[FLASH!! DDR will spend over a million dollars to kill our downtown! They have spent $800,000 so far according to the Press Democrat. That’s 10 to 1 spending against our local citizens and local democracy. Vote NO on A. -DS]
Letters to the UDJ
From BARRY VOGEL
Running up the score
If you haven’t voted “No” on Measure A yet, Here’s why you should, now:
1. If Measure A passes, no environmental local regulation or control will be necessary for anything that is built on the old Masonite property by the current or any future owner.
2. If Measure A passes, the old Masonite property will be sold. “Everything is for sale,” Jeff Adams, the project director for DDR said at the October 8, 2009 debate on the merits of Measure A. Scott Wolstein, DDR’s top boss may be seen on http://www.reit.com stating that due to its economic condition, “DDR will not build any new projects.” DDR stock had a value of $74 per share in 2006 which dropped to $1.50 in March 2009 and was then declared ”junk” by respected organizations that value stock.
3. If Measure A passes, the so called “mixed-use” zoning would give the owner unlimited and uncontrolled choice and discretion on what is built or done there. DDR rendered its so called “specific plan” meaningless when it repeats, over 80 times, that the “plan is conceptual only and subject to change according to regional and market conditions.” Further no owner, present or future will have any responsibility to pay any consequences of what is built there.
4. If Measure A passes, all surrounding road work and public safety costs would be paid with county money leaving no funds for our already neglected roads and public safety needs everywhere else in Mendocino County.
5. DDR and Mendocino County Tomorrow, the local group it supports report they spend $514,871.89 as of September 19, 2009, on their campaign. All the money came from DDR; no local money.
6. There are no “yes” yard signs. No one wants one. All DDR can do is send glossy mailers and make meaningless promises on radio and TV.
7. DDR doesn’t give a rodent’s posterior about Mendocino County or we who live here.
More Letters to the Editor UDJ
No Property Rights
Clear Democratic Opposition
From DAVID SMITH-FERRI
For months now, proponents of Measure A, most especially Jeff Adams of DDR, have been complaining about how poorly they’ve been treated by the County Board of Supervisors and by the planning process as a whole, which they suggest has been hostile, dilatory, and incompetent. Because of this, they say, they were forced to fall back on the only democratic process left to them: the initiative process.
I’ve heard this sad story told in the Ukiah City Council Chambers and in County BOS meetings. I’ve read it in this newspaper when proponents of Measure A have been quoted. I’ve heard it so often I’m afraid that voters may view it as true instead of seeing it as a political strategy intended to cast DDR as the good guy just trying to exercise its private property rights and move its progressive project along. In this fairy tale, local government staff and officials, of course, are the bad guys getting in the way of progress.
I want to remind everyone who cares about this ballot initiative of a few simple facts that seem to have been forgotten. First, when DDR purchased the land, it was zoned industrial (as it is now). Presumably, they knew this. They have never had a private property right to build a retail mall on the land nor does County government have to bow to their desire to change the zoning.
Second, as we all know, the current BOS is opposed to rezoning the former Masonite property precisely because John McCowen and Carre Brown replaced two supervisors who favored it. Let’s not forget that Mr. McCowen and Ms. Brown campaigned strongly against the rezoning. Their large electoral victories were not only democratic but a clear statement of opposition to the DDR project. It was not a hostile local government nor an incompetent planning process that forced DDR to bring in a guerrilla team of signature gatherers to put Measure A on the ballot. It was desperation. And all the whining to the contrary can’t change it.
Monster Mall Unnecessary
From JANNA OSTOYA
More campaign disputes on Measure A as election nears
The Daily Journal, October 25, 2009
More battling about campaign advertising is afoot this week over statements by an economics professor, statements by DDR’s CEO and statements by a former Greenpeace activist.
Mendocino County Tomorrow (the proponents of Measure A to rezone the old Masonite property and build a shopping mall) Thursday accused the No on A campaign known as SOLE (Save Our Local Economy) of misleading voters on a mailer which includes a quote from Robert Eyler, chairman of the economics department at Sonoma State University.
The quote comes from a story in the Ukiah Daily Journal about a November, 2008 meeting sponsored by MCT which paid Eyler to give a talk about the future of the economy of this area. The quote – excerpted accurately from the Daily Journal story – reads: “You could make the same mistakes Sonoma County made. That creates congestion and that drives good businesses away.” MCT executive director Robin Collier issued a press release Thursday outraged that SOLE would “misquote and misrepresent” Eyler’s comments. “No on A clearly misrepresents Professor Eyler’s position on Measure A,” Collier wrote. “His name and the quote attributed to him are displayed on the mail piece in a clear attempt to fool and confuse Mendocino County voters. The quote used by No on A is nearly a year old and does not concern Measure A at all, nor the Mendocino Crossings project. Professor Eyler’s quote instead was addressing ‘untempered growth.’ Further, Professor Eyler does not believe Measure A or the Mendocino Crossings project are examples of ‘untempered growth,’ and believes No on A representatives have misrepresented his position on Measure A.” [Yeah, right. You’ll be even more outraged with the No On A Landslide – 60 – 40 No On A. -DS]
In fact, Eyler has no position on Measure A. In an interview Friday, Eyler said he knows nothing about Measure A or Mendocino Crossings and has made no evaluation of either one pro or con. He said he was surprised when MCT contacted him to let him know he was being used in some way and was disturbed by it, although he hadn’t seen it and MCT hadn’t told him what the nature of the context of his quote was.
From SUSAN SHER
It has become apparent that locally-owned businesses remain the life blood of our community. CEOs and boards of directors of the large chain stores with which DDR promises to populate its mega-mall simply do not have the interest or commitment to sustain our community.
