“This is decades and decades of failures from California politicians taking bribes from Developers and Real Estate Lobbies,” experts say
MODERN FORENSICS TRACES ALL OF THEIR SECRET BANK AND STOCK ACCOUNTS WHERE THE BRIBES GO!
Kayla Haskell, homeless outreach specialist with Pathways to Housing DC, from right, interviews David Putney, 64, who has been homeless for two years, near the McPherson Square Metro Station in Washington on Jan. 22.Katherine Frey / The Washington Post via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES — The only thing that kept LaRae Cantley going was her three children.
She grew up surrounded by poverty and addiction, but despite her difficulties, she never expected to be homeless.
Yet one day in the late 1990s, a sheriff’s deputy knocked on the door of her South Los Angeles house and told her and her husband they had five minutes to vacate the property. Cantley was stunned. She knew nothing about her husband’s finances and had no idea he skimped on rent.
With nowhere to go, she sent their three children to live with the children's great-grandparents. She and her husband divorced, and she found herself homeless.
“There was nothing to catch us,” she said.
Cantley, 37, lived on the streets for 15 years. She was among thousands of Californians without a home, a problem that continues to grow. Last year, homelessness rose 16 percent to 151,000 people.
Many blame mental illness and drug addiction for the soaring numbers, but experts say that is only part of the puzzle. The state’s severe housing shortage that has forced rents to increase at twice the rate of the national average and put the median price of a single family home at $615,000, has also contributed to the crisis.
John Maceri, CEO of the Los Angeles-based social services provider The People Concern, said social safety nets, like affordable housing and job training, are all but gone, leaving already vulnerable people to fend for themselves.
“You reap what you sow,” Maceri said recently.
He was one of 300 volunteers who gathered in Santa Monica last week for an annual homeless count, part of a larger effort in Los Angeles County that spanned three days and covered thousands of square miles. Similar counts took place in San Francisco, San Diego and other parts of the country.
The federally mandated survey stretches to every nook and cul-de-sac. Its mission is simple: using U.S. census tracts, count every person who appears to be experiencing homelessness and report those numbers to the county. The county tallies them up using statistical analysis and sends them to the state, which sends a report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Similar to the census, the federal government doles out resources based on these findings. Cities and counties with the most need typically get the most money.
In Santa Monica, an idyllic coastal oasis in Southern California, the count took on the air of a community fair. Parking attendants ushered hundreds people into St. Monica Catholic Church on a Wednesday night, offering warm drinks and snacks to volunteers who greeted one another. The crowd filled with local residents and city officials was thick with anticipation.
Around 11 p.m., hundreds of volunteers, lawmakers and law enforcement officers embarked on what has become routine for the affluent community. The city was an early adopter of the count, said former mayor and current state Assemblyman Richard Bloom.
The Democrat served three terms as Santa Monica’s mayor when homelessness still felt like a local problem. The city, with its soft beaches and year-round sunshine, had always been a magnet for homeless people. Residents and outsiders sang a familiar refrain: People experiencing homelessness were drawn to Santa Monica’s comfortable environment and abundant social services.
“Homelessness has been here for decades,” Bloom said. “But for many of those decades, we really didn’t see it as much as we do today.”
In 2005, when Los Angeles County conducted its first count, more than 82,000 people were reported as homeless, according to the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority. By 2019, that number had dropped to 59,000.
Experts say these fluctuations reflect the issue’s complexity and enormity.
“This is decades and decades of failures,” said Heidi Martson, interim executive director of the homeless services authority. “It’s going to take time.”
One of the biggest failures has been state and local leaders' inability or unwillingness to address the high cost of housing. Nearly half of Los Angeles County residents pay 50 percent of their income on rent, according to the housing authority. Even building affordable housing in Los Angeles was estimated in2016 to cost $414,000 for a two-bedroom unit, according to a city of Los Angeles report "Comprehensive Homelessness Strategy."
Los Angeles County finds housing for 130 people every day, yet 150 people fall into homelessness daily, according to the authority.
