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Major Developer Funneling Money Into New PAC

Santa Monicans for a United Future has strong ties to NMS Properties, Inc. The new committee has already spent $175,000 advocating for four Santa Monica City Council candidates.

NMS Properties, Inc.—which owns about 15 apartment complexes in Santa Monica—is throwing money into this year's City Council race, upwards of $100,000 as of the end of September.

The new committee, Santa Monicans for a United Future, has so far spent $76,100 conducting polls, printing campaign mailers and paying consultants to advocate for the election of four candidates vying for four seats Nov. 6. They are incumbents Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day and challengers Shari Davis and Ted Winterer.

It's funded with contributions from NMS itself and handfuls of limited liability corporations affiliated with it, such as 501 Broadway NMS, LLC, according to a Fair Political Practices Commission campaign finance disclosure statement filed Monday with the Santa Monica City Clerk's office. (The file is attached to the right of this article).

Additionally, according to the committee's filing, there are three limited liability corporations contributing to the committee that not identified as having affiliations with NMS: Century West Partners, LLC; Ideal Properties, LLC; and Roberts Business Park—SM, LLC.

Collectively, all of the companies donated $175,000 to the committee between Jan. 1 and Sept. 31.

By about $5,000, it has so far outspent one of Santa Monica's most influential political committees, Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights.

Democratic Club Picks Its City Council Candidate

NMS is a Los Angeles-based real estate development and property management company. In Santa Monica, it typically builds modern complexes, some of which are income-constricted. Four of its 20 projects—including 97 junior one-bedrooms and studios at 1447 Lincoln Blvd. and 50 apartments and penthouses at 1420 Fifth St.—are currently under construction, according a review of its website.

The city's Planning Department did not return a message Monday seeking information about any NMS projects that might be in the pipeline.

Santa Monicans United for a Responsible Future mailed fliers this week emphasizing the incumbents' records on keeping affordable housing a priority, creating jobs in Santa Monica and supporting public safety employees," the Santa Monica LookOut reported Monday.

"The flyer also said that curbing traffic and funding of schools would be among the incumbents’ goals," the LookOut article states.

It was also impressed with Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer for "preserving Santa Monica’s beach town character and scale" and Shari Davis for work as an "education advocate."