Recently, as a member of a board of directors for a local non-profit organization with an upcoming benefit event, I had the task of requesting raffle prizes from local businesses. Virtually all of the local merchants who were approached generously donated to the cause despite the fact that many were facing challenging financial times themselves. In response to the same request made to some of the chain stores which have all ready infiltrated Ukiah, I was told that the management of the local store did not have the discretion to make a donation; I should submit a written request to out-of-town corporate headquarters. No doubt, staff in these corporate headquarters would not have heard of this Ukiah non-profit agency, the corporate executives would not be attending the event and having no familiarity with the community in which one of its many chain stores was located, would have no concern for the wellbeing of local folks relying on the services provided by this local non-profit.
Throughout this campaign, Ohio-based corporate giant, DDR has argued that changing the zoning of the Masonite site from industrial to commercial/retail use and the resulting construction of its mega-mall would be an economic boon for our community, a way to put substantial amounts of cash into our dwindling local coffers.
While DDR has made many illusory promises of future benefits, it has thus far, provided one concrete example of the hypocrisy of its purported concern for the economic vitality of our community. Last month, the UDJ compared the campaign spending of both DDR, the only contributor to the Yes on Measure A campaign with that of Save Our Local Economy (”SOLE”), the grass-roots community group opposed to Measure A.
As of September 19, 2009, DDR had contributed over $500,000 to its own campaign. During this past filing period, large amounts of campaign funds were not spent locally; rather, DDR patronized a Marin County law firm, political and marketing consultants from San Francisco and Santa Rosa, and out-of-town printers and graphic designers.
Letters to the Editor
Ukiah Daily Journal
From Stephanie T. Hoppe
What exactly is in the proposed Measure A? For all we can tell, if it passes, it could authorize the slaughterhouse discussed some months ago, and no one in the county would have any say about it.
From Ron Lippert
Thanks for publishing all the various opinions on Measure A. I support No On A. Vote, have an opinion. We must come together and unite to create the future which we all will and do want.
From John Arteaga
I hope that a lot of folks planning to cast ballots in the upcoming election had the opportunity to hear the debate between the opposing sides of the Measure A issue, which was simulcast on KZYX, and also to listen to Barry Vogel’s Radio Curious program today on KZYX 91.5 fm, where he detailed a great many of the less savory facts about DDR’s proposed development.
My wife’s reaction to the debate was something like, “sounds like they’re coming to town to swindle the country bumpkins; do they think that we all just fell off the turnip truck yesterday?”
While today’s bleak jobs picture may prompt some to vote for jobs, any kind of jobs, if one takes a longer view, the passage of Measure A will surely be selling out our birthright and that of our children for a mess of pottage today. If we allow its 68 acres to pass from industrial to ‘mixed-use’ (i.e. what ever any developer wants to do with it, forever exempt from the normal planning and zoning constrains everyone else has to abide by) it will close off forever the possibility of good, well paid, productive, industrial jobs locating any kind of sizable plant in Ukiah Valley.
As the American dollar continues to weaken against the currencies of all those countries which produce goods to trade with other countries around the world, eventually this country will have to rebuild its manufacturing base, which was so rashly shut down and sent off to China or some such cheap labor destination, during the Bush-Clinton ‘free-trade’ era.
Think of how unique and irreplaceable the Masonite site is; strategically situated on a rail siding which may, sometime in the future, come back into operation, with copious water sources and easy access to the freeway, with a great many well-educated potential employees willing to work for far less than the wages demanded in the Bay Area or LA.
[Belly up, sucker. It’s all over but the shoutin’. -DS]
Somewhere in Ohio
Diversified Developers Realty CEO Scott Wolstein “Mothballs” New Development for Better Investments.
“Development is a problem… Access to capital to finance development is very problematic. But even if the capital were available, the yields today are not sufficient to justify investment.
“So we’re finishing up what we are committed to and everything else we’ve mothballed for now. It isn’t worth it to us to devote new capital to build a project that might return 7 or 8 percent…”
Measure A organizers and supporters fooled and betrayed…
Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A MONSTER MALL, and for preserving our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities.
Go to video here→
From The Press Democrat
[You can smell it in the air, can’t you? It’s a dead Dino in the middle of the road stinkin’ to high heaven. -DS]
The heated debate surrounding Measure A in Mendocino County hits on some familiar themes of our time:
• Attracting big box stores vs. protecting locally owned mom-and-pop retailers.
• Creating low-paying retail jobs now vs. the hope of creating higher-paying industrial-type jobs later.
• The urgent need for economic development vs. the glacial pace of local planning.
But the central issue in the Ukiah Valley is this: How does Mendocino County want to decide on its major developments, through the traditional county planning process or through the ballot box?
We strongly believe in the importance of a local review process and, for that reason, encourage voters to reject Measure A on the Nov. 3 ballot.
This initiative seeks direct voter approval of the Mendocino Crossroads project, a massive mixed-used development targeted for the site of the former Masonite wood-processing plant just north of Ukiah. The project could include up to 800,000 square feet of retail space and 150 residential units.
We use words like “could” and “up to” because there are so many unknowns about what voters would be approving. The wording of the ballot measure and specific plan are fuzzy, and there are no real guarantees, other than the fact that the project, if approved, would be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.
The petitioner, Ohio-based Developers Diversified Realty, never had its project officially rejected by the county.
Jeff Adams, the project manager, says DDR had no choice but to go directly to the voters because the project was getting bogged down in process, including having to wait for completion of the Ukiah Valley Area Plan, still a work in progress.
“It’s a process with no end,” Adams told The Press Democrat Editorial Board. “There is no process.”
It’s true that local governments, including Mendocino County’s, need to do a better job of reviewing development proposals in a consistent and timely fashion.
To the Editor – Ukiah Daily Journal
Legacy of Deceit
From KUMAR PLOCHER
As a manufacturer of local goods, and a Ukiah provider of 15 good-paying jobs, I worry about the effects a mega-mall nearby would have on my business, Yokayo Biofuels. Our biodiesel production plant is located on Orr Springs Road. We send out and receive truck deliveries (including 18-wheelers) throughout each business day, and each of these routes must pass through the corridor between Orr Springs Road and the onramps to Highway 101- the exact area threatened with massive congestion if Measure A passes and a bunch of stoplights are installed. I have tried to quantify the negative impact of these potential developments for my company in dollars and cents, but it’s very difficult. Frankly, I fear the unknown in this case.
