NOTES FROM THE WATERFRONT
Oooooops! Carneros Lodgers Broke the Law.
They Cut a Road through the Ceded Ag-Watershed Parcel.
Judge Newsom and Gavin Really Ought to Get a Grip on Carneros Inn LLC and Agent Rogal -- Political Suicide in Progress.
Let's revisit our May 8, 2002 article "Judge Newsom and Son Gavin's Legacy." This and earlier articles are available in the archives at the end of this article. For a moment, let's focus on one statement from May 8:
"Carneros Inn, had the project been approved to 'over-reach' and include an ag-watershed parcel, could have benefited financially by providing the (Olympic) satellite athlete's village as an expansion to their existing plan. With such over-reach afforded by inclusion of an ag-watershed parcel, they could have gobbled up surrounding ag-watershed properties and vineyards to expand the resort. Just look at the size of Silverado Resort. Carneros Inn could easily have moved from 27 acres to hundreds upon hundreds of acres."
Moreover, their buddies could cite them as precedent, as they circumvent our voter initiative (Measure J) protective codes, and all of the other developers come out in force. For some strange reason, Judge Newsom argued that this project, at one time inclusive of an Ag-Watershed parcel, is exempt from Measure J.
Many sighed -- there was some relief on March 26, for developer Keith Rogal announced he had removed the controversial 1.94 Ag-Watershed parcel from the project. And it was absolutely and clearly understood. On that basis many were tremendously relieved at having crossed this hurdle that so threatens the county.
HOWEVER, Carneros Inn LLC VIOLATED THIS AGREEMENT. Several weeks ago, in fact, the Carneros Inn/Carneros Lodge people cut a road for the resort project in that very same Ag-Watershed parcel, known in Napa County as APN 047-110-019. THIS IS A MEASURE J VIOLATION, one that should be prosecuted, or should have at minimum at the July 16 hearing generated a move by County Counsel, Robert Westmeyer, to hustle for an investigation, or to court for an injunction. This parcel is owned by Keith Rogal who wantonly and willfully gave his consent for this egregious act. He wouldn't have done this if he doesn't have some type of agreement with Carneros Inn LLC, Carneros Partners LLC, Carneros Courtyard Homes LLC or one of his other vehicles that compensates him for his dedication of land.
But what did Napa residents hear instead of enforcement language? Westmeyer proposed that the parcel simply be "lot line adjusted" into the project! But Westmeyer knows it is against the codes and county's policy to lot line adjust an Ag-Watershed parcel into a rural residential parcel. This is the cornerstone of our codes that has prevented commercial and residential projects from expanding to their developer-heart's content to gobble up our farmland, open space and watershed properties. Least we not forget, one approval of a use permit for a resort that includes an Ag-Watershed parcel and down goes the county.
Last March, one property owner who was legally barred by this same Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors from engaging in a lot line adjustment for adjoining but dissimilar zoned parcels at Lake Berryessa, had to bring a ballot initiative under Measure J to accomplish a General Plan change to a special use, Marine Commercial designation, because lot line adjustments of this type are legally barred. Sure, if you have AW and want to adjust with AW, that's fine. But this would be AW being adjusted in rural residential (RR). "Can't be done" we were told by the Planning Department on Wednesday.
"Is Westmeyer working for the developer?" one party queried. Sure looks that way, and were taxpayers hopping mad. This brought forth a whole new group determined to sue the county and the developer if this project is approved in any way, shape or form. And to have "their heads" on corruption charges if they can budge the Federal government. One project opponent even loosely quoted U.S. Congressman Billy Tauzin, "looks like someone should be going to the pokey on this one." On the other hand, this may be "rabbit round-up time" in Napa County, where the role of the Board of Supervisors is one of "gotcha" -- give 'em enough rope and watch them hang themselves as to both county employees and the developer. They are supposed to be watchdogs and guardians of our assets and laws.
Keep in mind that the Board of Supervisors was already caught in what justices of the court of appeals termed corruption of our land use codes. Refer to August, 2001 "Citizens for Honest Government & City of American Canyon vs. Napa County". Perhaps they learned something from this.
