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PAC Contributes Heavily to Bob Harbicht’s Campaign Coffers – Nevis Capital, LLC Named; Developer Jeff Lee Says There Is ‘Discrimination’ in Arcadia

This mansion on Second Ave. is one of many in Arcadia that has caused divisive attitudes towards construction-Photo by Terry Miller

This mansion on Second Ave. is one of many in Arcadia that has caused divisive attitudes towards construction-Photo by Terry Miller

As Election Draws Closer; Lines in Sand are Drawn

By Terry Miller

As is always the case during an election, some objectionable mudslinging and misinformation finds its way, especially via social media and through the good ol’ U.S. mail.

Recently the Chinese chat group ‘WeChat’ has targeted candidate April Verlato. The anonymous posters’ attempts to discredit the candidate by claiming she was a ‘bully’ were later quelled when another comment feared a libel lawsuit. Meanwhile Verlato said she has no plans to file a suit but needless to say was disturbed by some of the allegations therein.

An out-of-town group known as California Homeowners Association out of Willows, California is encouraging people to vote for Bob Harbicht, saying he will bring “Government transparency.”

Arcadia Councilman Thomas Beck said:
“I am disturbed by the attacks that have been leveled on at least two candidates for Arcadia City Council. In my memory this has not been done in the past and it is not the ‘Arcadia Way’ of doing things.

Bob Harbicht-photo by Terry Miller

Bob Harbicht-photo by Terry Miller

“When I learned that Bob Harbicht was being attacked [referring to a previous incident] I spoke to the person I thought was behind it and to his credit I have not seen any more attacks on Bob.

“Now I am seeing outright libelous statements that are not true being made against April Verlato. I have tried to get it stopped but have been unsuccessful. This all makes me very sad. We Arcadians are better than this type of campaigning. I understand having differences of opinion but attacking and name calling of a candidate has no place in Arcadia.”

We discovered that Harbicht’s campaign has been helped significantly by one “California Home Owners Association,” allegedly out of Willow, California, but the money trail leads to Nevis LLC, the developer who wants a major Hillside development in Arcadia.

We checked with the Secretary of State and supporting documentation which show that the California Homeowner’s Association is a PAC – “political action committee”- out of Sacramento that recently received $26,850 from Nevis Capital, LLC. The direct beneficiary of this is Bob Harbicht.

Nevis Capital, LLC is owned by Ta Jen Lee, aka, Jeff Lee. He is a Pasadena resident and developer in Arcadia.

He owns the hill above the Highlands which he has been trying to develop for the last 15 years. The residents of the Highlands have been fighting this development as it would result in the excavation of the hillside and removal of 32 healthy oak trees for a single home.

The California Homeowner’s Association acts as a shell so that a candidate does not have to report contributors on their campaign finance disclosure statements.

California Homeowner’s Association disclosure statements show that $15,000 were spent on the mailer for Bob Harbicht and another $10,000 are being spent for online advertising for Bob Harbicht.

[gview file=”http://www.arcadiaweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Expenditure-Report-California-Homeowners-Association-1.pdf”]

Arcadia Weekly contacted Jeff Lee of Nevis Capital LLC. Lee confirmed that he did contribute a large sum of money to a PAC but said he “donates to a lot of PAC’s and is never sure where the money goes…” We asked him if he supported Bob Harbicht. Lee emphatically said, “Do I support him? Absolutely… Will I vote for him? Absolutely!” But he denies being directly tied to Harbicht’s latest mailer. “ This is how PAC’s work,” he said.

Lee also made reference to the denial of a project of his on Canyon. Lee says the denial of a single home on his 100 acre hillside property there is leading his company into exploring “pre- litigation against the city of Arcadia.”

Lee said there is a big misconception about Asian developers in Arcadia particularly. Lee said his design concept is for “reasonable development” not giant mansions. Lee , who has lived in Arcadia 20 years, says there is considerable ‘discrimination ‘ in Arcadia, particularly with Asian real estate developers. Lee says that Caucasian, long-time Arcadia residents are resentful of the Asian developers and builders.

April Verlato- Photo by Terry Miller

April Verlato- Photo by Terry Miller

Candidate Verlato said, “I cannot compete with the kind of money that can be raised by developers for Bob Harbicht. Nor would I accept money from developers.