I’ve been worried for the last several months that Measure A may indeed pass. It seems that many well-intentioned, intelligent people are very impressed with the promise of more shopping choices here in Mendocino County. That notion might appeal to me too, but it seems to be a very superficial promise. DDR, the company behind Measure A, has always attached disclaimers to every vision they put forth for the future of the Masonite property, and it seems the only thing that they are 100 percent committed to is changing the zoning. As a businessperson with some experience in commercial and industrial realty in this county, I can understand why. Once they’ve got the zoning switched from Industrial, they should be able to sell the property for a much higher price. This is the thought that keeps me up at night: if Measure A passes, we really don’t know what will end up at Masonite. DDR will have enabled a situation, through a corruption of the democratic process, by which they can sell a property free of many important regulatory hurdles to the highest bidder. That highest bidder could be a very bad neighbor, but we would have already lost a lot of the rights to contest their entrance into our community. Again, I’m not an “ignorance is bliss” kind of guy, but in this case, I fear the unknown.
Back when the petition that resulted in Measure A being on the ballot was being circulated, I recall hearing about the petition-hawkers’ claims regarding the nature of the petition. Many were saying that it was about “cleaning up Masonite.” By that time, I had been able to take a close look at the details, and the petition was obviously
The letters keep arriving at the Journal…
From LAWRENCE AMES
Stop the Sprawl Right Here, Right Now
It seems that DDR has tipped their hand a bit and revealed some of their corporate vision for the city of Ukiah. At the recent town hall meeting in Willits, DDR senior development director Jeff Adams admitted that DDR intends to widen North State Street to five lanes, and add five additional traffic lights between Ford Street and Orr Springs Road, timed at 60 second intervals.
This is sounding more and more like the Santa Rosa-Rohnert Park-Windsor urban sprawl megalopolis. When I moved my family to Ukiah 20 years ago, it was to get away from five lane boulevards and high density traffic lights, with their resulting gridlock. This is not the vision that I have for Ukiah’s future! If you envision something better for Ukiah than uncontrollable urban sprawl, curb the corporate madness. Vote no on Measure A.
From Chas E. Moser
Make Masonite Meaningful To The People
In all the ads for approval of Measure A I have never seen anything about making jobs available for the people of Ukiah in a field that they would be proud to work in. We are big on verbal support of something we believe in but we are slight on physical support.
If they are going to develop that piece of land why not do it with an industry that would help the people of Ukiah and not just add more people to the mix, dumping into our water treatment plant and using what we consider a dwindling resource, water.
If construction is to be done, why do we have to depend on strangers to come in and do it? If development takes place why not use local people to do it?
From CLIFF PAULIN
This message is of the utmost importance, please take the time to read it and pass it along to everyone you know in Mendocino County.
It’s time to get out and vote No On Measure A. This ballot initiative is arguably the most important local initiative in years. Mail in ballots have arrived or will arrive shortly. Save Our Local Economy (SOLE) will be conducting Get Out The Vote efforts to ensure a No Vote. We will be targeting our calls to those mail in voters who have not yet returned their ballots, so it is critical to get your ballot in early to help us maximize our efforts.
Everyone registered to vote should have received a card from the elections office several weeks ago stating that you are either a mail in voter or identifying your polling place. If you did not receive that postcard please call the election office at (707) 463-4371 ASAP to ensure you are registered. The last day to register is October 19, 2009. Be aware that many polling places have been closed or consolidated over the past few years, and 70% of the voters in Mendocino County are voting by mail in ballot. Make sure you know your status before the 19th.
This election is crucial to our ability to shape the direction of our county, so make sure you vote and remind friends, family, and associates to do the same. It is even more vital that we motive those around us because many will not vote due to the lack of national and statewide elections.
Vote, Tell Your Friends, and Get Involved. Below are ways to contact SOLE to help. Thank you for doing your part to ensure victory for NO ON A!
From Save Our Local Economy – No on Measure A
[We keep hearing Measure A proponants “personally offended” by the SOLE group’s so-called “hyprocrisy” because the DDR folks can’t seem to understand that No on Measure A is supported by those with different views of Big Box Retail. It’s not that hard! But here’s a big dose of hyprocrisy AND dishonesty for you! Dead Dino in the middle of the road→ -DS]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: October 12, 2009
COSTCO DOES NOT ENDORSE MEASURE A AND DEMANDS THAT ITS NAME NOT BE USED ON ANY FUTURE YES ON A MATERIAL
Costco does not endorse Measure A, and has not authorized the use of their logo on Developers Diversified Realty’s (DDR’s) “Yes On A” mailers. Members of Save Our Local Economy (SOLE) have investigated the use of the Costco, Target, TJ Maxx, and Petco logos on the Yes On A county-wide mailer of October 6.
Colin Olin, the General Council for Costco, informed SOLE today that DDR used the Costco logo without their permission and that the company does not endorse Measure A. Mr. Olin also reported that Paul G. Moulton, Executive Vice President of Real Estate for Costco, had contacted the Measure A proponents to express Costco’s extreme displeasure with their use of the company logo and demanded that no future material use the Costco logo.
Target, TJ Maxx, and Petco are also listed on the October 6 mailer, and were contacted regarding this issue. None of these stores have authorized the use of their company logos, and all are considering sending cease and desist letters to the Measure A proponents.
DDR, the company behind Measure A, has consistently misrepresented that these stores are ready to move in should voters approve Measure A in November.
Editorial Opinion of the Ukiah Daily Journal
The Ukiah Valley has a lot at stake in the Nov. 3 election as the entire county votes on Measure A.
As mail-in ballots arrive at homes and as our readers think about what they will do at the polls, we urge a No vote on Measure A.
