25 October 2010

More developers finance the Yes on R campaign

The second filing by the Yes on Measure R campaign of California Form 460, Monetary Contributions Received, reveals that between 1 and 16 October 2010, the campaign received $21,950, bringing the total contributed so far to $54,400.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that a good many of the contributors are the familiar developers whose names are perpetually linked with controversial land-use projects in Berkeley.

Tied in first place, having contributed $5,000 each, are Pacific Gas & Electric and the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council PAC. The carpenters recognize an opportunity for more jobs in the promise of accelerated development offered by Measure R. As for PG&E, $5,000 is peanuts compared to the $46.1 million the utility spent on vainly trying to pass the anti-green Proposition 16 in June.

In second place, with $2,000 each, are First Shattuck, LLC and Constitution Square, LLC. First Shattuck owns and manages the 13-story Great Western Building—known since 1997 as the Power Bar Building and soon to be known as the Chase Building—in the heart of downtown Berkeley. Between 2001 and 2009, First Shattuck earned $917,347 in Federal contracts through lease or rental of office facilities.

Constitution Square, LLC of San Rafael is just another name for Wareham Development, a major commercial developer and landlord in West Berkeley. The name comes from the Constitution Square Building at 2168 Shattuck Avenue, which Wareham developed in 1983 and sold in 2004 to Seagate Properties, also of San Rafael.

Seagate Properties, which gave $1,000, owns and manages five properties in central Berkeley, including the Wells Fargo Building, the aforementioned Constitution Square, 1950 and 2030-40 Addison Street, and the Promenade at 1936 University Avenue. Seagate was the initial developer of the 9-story Arpeggio at 2055 Center Street, which it sold in 2005 to SNK Realty Group of Phoenix, Arizona.

Four other contributors came into play with $1,000 each. Developer Patrick Kennedy sold his seven apartment buildings to Sam Zell’s Equity Residential, but he continues to develop properties in Berkeley and owns the landmark Ennor’s Restaurant Building (formerly the Act 1 and 2 cinemas) at 2130 Center Street.

Townsend 1, LLC of San Francisco is a private company categorized under Private Elementary and Secondary Schools. However, when this reporter phoned their office, the recorded greeting identified the business as Townsend Properties.

Doug Herst, who also contributed $1,000, is a lighting industry veteran. His family founded Peerless Lighting in 1892, and Herst managed the company from 1965 until his retirement in 2006. Upon his retirement, Herst turned his attention to property development in Berkeley. Currently he is chairman and CEO of Herst Ventures, Inc. and working with Darrell de Tienne on a planned work-live development called Peerless Greens. Like a number of other Yes on R contributors, Herst is a generous donor to the Berkeley Repertory Theatre—the Rep’s 2009 annual report places him in the Presidents category ($3,000–$5,999).

The cypher among the $1,000 contributors is Fair-Hill Enterprises, Inc. of Danville. This company is run by its president, James A. Hill, out of his home in the Diablo Highlands subdivision. It was incorporated in May 2009 and was preceded by Fair-Hill Enterprises, LLC, formed in January 1997 and converted out.

Five entities contributed $500 each. Rue-Ell Enterprises, Inc. is familiar to most Southside and Northside dwellers as the owner of rental properties, commercial arcades, and food courts. Hotel Shattuck is owned and operated by BPR Properties of Palo Alto. A few years ago, before the economic bubble burst, BPR proposed to build a 16- or 19-story tower in the hotel’s rear. Measure R would help make that dream a reality.

1950 MLK LLC is another name for Hudson McDonald, developers of the 148-unit New Californian apartment complex, popularly known as the Trader Joe’s Building. A fourth contributor who gave $500, Eat/Work Development, is a real-estate development limited partnership headed by Michael Goldin, an architect, furniture designer, and landlord to various commercial tenants in West Berkeley.

The fifth entity who gave $500 to Yes on R is Berkeley Foundation for the Arts, a non-profit associated with the ACCI Gallery at 1652 Shattuck Avenue. Interestingly, only this past June, councilmember Jesse Arreguín, a leader of the No on R campaign, relinquished $750 from his council office budget to be granted to Berkeley Foundation for the Arts to fund the design and execution of a large-scale mural on the south-facing wall of 1690 Shattuck Avenue.

Greenbelt Alliance contributed $250 to Yes on R, having apparently fallen for its “green” promise.

David Fleishhacker of San Francisco gave $100. A career educator and author, he is president of the Fleishhacker Foundation and a member of the Berkeley Rep board of trustees. The Rep’s 2009 annual report places him in the Associate Producer donor category ($6,000–$11,000).

Closing the current Yes on R contributors’ list with $75 is architect and sometime developer David Trachtenberg, whose practice seems to have evolved toward the type of commercial construction that would benefit if Measure R wins in November.

On the expenditure side, the Yes on R campaign reports having paid $1,500 to the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter for [campaign] literature; $20,922.30 to the campaign firm Terris Barnes Walters for literature (the trifold mailer designed to look as if it had come from the Sierra Club); and $755, also for literature, to Californians Vote Green of Los Angeles.

Why would the Yes on R campaign pay $755 to Californians Vote Green? Because CVG is a sleazy political promoter who will back anyone who pays. In June, CVG supported PG&E’s Proposition 16. Its new slate mailer for November just landed in Berkeley mailboxes. Naturally, it includes the endorsement Yes on Measure R*. In the bottom margin, the following legend was added in mousetype: “Appearance is paid for and authorized by each candidate and ballot measure which is designated by an *.”


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