supporting their project… the Chairman of the Board served up the Kool-Aide and the Board fell in line to send form letters to the Commission.
I hope at least one of the Planning Commissioners has the insight and courage to challenge these absurd claims. Hines should not be given a pass on this. These bogus advertising claims challenge the voracity of every other assertion Hines makes.
The simple truth is, numbers don’t lie, but people do… show me the numbers!
It ain’t about the parking.
Not yet anyway. The 2003 EIR is too old. The other supporting documents are littered with error. No consideration has been given to cumulative impact from developments that came into being well after the ink on the 2003 EIR was dry.
We don’t have a clear enough picture of current conditions and potential negative impacts to start picking nits. Lets reboot this mess and do it right.
We need… deserve… scoping meetings and a fresh EIR to know where to take a closer look and how to eliminate as much negative impact as possible.
It could get even uglier.
If the Planning Commission blesses this mess just to get it off of their agenda the odds of an appeal to Council are 100%. Legal fees will pile up when we can least afford them.