Documents: Ex-Bel-Air Association Leaders Backed Developers, Not Residents
Posted: Friday, April 22, 2016 – 10:10 AM
As the newly-elected Bel-Air Association (BAA) continues pouring through electronic and physical documents obtained from ousted former members, revelations about the old BAA have come to light.
Those revelations confirm many of the fears of community members, that the old BAA sided with developers rather than residents on major construction projects in West L.A. Electronic documents obtained this week by The Courier, off the computer of former BAA Executive Director Paulette Dubey, appear to paint the picture of what was once a community organization, transforming into a vehicle to push forward with development projects at almost any cost.
Some of the most shocking communications from the former BAA leadership came in February, when discussions were ongoing about recruiting new members. Talk turns to recruiting those in the development community.
Jeff Kaplan, a BAA member and homeowner, who in the documents appears to be orchestrating much of the organization’s plans, says he will ask his “architect and contractors I know to get their clients to join.”
“I think we should ‘play stupid’ about why they have joined and merely send a nice ‘welcome’ letter.” Kaplan writes, noting it should be a “sales pitch on how good the BAA is” that can be drafted by a Public Relations firm.
Bruce Kuyper, the BAA’s former boardmember, makes it clear in a response that new members will eventually need to be directed on who to vote for in the upcoming election. Kuyper notes that the organization should “be careful not to tell them whom to vote for at this stage… candidates like me will have to tell them separately whom to vote for.”
A response from a Kristen Lonner further hammers home the desire to recruit the development community, noting she reached out to a woman named Kimberlina, who is “one of the development consultants…she and I went through her client list and she called all Bel Air clients. I have also called Jason Somers, Renee Schillaci, Larry Gray and Penny Flynn. All represent many Bel Air clients.”
There is also a clear attempt by the former BAA leadership to scramble before the March 17 special meeting, where Bel Air voters in a 155-to-1 vote ushered in nine new board members, along with sweeping new bylaws.
One e-mail suggests the group pitch their side of the story to the Los Angeles Times, while another reveals that all BAA members were e-mailed prior to the March 17 meeting, as part of an aggressive PR blitz, claiming the meeting was unauthorized. One e-mail from a former BAA member claims the PR blitz is a “good opportunity for us to look better than the [Bel Air Homeowners Alliance – a rival community homeowners group, which spawned to back residents against illegal development.]”
“When you discover texts like these, you realize that they have been working against the residents of our community for years. Make no bones about it – Marv Elkin, Ron Hudson, Bruce Kuyper and Jeff Kaplan’s actions have been disgraceful and now we know why they have been resistant to change and transparency,” said Bel-Air Association member Fred Rosen. “There is something to be said for the old days, where based on their behavior, they would have been tarred and feathered and run out of town.”