Developers practices draw questions, complaints

July 21, 2015
John Belsher and Ryan Petetit

John Belsher and Ryan Petetit


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series about developers Ryan Petetit and John Belsher, their development projects, their promises to investors of 20 to 50 percent rates of return, legal troubles, and reported failures to pay subcontractors.

The principals of a San Luis Obispo-based real estate investment and development company involved in more than a dozen proposed projects are under fire for not paying subcontractors, violating building codes and allegedly funneling investor monies into several companies they created without disclosing their ownership to investors.

In 2012, John Belsher, 61, and Ryan Petetit, 28, created PB Companies. Since then, their portfolio has grown to include more than a dozen projects that Belsher and Petetit value at more than $300 million, according to the Pacific Coast Business Times.

“The company was founded to create investment solutions and equity plays in the real estate and business world where the legal and financial expertise of the principals would generate a great climate of success for the company and its investors,” the PB Companies website says.

Petetit and Belsher did not return requests for comment. Rush Sheppel, a partner in several PB Companies’ projects, said that since PB Companies was created in 2012, they have never finished a project or construction of any residential or commercial building.

Petetit and Belsher are involved in several large commercial, mixed-use and residential projects including two subdivisions in Templeton, a mixed-use project at the corner of Marsh and Nipomo streets in San Luis Obispo and an assisted-living facility in Arroyo Grande.

Belsher and Petetit have secured money from banks, hard money lenders and private investors, according to county records. In some cases, investors have been promised rates of return between 20 to 50 percent, according to an email from Petetit to a potential investor.

“The San Luis rezone is going to run us about $400,000-$500,000 we will offer a 20%-50% rate of return or a percentage of the increased value,” Petetit said in a 2014 email. “For example current value is 2M the value of 200 apartments and 70 single family homes will be $15.6M. It will take two years to accomplish this then when we sale [sic] the project or decide to build it out, which we will most likely build it out we return the investment back to the investors plus their returns.”

Investors in a 26-home proposed development in Templeton were procured through San Luis Obispo based Mid-Coast Mortgage with a promise of 10 percent interest, according to the loan broker.

Wright Homes and Communities is building five homes in the Toad Creek subdivision. Wright Homes and Communities, Axis Engineering and PR Companies share the same address. Belsher and Petetit created Wright Homes in 2013 and Axis Engineering in 2012, California Secretary of State website shows.

Vince Crooks, president of Mid-Coast Mortgage, said his company does not write checks to PB Companies. Instead, his hard-money lending company pays the subcontractors working on the projects, he said.

“Every subcontractor has been paid,” Crooks said.

But, several subcontractors who worked on the Toad Creek development said they have not been fully paid though they have received some payment from Axis Engineering or PB Companies.

In the past few years, the partners have been in court over multiple financial controversies such as breach of contract and not paying fines for building violations.

In 2014, Michael Evert filed a breach of contract lawsuit after PB Companies did not pay him $3,859 for remodeling the PB Companies’ office at 3480 South Higuera Street. After the lawsuit was filed, PB Companies negotiated the payment down to $2,300 and the case was closed, court records show.

In addition to multiple civil actions, Petetit has been charged with five misdemeanors since co-founding PB Companies, two over money issues.

In 2014, Petetit was arrested for and charged with two misdemeanor counts for writing bad checks. The charges were dismissed after Petetit agreed to enter the San Luis Obispo County bad check program, according to court records.

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They do make a good-looking couple.


Anyone investing in a land developing enterprise, or anything else for that matter, should understand the greater the risk, the greater the reward.

The deal could fall through and you lose or it gets finished and you win.

People who blindly invest in these projects and think they will win everytime are fools.

The article does a good job of describing how land development works in California; welcome to the shark tank!


Blaming the victim, party of 1?

What part of “The principals of a San Luis Obispo-based real estate investment and development company involved in more than a dozen proposed projects are under fire for not paying subcontractors, violating building codes and allegedly funneling investor monies into several companies they created without disclosing their ownership to investors” don’t you understand?