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Brenda Barnes October 11, 2012 at 10:41 PM
The group at Village Trailer Park who determined to sue if a project to close the Park were approved have met every Sunday in our community room at 2930 Colorado from 3 to 6 PM for a potluck-work meeting, since February. We have spent over 100 hours working together, and my husband Peter Naughton and I have spent almost three years fulltime working against this development. I am a retired Santa Monica real estate lawyer and he is an urban planner with a masters from Cambridge in England, with 31 years' experience working for developers. We also cofounded a now-permanent 501c3 charity dedicated to promoting and educating about ultra-low cost housing, edible landscaping, and renewable energy. (One has to wonder what the City and this developer did in their past lives to have such bad karma as to run into us, in a trailer park!) In any event, we now have 56 separate legal arguments we will choose among, if it becomes necessary, to fight this in court if the City approves it. I saw early because I worked for the City for five years, that they had already decided to approve it and I would end up having to sue. That is why we have spent three years preparing a legal case. With the Council we have now, I see no other choice. They are like a steamroller in favor of development. There is no convincing such people to do what is right or sensible.
Brenda Barnes October 11, 2012 at 11:05 PM
So I say in the short run we have to know we can stop them, no matter what they do. Win in court, as the tenants at Lincoln Place did against the City of LA and the biggest developer in the US. In the long run, though, we have to get a Council that goes back to the philosophy of Santa Monica for Santa Monicans and as a livable beach city for its residents, not the world's smallest ginormous tourist attraction or Manhattan at the Pacific. My e-mail address is brenda@flashbyte.us. If you send me your e-mail address, I will send you a copy of the summary Peter and I prepared of what all the candidates said at the Mirror Candidates night at the Library Auditorium Wednesday night.
Brenda Barnes October 11, 2012 at 11:12 PM
I think you will see everyone sounds pretty anti-development. It's in the air the City is fired up against traffic, crowds, high-priced chains and boutiques replacing neighborhood stores, people getting killed walking and riding bikes, noise, air pollution, misuse of public funds shown by lack of regard for seniors and an explosion of City employees (over 2200, not including police, firefighters, or teachers, for a population of less than 100,000), and the arrogance of the current Council. That is, all the candidates talked anti-development except the slate for the developers' Super-PAC mentioned in this article and others closely associated with the current Council. This last group includes Jerry Rubin, Richard McKinnon, and Frank Gruber (who isn't so hopeless, really, but with such a wealth of talent, is too much in favor of developing "the old industrial areas" to trust). I think you'll then see there are six or seven of the 15 running who seem to have a plan to run the City without new development. We should meet with them and decide on four to run as the People's Slate, and then figure out where to stand during rush hour every day from now until November 5 to sign up 20,000 Santa Monica voters to vote for that slate and if it is not elected, to vote to recall whoever is as well as the three other members of the Council not up for election this time who approved the LUCE. If we don't have enough time, we don't have enough time, but as JFK said, let us begin.
Dan Charney October 11, 2012 at 11:31 PM
I am in - and the specifics you mentioned are many of my key issues- just call a meeting-
Dan Charney October 12, 2012 at 12:45 AM
We need to get a spokesperson from SMRR on here to explain why they are backing Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day. Scares me.
Brenda Barnes October 12, 2012 at 06:03 AM
I heard from an insider who was here the 15 years I was gone traveling the world after I retired in 1997, that SMRR has gotten too involved with consulting and Board jobs for all the insiders, and has developed an incestuous relationship with Community Corp of SM, which is a non-profit that supposedly buys up apt buildings and keeps them "affordable" under rent control. Actually they are co-developer of that obscene "Village of Santa Monica" 300 luxury condo and apt development now being built across from the courthouse between Main and Ocean at the end of Olympic, and the "affordable" housing they provide is always rented to people who could qualify in the open market anyway, never at rents anyone who works as a cook or a nurse could afford. So the word I got was SMRR sold out long ago, and that is why the Rent Control Board does what the City wants it to now, even though rent control was passed and the Board was made separate (by SMRR) to keep the City from allowing any more destruction of rental housing, as it had allowed thousands to be in the 1970s. Also, vacancy decontrol of rents and the Ellis Act allowing apartment building owners to go out of the rental housing business passed at the state level and part of the tenant harassment law the voters passed was invalidated by a court, so to give the Board its probable due, it may be afraid pushing tenants' rights too much now will cause rent control to be restricted more or even outlawed by the state.
Brenda Barnes October 12, 2012 at 06:09 AM
What am I thinking? I was gone only 12 years. It sure was fun.