There is big money at stake here for the developers, and big changes at stake for this valley. Passions are high and we hope that means citizens are engaged and thinking carefully about their decision.
There are lots of things to discuss about whether to rezone the Masonite property for a mall of as much as 800,000 square feet.
But for us it comes down to one overriding issue: the local businesses that have worked hard and supported our community, businesses which would undoubtedly be harmed, if not destroyed, by a big new mall to the north.
Developers Diversified Realty, the mall developer, has promised Costco, Petco, TJ Maxx and Target right away. None of these stores has actually said they’ll come, but what if they do?
What will that mean to dfm Car Stereo? Mendocino Book Company? Schat’s Bakery? Poma TV? Rainbow Agricultural Services? Mendocino Barkery? Little Brown Bear? The Coffee Critic? The Crow’s Nest? Rod’s Shoes? Pardini Appliances? D. Wm. Jewelers? Lustre Jewelry? Jitterbox Music? Mendo-Lake Office Supplies? Thompson Party Rentals? and others like them?
These local businesses are successful because they have worked hard and contribute to the community. We have seen these businesses on Little League uniforms, scholarship awards, donations to local non-profits and in school programs.
Think about the ripple effect outside the valley in Willits and Fort Bragg where other small businesses will be crushed by the weight of competition with these four large mega-stores carrying everything from appliances and TVs to clothing and shoes, to pet supplies, books, gifts and music CDs. Not to mention all the other stores, kiosks and food outlets also in the plans.
From TOM DAVENPORT
It is vital that voters inform themselves, register & vote in the coming election.
You can also help by passing this blog post link on to local friends and acquaintances.
A fairly painless way to inform ourselves on Measure A is to listen to any of the following audio recordings of radio broadcasts featuring the official spokespersons for both sides as well as questions from members of the public.
This morning’s (Friday) Access Show, presented by multi-term former Supervisor Norman DeVall, hosted another round of the Measure A debate and can be listened to online here – one hour play time – Guests were former Supervisor Richard Shoemaker and Organic beef rancher Guiness McFadden representing SOLE/No on A and Mendocino County Tomorrow Executive Director Robin Collier, representing the Yes on A campaign committee.
The excellent half hour broadcast of Barry Vogel’s Radio Curious on KZYX, featured Mendocino County Tomorrow Executive Director Robin “Cheezecake Lady” Collier as guest. The number of times she responded with either “I don’t know” or “I can’t answer that” to questions from the host was staggering. Listen to an MP3 of the broadcast here.
Yesterday evening’s event at the Ukiah City Hall can be listened to here.
From RICHARD SHOEMAKER
S.O.L.E. No on A Campaign
At tonight’s debate Jeff Adams of DDR revealed that he had secret meetings with at least two supervisors in which they “begged him” to not proceed with DDR’s application to re-zone the Masonite property before the November Supervisor’s election.
Mr. Adams also stated he had spoken with three supervisors. If this is in fact true then he and those supervisors violated the State of California’s Open Meeting laws otherwise known as the Brown Act. Brown Act violations may be prosecuted as felonies with steep fines or jail time.
From CHRIS DEWEY
Director of Public Safety
Ukiah Police and Fire Departments
[DDR is clearly being irresponsible and misleading in their deluge of slickster mailing pieces. I had a gentleman walk into my store this morning asking where he could get a No On A sign for his house. He said that he was very upset with all the Yes On A mail he was receiving and said: “I’m not a whore! I cannot be bought off!” -DS]
To the Editor:
Ukiah Daily Journal
Recently, a Yes on Measure A flyer was sent to the residents of Ukiah and the County of Mendocino, with a picture of a blue Police Officer’s uniform with a “Police Officer” badge, and a Firefighter on the cover.
The flyer suggests public safety funding would be improved as a result of this measure.
I do not want voters to be confused by the “Police Officer” badge which is clearly shown on the ad. As Director of Public Safety, responsible for police and fire services within the City of Ukiah, I feel it is important that I clarify public safety funding. Currently, there is no distribution system in place that would provide property and sales tax revenues in the support of City police and fire services from this proposed project.
Ordinarily, when projects such as this are proposed, a public development review process is used to mitigate potential problems. The Ukiah Police and Fire Departments worked extensively over the last two years with the County Planning Department as they worked on the Ukiah Valley Area Plan to comment on proposed changes to the plan which would have authorized uses for the Masonite property now being proposed by Measure A.
Since Measure A bypasses the normal public development review process, the Ukiah Police and Fire Department can not clearly understand the impacts this project will have to public safety in our community and no agreement or other mechanism is in place to provide additional revenue to the Ukiah Police and Fire Departments for any increased costs resulting from the Measure A development.
From New Rules Project
[This puts the lie to the recent DDR Monster Mall mailing that Sonoma County loves Mendocino County residents coming down to shop in the National chain stores. They’re trying to save their own locally-owned stores like Friedman Brothers FROM the National chains like we are. Don’t Californicate Ukiah! VOTE NO ON A! -DS]
Two weeks ago, in a public hearing room crowded with more than 100 people, including dozens of local business owners standing alongside environmentalists, affordable housing advocates, and labor leaders, the city council in Santa Rosa, California, soundly defeated a proposed Lowe’s store on a 5-2 vote.
For a city facing a sizable budget shortfall, it was a remarkable decision. The conventional wisdom, especially in California’s sales tax-dependent and financially strapped cities, is that big-box retailers are cash-cows and those cities that do not welcome them with open arms will be left behind in the regional competition for revenue.
Lowe’s pushed the sales tax angle hard as it lobbied city officials. But, in the end, most councilors did not buy it, thanks largely to information and testimony submitted by local business owners, who argued that Lowe’s would not bring in new money, but only siphon revenue away from existing businesses, eliminating jobs and shifting wealth out of the community.