Westmeyer of course could have advised the Board of Supervisors that a lot line adjustment isn't an option -- that the Ag-Watershed parcel by agreement was ceded from the project, thus it has to go. But he didn't even provide them with a "refresher" from the March 26 hearing. Nor has there been a refresher as yet on the laws as they pertain to an Environmental Impact Report that has been certified by a Planning Commission but is later found to be flawed, and that gets changed all around because the plans for the project are constantly changing ... and still don't resemble what the county would ultimately find at the site.
But it gets even better. Carneros Lodge developer Keith Rogal stated that he carved up the Ag-Watershed (AW) property because he had received approval to do this with his prior Use Permit. The County Planner appearing that day, Steve Lederer, Deputy Planning Director, who by the way, despite the lack of water and waste disposal capability, advised data is now sufficient to publish a revised final EIR, chirped up to confirm this when questioned by Supervisor Mike Rippey. Yet it doesn't conform to requirements to include cumulative impacts.
Lies, lies, lies and more lies. Besides, that other use permit was nudged through October 2000 by artifice of Mike Miller in the Planning Department at the time, and who now works for the developer -- he was in conflict of interest at the time, so we hear, and of course lost his job with the county.
So what did the staff of the Napa County's Conservation, Development & Planning Department find AFTER the hearing? That APN 047-110-019 was never a part of the October 2000 approved Use Permit for 24 mobile homes and 96 RV hookups, and a small restaurant on 16.1 acres of rural residential land zoned for manufactured housing. The only reference to this parcel as subject to a Use Permit application is the extant Carneros Lodge deal slated for the 8.53 acres that are zoned commercial, and that don't even adjoin the Ag-Watershed parcel. The 1.94 acre parcel was removed March 26, though it still appears as a part of the "pending on appeal" record of the Planning Department's computer. Nothing's over 'til its over, folks. However, this doesn't spare the county if some employee somewhere "struck a deal" with the developer in the past few months through some scheme to permit the grading for the road on the AW parcel. Other Rogal blindsided someone and asked them to "sign off" on his plan for the 16.1 acres parcel ....
And here's what is even more ludicrous. We held out high hopes last March when the Board of Supervisors said they would hire an independent hydrogeologist to review the water issue. Well, the Planning Department recycled to that hydrogeologist only the information about water use on the 8.53 acres ... not substantive information about water use on the 16.1 acre parcel, despite the fact the same wells service both parcels. And the Planning Department was provided with information that the developer's water expert isn't a water expert at all. This should have sent up a red flag that said "Whooooooaaaa. Can we really believe those figures supplied by Richard Slade who was hired by Keith Rogal? Already the county had been told by a hydrogeologist that the conclusions reached by Richard Slade were the opposite of what the well tests indicated -- a slow recharge and a lack of equilibrium, which means it goes out faster than it comes in, and the pump would lose suction. And maybe those figures were inaccurate and overstated to the advantage of the developer who hired Richard Slade. Yet here we go again, another mole in the Planning Department? The outside consultant found flaws in a Phase II, but went ahead and recommended the project to a degree, without doing any primary tests, using only those Richard Slade figures.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this whole thing still appears rigged by someone in the county in favor of the project. These people in planning can't be that ignorant of the many flaws. Are there not too many coincidences to rule out collusion and scheming?
Other challengers decided to create a public record that really throws sunshine on some very thorny and politically embarrassing issues, so here is what is on record:
1. Proof that the developer's "water expert" is a fraud ... not a licensed hydrogeologist. Judge Newsom went to great pains to refer to him as a "water expert" rather than a hydrogeologist to cast an appearance of expertise while he knew there is none there. Richard Slade performed elements of a Phase II water study. These documents also reveal Richard Slade's address as North Hollywood, while he submitted a St. Helena post office box as his address. He can't do that as a licensee in land grading geology.
Here again is a link to the "zip" report proving Slade is not a licensed hydrogeologist. http://www.dca.ca.gov/geology/lookup/index.html. Note that he is a geologist and engineering geologist and when you read at this site the descriptions for a hydrogeologist contrasted to an engineering geologist, you will see he has no knowledge of anything related to water, wells, aquifers, etc. Here is the link to the Geologists and Geophysicists Act that defines the areas of expertise required by "specialists" that include hydrogeologists and engineering geologists ... http://www.dca.ca.gov/geology/about/act.pdf, proof that Slade isn't qualified whatsoever.