“This is truly poverty,” Martson said.
Two other factors repeatedly come up in discussions about homelessness in California: Gov. Ronald Reagan signing the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in 1967, which ended the practice of admitting patients into psychiatric institutions against their will, and Gov. Jerry Brown reducing the prison population after a federal three-judge panel ordered the state in 2009 to cut the inmate population by 46,000 people.
Neither move came with social safety nets, such as job training and mental health treatment, to ensure these people would land on their feet, said Alise Orduña, Santa Monica's senior adviser on homelessness.
“We needed to help people readjust to society,” she said.
Cantley said she first signed up for housing through the city in 1998, but didn’t receive it until 2012. After spending more than a decade on the street, she found herself at odds with the walls and routines thrust on her.
It took her three years of "damage control" to adjust, she said. She's not alone. In recent years, a new trend has emerged among service providers to pair formerly homeless people with support services.
For Cantley, that meant counseling for domestic abuse and depression, she said. Now, she is an advocate and activist who works with others with similar experiences. But not all people enduring homelessness are able to access those types of resources.
Mike Sanders spent six years in prison for robbery before his release in 2015. During his time behind bars, his mother died and the rest of his family became financially unstable. With no money and no job, Sanders, 43, became homeless. He slept on skid row in downtown Los Angeles for awhile, but it was too dangerous, he said. Church steps and shelters felt safer.
Eventually, he signed up for housing through The People Concern and found a stable home three years later, he said. Now, he lives in a former hotel near 5th and Spring streets downtown, he said.
“I love it,” Sanders said of his home. “I don’t have to share my room, my bathroom, with no one.”
Still, Sanders does not work. His income filters in through panhandling and the state’s General Assistance program. He spends his days circling downtown in a wheelchair, getting food and cash where he can.
The Bay Area's dynasties and Dianne Feinstein's CBRE Realty go to great lengths to keep affordable housing out of California.
Some of them pay epic covert bribes range from small family businesses to juggernauts—and include everything from philanthropy to sex scandal, all from some of America's wealthiest families.
Here's a look at 5 headline-making bloodlines.
1. Sobrato Cartel, Founded: 1979 The Founder: John A. Sobrato (pictured) History: John A. Sobrato's father, John Massimo Sobrato, owned a famous Italian restaurant in San Francisco. When he died, John's mother Ann sold the restaurant for $75k and invested the proceeds in South Bay properties. John took over the business in the early 1960s before starting his own company, the Sobrato Organization, in 1979. Famous Members: John's son, John M. Sobrato, is the CEO of the family business, while John remains chairman. Sue Sobrato, John's wife of 50+ years, is a trustee, along with daughters Sheri and Lisa, and Lisa's husband Matthew Sonsini. The Latest: Following in the footsteps of Ann Sobrato, the charitable family has donated more than $300M to local nonprofits since starting a family foundation in 1996. The Sobrato Family Foundation, set up by daughter Lisa, has provided 68 nonprofit organizations with more than 333k SF of operating space, at a value of roughly $5.5M. John and Sue, along with their son John M., have also signed giving pledges promising 100% of their wealth—an estimated $6B to date – to charity either during their lifetime or upon their death. Famous Properties: The Sobrato Organization owns 7.5M SF of office space in Silicon Valley, with tenants like Apple, Yahoo and Netflix. The firm also owns 6,600 apartments.
2. Shorenstein Cartel, Founded: 1960 The Founder: Walter Shorenstein History: Walter Shorenstein bought Shorenstein Co (then named Milton Meyer & Co) in 1960. He changed the name in 1989. Famous Members: Walter's son Doug (pictured) ran the company until this past November, when he lost his battle with cancer. Walter's daughter Carol Shorenstein Hays is a Tony Award-winning theater producer many times over. The Latest: Doug, known for his uncanny instincts regarding real estate, turned the company into a powerhouse, with the firm boasting over 70 properties in 13 cities, including LA, Portland, New York and San Francisco. Walter and his wife also started the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in honor of their late daughter Joan, who was a journalist at the Washington Post and CBS News. Walter passed away in 2010 at the age of 95. Famous Properties: Under Doug's leadership the company purchased such high-profile properties as Miami's Wachovia Financial Center (formerly First Union Financial Center), and the Starrett-Lehigh Building in New York. Other iconic investments include Chicago's John Hancock Tower and New York's Park Avenue Tower. Fun Fact: Walter Shorenstein and a group of investors bought the San Francisco Giants in 1992 for $100M, and Walter acted as an adviser to Presidents Johnson and Carter.
