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Why was State Assembly Majority WHIP Toni Atkins working for LeSar Development Consulting firm as the Senior Principal of Housing Policy and Planning even after she was elected to State Assembly? Toni was consulting with developers and helping them lobby to get these redevelopment tax dollars for their projects. So how in the world can she vote objectively as a State Assembly member let alone State Majority WHIP to freeze this redevelopment money and return it to schools and other state resources when she has a definite financial stake in seeing that the money remain in the pockets of developers like her wife and their clients.

About Lesar Development Consultants

The website states this about Atkins “During her 15 years in municipal government she has been directly involved in numerous city projects, including … natural resources conservation, neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing and redevelopment. As senior principal of housing policy and planning, Ms. Atkins is primarily responsible for overall management of housing policy research and planning for clients of LeSar Development Consultants.”

During Atkins 8 years in office we lost some of the neighborhoods most valuable historic resources to sleazy developers under the guise of "affordable housing" like a rare art deco building that housed Gustafson’s Furniture Store on El Cajon and 30th Street as well as the Aztec Bowl. The area was developed as an affordable housing project by developers Tom Carter and Reese Jarrett. The new building is a banal and disastrous art deco imitation. It is a cheap reminder of what we lost. All that remains of the famous Aztec Bowl is the neon sign that hangs on 30th street in front of the banal apartments that took its place.

LeSar development website lists these private developers under their clients: http://www.lesardevelopment.com/clients/ Carter Reese and Associates The Corky McMillin Companies Swinerton Management and Consulting

Renaissance groundbreaking

The El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association website conveniently called the "BIA" says this about Atkins at the "groundbreaking ceremony."

"On February 19th, 2004 a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the future site of The Renaissance. El Cajon Boulevard BIA president Jacquelyn O'Connor was on hand with Councilwoman Toni Atkins, developers Tom Carter and Reese Jarrett, a representative from the North Park PAC, Hank Cunningham from the Redevelopment Agency and Elizabeth Morris from the Housing Commission to participate in the grounbreaking. View the press release: http://www.sannet.gov/press/040219.shtml "

How is it that Atkins and her wife Jennifer LeSar are continually allowed to financially benefit from the affordable housing gravy train. Affordable housing is a multi million dollar issue with a multi million dollar bounty at stake to the most cunning and shrewd land developers and Atkins is voting on this issue despite her personal financial stake. LeSar served as a CCDC Board Member for years while Atkins simultaneously served on City Council and voted to approve millions in redevelopment funds.

This is a quote from LeSars development Consultant website explaining what developers can pay her to do:

"LeSar Development Consultants (“LDC”) provides a full range of consulting services primarily to local government agencies involved in redevelopment, community development, affordable housing, and homelessness. Services are grouped into three core areas: Affordable Housing Policy and Planning; Real Estate Technical Services; and Portfolio Management and Administration.

LeSar Development Consultants was founded in 2005 and is headed by Jennifer LeSar. Our staff works across the state of California and our senior staff people have more than 70 years of combined industry experience including service in many different private- and public-sector leadership capacities."

So while LeSar was not officially "paid" for her time on CCDC she made some extremely important and significant relationships that undoubtedly serve her well in her company showing private developers how they can get this financial bounty and negotiating on their behalf. Who needs a salary when you now have a million dollars worth of connections in the local governments?

LeSars website only reveals information about her development consulting agency, but if you look at their list of clients it includes many local governments. It shows the company provides affordable housing underwriting services as well as the creation of affordable housing lending systems.

Recently Atkins said this in the San Diego Union Tribune about her priorities as Assembly member....

"The gaping budget deficit is waiting, but so too are issues involving improving the small business climate, affordable housing and health care, Atkins said.

Q: Besides the budget, what are your top priorities?

A: I’m an affordable housing advocate, homeless issues, certainly. Health care will be on the radar. But clearly it’s all going to be secondary to jobs and the economy."

With all this debate about redevelopment in the news, Im sure we have not heard the end of this. I just hope they begin an investigation of Ms. Atkins and Ms. LeSar before the state loses even more money as Atkins will definitely vote to continue the redevelopment sham that is bleeding the state dry and making her very very rich.

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Comments

nan shartel Feb. 7, 2011 @ 1:24 p.m.

excellent blog topic...congrats on the win ;-D

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historymatters Feb. 10, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.

thank you so much! I'm just thrilled that people will take a closer look at these really objectionable conflicts of interest. This situation is very relevant as "redevelopment" is an enormous factor in the states budget deficit.

It is also very very similar to what is happening w/ Judge Clarence Thomas right now. Many Democrats are asking him to recuse himself from the health care court cases because his wife is receiving alot of money as a lobbyist to kill health care reform.

Atkins and LeSar are essentially lobbyists negotiating w/ local governments on behalf of their developer clients to get them as much state tax money as possible. It seems an obvious conflict, yet Atkins seems to think she can lead the Assembly in deciding whether to freeze redevelopment funds or not and her personal financial situation will not affect her decision. Of course the question is "is she representing her constituents or her clients"? She has always thought she could represent both and it is high time this issue is examined w/ a microscope. I suspect her and her wife have their money wrapped up in some Delawar LLCs so that we cannot see their direct financial gain from these developers.

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historymatters Feb. 10, 2011 @ 12:29 a.m.