This "smoking gun #1" already went to the Board of Supervisors, prompting a request for an independent report from a hydrogeologist. It was also possibly used as leverage to get Rogal to cede the Ag-Watershed parcel to make some of the project opponents "go away" March 26. But they didn't go away, and in fact, even more experienced people came to the hearing, including Al Fournier, a former member of Napa's Planning Commission, and Harold Kelly, "Father of Measure J" who worked so diligently to protect this county's agricultural base from development while preserving open space and watershed land.
Next are a series of documents that constitute "smoking gun #2," new and fresh information for the Board of Supervisors, that when cast in chronological order certainly begs an investigation ...like by a competent Grand Jury at minimum. Hopefully, a Federal one at that. Locally, Joe Peatman seems to have influence on grand juries and is up to his eyeballs in the Carneros Inn LLC project. Many people have difficulty with this, including "The Napa Valley Register" which commented on the many conflicts of interest and pitfalls as he served as foreman of the 2001-2002 grand jury.
When Rogal encroached on the Ag-Watershed parcel, and indicated it relates to the previously approved Use Permit, he just opened the entire project to scrutiny. Furthermore, cumulative effects must be considered.
Now on record:
2. A copy of the February 21, 1997 "San Francisco Business Times" article where as soon as he was appointed Supervisor, Gavin Newsom announced a scheme for a resort in Napa County. However, he didn't own the land. Does this look like a kickout scheme, a political reward? Was Gavin saying there was an action plan in the works?
According to insiders, Gavin Newsom and Jed Smith via Falstaff Management own a stake in Carneros Inn LLC (now renamed Carneros Partners LLC) but Gavin's disclosures are incomplete and clouded as to what his investment interests encompass. None-the-less, we have his word in this article, the word of his father, and his father's presence arguing for the resort both before Napa's Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to confirm his involvement and illustrate intended financial gain http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/1997/02/24/story6.html. In the event anyone is curious about Gavin's buddy and business partner Jed Smith, and how his defense is coming along (he's charged with fraud in drugstore.com, and given the millions reputedly taken from investors there, he may even be the source of money behind this Carneros Inn/Carneros Lodge deal) go to http://securities.stanford.edu/1018/DSCM01/ . This one hit the bright lights -- it was filed in Federal Court in the Southern District of New York where savvy judges are experts in securities fraud.
3. A cover page of Case No. 96-10149 United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of California, the infamous Judge Jaroslovsky's hub, "Stipulated Order Enforcing Chapter 11 Plan and Authorizing Sale of Property Free and Clear of Interests" filed October 6, 1997 In re John P. Zopfi and Leota I. Zopfi that reads: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Debtors John and Leota Zopfi are authorized to sell to Keith Rogal and Associates, or assignees, the property commonly known as 4080 Sonoma Highway, Napa, California, APN 047-100-034.
And there's quite a history behind this. At the time Gavin announced his resort in February, 1997, the Zophis were not in default on their loan. That mysteriously happened AFTER Gavin's announcement and while Keith Rogal, somewhat wired into the deal by Morrison & Foerster, had befriended the Zophis to run their property to some degree ... as Rogal entered the scene there was a problem with the well water quality and a spewing of septic waste that caused residents to complain.
A copy of this order bearing Judge Alan Jaroslovsky's signature was also recorded with the deed transferring the 16.1 acres from Zophi to Carneros Inn LLC recorded in Napa County on April 2, 1998 as Document No. 1998-008457.
4. A letter dated January 8, 1998 from Napa County District Attorney to Joseph Peatman of Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty, re: Wine Valley Mobile Estates/Unfair Competition, directed to counsel for the Zopfis. Jeeeeeeeeeeez, but that law firm represented the developer through all of the early planning phases for the land acquisition and the Carneros Inn and Carneros Lodge Use Permits! But think about the content: Here the county alleges hazardous electrical wiring (faulty weather protection); failure to properly maintain in good repair sewage and septic systems; an unapproved unit on site; water system violations including the presence of coli form bacteria in a test of the system (because of the septic problems); maintenance of a public nuisance on the property by the presence of an unfenced pond (which is what Rogal still has on his hands to a limited degree -- his newly engineering system having failed to show it can adequately process and dispose of waste water generated on site, he's just re-dug the pond).
This letter was located as an Exhibit to a settlement statement filed in Napa County Superior Court Case No. 26-00399 (see No. 5 below).