“Anyone who believes that Bob Harbicht will be ‘fair and impartial’ when a project by Nevis Capital/Jeff Lee is before City Council is fooling themselves. Do you really think that Jeff Lee is going to take a chance and contribute $26,850 to a candidate that will vote in the best interests of the residents even if it means denying Jeff Lee his project? Developers don’t care about our Community. They only care about their Return on Investment.”

Sho Tay: Photo by Terry Miller

Sho Tay: Photo by Terry Miller

A group called “Arcadia Neighbor Mutual Help Group” also encouraged voters to “come with their ballot” on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, and invited Sho Tay to “explain the procedures and background of candidates…” The message on WeChat also said, “Arcadia is our home. Let’s Vote for home Development.” The group alleged additional misinformation: “… city council … scheduled a closed session discussion among themselves next Thursday (the public can watch but cannot comment) at 9 a.m.”

Mayor Gary Kovacic commented on this misinformation:
“This public meeting is not a ‘closed session’ and, as clearly stated in the Notice for the meeting: ‘There will be a time reserved for those who wish to address the City Council’ regarding the proposed changes to the city’s single-family residential zoning regulations.”

We contacted Chief Deputy City Clerk/Records Manager Lisa Mussenden at the city of Arcadia regarding the legality of people bringing their ballots to an “informational” meeting. While Mussenden said there is nothing inherently wrong with people bringing ballots to a meeting, it is entirely another matter if someone helps them fill it out. Only a designated person may submit a ballot on behalf of a resident. Anyone interfering with the ballot is violating state voter regulation laws, Mussenden said.

The Arcadia Weekly emailed Bob Harbicht for comment, but as of publication time there was no reply.

March 23, 2016

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17 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “PAC Contributes Heavily to Bob Harbicht’s Campaign Coffers – Nevis Capital, LLC Named; Developer Jeff Lee Says There Is ‘Discrimination’ in Arcadia”

  1. Terry Smith says:

    Terry Miller’s article is the only type of reporting we need to clearly understand the issues! Well done!
    I just completed for myself and others a candidate review for the two city council seats. Three were in person the balance did not have the qualifications that I felt qualified them for an interview. After the interviews I felt all three to be qualified. Peter Amundson, Dr. Sheng Chang, and April Verlato are the best qualified to be on the city council.

    Terry Smith

    • Burton Brink says:

      Terry, I am sorry you feel I don’t have enough experience to even be asked questions for our great city.

      Here is a comment about me from Supervisor Mike Antonovich that might help you about my experience in running for city council.

      I am honored to have received Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s endorsement for Arcadia City Council!

      “I am proud to endorse your candidacy for Arcadia City Council. With your leadership experience as a law enforcement officer, you will continue to promote public safety for the residents of Arcadia.

      As a longtime resident and dedicated volunteer, you understand the issues and challenges facing Arcadia and have committed to work with the residents, businesses and other stakeholders to solve problems and to improve the quality of life.

      You have earned my support and I wish you success in this endeavor”

      Signed, Michael D. Antonovich, Supervisor, Los Angeles County Board Of Supervisors, 5th District.

  2. Carol Smith says:

    I’m voting for Ms. Verlato and Peter( I don’t know alot about Dr. Chang so have no opinion) as they seem to be running a a race that’s NOT filled with backstabbing innuendoes. They appear to really want to work for the people of ,not the builders like some who shall remain nameless. And I guess if you can’t get your way (for 15 years) then you take the low road and blame it on racism.

  3. Howie Carr says:

    The residents of Arcadia have long suffered the adverse effects from McMansionization. Loss of privacy, the hassle of living next door to a home under construction for 12 months, and, once built, homes that are incompatible to the neighborhoods are all results of development. Combine that with city officials who have refused to hear the cry of those they were elected to represent and it’s easy to see where the frustration comes from. For too long, the neighbors of property under development have been told “It’s a property rights issue.” Property rights have only gone in one direction to the developers during the reign of Harbicht and Chandler. Property rights runs in both direction and it’s about time the homeowners have a voice.

    We can all agree seeing our home prices shoot to the moon is nice, but what if you want to stay where you are? A home, as compared to a house, has much more to it that just a monetary value.

    Perhaps it is not the residents of Arcadia who are discriminatory, but rather a majority of the city council. It’s amazing the developers are throwing the race card down when they’ve gotten everything they asked for and more. No one saying development must stop, just within reason. When the race card at the bottom of the deck is played, you know the opposing sign is desperate.

    Hey Bob, after 30 years on Arcadia’s city council and who knows how long in Duarte, isn’t about time you give someone else a spot?

