(The opinions expressed on this page
are those of the editor of this Web site, and not necessarily the
positions of the organizations listed elsewhere on the site.)
It's pretty shadowy -- there's no person or corporation saying
"We're the ones behind Canyon Hills, and we stand on our track
record of excellence in building projects like this." It's
difficult to ferret out who's really behind the development. The
mailer says "our project principals have a successful track
record..." without saying who they are. Why don't they want
us to know who they are?
I of the Canyon Hills DEIR states "The project applicant
is Whitebird, Inc., c/o 444 S. Flower St., Suite 3100, Los Angeles,
CA 90071." What is this legal entity? (The address listed is
that of Consensus Planning Group -- see below).
On Nov. 5, 2003, a Nevada corporation registered
to do business in California under the name of California Whitebird,
Inc. They gave their address as 333 South Hope St. 48th fl, Los
Angeles, CA 90071, which is the address of their law firm, Sheppard,
Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP. (The 48th-floor view from downtown
must be beautiful -- and expensive.)
The Nevada Corporation named "Whitebird, Inc" is represented
in Nevada by a registered agent, meaning that its principals are
out-of-state. The President is one Linda Thomas of Arlington, TX.
You can look this up on the website
for the Nevada Secretary of State. This is an awful lot of indirection:
Texas people setting up a Nevada Corporation, which registers to
do business in California.
Who really owns the land for the project site? Whitebird, Inc.
is listed as the owner of some of it on the LA County Assessor rolls,
but other owners are listed for other parcels. Does Whitebird own
it indirectly? Do they have an option to buy it?
If this project is built, where will the profits go? Nevada? Texas?
Consensus Planning Group
Consensus Planning Group is an important part of the Canyon Hills
team. They are a local PR agency that specializes in outreach on
development projects in Los Angeles. On their Website
you can read how they "deliver grassroot support for your project"
(What if it's against the interest of the locals, how do they deliver
this support?), and how they can "manage pre-existing opposition."
Here's another juicy little quote from that page:
"When all is said and done, the most important part of any
project is approval. With our extensive experience working with,
and interacting with, elected officials..."
In other words, they know how to play local politics to override
the opinions of the locals. How do they do this? One way is by donating
money to local election campaigns. For the March, 2003 City Council
election, the following companies that worked on the Canyon Hills
EIR donated money to Wendy Greuel's election campaign:
- Consensus Planning Group: two $500 donations
- Templeton Planning Group (Land Planning consultant): $500
- Sheppard Mullin LLP (Legal Counsel): two $500 donations
- Chris Joseph & Assoc. (EIR Consultant): $500
- Zeiser Kling Consultants (Geotechnical): $500
- Crosby Mead Benton & Assoc (Hydrology Consultants): two
Some of these companies are as far away as Santa Ana and Newport
Beach. All donated on 2/25/03 (except for Templeton's, which was
made on 3/18). Three of them donated to no other city councilman.
It seems pretty obvious that someone coordinated this set of donations
in order to curry political favor for this project. (This data comes
from the Los
Angeles City Ethics Commission. and the EIR
Consensus has the city of Los Angeles as a big
client. Does this give them undue influence with the City Planning
Commission? Is the City Planning Commission already predisposed
to serve developers' interests over those of the mass of ordinary
Consensus Planning Group also plays dirty. Here's part of an article
from the Nov/Dec. SHPOA (Shadow Hills Property Owner's Association)
The Self Realization Fellowship wished to expand
its facilities atop Mt. Washington and wished to transfer to its
grounds the body of Guru Yoganando now emtombed at Forest Lawn.
Initially, there was strong opposition to this expansion by neighbors
and a neighborhood association structured much like SHPOA. Suspiciously,
rather than dealing directly with their neighbors, the Self Realization
Felowship turned to the Consensus Planning Group, Inc., the same
firm now hired by Whitebird, to engage in what we view as very
One evening, at a regular meeting of the Mount Washington
Association - an association much like SHPOA - suddenly, instead
of the usual 30 or 40 residents who normally attend, 100 showed
up whose faces were unfamiliar to the neighborhood group regulars.
From the floor came a motion, quickly seconded, that forbade the
associaton's Board of Directors and its committees to take any
position on the Self Realization Fellowship expansion without
a vote of the association's members. From that day forward, the
Fellowship effectively took over the association. Two months later,
the coup was complete when another overflow crowd of Self Realization
Fellowship supporters succeeded in installing its own slate at
the helmof the neighborhood group and neutralized a once strongly
Why does the developer need this high-priced PR agency
to deal with us (the local residents of the area) if this project
is really in our best interest? Is this the way they do local outreach
-- by getting a bunch of stooges to take over the homeowners' associations?