"Your client would be ordered to immediately start unlawful detainer proceedings against all tenants in the substandard duplex, to vigorously prosecute said actions until all tenants have been removed," yah, yah, yah ... You can catch the drift, but swift action was being taken against the Zophis.
There were residents who complained about the "evictions" that occurred. Many believed the "substandard conditions" were a bit rigged somehow. Yet others were offered money by Keith Rogal to leave. "Buyouts." The county should be vigorously investigating these rumors through various housing offices, and contacts with tenants other than those who filed litigation against the Zophis and collected yet more money in a 1999 settlement.
5. Yet what ensued to take up cash needed by the Zophis? And why should it have been the Zophis who were stuck with this in 1998, when Rogal was the ordered owner by October 7, 1997? And furthermore, Gavin was already into this by February, 1997?
Along came Case No. 26-00399 filed February 9, 1998, not one month after the DA's letter was sent. My, someone spread word rather quickly, didn't they? The case is styled Beazley et al. vs. John P. Zophi, Leota Zophi, and Does 1-50, while careful not to mention Keith Rogal or the role we heard he played in buyouts or other schemes (again, a real investigation is merited).
Tenants sought assistance from Napa Housing offices, hoping for help, to be able to stay in their mobile homes at the site. None could buck the power behind the developer with county machinery rolling in Rogal's favor all the way. These actions came together like a steamroller bearing down on this elderly couple.
But what do we have going on here? We have Napa County participating in the loss of 23 affordable homes, and not necessarily replacing them. Displacing residents, upsetting their community, when the remedies were apparently simple ... well tests delivered to the county, fencing around a pond, upgrades of some wiring and routine septic service, and removal of one unapproved unit. Enter a lawsuit to take up cash ....
And the financier, Yosemite Mortgage, that provided money to the Zophis, was created just before the extension of financing to the Zophis -- and then foreclosed not 9 months later. Some reorganization. It would be interesting to know what relationship, if any, Yosemite Mortgage Fund LLC may have Morrison & Foerster, the Oberndorf and Scully milieu, the Newsoms or Keith Rogal.
||YOSEMITE MORTGAGE FUND, LLC
||STEVEN M. PONTES
More and more the specter of a kickout and scheme raises its head ....
And more and more at least Judge Newsom appears to be in duck soup. Here's the latest. Recall that he is an early member and continuing member of the Sierra Club. He's taken great pride in his membership and work to help Sierra Club. He put the brakes on Lake Tahoe development. One of the treasures Sierra Club provided was successful litigation that mandates Environmental Impact Reports include analysis based on cumulative effects of a development. This essentially prevents developers from doing exactly what Keith Rogal and Judge Newsom have done, finesse a scheme to break a project up, present it with different EIRs, with neither addressing the impact of one on another, or the total impact of the project on water demands and wastewater discharge, for example ... or jobs/housing mixes. And do other things to cloud the issue.
Rogal represented to the Planning Commission and others that the property owners of the various parcels weren't the same. They were the same, everything was Carneros Inn LLC in deeds when he made his assertions. We could go on and on about the oversights here. Yet here is Judge Newsom, solidly behind a circumvention of his own beloved organization's diligence and legal position. What really trips him up, and shows the intent to deceive? Try the following two blurbs that surface with a google search. As early as 1998 he was touting this as a 27 acre project. Well my, this was 16.1 acres residential, 8.53 acres commercial, and 1.94 acres Ag-Watershed, yep, 27 acres when the first google.com blurb below was posted -- and long preceding ownership of some of the property by Carneros Inn. Until October 2000, they were lienholders for the two commercial parcels totaling 8.53 acres.
Here's Rawn Architects weighing in -- 1998 -- when Christian Schaller worked on the design staff.
Welcome to William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc.
Carneros Inn Resort Napa Valley, CA This proposed 27-acre hotel and mixed-use development
is located on Highway 121, between the Sonoma and Napa Valley wine ...
Since the above was featured last fall in an article critical of Carneros Inn/Carneros Lodge, the link has been cut.
PG Online chart: Hillman Properties Inc.
... office complex, Office, Carneros Inn, Napa, California, 27 acres of land, 96 hotel/cottage
units, spa, restaurant and 24 luxury long-term rental units, Hospitality, ...