  4. Burton Brink says:

    Hi Carol,

    I am sorry you feel I don’t have enough experience to be considered for City Council. By the way, I have been a part of our great city for over 49 years.

    Maybe this comment below may help you understand something about me as a candidate for Arcadia City Council.

    Here is a comment about me from Supervisor Mike Antonovich that might help you about my experience in running for city council.

    “I am proud to endorse your candidacy for Arcadia City Council. With your leadership experience as a law enforcement officer, you will continue to promote public safety for the residents of Arcadia.

    As a longtime resident and dedicated volunteer, you understand the issues and challenges facing Arcadia and have committed to work with the residents, businesses and other stakeholders to solve problems and to improve the quality of life.

    You have earned my support and I wish you success in this endeavor”

    Signed, Michael D. Antonovich, Supervisor, Los Angeles County Board Of Supervisors, 5th District

  5. Mark Samarin says:

    BOB HARBICHT WILL SET ARCADIA BACK ANOTHER 30 YEARS

    Arcadia needs fresh voices on the city council to support reasonable development standards. Please vote for April Verlato and Peter Amundson.

    For two years Roger Chandler, Sho Tay and John Wuo discouraged and actively blocked updates to the residential zoning code. They even halted updates to the commercial zoning code. Chandler and Tay are for “manisonization as usual” in Arcadia, building on the 30 year legacy of Bob Harbicht. They do not listen and they do not care.

    John Wuo, a professional realtor, resigned in disgraced stemming from his association with professional con men Steve Chen, Eiji Sakurada and Leonard Johnson.

    The last thing Arcadia needs is another councilman who is in the pocket of developers and speculators, the moneyed interests who pay to get their way over Arcadia’s residents.

    Make no mistake: Bob Harbicht is NOT John Wuo. His 30 years prove he is MUCH WORSE.

    DO NOT VOTE FOR BOB HARBICHT

  6. charlene martinez says:

    South Arcadia is being paved over in concrete and big-block houses. Our green spaces, gardens, trees are being bulldozed. These big-block houses are using mega amounts of energy, gas, electricity and water. Take a look at the 4 big-block houses being constructed on Santa Anita below Longden. It makes me sick and angry to see what my South Arcadia neighborhood of 48 years is becoming. Let’s vote for change before it is too late for Arcadia.

  7. John C. Y. says:

    This article is extremely biased and contains many factual inaccuracies.

    The following statements are misrepresentations if not outright incorrect:

    1.) “PAC Contributes Heavily to Bob Harbicht’s Campaign Coffers”

    This PAC DID NOT contribute to Harbicht’s “campaign coffers”, that is false. The very same document that this author linked to in the article supports this: independent expenditures were made supporting said candidate, but not directly to the campaign coffer as stated in the title.

    2.) “The California Homeowner’s Association acts as a shell so that a candidate does not have to report contributors on their campaign finance disclosure statements.”

    Again, I believe the author has a fundamental misunderstanding of PACs. Anyone can start a PAC for any candidate and make independent expenditures in support of them. To say that this particular PAC “acts as a shell so that a candidate does not have to report contributions on their campaign finance disclosure statements” is a stretch.

    For example, if John Smith, an unsavory fellow, decided to start a PAC in support of candidate Mr. Brink without his knowledge and/or approval, is this PAC now a “shell” for the candidate? Does this translate to Mr. Brink endorsing said fellow’s ideologies?

    This article is poorly researched and is essentially a thinly veiled hit piece. Mr. Editor, if you have any semblance of journalistic integrity, I implore you to correct not just the inaccurate statements, but change the overall biased tone of the article.

    • Mark Samarin says:

      DON’T BE NAIVE

      This is just the latest, and maybe the largest, payment to Harbicht’s efforts for lifetime membership on the city council.

      It is “Tribute to Caesar” in recognition for a job well done by Harbicht over 30 years to build mansions and kill off Arcadia’s once beautiful neighborhoods, oak trees and history.

      If Bob Harbicht is for residents over developers and speculators, let him disavow the PAC money and tell the PAC thanks but no thanks. Let him state this publicly for the record.

      It won’t happen.