“It was our collective action that demonstrated to the city council that this was not a good project,”
From INGO WAGNER
To the Editor: Ukiah Daily Journal
What’s the big deal about rezoning a piece of land and maybe building a shopping center (and I do mean maybe)? The big deal is that by placing the rezoning issue on the ballot in the form of Measure A, the proponents of this charade are bypassing urban planning rationale. DDR, with its large campaign fund, is buying its way past the same planning and zoning process that you and I must conform to. Measure A, if passed, will set a precedent that we will all regret. Measure A is not about whether or not you or I like shopping centers. We have an abundance of vacant land zoned for commercial and retail use. Measure A is about letting DDR buy its way past the same procedures that you and I must go through. If Measure A passes, we will not be guaranteed more shopping choices. All that is guaranteed is that the Masonite land will become more valuable. At that point, the developer can either flip the property for a profit, or maybe some day build something on it, but who knows what.
All it takes is a few bucks to put an issue on the ballot, and I know a lot of people who may lend me a few million, unsecured of course, so that I can tear down my house in an R-1 zoned area and convert my land use to a pig farm.
From DAVE SMITH
Allowing a Monster Mall into Mendocino County will only make unemployment worse here, as it has across the country. Fact: Independent studies show for every job the Monster Mall Big Boxes bring, 1.4 are lost. That means the 700 slave-wage jobs advertised by the Monster Mall will destroy almost 1,000 current, better-paying jobs. The reason is simple: the job losses are larger than the gains because Big Boxes accomplish the same volume of sales with fewer employees, and pay poverty-level wages. The money circulating locally from those lost jobs go somewhere else. Not only that, they have killed millions of non-retail jobs nationally by pushing our manufacturing jobs overseas.
Thank you for voting NO ON THE MEASURE A MONSTER MALL PLOT, and for preserving our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities.
See also The Wal-Mart Dilemma→
… and listen to a Monster Mall plotter’s evasive and unconvincing defense of Measure A on Radio Curious→
From TOM DAVENPORT
Proponents of any initiative always want some sort of special treatment and if it takes 300 pages written by mercenaries in the legal profession to express that, how could it possibly be trustworthy?
My frequent sparring partner John McCowen, is quoted in the UDJ as sharing the simple, safe view of initiative referendums we both learned from our parents: If in doubt, vote “NO”.
DDR is literally betting the farm on this one.
It’s their last chance at shooting the moon in high-roller real estate speculation, unless kept on artificial life support by sucking transfusions of stimulus money out of the District of Criminals in Washington.
Expect to see them out of business entirely in less than two years if they are unable to seduce our county’s voters. Their nationwide string of shopping malls are untenanted to a fatal extent.
DDR’s indebtedness is a lot bigger than their income, and due dates are approaching.
This situation is not unnoticed by Wall Street investors, whose lack of confidence in DDR is reflected in abysmal DDR stock prices.
Why should voters believe DDR would actually be able to carry out any of the things they claim they might do? Have we forgotten how ephemeral election campaign promises always are?
From Save Our Local Economy (S.O.L.E)
Now through October 9th
October 5, Monday, 6:00 P.M. S.O.L.E. Town Hall Meeting, Saturday Afternoon Club, 107 N. Oak St, Ukiah
Guest commentators for Monday’s SOLE Town Hall Meeting include John Schaeffer of Real Goods, Tim Owen Kennedy of Vital Systems and Tim Thornhill of Mendocino Wine Company with others to be announced.
This event is sponsored by the Ukiah Main Street Program, Real Goods Solar, the Solar Living Institute and Vital Systems. The program will include a discussion on Measure A as well as a period of audience questions.
The highlight of the evening will be the unveiling of a locally produced proposal of an alternative industrial use of the Masonite Site.
The proposal is based on successful similar developments around the country. These developments range from basic industrial complexes to full blown “Green Technology Centers.”
Monday nights visual presentation will be followed by a panel discussion of the proposal its community benefits and as well as other uses of this valued industrial site.
For those who have questioned, “what can we do at the Masonite Site?”. This proposal may be the first step in securing the future of our local economy.
From SANDY TURNER
As a refugee of Southern California who moved steadily northward, I have seen dozens of small California cities turn into Anycity, CA over the last 50 years.
One of the great things about our county is that it has retained its rural qualities into the 21st Century. And our small cities here in our low population county have elected representatives who are easily approachable by the other citizens. Our cities are so small that it’s pretty likely that if you live in one of our county’s four cities, you know at least one of your City Council members. That’s because they go to your church, or you went to high school with them, or they coached your kid in soccer, or they live just down the block from you.
From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
In an answer to those who believe that DDR will not use our tax money for the stress on our infrastructure (street and highway rebuilding, water, sewage, traffic lights, fire and police protection), you are being conned. They are lining up for a bailout with our taxes already. DDR is already using our tax money with a bailout of $600 million in TALF funds. Most sources say they get the money in early October. That will certainly give them some cash to sell a zone change. Our tax money may well pay for DDR’s election campaign.
Plain Dealer Reporter:
…Developers Diversified Realty Corp. could be one of the first participants in a Federal Reserve program aimed at bolstering the battered commercial real estate market… from a government-subsidized bailout fund. Developers Diversified Realty Corp. (DDR), a retail REIT, could be one of the first REITs to reliquify assets through TALF.
“Who but DDR, do you suppose, was very first in line for a TALF handout ($600 million) from the New York Federal Reserve Bank?” -Tom Anderson
From SCOTT CRATTY
If you plan to vote in favor of Measure A I hope that you will not do so because you believe DDR’s economic claims or its propaganda about how Measure A will help the local economy. DDR’s economic “facts” are half-truths at best, when they are not simply misleading.
From the start DDR has repeatedly asserted that its new mall would save “$169 million dollars in retail sales …currently ‘leaking’ from Mendocino County”. Not even the (DDR funded) Applied Development Economics study they rely on for so many claims supports that assertion.