Owing to the sensitive nature of this Carneros Inn project, the above link has been cut since it first appeared in an article last fall, but it still appears on an index. Try it yourself. Go to http://www.google.com. As a search term enter "Carneros Inn" and up it pops. Notice 8/24/99.
Yet we've made our point, haven't we? That even before Carneros Inn owned ANY of the land for the resort, it knew it was going to own all 27 acres and that the only appropriate application for a Use Permit would have been a single Use Permit request for the entire resort project ... Both articles tout 27 acres. One can, because of the magnitude of the project yet the woeful lack of capacity of the land and its resources to sustain it, see that Rogal & crew knew it had to be presented as two projects to side-step the inadequacies and hide the horrendous impacts on traffic, congestion, quality of life. All the while ignoring cumulative effects. Then heaven help the ultimate owners when the wells run dry and they are being sued by neighbors for depletion of their wells, and the county is being sued by everyone for approving this project.
We've also made another point: There is no way this developer intends to use a part of the property for "24 mobile homes and 96 RV hookups" as described even in the most recent reports as what was approved with the first Use Permit. In one google.com blurb we have 24 luxury long-term rental units (long term, like vacation time shares), in another we have a description of 24 luxury homes for sale, while the RV hookups, billed as a way to provide affordable weekend and vacation accommodations for struggling young families, become 96 hotel cottages! Say, no one in those cottages is hauling in their own water and hauling off their own waste, which was a selling feature of approval of the original use permit.
So what is the motive here? Well, it's obviously bucks and trend setting (to breach the Measure J wall). And Judge Newsom and Gavin know counties want bucks too. No matter that Judge Newsom prostitutes himself for the cause. Again, harm to what reputation, we ask. It appears Newsom was asked rather suddenly to resign his position from the state's Parks & Recreation Commission. As earlier articles on Carneros Inn point out, Judge Newsom was appointed by Gov. Davis to this position in November 2000, to serve four years. But by December 2, 2001, when first word of this project slipped into media, we find Clint Eastwood (so aptly pointed out by Matier & Ross of "The San Francisco Chronicle") with only a 3-year term named to the Commission -- and no more William Newsom. Yet Gavin has to date remained aloof likely because he is a passive investor. Yet surely he must be aware that somehow he was getting a "deal" literally for nothing .... and since many of his cronies and his father appeared March 12, it's hard to fathom he is ignorant.
Now this brings us to risk. Just how much risk are Judge Newsom, Gavin and crony investors, including Keith Rogal's father, taking in this project? Or willing to take? It looks like reputation may have already taken a big hit (with lots more potential damage that could follow). At first, apparently the financial risk was none, as Carneros Inn LLC as we pointed out May 8, 1998, was a project designed by Rawn Architects of Boston for Four Seasons Hotels, Inc. Either Four Seasons was an investor as early as 1998, or Four Season was the intended buyer "on a flip" that would have netted countless millions to the Newsoms for making the project possible. The deal may include rights for Gavin's Falstaff Management to operate both restaurants and the retail wine or other shops regardless of who owns the property.
And here's where things get interesting. In our May 8 article we noted that Four Seasons is substantially controlled by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz of the Saudi ruling family. And he's a real prince at that. Four Seasons Hotels, Inc., of Toronto, Canada is a public corporation that trades on the New York Stock Exchange (Ticker Symbol FS). We couldn't figure out why Carneros Inn LLC suddenly picked up $1.8 million in financing evidenced by liens in the spring and summer of 2001, when the project in one instance hadn't been approved even by the Planning Commission, and in the second instance, was on appeal. However, a buyout would explain this timing, and indeed, that is what apparently happened. Four Seasons got its money out or its money back at least for handling the resort's designs, and left the project altogether about a year ago.
What caused their heads and interest to turn? Economic factors in the resort industry? Well, let's look at the change in ownership of Four Seasons. An early investor was Main Street Partners and SF Advisors, and a series of investment vehicles originating from the same source. And the principals in these instances seem to always reduce to William Oberndorf, John Scully, the Don and Bob Fishers (Gap, Inc., being sued in Federal Court in Fresno for racketeering as we write), and Robert Bass of the Bass Brothers possibly. This enduring clique is described below, and Oberndorf and Scully operate it from their perch in Mill Valley, which is also the home of Cascade Acceptance Corp. which provided $1.8 million in loan funds to Carneros Inn LLC noted above.