Dan Charney October 12, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I mentioned the Senior Center- it's one of my biggest issues. That and the destruction of Bergamot and the expansion of the Miramar and the huge building going on all over Ocean Ave near Chez Jay's- other areas of massive developments bother me endlessly.
Dan Charney October 12, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Sec8 was better. CC requires a minimum income and perfect credit for it's low income buildings. How many people with low income have good credit? A thousand a month to live on, Medi-Medi, FS will not get you a unit in CC. RC is pushing these apts.. Section 8 was de-funded It was terrible for the needy.It stops many building owners from Ellis-ing their buildings. It provided the few extra bucks to the owners. CC is terrible, rude and difficult to deal with. I went to one meeting - the representatives were l dictators, humiliating everyone while throwing around their demands. CC is an excuse for developers to rip down older building and get rid of RC altogether. I sent SMRR a request to tell us why they support Gleam D and Terry who so obviously are enemies of keeping SM the way it was before they - along with Bloom destroyed it. As for harassment, it's rampant. No help from the city . You have to hire an attorney. Legal aid is overwhelmed. Most do not have money for an attorney. I've been harassed in many ways here for a long time. I wish I had money for a lawyer. I'd love to expose this form of it. I was also told by RC that almost no one is using Ellis and very few units are being removed since the original spurt of them when they first reversed it. I would still like to hear more from the two Davis's and O'Day- I have written to them all to respond to us on here, along with SMRR.
Dan Charney October 12, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Brenda, What do you know of Ilse Rosenstein and Christopher Walton? The two candidates for Rent Control Board backed by SMRR? thanks
Cris McLeod October 12, 2012 at 09:57 PM
What a laugh, only 2 residents would write such hate and they both have received $25,000. From the Landlord for their $5: forty year old trailers, I wonder where the incentive could come from. Bought and paid for by the Landlord the City of Santa Monica, the owner of the property. The mud slinging that goes on here is hilarious, tenants driving new cars all paid for by the Landlord, while others have to defend themselves in court against the City Attorneys office its a disgrace but its the Robust political system here in Santa Monica. Thanks.
Brenda Barnes October 13, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Dan, I meant none of the candidates Wed night at the Mirror Home Town Forum mentioned the Senior Center. Regular people I talk to about it mention it all the time, even people who are not seniors, but especially seniors. The fact that it was not revealed--as we all know will be the case--that there are development plans for that site is even more cynical than the usual developer charade. It was pretended that this was a benefit for seniors, that we were going to get a "one-stop-shopping" center by having the Ocean Avenue Center closed and everything there moved to the Ken Edwards Center on 4th Street. As far as I know--and I've been to the Ocean Avenue Center about 50 times before they started reducing benefits there to already lessen the number coming, which was very large, almost always capacity--no one in the entire group of users of the Ocean Avenue Center EVER expressed any need for a one-stop-shopping center. In fact, everyone loves the view, the location in Palisades Park, its proximity to many buses, and the easy parking on streets with our disabled placards. No one wants to leave. This shows how seniors, apartment dwellers, we at Village and Mountain View Trailer Parks, everyone in town affected by traffic caused by overdevelopment, particularly people on the Eastside, South, and Mid-City, are all in this together. It may be one group's direct fight today, but developers are aiming at all of us.
Brenda Barnes October 13, 2012 at 02:05 PM
When that hateful comment mentioned stopping by the manager's office, I knew it was not legitimate. That and not revealing the author's identity. The City losing that anti-SLAPP motion, which means a court found it filed a lawsuit against a tenant due to his exercising his free speech rights as a tenant, got no publicity at all. The way the City is still always portrayed as still caring about tenants the way SMRR did in the 70s and 80s is part of the PR ploy that makes it difficult to fight them. In fact, even SMRR cannot be counted on to stick up for tenants now, as is indicated by its endorsing Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day, who have voted for every development that will displace tenants, and who voted for LUCE, which is a developer's dream to add millions of square feet of commercial high-rises (four and five-story blobs, block after block, just like 6th Street has now). We have a homeowner in our group at Village Trailer Park who bought a trailer here after being Ellised out of TWO apartment buildings between Wilshire and Colorado and Lincoln and Ocean. That whole area is gone. The entire City will be the same if these people are not stopped. We will stop them in court if they persist about Village Trailer Park, but one project at a time like that requires tons of work. It will be much better if the development steamroller is put out of office, period. That will save what's left of the entire City.
Brenda Barnes October 13, 2012 at 02:13 PM