For example, $35 million of the $169 million figure (about 21%) is for automotive sales. As DDR is not proposing to build car lots on the old Masonite site, its proposal cannot possibly stop that “leakage.” Another $58.5 million (nearly 35%) of the total is in the categories of grocery and convenience stores … again, not what DDR claims it will be building. $41 million of the $169 million figure is “General Merchandise Group” leakage, but DDR ignores the next column in its study that shows a $34 million surplus of spending here in the same category. By subtotaling plusses or minuses carefully, one can create impressive, but meaningless, totals.
From SHANNON RILEY
Mark Oswell recently professed his support for measure A in a very clear, straightforward letter. Unfortunately, nothing about Measure A is clear.
Mr. Oswell says the Mendocino Crossings project ”will provide much-needed road and traffic signal improvements on North State Street.” Yes — much work will need to be done if that project gets built. But read the fine print in DDR’s own document – the developers are not required to perform or pay for that work themselves. The taxpayers of Mendocino County will foot the bill.
Mr. Oswell says the project will provide “high-paying construction jobs.” Yes, it will. Temporary jobs, some of which may come from out of the area — which will then be replaced with mostly lowwage, dead end jobs and a retail development that will suck the life out of the surrounding communities. Instead, let’s think about utilizing this industrial-zoned land in a way that adds value to our county.
Increased tax revenues? Any additional revenue the County receives as a result of this project will come at the expense of the other jurisdictions in Mendocino County; plus, a giant chunk of it will continue to go toward addressing all the stresses (traffic, roads, public safety, water, etc.) this development would place on our county.
And that’s the problem with Measure A and all of DDR’s glossy propaganda — it looks like a great deal on the surface. Don’t be fooled.
From HAL VOEGE
And while you are thinking, ask yourself these questions:
Does an international corporate giant, based in Ohio, really have Mendocino County’s best interests at heart?
By now, most of us know about the financial difficulties of the nation’s largest mall builder, DDR – the large, short-term loans coming due, the big dip in their stock ratings, and the Federal bailout that kept them from bankruptcy. They need money now. But money to build malls is declining. As Paul Maidman noted in Forbes 9/24/09, “There are already too many stores and malls, and consumers don’t have the wherewithal to shop in the ones we do have. Around a third of every new square foot of retail space is vacant in the wake of a wave of retail bankruptcies and store shuttering.” Why would they take on more debt to build the pretty pictures they presented to us?
Doesn’t Measure A say they will create a mall?
Absolutely not! All Measure A says is that it is ‘designed’ to build a mall, not that they will do it. DDR is not constrained to do anything. It does force a change in the zoning of Masonite to commercial whether they do anything or not, and relieves DDR of any oversight by the people of Mendocino County or the State. They don’t have to build a mall, don’t have to make the property multiuse,
From DAVE SMITH
Letter to the Editor:
The latest mass mailing from the DDR Monster Mall Developers located in Ohio brings us greetings and thanks from the folks down in Sonoma County for the millions of dollars we trundle down in our SUV’s to spend there.
If Sonoma County is so fond of all the money we take there, why have they just rejected another Big Box store? According to the Press Democrat 9/3/09, “the Santa Rosa City Council voted late Tuesday to stop Lowe’s from building a big-box home improvement store on Santa Rosa Avenue, heeding the concerns of local business leaders who warned the chain store would hurt the community… Council members also worried that Lowe’s success would come at the expense of local businesses and their employees…”
Oh, now I get it. DDR wants to make us feel like fools for turning down their Monster Mall initiative, so they just make stuff up and pretend they’re somebody else.
I say it’s better to learn from others who have already made the mistakes and regret them, than believe those who will make big bucks off us making those same mistakes ourselves. Santa Rosa is confirming what we have been saying.
Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A to preserve our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities.
From DAVE SMITH
A student at Mendocino Junior College writes (Letter to the Editor UDJ 9/24/09 – see it below) in support of Monster Mall Measure A: “…we, as young people, have no options for employment in Mendocino County. I have been trying very hard and just can not find work, it is not out there. Please do not risk the youth of this County’s one opportunity for employment and experience before we enter the fast paced job market after graduation.”
A letter like this is heartbreaking. The youth of our county and our country are some of the hardest hit from this recession. It is a tragedy that is not going away soon. Both entry-level and fast-paced jobs after graduation have ground to a screeching halt.
But allowing a Monster Mall into Mendocino County will only make unemployment worse here, as it has across the country.
Fact: Independent studies show for every job the Monster Mall Big Boxes bring, 1.4 are lost. That means the 700 slave-wage jobs advertised by the Monster Mall will destroy almost 1,000 current, better-paying jobs. The reason is simple: the job losses are larger than the gains because Big Boxes accomplish the same volume of sales with fewer employees, and pay poverty-level wages. The money circulating locally from those lost jobs go somewhere else. Not only that, they have killed millions of non-retail jobs by pushing our manufacturing jobs overseas.
For the sake of our local future, and the youth growing up in our county, please Vote No On Measure A.
Letter to the Editor (UDJ)
I am a student at Mendocino Junior College. In addition to my academic responsibilities, I also participate in athletics for the college. If anyone goes to the college and walks around you will see that we, as young people, have no options for employment in Mendocino County. I have been trying very hard and just can not find work, it is not out there. This is why the young people of Mendocino County need Measure A to pass. Having a job and maintaining employment allows for us as young people to learn the real ways of the world. Without any type of job experience we are seriously hindered once we enter the open job market. Now is not the time to be selfish in our actions. I have asked many people why they oppose Measure A and the prevailing answer is that they want Ukiah to remain closed off to the rest of the world. Frankly, that position is one of selfishness.
From TOM ANDERSON
So, Developers Diversified Realty’s latest election glossy says Mendocino County has a bad case of the financial flu.
Look who’s talking.
Who but DDR, do you suppose, was very first in line for a TALF handout ($600 million) from the New York Federal Reserve Bank?
This weasel is pulling our collective leg, folks, if I may demean you with the term. Its ongoing, inevitable collapse is almost daily news if you’d care to Google it.