Here's the clique, going for hard asset investments:
About Plum Creek Timber : Leaders In Environmental Forestry
Plum Creek Timber, ... About Us. Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. is the second
largest private timberland owner in the United States, with ...
The article below is at this URL: http://www.endgame.org/plum-owners.html
Plum Creek Timber - Shareholders, Directors & Officers
As of the August 1999 prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.
William Oberndorf, William Patterson and John H. Scully ... have shared control of PC Advisory Partners (PC Intermediate Holdings), which holds 17,133,275 shares or 27 percent of Plum Creek's stock. Oberndorf, Patterson, and Scully are principals in SPO Partners, a Mill Valley, California-based private investment firm which served as the controlling partner in the old Plum Creek Limited Partnership. SPO Partners also include members of the Fisher family, founders of Gap Inc.
Oberndorf, Patterson, and Scully are also associated with Texas oil billionaire Robert M. Bass (Robert M. Bass Group, Keystone, Inc., TexGenPar, Thru Line, and many other corporations. Bass headquarters are at 201 Main St, Ft Worth TX 76102, telephone 817-390-8400). SPO also has an interest in Maritz, Wolff & Company, which has interests in luxury hotels including the Fairmont and Nob Hill hotels in San Francisco, the Chicago Fairmont, New York's Plaza Hotel, and Boston's Copley Plaza.
SPO Partners headquarters are at 591 Redwood Highway, Suite 3215, Mill Valley CA 94941, telephone 415-383-6600. Bass and SPO have been associated with numerous other corporations including Main Street Advisory Partners (MS Advisory Partners) and San Francisco Partners (SF Advisory Partners)
That's a lot of material to digest. But let's explain why this is important to understand. And keep in mind Martiz, Wolff & Company into which their SPO Partners flow that is noted above.
First, there are many associations with Bass ... Robert Bass, who last time we looked is still a Bass Brother. The Bass Brothers were caught in a margin call this past September as noted in our last article, and when they decided to liquidate stock in Walt Disney Corporation problems arose. The SEC charges they had an undisclosed controlling interest in Walt Disney Corporation (nearly 12% of the common stock) so this is now under multiple federal investigations, SEC, and IRS as well. This news appeared in "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal" and other business publications. It is hardly a secret there is trouble on the horizon. Some $2 billion of their fortune vaporized to pay creditor brokerages/banks. Again, don't forget Michael Eisner's (i.e. the Bass Brothers) vision of historyland theme parks, including a huge interest in same for the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco Cruise Ship Terminal project at Piers 30-32) and specifically, Napa and Sonoma counties.
One article by Harry Martin in the "Napa Sentinel" some years ago even identified the name of the Disney "secreted asset acquisition" scheme: "Project 2000." Whether or not this name holds is anyone's guess, but resorts would be a necessary addition for the realization of a historyland theme park ala the Shenandoah Valley of northern Virginia. In Sonoma County, Forsyth Partners, Inc. controls the new Mayacamas Golf resort, while in Orlando, a cluster of golf courses, again Jack Nicklaus-designed on land owned by Disney, carry the name Forsyth. Disney features them, complete with lodges, cottages, luxury homes and championship courses, as it's destination golf resort vacation getaway option. Sonoma County has already had a serious and negative experience with Mayacama related to sedimentation problems in Chalk Hill Creek. The District Attorney is prosecuting them for violations, per "The Press Democrat."
The Bass family has had relationships and investments in other assets in Napa County, some of which are no longer, the result of corporate acquisitions. For years Robert Bass sat on the board of Walt Disney Corporation, though he resigned in 1995 when he sold his individual stake in the corporation.