How about Sunday the 21st between 3 and 6 at our community room, when and where we meet every Sunday for potluck and to divide up work to stop the proposed closing of Village Trailer Park? We'll invite the six or seven candidates who came out strong against LUCE and overdevelopment at the Mirror meeting Wed night, if those six or seven stick to that message at the Daily Press one on the 15th. We'll ask them for the specifics of their plans to run the City--provide the services we already have and the ones we want, not a library three blocks from another library 16 years after they promised it, so by the time they actually break ground it is redundant. We are not idiots they can keep selling their bill of goods to. We want specifics, and we will hold them to those specifics. I suggest we get them to sign documents that they will do whatever they tell us they will do, and we use those documents to recall them if they do not. It's time we got serious about what is affecting our quality of life so much.
Brenda Barnes October 13, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I agree with this. SMRR needs to stop standing on its laurels from the 70s and 80s. I think some of the people in that group are fabulous supporters of the rights of tenants. One is Michael Tarbot, who came to the Council meeting and said demolishing Village Trailer Park would be just like the Council approving demolishing thousands of rental units in the 70s, which caused rent control to pass. I also saw and heard him taking groups of people through the Park to show them it is an oasis of trees and wildlife and an absolutely fabulous place to live, not some stereotypical row of trailers cluttering up the fringe of a poor Southern town in a movie.
Brenda Barnes October 13, 2012 at 02:39 PM
However, the relationship of SMRR to CCSM is very problematic. I know this of my own personal knowledge. Community Corp bought 1959 Cloverfield, which had been denied rent increases twice when it was owned by private owners, when I was the manager of the Hearings Department at the Rent Control Board in 1986. Community Corp then applied for rent oncreases again, when who owns a building is not relevant under the Rent Control Law. So of course rent increases were going to be denied again, as they would have to be. However, Howell Tumlin, the Administrator of the Board at the time, called me up one day and asked me when CCSM's rent increase petition decision on 1959 Cloverfield would be issued. I told him when it was due, it would be issued then, and asked him why he cared, since we always issued our decisions on time (unlike now, when they are up to eight or nine MONTHS late), and he had never asked me about a decision before. He said they needed their decision to get refinancing of their loan at the bank. WHATTTTT???? And I do mean WTF. I'm a smart person, so I didn't need any more to tell me I was being told they were to be given rent increases. I had the decision give them rent increases as I was instructed. Then I quit and started a law firm representing landlords against rent control.
Brenda Barnes October 13, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I don't know anything about Christopher Walton. I signed Rosenstein's petition to run because she asked me to, but I see her doing whatever the Staff Report says on case after case. Given that the whole place is unreliable now--as it would have to be when it was already so corrupt in 1986 as I told you above--I don't think it matters much who's on the Board unless and until a majority will enforce the principles of the Charter Amendment. City Hall and the Board need cleaning out completely and starting over, with adherence to the principles that established each. City Hall was to make a livable, vibrant, growing city for its residents, growing in all ways, not just in numbers and amounts of money, and limited in numbers to how many can comfortably live in less than nine square miles. Instead, Santa Monica was the second most dense city in Los Angeles County a few years ago, and I'll bet it is by now or if not stopped soon will be the most dense. It is locked in here, surrounded by other communities in the second most populous City in the US, and, fortunately, the glorious Pacific Ocean. It cannot be Manhattan at the Pacific (or Silicon Beach, as that buffoon Bloom called it in his folksy out-of-date way this year). There simply is not enough room, and it is not an island with no earthquakes, where high rises can be surrounded by rivers and skies to give the residents a feeling of space even if they're in 200 square feet inside.
Brenda Barnes October 13, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Come to think of it since you asked, Dan, we know SMRR recommended G Davis and O'Day--who we know because we have seen them in action approving development after development with smooth talk about how they care about us, are the worst possible candidates--how about evaluating what anyone SMRR did NOT recommend says, and choosing from those? I do have to say, though, that SMRR did not recommend Bloom for the Assembly, so even SMRR has not sold out completely. Betsey Butler is way too conservative for most SM voters, certainly not a perfect choice, but to recommend Bloom is stomach-turning. He never saw a developer he didn't want to charm, always looking for his future consulting job and campaign contribution. They came through for him, too-- developer contributions at the max of $2,500 each constitute much of his campaign money. This is the second reason--other than how easy it is to accumulate money to run a city if you keep approving developments and taking a cut of millions in profits to be made--why the development steamroller hit us. My husband the urban planner says it is happening all over the planet. The combination of knowing big money to fund the politician's own future is best for him/her personally to cultivate--putting aside ethics and responsibility to voters--and the ease of accumulating pots of money to spend to make gullible voters happy and maybe get your name on a building or a park is just irresistible for many a politician.