With 60 percent of its loans due by 2011, and 15 percent more in 2012, with an operating loss instead of profit, and no income except from assets it can sell at half price and whatever it can beg, Developers Diversified is about 23 months away from oblivion.
Although with $600 million from the feds in October, it can pay creditors now and throw the best election money can buy before it kicks off.
And the Masonite site will be a choice item at the corporate farewell sale, especially rezoned commercial/residential instead of drab old industrial. You get the point.
Can you believe these guys?
. . . Do you?
From How Wal-Mart is Destroying America
By Bill Quinn
[Wal-Mart not only sucks the financial life-blood from our community by nightly transferring our money to Arkansas billionaires rather than having it circulate in our community, but they also feed on the life-blood of their employees and their families. Other Big Boxes are forced to compete with Wal-Mart by adopting their draconian businesses practices, or be forced out of business. The Masonite Monster Mall will foist Big Box World on our small community changing it forever, raise the poverty level in our county, while their 700 slave-wage jobs will add immeasurable misery to our workforce. VOTE NO ON MEASURE A!-DS]
[See also I used to be proud to be a Wal-Mart employee video below…]
An interview with a former Wal-Mart manager of over 15 years…
Q: Joe, your wife tells me your hours as a manager were so long you barely knew your children?
Joe: Long hours were demanded—rarely less than seventy a week, most weeks eighty or more. Days off were rare. And I have gone as long as three years without a vacation. My wife literally raised our children by herself.
Q: Hourly workers, I’ve been told, are held to a minimum?
Joe: You won’t believed how they are treated. Managers try to keep employees’ hours under twenty-eight a week so they won’t be eligible for benefits. If business slows on any day, managers are instructed to send workers home anytime after they have four hours on the clock. Even department heads who are supposed to be regulars can be sent home, often working less than the eight hours they are entitled to…
Q: When you moved, did Wal-Mart pay your expenses?
Joe: No. Actually, the “system” was to ask store personnel to do you a favor by working off the clock to come out to your place and help you pack. You were moved to your next assignment, always, in a Wal-Mart truck.
From TOM ANDERSON
[Please VOTE NO ON MEASURE A because a yes vote puts the property up for grabs, under the initiative’s unlimited use, to any buyer. That, in my opinion, is what DDR is hoping for and what its initiative is all about. The property is worth a lot more money as a slice of the old Wild West than as constrained by the general plan’s industrial use restrictions. -TA]
Analysis: Nine Reasons Why Mendocino Crossings Could Not Happen Even If Local Residents Approved It.
1. FUNDING IS MORE COSTLY NOW THAN IN THE RECENT PAST
Relative to return on an investment, funding for commercial development is far more costly now than two years ago. Funding exceeds residential income, and is just starting to exceed commercial income.
Example: In mid-April 2009, Frank Lembi, the largest owner of apartment buildings in San Francisco, with 300 apartments comprising 8,000 residential units, deeded back 50 apartments, totaling 1,500 units, to his institutional lender, UBS. The bank now owns the units and will take a major loss because interest payments are about twice current rental income.
While, residential rents have already declined, rents for commercial properties don’t start declining in a recession for a year or two after the downturn. That years-long commercial decline has just begun.
2. MALL OWNER’S BANKRUPTCY WEIGHS ON DECLINING VALUES
With commercial property values just starting their slide, debacles like the recent bankruptcy of General Growth Properties, the nation’s second largest shopping mall owner, will only reinforce the substantial decline of commercial real estate values. The bankruptcy especially relates to malls as an investment.
3. COMMERCIAL/INDUSTRIAL LAND VALUES HAVE FALLEN 60%
Commercial and industrial land values in California are now at about 60 percent of their value two years ago. Funding a major commercial development must be based on today’s depreciated values.
From DAVE SMITH
To the Editors:
A letter writer in Lower Lake continues to conflate our opposition to the Monster Mall with hating corporations and capitalism (Ukiah’s an armpit, UDJ 9/20/09). Again, not so.
I, and others, want good, green, well-paying manufacturing jobs by locally-owned, cooperatives, community-friendly corporations, and companies that keep our money circulating locally… not 700 slave-wage, poverty-level jobs by Big Box Bullies who suck the financial life-blood from our communities and send it to Arkansas, exploit their workers, keep their good high-paying white collar jobs at their headquarters, send manufacturing jobs to overseas sweatshops, and bring higher levels of poverty to our county. Before we know it there will be no stores left except one gigantic Wal-Mart per community.
Not only that, but they also cheat local vendors. According to a former Wal-Mart manager quoted in the book How Wal-Mart Is Destroying America, when local vendors bill for products and services rendered, they instruct the local Wal-Mart manager to always deduct 10% from the invoice, and dare the vendor to not accept it.
Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A to preserve our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities.
From Time Magazine
[While most retailers are shutting down stores, Walmart has opened 52 Supercenters since Feb. 1. Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A to preserve our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities. -DS]
Walmart loves to shock and awe. City-size stores, absurdly low prices ($8 jeans!) and everything from milk to Matchbox toys on its shelves. And with the recession forcing legions of stores into bankruptcy, the world’s largest retailer now apparently wants to take out the remaining survivors.
Thus, the company is in the beginning stages of a massive store and strategy remodeling effort, which it has dubbed Project Impact. One goal of Project Impact is cleaner, less cluttered stores that will improve the shopping experience. Another is friendlier customer service. A third: home in on categories where the competition can be killed. “They’ve got Kmart ready to take a standing eight-count next year,” says retail consultant Burt Flickinger III, managing director for Strategic Resources Group and a veteran Walmart watcher. “Same with Rite Aid. They’ve knocked out four of the top five toy retailers, and are now going after the last one standing, Toys “R” Us. Project Impact will be the catalyst to wipe out a second round of national and regional retailers.”