3. Bechtel Cartel, Founded: 1898 The Founder: Warren A. Bechtel (pictured with his wife, Clara) History: Warren started Bechtel engineering and construction company when he was just 25 years old and nearly bankrupt, with a new baby on the way. Famous Members: When Warren died unexpectedly, he was succeeded by his son Stephen Bechtel Sr., who became chief executive of the Hoover Dam project. His son Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. took over in 1960 and ran the company until 1989, when he handed it over to his son Riley. The Latest: Riley stepped down as CEO in 2014, and today the company is run by his son Brendan, who is president and COO. That's five generations. The company has 58,000 employees in nearly 50 countries. Famous Properties: The firm is known for such iconic projects as the Hoover Dam, the Channel Tunnel, Crossrail London and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
4. Berg Cartel, Founded: 1997 The Founder: Carl and Clyde Berg Famous Members: Brothers Clyde and Carl founded Berg & Berg Enterprises and developed campuses for some of Silicon Valley's most prominent companies. A former partner of John Sobrato, Carl Berg acquired Mission West properties REIT in 1997 and sold it in 2012 to developer Divco West for $1.3B. But he's not out of the real estate game. He still owns Microsoft's Mountain View campus (pictured) and some buildings leased to Apple. In fact, Microsoft is planning an expansion for its campus. The Latest: Carl's brother Clyde has had a challenging few years, battling in court with his estranged wife. The judge ultimately declared Berg "factually innocent" and dismissed the case as an "elaborate fraud." Famous Properties: Microsoft campus, Apple, Silver Creek Business Park/Ciena Campus, and Orchard Trimble.
5. Wallace Cartel, Founded: 1928 The Founder: William S. Wallace and William Edwin "Ed" Wallace Famous Members: Father-son duo William and Ed Wallace opened Wallace Realtors in 1928. At the time William was a hospital manager and father of six, who had dabbled in real estate for most of his life, and Ed was a recent UC Berkeley grad with a background in the cleaning and dyeing industry. Ed's son Clark joined the company business in 1958 after spending three years in the Navy. He runs the company today. Famous Properties: Notable deals include the sale of the 5,000 remaining acres of the 8,000-acre Moraga ranch to Utah Construction and Mining Co for $4M in 1953. He also sold the 108-acre Moraga Center to Bruzzone in 1964 and 2,300 more acres of Moraga to Bruzzone in 1967. Clark began developing projects on his own in 1974, including the Country Club and Sanders Ranch in Moraga, and the Pine Grove office complex and Orinda Theater project in Orinda.
Family dynasties own hit-man bloggers, crooked law firms and bribery outlets that they use to control politicians.
David Rockefeller's bag man on the West Coast was James Bronkema, now dead. The Rockefellers have a large covert operation in California and spend billions buying politicians like Newsom, Feinstein and Pelosi!
Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/san-francisco/news/commercial-real-estate/5-san-francisco-bay-area-real-estate-dynasties-56491?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser
These dynastic land owner Cartel's of California are like the dynastic land holder Cartels of England.
Every six months or so, Alan Davis sets out from his seaside bungalow on a far-flung island off the southwestern coast of England carrying a rent check of 12.5 pounds (about $16) for his landlord.
But this is no ordinary landlord, and no ordinary rent check.