  8. Juan Herrera says:

    Mr. Miller,
    Biased much? Are your[sic] personal friends with April Verlato? It sure seems so to me. This election is about protecting Arcadia property owners. April is no victim. If fact, I’ve personally seen her attack property owners who wanted to build their own home.
    In addition, April and her group has been collecting signatures based on misinformation and intimidation. Enough is enough!!! Wake up people…April will destroy Arcadia, “not saving it” like she claims.
    Your article is poorly researched and again, extremely biased towards your friend Apri

    • Mark Samarin says:

      DON’T BE NAIVE

      This is just the latest, and maybe the largest, payment to Harbicht’s efforts for lifetime membership on the city council.

      It is “Tribute to Caesar” in recognition for a job well done by Harbicht over 30 years to build mansions and kill off Arcadia’s once beautiful neighborhoods, oak trees and history.

      If Bob Harbicht is for residents over developers and speculators, let him disavow the PAC money and tell the PAC thanks but no thanks. Let him state this publicly for the record.

      It won’t happen.

    • Mark Samarin says:

      WRONG: HARBICHT AND CHANDLER ARE THE DESTROYERS OF ARCADIA.

      The destruction of Arcadia began 30 years ago with the election of Bob Harbicht to the city council. The destruction has been perfected to a fine art by Roger Chandler over the past 20 years, and more recently by John Wuo and Sho Tay.

      The destruction has been enabled by the loose standards perpetuated in Arcadia in contrast to every city in the San Gabriel Valley, with the exception of Duarte and Baldwin Park. And by the way, Duarte is where Bob Harbicht got his start.

      Harbicht, Chandler, Tay and Wuo are against updates to the zoning code and thus for the continuing destruction of Arcadia’s neighborhoods. They are in it for ego and avarice. Developers and speculators are their enablers providing the money they need to stay in office.

      Bring common sense to Arcadia. Do not vote for Bob Harbicht.

      • Bertha Adcox says:

        I have never been great at public speaking but am able to quickly form opinions that for the most part have been entirely accurate. Thank you Mark Samarin for expressing my opinions, You are entirely correct.
        I am a 35+ yr resident and have watched the continuing destruction of Arcadia beginning with the election of these council members. Each have been more enamored with their “status” and the amount of money they feel they have brought to the city. They have never really cared about our community at all and have forever changed the face of a city that once was a “community of homes”. No, Harbicht doesn’t have my vote.

  9. admin says:

    You might want to re read. There is no bias, simply fact.

  10. Craig Bushey says:

    I have to laugh at this…where were all the No Arcadia people when us poor folk in Baja Arcadia were crying for help regarding the mansions. We were told, “that’s what you get for not having home owner’s associations.” Who thinks of this crap? We are living in a small “community of homes,” kids riding horses bareback up and down El Monte Ave. No, us poor folk never thought of, or most likely never heard of a home owner’s association. And NOW almighty No Arcadia is running around like chicken little, “the mansions are coming ,the mansions are coming!”

    The horse is out of the barn folks, welcome to So Arcadia’s world. Blame who you will, I’ve lived in Arcadia 45 years and can almost count city council members on one hand.
    I gave up years ago when I attended a council meeting and was told, “English will ALWAYS be the dominate writing on store fronts.” Hell, today I don’t know if I’m walking into a mom pop store or a bordello.

  11. AL says:

    It’s too late for stopping mansionization. It will be unfair to owner of those bigger home for their rebuilt value (in case of disaster) to drop significant. I am an under 40-yr old. I like to see new home been built. I like 2 story home. Welcome to 2016, those single story ranch home is out. People like Spanish/Mediterranean/modern style. Go take a look at newer cities like Walnut/Diamond Bar/Chino Hills, or new developments in Irvine/Azusa, can you still find single story ranch home?!

    Please don’t compare Arcadia to San Marino in talking about FAR and impact on property value. SM doesn’t have multi-family home nor apartment. And, their FAR has been implemented long time ago. What Arcadia should have is minor downsizing in Lot coverage or high FAR as recommended. If you want to compare to SM then require new construction to be under size of average home in that neighborhood and get approval signatures from nearby home owners.

    Ballot on Zoning update from “Saving Arcadia” is ridiculous. I hope Arcadia is not going downhill after this zoning code update. Home value will drop, school will lose funding, city will lose revenue. Those already big home will be much more stand out in the Arcadia streets comparing to pathetic little new house city will allowed in the future.

  12. Wing says:

    No other city in So California has enjoyed the appreciation like Arcadia. Poorly built homes in south Arcadia had been selling for easily over one million dollars. Land value is based on buildable square footage. But thanks to April and her group, prices has gone down and it will go down even more.

    You can all thank April for Destroying Arcadia!!!!

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