I don’t understand how smart investors EXPECT a 20-50 percent return on EVERY project.

I am not a wealthy real estate investor. I am just a fiscally conservative nurse with a real estate hobby that would LOL at these chumps telling me I would have that level of return.

Did they present investors with a business plan, appraisals, market comps? I see the e-mail transcribed in to the story, complete with spelling error. You don’t sale a property; you SELL it. If I want investors to give me millions, I would think to make sure my message was at least professional.

The men in this article are crooks, that really isn’t up for debate.

But the take away lesson is “buyer beware”. Even rich buyers need to be careful.


I have to say, SLO is absolutely filled with the most losers I’ve ever seen. You guys are full of schemers. Stay with the Jails and other Government jobs, because you can’t attract people worth any salt it seems.


Belsher was Dan Duvalls attorney ? interesting !


Yeah… we’re all rubes. Why aren’t you addressing the fact that one of the principals is an “active” criminal?


Something smelly going on here. If it doesn’t make sense its probably not true.


Let’s hear about Petetit’s multiple civil actions as well as his 5 misdemeanor charges since 2012….but….that’s NOTHING…RIGHT bigchocoholic or is it Lyan Ryan or Belscher the clown….hahaha u goin down


Your point is taken about Petetit’s legal issues, if true. I wonder why people with the ability to accumulate funds to invest in these projects, contract with him to provide services or do any type of business with him can’t access the same information to protect themselves from making bad decisions?




Are people really still falling for this sort of thing? Anybody that loses their arse by investing in a promised 50% return is an idiot and deserves to lose it.


Anybody that loses their arse by investing in a promised 50% return is an idiot and deserves to lose it.


Interesting. Such a “naysaying:, “the sky is falling”, “everyone’s trying to rip me off” “it can never happen” attitude here. I don’t know if it’s just the readers of this paper or if this attitude is really pervasive throughout San Luis Obispo county. I suspect it’s a little of both but mostly just the readers of this paper who overwhelmingly feel this way because they are uneducated and have never participated in a really successful business. They just read an investment horror story every now and then and are convinced the entire investment community is like the horror story.

Nobody, I mean nobody in the development business plays the game for 1% or 5% or even 10% profits. There would be no development projects if that were the top end of profits. Most of the time, successful projects render 50% or 100% or even up to 500% profits. How do you think people like Donald Trump became billionaires? Do you think they earned 1% on their projects because the banks were paying .5% per year? That’s just absurd. On Trump’s successful projects, he probably averaged 300% return or more. Do you think Warren Buffet became worth 50 billion off 1% returns? Do you have any idea how many millionaires in this country made their wealth off real estate?

Look at a real estate development like a start up company or even a decent size existing company looking to grow. Do you think a start up company shoots for a 2 or 3% return? Nobody would invest if that were the upside. Start up companies are looking for a 10,000% return or more! Let’s just take a local existing business, MindBody that went public recently. Do you people have any idea that the founders of MindBody probably made somewhere between 1000% and 10,000% return or more on their investments?

The main difference between the haves and the have nots is attitude. No “haves” ever thought 1 or 2 or 5% was all that was realistically available in the U.S markets. The “haves” invest heavily in things like 300 million dollar development projects. And many become millionaires many times over because of it. The “have nots” are convinced 50% and 100% and 1000% returns on investment are impossible so they leave their money in the bank—and earn 1% and are guaranteed to stay “have nots”.


If an “investment” is paying 10% or more when banks are paying 1% or less for savings accounts a flashing red light and sirens should flash in their minds saying STOP!!! If that fails to happen, at least forcing themselves to diligently investigate the investment, they get what they deserve.


If the fleecing is done in ways that break the laws, then the fleecers need to go to prison.


Uh, have you not been paying attention to recent SCOTUS decisions?

Makes perfect sense…


I had the same thoughts.