Mr. Davis lives on a tiny corner of the Duchy of Cornwall, the property empire controlled by Prince Charles, the heir to Britain’s throne, who has quietly turned an inheritance of rundown farmland into a billion-pound real estate conglomerate. By a quirk of British law, Mr. Davis has to pay the prince for the privilege of living on his land, piddling as the checks may be.
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“It’s a feudal way of carrying on,” Mr. Davis said. “They put their finger in and demand money. They’re a law unto themselves.”
Prince Charles’s fortune, long shielded from scrutiny by parliamentary indifference and obscure accounting, spilled into public view this month when his younger son, Prince Harry, announced that he and his wife, Meghan, were quitting their royal duties. In trying to prove that they would renounce taxpayer money, Harry and Meghan gave Britons a peek at the shadowy world of ostensibly private finance that bankrolls the family and its mansions, gardens and considerable staff.
But what the royals call private contains, by any other measure, a generous mix of public giveaways: medieval landholdings passed from one male heir to the next, sweeping tax relief, indemnity from some laws and exemptions from others, ownership of long stretches of coastline and all the treasure buried in Cornwall.
Those perks have delivered Prince Charles substantial wealth. Income from the duchy has nearly tripled in two decades, to £21.6 million, about $28.3 million, last year. But the uproar over Harry and Meghan’s funding has raised uncomfortable questions for the prince and the royals about whether any of their income can truly be considered private.
Coming on the heels of Prince Charles’s brother Andrew being kicked off the royal front lines for socializing with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, such scrutiny is another dent to the royal mystique.
“Harry has chucked a grenade into the forecourt of Buckingham Palace,” said David McClure, the author of a book about the royal family’s wealth. “It’s weakened the foundations of the royal family and their money, and it’s raised issues that don’t just apply to Harry but have been bubbling under the surface for at least a decade.”
Among the biggest of those is the special treatment afforded Prince Charles’s property empire, an estate that, among other things, pays for the upkeep of his country mansion and furnished £5 million last year for the families of Harry and his older brother, Prince William.
Formed in 1337 to provide the royal heir with an income, the duchy came with fringe benefits: the right to unclaimed shipwrecks on Cornish shores, washed-up whale and sturgeon carcasses, and at least 250 gallons of wine from boats docking at Cornish ports.
Nearly 700 years later, Prince Charles has held onto some anachronistic perks. Into his 20s, the prince is said to have received feudal dues of 100 silver shillings and a pound of peppercorns from the mayor of Launceston in Cornwall.
But with the help of British real estate heavyweights, he has transformed his sleepy holdings into a thriving business covering 200 square miles, turning the focus from rural land to profit-rich urban holdings.
The duchy has a vast footprint, stretching from the rocky shores of Cornwall to south London, and from medieval castles to a granite-walled men’s prison. It recently bought a 400,000-square-foot supermarket warehouse north of London.
A spokeswoman for the duchy said in a statement that Parliament had “confirmed its status as a private estate” and that the Treasury had agreed that its tax status did not confer an unfair advantage. “The prince has always ensured it is run with the interests of its communities as an equal priority,” the statement said.
The duchy’s holdings reflect how the royal family’s wealth has become concentrated in the hands of Prince Charles and his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, whose own estate, the Duchy of Lancaster, paid her £21.7 million last year. Together, the two duchies bankroll more than a dozen members of the family, supplementing a taxpayer grant of £82 million last year reserved for official duties and the upkeep of several palaces.
Despite lawmakers once deeming its current income “an accident of history,” the Duchy of Cornwall has mostly avoided harsh questions, in part by playing up its interest in traditional architecture and sustainable practices across its humbler holdings: scores of farms, much of Dartmoor National Park in Devon and rivers throughout Cornwall. But analysts say that obscures fierce commercial instincts.
“If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, you sort of assume it is a duck,” a Labour lawmaker told duchy officials during a 2013 hearing. “The Duchy of Cornwall looks and behaves like a corporation.”