Okay. Now let's tie this into the bigger picture of Four Season Hotels, Inc. In our May 8 article we disclosed that Bank of America is another investor with a controlling interest in that public corporation. But Bank of America literally bought out the controlling interests (about 7% of the stock) held since 1998 by the Mainstreet Partners and SF Advisors milieu above. The URL to the Securities & Exchange Commission filing disclosing these interests is: http://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/srch-edgar?text=Four+Seasons+Hotels&first=1993&last=2002&mode=Simple Below shows us they were out by February 12, 2001, as the B of A Marines, as we refer to them, landed February 9, 2001. About that time, the President of Four Seasons Hotels, Inc., moved over to become President of Rosewood Hotels, Inc., and Four Seasons ceased to be interested in the Carneros Inn LLC project. Could the marines be after 'em for some reason? B of A has watched its investment slide over the past year.
||MAIN STREET PARTNERS LP
||MAIN STREET PARTNERS LP
||MAIN STREET PARTNERS LP
||BANK OF AMERICA CORP /DE/
||BANK OF AMERICA CORP /DE/
Four Seasons Hotels, Inc. has been most candid, evidently, revealing they are no longer in the project, but that Carneros Inn LLC is now with Rosewood Hotels, Inc. of Dallas. Dallas says "not so fast, there's no signed agreement yet because there is no approval for the project yet." Isn't this a good enough reason to think long and hard about all of the litigation that would be brought against this milieu and the county if the project were approved? We're not so sure the developers are supported by Rosewood Hotels, Inc. at this juncture.
And who owns 50% of the very private Rosewood Hotels, Inc.? Why Maritz, Wolff & Company which includes SPO Partners and the same milieu noted in the Plum Creek Timber disclosure above. Still sniffs like fishy bass, doesn't it. How do we know? They say so. Just do a google.com search on the internet using "Maritz, Wolff & Company" and then "Rosewood Hotels, Inc." for an eye-opener. We still don't know if we would get a camel park out there on the 16.1 acre oasis, but these are some potentially heavy hitting real estate interests; this isn't the "mom and pop" type of local inn and RV park deal that Rogal described to the Planning Commission with his first Use Permit request; or even as represented at the August 1, 2001 Planning Commission hearing where none of these deals and relationships were revealed, let alone the complete plans and real intentions. But it could be a "family operation" of some sort ...
The project remains the most intensive development ever proposed for Napa County, on any scale, and continues to be far more dense than Montalcino Resort which reputes to have water agreements with municipalities and does have agreements for its waste processing while it is located within the airport's industrial area.
Not surprisingly, at the July 16 Board of Supervisors hearing there was no entourage of lodge supporters, no Judge Newsom, just Mike Miller and a string of attorneys who didn't even address the Board. Yet dozens upon dozens of opponents appeared. Indeed, some of the Board members hit the roof when they heard about the encroachment on the Ag-Watershed parcel. They were termed just short of miscreants and for this they may no longer be untouchables. One supervisor commented there is no enforcement in the county, no money for staff to handle code violators. He indicated, given the behavior demonstrated by Carneros Inn LLC, it is a good enough reason to reject the project. Not only did they show lawlessness, but the idea of shutting them down if they begin to dry neighbors wells would remain a dream only while the county is on the hook for that one.
Supervisors have been urged not to break the law, not to permit a lot line adjustment. Some of the statements made indicate that were they to vote for the project, they would be heading at odds with their own assessments. Bill Dodd, for example, said the only way to not put more stress on housing is not to create new jobs. Carneros Lodge/Carneros Inn is new jobs, and lots of them for lower-wage employees. Yet on the other hand, he tells speakers they can't address the jobs/housing issue because it wasn't part of the appeal.
Supervisor Varrelman appears concerned about the "dried up well" situation that surely would face the project with excessive use and during routine droughts. And there is a precedent with Meadowood Resort, which these gents would use at the drop of the hat. The scenario goes "you approved our use permit, so we'll sue you now for ruining our business if you don't hook us up to City water as you did Meadowood." Varrelman also addressed enforcement as a very real issue, and also commented that Napa County can't ask Alameda County to build affordable housing for people who work in Napa County. As to enforcement, opponents see Rogal as and ongoing walking liability for Napa County. They would like a permanent solution to the problem associated with land ownership by this bunch.
Mike Rippy was stunned by Rogal's statement the prior use permit included approval of a road across the Ag-Watershed parcel. He doesn't appear to be that patient with the deceitful lot. He didn't like the lowballing of occupancy rates by the developer (70%) and commented "At this point, I'm thinking the (revised) project is pushing the limit of the resources of the parcel." Luce in the past, well "he loves the project." Brad Wagenknect remains characteristically quiet. He represents the Carneros District residents. It is doubtful, however, that he would want to be a "two-striker" following the decision in "Citizens for Honest Government vs. Napa County" let alone upset the neighborhood.
