Who's Behind Canyon Hills?

Home Page

Canyon Hills Page

What Canyon Hills would Look Like

Canyon Hills Documents

Calendar of Events

Past Events

Contact List

Who's Behind Canyon Hills?

That Idyllic Little Picture

Join our Mailing List

(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?

Section 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 $500 donations

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 preparers' list.)

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 citizens?

Consensus Planning Group also plays dirty. Here's part of an article from the Nov/Dec. SHPOA (Shadow Hills Property Owner's Association) newsletter:

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 deceptive practices.

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 opposing association.

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?