Brenda Barnes October 13, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Looking now at what I said about the people on the City Council now wanting SM to be the world's smallest ginormous tourist attraction or Manhattan at the Pacific, I'm laughing. The funny thing is they want it to be BOTH! Actually, of course, it would be funny only if it were not so outrageous and cruel. To seniors, children getting asthma at outrageously increased rates, low-income people and/or smart people who invested in SM homes years ago thinking they would be able to live out their lives and will those homes to their grandchildren in the most wonderful City in the world, what a find! and small business owners who invested years of their lives and in some cases their grandfathers' and fathers' lives to build little businesses here doing what they love, supporting families (my law office here supported up to 10 families at a time for 11 years, and I was the only lawyer most of that--but Jennifer Peters's first employer when she passed the Bar as the youngest person ever, at 20). What a City is supposed to be, Santa Monica was and can be again. However, not by doing what tourists supposedly or even actually want. Read The Devil's Bargain by a UNLV professor, about what tourism has done to a group of cities in the Western US--like Las Vegas, Taos, Aspen, Jackson Hole, Maui--the author gives details of how the residents become caricatures of the Old Wild West, playing parts they think tourists want, working for tips.
Dan Charney October 14, 2012 at 01:19 AM
All true. SM was prime to be ruined by these people. I wonder two things- with all the sell-out - where is the profit? Not in the city. Programs are broke. They are 'scrambling' so they say. No money to enhance and address growing need except on their terms. Community Core for instance is not Section 8 - which should be funded from all the builders - so it's federal - so what? It doesnt' require you earn a certain amount and have flawless credit, lets you stay in your own unit instead of moving- and it a lot more financial help to those than paying 850 for a studio is in CC - if they take you. And no pets in CC either. Section 8 should be re-funded NOW- how interesting that it stopped it's funding just when CC got the OK to build tons of units. So where is the benefit to the people from the developers I do not see it.
Brenda Barnes October 14, 2012 at 08:45 PM
I also think now that the Daily Press has decided to have only the pro-development candidates at their debate on Monday the 15th (tomorrow when I'm writing this), we need to get over there with picket signs that say "Pro-Development Candidates This Way" and "Anti-More Traffic and Corruption Candidates This Way." Or how about "Developer Lapdog Candidates This Way" and "Pro-Resident Candidates This Way"? And "Developers Fund the Candidates Inside--Ask the Daily Press Why They Promote More Development" and "Join Resident-Funded Candidates in the Courtyard--and Support Less Development by Voting for Them." I also found since I went to Occupy Wall Street in New York last September that free food is easy and cheap to make. Beans and rice were the most popular foods and homemade lemonade in pitchers with a label Sweetened with Stevia the most popular drink we had. They get people there. So we should make lots of beans and rice and homemade lemonade and get people into the courtyard to boycott those developer lapdogs and their press sponsor.
Brenda Barnes October 15, 2012 at 03:45 AM
It looks like John C. Smith will be one of the invited candidates, since he raised $9,000. So our signs will have to say, "Developer Lapdog Candidates and John C. Smith This Way." Being the only anti-development candidate should make him stand out. Good luck, John C. I'll be in the courtyard with the Santa Monica 6.
Dan Charney October 15, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Brenda- I am consumed by the flu- have been since Saturday- I can't get out of my house to get food much less anywhere else today- sorry-
Manuel L. November 06, 2012 at 09:42 AM
I'm a longtime resident of Santa Monica (since the late '90s). I was one of the first low-income tenants to move into one of newest five-story apartment buildings created by JSM and managed by Century West Properties (CWP is one of NMS's allies in this pro-developers slate, I see). Shortly thereafter the building was taken over by NMS Properties. While Century West had roots in the community, NMS seemed to come from nowhere. The owner, Neil Schechter, is a Russian immigrant with a checkered legal history, to put as kind a spin on it as possible. Do a search online, you can find case law on record wherein he is accused of bilking insurance companies for large amounts of money. (Incidentally, the NMS stands for Neil and Margot [his wife] Schechter.) It has astonished me to see NMS grow so large so quickly. Along with their associates in CWP and JSM, they have thrown up a dozen or more hideous "modern" buildings, bulldozing charming little one- or two-story mixed-use properties that had given Santa Monica its unique character. The new buildings have no sense of permanency or character, their only distinguishing features are their sheer size and a transient, half-baked quality, as if they were thrown up with an erector set and lego blocks. Leaving aside aesthetic objections, the density of downtown Santa Monica has exploded in the past decade or so. And yet a commensurate amount of parking and transportation lanes were not added to accommodate the growth.