And really the impetus for me is my love of historic buildings and how fast we are losing them due to this multi billion dollar entitlement. Redevelopment should be a good thing but it is 1 of the worst things to ever happen to California and specifically to D3. It is amazing how fast buildings that have been in our neighborhood for 100 years are being demolished by these "redevelopment" projects that create blight rather than fixing it. Just drive down Florida Street and you will see what 8 years of Toni Atkins has done. 12 original craftsmans wiped out thrown into landfills. She didnt even try and relocate them or re-use the materials. Georgia Street is another example of how redevelopment destroyed the character and scale of that neighborhood.

We have to address this ASAP before we lose everything. So I hope journalists may continue to investigate the roots of the redevelopment sham. We need people to wake up fast. Thanks!!!

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 10, 2011 @ 9:31 a.m.

I have to laugh at gov's "affordable housing" scams.

I remember back in the mid 1990's when private developers were buying REO apartments for $10K-$20K per unit, and rehabing them with $5K-$15K per unit. Total costs per unit= $15K-$35K, while the City and County were paying private developers $150K+ per unit of "affordable housing".

Those Little Italy Scammers Barone-Galasso pulled a lot of those rip offs back then.

I have seen gov mismange money and projects so many times, far more than the few tiems they got it right, that I just don't think gov should do ANYTHING but deliever the most basic of services and contract everything else out.

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historymatters Feb. 12, 2011 @ 10:59 p.m.

It is such a scam!! Thats why they want the money so bad. They make way more money on these scam "affordable housing" projects than on private projects. The latest project at Folrida and El Cajon is allowing them to build a 7 story 175 unit complex in a single story craftsman neighborhood (originally approved by Atkins) and the developer was getting 15 million in property taxes so even if he built the 20% required for affordable housing thats only 35 units for 15 million dollars so they are getting almost 500K per unit!!!!! When you know it did not even cost 100K to build a unit.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 14, 2011 @ 7:37 p.m.

The latest project at Folrida and El Cajon is allowing them to build a 7 story 175 unit complex in a single story craftsman neighborhood

Are you kidding me, 7 STORIES!!!!!! In that area!!! What a diaster!

I guarantee you if it was in their neighborhood, or over on Prosepect in la Jolla it would be a different tune...

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Founder Feb. 13, 2011 @ 8:28 a.m.

I wish you and others would attend the ReDev. meetings in North Park (if they continue to have them...) because a few of the Board members think like you do but most of the "elected" members are so happy to make the Council office look good that it is sickening, remember these things are voted on and we do live in a democracy, so with more voter involvement, we would not be in the situation we are now in, where our Leaders are looking out more for themselves than they are for US!

Playing Both Sides against the other is what politicians do! Atkins and Kehoe are good at that, supporting each other and watching each others back, now that both of them are on the same Pension Payout "train"!

Sadly this is a tiny scam compared to the Pension debacle where Big Unions donations and support insure a Council Member's "win" then the same Council Member then supports big pay increases for all their Union Friends... How many non-City retirees do you know that are making over $7,000 a month and MORE?

Welcome to San Diego Politics! Here is a sample from last fall: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/financial-crime-politics/2010/oct/20/sanderss-frighten-em-prop-d-scam/#c75257

Unless many more folks get involved and start attending meeting they will continue to be led around by those that do!

BTW: Nice Blog Win...Keep up the good work!

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historymatters Feb. 14, 2011 @ 5:24 p.m.

Thanks Founder, I always appreciate your comments. You are right, I need to attend those meetings. I just worry that there is no reasoning, that this establishment has everyone under their thumb. Don Bauder points out that everytime we see these potholes and dirty streets and all our parks closing it is connected to this redevelopment sham. 10% of all property taxes state wide is 5 billion dollars a year.

I am trying to figure out the most efficient way to fix things because I have realized that going project by project is exhausting and heart wrenching. I am trying to get to the root of it and that is the MONEY. And the roots of this problem lie w/in the State govt because they have not defined how this money is to be used. They have not defined blight nor have they defined what constitutes fixing blight.We also have to insist that the money can not be used to destroy the history or character of the existing neighborhoods. That is not what this money is supposed to be used for.

If we could get the state to define that so that then these massive tenement slums are no longer an adequate use of funds because they are not adding value to the community. We have to take away the profit incentive and insist on REAL transparency so we see exactly how much profit they are making. $500k to build a 1200 sg ft piece of garbage is way way too much money. Obviously there is absolutely no transparency and its a win win for the developer and the politician. The developer is way overpaid, then the developer pays Toni Atkins and her wife to help them negotiate w/ the redevelopment agency to get the next windfall. Keep the public out of the process.

For all we know Toni and LeSar could also be investors in these projects because they use Delaware LLCs so that the citizens only see the LLC name and never see the investors. This is illegal according to the Charter yet it is done over and over and over again and City Council never addresses it.

I just hope Aguirre pops back on the scene. He was great at putting all these pieces together and coming up w/ solutions. Thanks again! :)

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Founder Feb. 15, 2011 @ 7:17 a.m.

Aguirre would be a welcome change, if only to hold every Councilmember's feet to the fire, that would put SD back on track as America's Finest City!!

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newmuch Feb. 17, 2012 @ 11:29 a.m.

Do you agree with the criticisms of Toni Atkins on loftusforassebly.com?

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