Though that’s bad news for many smaller businesses that can’t compete, Walmart investors have clamored for this push. Despite the company’s consistently strong financial performance, Wall Street hasn’t cheered Walmart’s growth rates… “Walmart is under excruciating pressure from employees and frustrated institutional investors to get the stock up,” says Flickinger.
From DAVE SMITH
Letter to the Editors
Time was, retail jobs were called “entry level.” Jenny would have a summer job running the cash register at the mom-and-pop so owner Mrs. Simpson could work on the bookkeeping in back. Johnny would get a job after school stocking shelves at the department store. These were healthy, local, low-wage jobs where you joked with your neighbors and learned how the world works. And then you moved on to college and a profession or learned a trade skill in manufacturing. Or if you liked retail, you stayed around, learned some small-business skills… maybe saved some money and opened a store of your own.
Not any more. Retail has evolved into dead-end, exit-level, dumb jobs in Big Box chain stores where all the well-paid smart jobs — information processing, accounting, advertising, logistics — are at a distant headquarters, and the community’s money is swept up nightly and sent there too. Your slave-wage, mind-numbing, soul-killing job is to do what the computer has programmed and spit-out on screens and work sheets. Endless lines at the cash register, move ’em in, head ’em out. Endless numbers of trucks to unload, stock the shelves, clean up the mess, take a break.
The people at the top are raking in millions and living in castles. You on the bottom are living a boring nightmare, and thankful for barely making it because the manufacturing jobs are now on the other side of the world, and even the good paying, white collar jobs are heading out.
DDR is touting 700 slave-wage dumb jobs at their Monster Mall. Google “New Rules Project” and you’ll find documented research that for every retail job a Big Box brings, 1.4 current jobs are lost; that as more Big Boxes come to a community, the county-wide poverty level rises; that California taxpayers were spending $86 million a year in 2004 providing healthcare and other public assistance to the state’s 44,000 Wal-Mart employees… and there are many more of those employees now.
We have one good place left for future entrepreneurial green jobs as the consumer economy gasps its last breath, and changing the zoning of the Masonite site now will kill that opportunity.
Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A to preserve our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities.
This post dedicated in memory of John Milder, who worked hard, with Phyllis Curtis and others, to stop the first Wal-Mart big box store in Ukiah, but failed by one vote of the Ukiah City Council. Thanks, John. You knew. We remember.
From Cleveland Magazine (August 2008)
A Tour of DDR CEO Scott Wolstein’s Castle RAVENCREST
[There’s an old Ry Cooder song “The Very Thing That Makes You Rich Makes Me Poor.” As Chinese slave-wage sweatshop labor turns out more cheap crap for our storage lockers and landfill, Mendocino County is being offered 700 slave-wage, soul-killing dumb jobs here at home to dispose of it all from our very own Monster Mall, while they keep the high-paying smart jobs in Ohio. Meanwhile, the recently-resigned Monster Mall CEO enjoys this 36,000-square-feet castle. Before the hoardes of Ohio homeless and unemployed start coming over the hill for food and shelter, he best get the servants out digging the moat. Let’s take a tour, shall we? -DS]
When it’s time to get cleaned up, he hops in an 11-foot-long, custom-tiled porcelain shower. Afterward, he’ll relax and catch a show or two on the plasma TV that hangs just in front of the plush cushions he rests on.
Only we’re not referring to the man of the house. We’re talking about his dog.
What makes Wolstein’s house so special isn’t any one thing. It’s that it has everything: an infinity pool, indoor basketball court, indoor climbing wall, indoor pool with grotto-style hot tub, steam room, sauna and massage room.
From ROBIN THOMPSON
To the Editor:
Ukiah Daily Journal
I recently received the Mendocino County Tomorrow (MCT) Open Letter (vote ‘yes’ on measure A) from Danny Rosales concerning the DDR vs. Mendocino County debacle (depending on which side of the issue it’s viewed from).
Mr. Rosales starts with the standard bag of worries by appealing to everyone’s fears about everything as a way of gaining a foothold in his argument. After almost a decade of that tactic, I grow weary of listening to that as the basis for discussion. Sure we are in hard economic times, but are Americans so afraid of challenges that we are willing place all our eggs in yet another big business basket? I hope that is not an accurate depiction of our society now.
Mr. Rosales states that the MCT vision statement “…is to promote responsible community growth…” How responsible is it to promote importing more millions of metric cubic tons of, essentially, garbage consumables from China and elsewhere? Aren’t our dumps full enough? Aren’t our storage units jammed full? Mr. Rosales goes on to parrot words like “sustainable.” Yeah, sustaining DDR and Big Box stores.
If DDR considers dealing with our county “…more difficult than climbing Mount Everest…”, then I don’t think much of DDR’s hand wringing and incapable staff. Could they even manage the whole thing well from here forward? DDR is the one with the big bucks to bash their way through any obstacle so why the whining?
From JANIE SHEPPARD
Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. ~Willam James
DDR generously, but erroneously, attributes to my organizing skills the sing-a-long at their recent “town hall” in Redwood Valley. Kudos should be directed to The Bronnettes for their clever lyrics and singing! The subject of the meeting was Measure A, the initiative to put a monster mall on the old Masonite site. Watch the YouTube video of the sing-a-long portion of the meeting below.
In the video, DDR accuses The Bronnettes of disrupting the meeting. But if you look at the video, it’s plain to see that the meeting hadn’t begun; the room is nearly empty. The sing-a-long was simply a bit of pre-meeting entertainment. Hardly what I’d call “disruption.”
Why do so many oppose Measure A? If passed, Measure A would: (1) Allow an Ohio corporation to bypass local planning regulations that the rest of us have to follow; (2) Avoid review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); (3) Replace jobs at existing local businesses with minimum wage jobs at the monster mall; (4) Create traffic nightmares; (5) Create polluting runoff from a huge parking lot; (6) Use lots of scarce water; and (7) Divert shopping dollars from downtowns across the county to big corporations that have no stake in Mendocino County.