Monday, March 17, 2008

PLAYA VISTA: development a bad investment for all involved
For details about the huge taxdollar giveaways and corporate welfare received by Playa Vista, read this report:

and to learn more about Playa Vista's pleading poverty to the tax collector while claiming huge land values to the State parks department, read this report:


Want to read more about how Playa Vista's "smart growth" promises didn't pan out? Read How Playa Vista's Promises Disappeared into the Swamp


Playa Vista has also been a crummy deal for their investors. Read the words of the head of their company from this L.A. Business Journal article..."Playa Vista President Steve Soboroff expects the return to be modest on what's estimated to be a $1.2 billion investment by the time construction wraps, probably no sooner than 2010."Would these guys get together in a room and do it again? They would say 'No,'" said Soboroff. "Will they get any sort of return on their money? De minimis, but that's because everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong."

This comes from a website run by several real estate's mostly propaganda...but there is some interesting stuff on how the other side thinks:

"Playa Vista: A friend had the chance to speak with some folks from Playa Vista who recounted the struggles to get stuff built at the site. She reported back to us on the state of development affairs that is squashing the development potential of many sites throughout the city. Our friend emails back the highlights of the conversation: "CEQA is now being abused by extremists to stop things from being built and it's too easy to hijack the process. The State tried streamlining CEQA but there were too many conditions. If there was no CEQA, [Playa Vista] would physically look the same, but there would be 8,000 dwelling units for $350k each instead of 2,000 dwelling units for $800k each as there is now. It costs too much time and money to make an EIR bullet proof."

La.Curbed's response is: "If there was no CEQA, [Playa Vista] would physically look the same, but there would be 8,000 dwelling units for $350k each instead of 2,000 dwelling units for $800k each as there is now."

BALONEY! As a litigant over development by Playa Vista, I can report that CEQA is mostly a toothless law that has little effect on housing prices. Rarely does CEQA ever stop a development. The reason that Playa Vista has approvals for 5800 homes, instead of 13,000 as was in their most recent plans, is because the TAXPAYERS paid $140 million for around 193 acres of the Ballona Wetlands. Playa Vista sold off their development rights in 2003 at top-dollar as appraised by the State. This 193 acres is land that Playa Vista swore to the County Tax Assessor merely 5 years before the sale was worth under $20 million, based on what they had paid for it. After receiving this huge profit from the taxpayers, yes Playa Vista COULD have sold their condos for $350K. But they didn't, because their business model has been to bribe politicians with campaign cash, spend millions on the biggest law firm in town to crush opponents, and fill the local press with propaganda about how much they care about the environment. They spend more money on advertising congratulating themselves for their charitable gifts, for example, then the amount of charitable gifts they make. They're in the business to make the maximum cash possible, then split town and move on to the next project.They could care little about providing affordable housing. In fact, one telling example is their latest billboards, with a "buyer" saying why buy a fixer-upper when you can buy a new condo at Playa Vista. Well, the answer is that existing homes with back yards are available near PV at the same prices. But the big difference is the HUGE property taxes and homeowner's association fees at Playa Vista. Because Playa Vista's developers didn't want to pay for their roads and parks and street lights, they saddle their condo-buyers with property tax rates that are double those of nearby residents. It's called MELLO-ROOS and what it means is that a buyer of a $700,000 home at Playa Vista pays $14,000 a year in property taxes, while nearby "fixer-up" homebuyers pay only $7000 a year. The difference is because Playa Vista could care less about their customers. They have the morals of oil company executives.

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