As the supervisors concluded the hearing for the day, they requested a study based on 80% occupancy rates, rather than 70% provided by Rogal. It was testified by one that Napa in peak years has 84% plus occupancy. Supervisor Varrelman criticized the project figures and observed how poorly these figures were put together compared to other projects. And Rogal is supposed to be saving water -- he cut out 50 lodge units (the combined project will now have 170 cottages) but added 10 hot tubs, while trying to make guests look thrifty. The water use analysis estimates 1 minute showers.
Here are further anomalies. Their conference and retail space is up to 18,000 square feet. As one person testified, divide this by 15 and the fire marshall wouldn't object to 1,200 people shopping about and conferencing. And only 141 parking spaces? They talk about drive-by tourists as mainstays for their restaurant and shopping complex. They plan to use vans, small buses, and limousines to serve the area for some special events, but have provided nothing in their plans for these vehicles for parking -- all spaces are 9 ft. by 18 ft., and there are no bus/van waysides. This is all smoke, to pull focus, and ignore the fact our General Plan doesn't permit a town in the Carneros Appellation District. And what about their choices of retail space use? We're still not sure where this will end up. There's a pool hall with retail services for resort-goers, a grocery store, the deli-wine shop, the 100 seat restaurant, and a bike rental shop ... right there sitting between two of the most dangerous roads in Napa County. It's like an attractive nuisance for the liability that could enure to the county with approval of same.
But it gets even better. There are 141 parking spaces. They show so few parking spaces because, take your pick (1) they can't count (2) they plan to chase out neighbors and expand parking with yet more illegal lot line adjustments after willfully "underestimating their needs" (3) they could show more parking, but they would have to give up 2.75 acres of grounds that are already inadequate to handle the waste water discharged. The amount of covered surface in the project is beyond any reasonable limits otherwise imposed by the county. Even with modifications, the development is far too intense, and they plan to book the conference center for at least five events/week (including use for wedding parties).
Get a Grip on Growth put the whole nine yards on the record about a requirement that cumulative impacts be included in the EIR. Other opponents continue to recommend that the judge be bought off -- or is that bought out -- that the land be purchased by the county, given the leverage the County must have by now -- restored in part for much needed affordable housing -- and that development rights be purchased for the 8.53 acres designated commercial.
For Napa Valley Register coverage of the July 16 meeting, http://www.napanews.com/templates/printurl.cfm?id=F2047FE2-DE97-4BC2-B237-CE39E685E1B3 Nathan Crabbe sums it up: "Carneros Lodge developers might be forced to remove all lodging from the project after persistent questions about groundwater have prompted further study of the project and the possible loss of support from Napa County supervisors." Yet why can't the board leverage for that buyout? What's the problem here? Is it political, legal, or something worse, a form of extortion that holds sway? Lots of attorneys let their clients extort people through threats. They don't have to report them to law enforcement under California's bizarre State Bar rules ... but that's changing, with Federal action in process.
Swirling around all of this are changes of more personnel in the County. On November 29, "The St. Helena Star" noted that four county employees (3 from planning, 1 from public works) are no longer county employees. Yet another higher level public works employee has left. Recently Jay Hull shifted one of his analysts he has referred to as a Chief Financial Official of some type, over to Public Works. On March 12, Terry Logoria was honored by her Health & Human Services employees and the Board of Supervisors following her "sudden resignation" http://www.napanews.com/templates/printurl.cfm?id=9A02AD34-5FB1-4980-B76D-2322811FB544 . (It would be interesting to see if she is drawing a pension after all of those years.) At the same time, Dan Corsello who headed Napa's housing suddenly resigned and left for another job elsewhere. A couple of months ago Jay Hull, Napa County Administrator, was asked if he had thought about retirement ... he responded maybe in two - three years. Yet less than two weeks ago "The Napa Valley Register" reported he would be leaving by November http://www.napanews.com/templates/printurl.cfm?id=AF7371C3-E2E4-4711-AD2B-4410A86C65D8. A new administrator portends yet more changes of personnel. It is difficult to know what to make of this. These are moves that aren't characteristic of relatively young people, according to one person who attended the March 12 Board of Supervisors hearing. "People maybe in their 50s, particularly if they aren't receiving their pensions for some reason, just resigning? There has to be something more going on."
There will be yet another report on this Carneros quagmire following the August 20 hearing.
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