But the duchy does not pay taxes like a corporation. Instead it sits in a sort of legal limbo, using its royal status to skirt corporation and capital gains taxes even as it argues that, as a private estate, it has no obligation to open its books. The duchy said that its capital gains were all reinvested in the business, obviating the need to tax them, and that only companies paid corporation tax.
Prince Charles pays tax on his duchy income only voluntarily, and after deducting what analysts believe to be about £10 million that he deems official and charitable spending. He has also written off tens of thousands of pounds that he pays for gardening at Highgrove, his country house, on the basis that members of the public were occasionally invited in.
“The Duchy of Cornwall can be whatever it’s convenient for it to be,” said John Kirkhope, who wrote a doctoral thesis about the duchy in 2013. “If you want to inquire into its privileges, you can’t, because it’s supposedly a private estate, in the same way I have a private bank account. But when it’s convenient, it’s also a crown property, so that for example it doesn’t pay the same rate of tax as any similar entity would pay.”
The duchy’s powers go even further.
It inherits the possessions of anyone who dies in Cornwall without a will or next of kin, a power that in some years has yielded hundreds of thousands of pounds. The duchy funnels the money into charities after deducting its own costs.
The duchy owns the right to mine in Cornwall, even under private homes — a right that it registered to extend as recently as eight years ago.
Most extraordinarily in critics’ eyes, the duchy has the right to be consulted on any legislation that affects its interests. Over the years, governments have interpreted that to include bills about hunting, road safety, children’s rights, marine access and wreck removal. A 2008 planning law exempts the duchy from ever committing a planning offense.
A similar carve-out gives Prince Charles unusual power over homeowners on the Isles of Scilly, a picturesque archipelago off the southwestern coast of England, and in Newton St. Loe, a village near Bath.
People like Mr. Davis own their homes there, but the duchy owns the ground on which they are built. Such an arrangement is not uncommon in England, but homeowners would usually have the option to buy the land. Not on some duchy land.
That enables the duchy to charge small ground rents to homeowners grandfathered into long leases, like Mr. Davis. Once those leases lapse, it can also raise rents to thousands of pounds per year, making it difficult for people to sell or mortgage their homes.
In one case, a couple built a house on the Isles of Scilly, only for the duchy to force them to sign a lease bequeathing the property to Prince Charles’s estate upon their death, said Lord Berkeley, a Labour peer in the House of Lords.
“They set up an arrangement where tenants are too frightened to do anything, for fear of losing their property,” said Lord Berkeley, who tried unsuccessfully to push through a bill in 2017 ending the duchy’s special landlord status and removing its tax exemptions. “In what we like to think of as a democratic country, that doesn’t seem fair to me.”
Nor have lawmakers approved of how Prince Charles handles the duchy’s accounting. He pays rent to the duchy for Highgrove, his country house. But because the money goes into the duchy’s revenues, it empties back into Prince Charles’s pocket as income.
The duchy said the prince paid rent, at market value, to avoid the duchy taking on costs it shouldn’t. Still, he is effectively paying it to himself — and allowing himself to take a tax deduction.
“He pays money out from one pocket and receives it back in the other pocket,” Mr. Kirkhope said.
Polls show that the public is dubious of government funding for anyone outside the core line of succession. And Harry and Meghan’s departure has intensified the focus on how and why the public pays for the royals’ lifestyle.
Palace aides have indicated that Prince Charles may dip into his personal investments, rather than the Duchy of Cornwall, to fund Harry and Meghan’s lives in Canada. But that and much else remains unresolved, including how long British taxpayers will pay for the couple’s security.
“It’s the third rail of public discussions about the royal family: royal finances,” said Patrick Jephson, a former private secretary to Diana. “It is royal people and royal advisers’ least favorite topic of conversation.”
Mr. Davis says that among people the Isles of Scilly, around where he lives and pays his rent to the duchy, the mood has hardened against Prince Charles.
“They hate him basically,” Mr. Davis said. “Most people can’t abide him. All the money he gets goes out of the island..."
...And that’s how Diane Feinstein or "Princes" can afford millions in fun money to live their iffy lifestyles.