Manuel L. November 06, 2012 at 10:09 AM
Sorry, my diatribe took up all of my space. I could complain much longer of course, but I'd like to cut to the chase. Did the anti-development people on here ever develop a slate of council candidates I can vote for today? I'd love to know who they are. I also think this is a long-term struggle that won't be won with just one election (though it is a vital first step). We need to create a stakeholders' group that can show some collective muscle, so we can combine our voices and not come at this problem from 50 separate angles, which are much easier for the pro-development people to defeat (divide and conquer, you know!). If such a group is underway or being contemplated, I'd like to know how I can help. Santa Monica was a a jewel of a town (not a "city"), the perfect beach community with a wonderful quality of life. It was human-scaled, with few buildings more than 2 stories high, which allowed almost every street to be drenched in sunlight. And with less density, traffic was manageable. It started to go downhill when the city pushed the 3rd Street Promenade as an international tourist destination, often at the expense of local residents. Then they sold out Santa Monica's unique character to big developers. Developers colluded with city staff to sell the council on the fool's gold of "new urbanism," which sounds nice in theory, but there isn't one reputable study that backs up its claims of reducing traffic while increasing density. It violates physics.
Laura Matthews November 06, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Hi, Manuel, one suggested slow-growth slate is John Smith, Ted Winterer, Richard McKinnon, and Bob Seldon. Steve Duron and Armen Melkonians are also committed to slow growth. Hope that helps.
Dan Charney November 06, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Laura, Not Winterer - he is a back room dealer in bed with the developers along with Davis and O'Day- def No on Escare,Vasques, Winterer, O'Day, Gleam and Shari- NO NO as for the good ones- Smith, Seldon, Duron and NO on ES- Brenda lists them further up in a post- careful of Winterer- he is all for cleaning the poor out with a few vouchers and backing developers - we want to like him but he isn't honest about what he does
Brenda Barnes November 07, 2012 at 05:04 AM
I LOVE that people are realizing this is a long-term struggle no matter who wins--and people are expecting since we were so late to the game and divided, with such a large field, developer lapdogs (DLs) the Davises, O'Day and Winterer will win. SMRR let the City down bigtime this election (but I agree with Manuel it started way back, with the 3rd Street Promenade and selling out management of it to the Bayside Development Corp, now Downtown SM, Inc).. Destruction of our way of life is far along now, so it looks like we have to develop a new renters' rights group and combine with homeowners as well, since DLs and their Big Money backers are trying to bulldoze homes for development now. We also have learned the longterm small business owners who are renters have a lot in common with us. They invested in their locations years ago, and now these wannabes just come in and offer land owners millions and the City its cut, and it's hasta la vista to them, no rights at all. We have rights under rent control at Village Trailer Park, apparently the only renters in town who still do. That's why I've come to realize if they can get us, they can get the entire City. It's time to organize, all right. My husband Peter has started an Internet radio show about this 4-6 every day b/c it's too dark to picket at rush hr now. Call in to 1-347-884-9821 and talk to him. We have a job to do, starting now.
Jerry Nodiff November 28, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Brenda, I am very concerned about who is now advocating in behalf of the remaining residents of Village Trailer Park? Will Sue Himmelrich continue in her work? Who else will be helping. Want to see a more equitable settlement. Jerry Nodiff
Brenda Barnes November 29, 2012 at 07:07 AM
Thanks, Jerry. I didn't know Sue Himmelrich was doing anything other than sending in those comments about there not being enough affordable housing units in the buildings to be built, which aren't really planned to be built anyway. Would love to have all the help we can get. We're meeting about this tomorrow, Thurs in the community room, 2930 Colorado, at 5:30. We have the legal case prepared, started funding to pay lawyers, are talking to the good ones who won Lincoln Place. We also meet every Sun 3-6 in the community room, divide up work, have potluck. All the people who've ever been in our group have told me they'll be here this Sun to debrief, so any ideas of who wants to help and how would be appreciated. We are not in agreement with the group that suggested giving away half of the Park, which led directly to this latest travesty of "up to" 10 trailers being left and the land speculator getting credit for millions in affordable housing for that. It's all or nothing, really, and basically nothing is what they have offered us, the same as Ellised tenants get, when we are homeowners with eviction protection under both state law and Rent Control. Also, since 73 points of law are on our side and none are on the LS's side, and the City screwed this up from the beginning, we want the Park and millions in damages so the City can't do this to us again. We'll file a big claim and go from there.


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