Lobbying raises question: Who does Hill work for?

October 19, 2015

Editor’s Note: This is part two in a two-part exclusive series about San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill’s consulting work for a company tied to a prominent developer. Part one, “Supervisor Hill’s 2 jobs raise conflict of interest,” includes several public documents in which Hill describes himself as a consultant.

By KAREN VELIE

PB Companies is working to get approval to build three four-story buildings at the corner of Nipomo and Marsh streets in San Luis Obispo with the assistance of County Supervisor Adam Hill, who has lobbied the city to approve the proposed project.

Dubbed San Luis Square, the proposal includes retail space, restaurants, 48 residential units, underground parking and a public plaza. The project spans four lots including the home of the former Foster Freeze Restaurant.

On its website, PB Companies says the project will help address a lack of available housing in the city.

“The lack of any mixed use, multifamily buildings in the area provide an unmatched opportunity to create something completely new and unique,” the PB Companies website says. “Moving forward, our plan is to develop not just another building, but create a synergy of space that residents and visitors can thrive in.”

Rendering of pathway at the proposed San Luis Square development.

Rendering of pathway at the proposed San Luis Square development.

At the same time, PB Companies principals John Belsher and Ryan Petetit are under fire for not paying subcontractors and lenders and for violating building codes. During the past few years, the partners have been in court over multiple financial controversies such as breach of contract and not paying fines to the city of San Luis Obispo for building violations.

Hill has testified in front of San Luis Obispo city bodies in favor of the city approving the San Luis Square proposal without disclosing he is a paid consultant for a company started by Belsher.

In 2014, Hill was paid at least $10,001 by San Luis Consulting, a firm tied to PB Companies, according to financial disclosure forms. But it’s unclear exactly what consulting jobs Hill has performed. He has not responded to questions from CalCoastNews about his consulting activities.

State records show Belsher was the only organizer of San Luis Consulting when he founded the company in July 2014 and that it uses the same San Luis Obispo address as PB Companies. A PB Companies internal document lists San Luis Consulting as one of its many holdings.

According to state conflict of interest rules, if public officials have received $500 or more (not including campaign donations) in the past 12 months from an entity, the officials cannot in any way attempt to use their official positions to influence a governmental decision that could impact that entity financially.

Supervisor Adam Hill

Supervisor Adam Hill

California Gov. Code 18704 says that officials with a conflict of interest cannot attempt to influence other government officials or agencies if their agency has authority or budgetary control of that body. These regulations are in place to stop public officials from approving funding for other government agencies and then lobbying those agencies to pass their favored projects.

As a county supervisor, Hill votes on distributing grant funds to local governments such as the city of San Luis Obispo. Hill has regularly lobbied San Luis Obispo City Council members and city boards to promote several development projects while also voting on whether the county will, or will not, award large grants to the city.

On July 13, Adam Hill testified in favor of PB Companies Marsh Street project at a joint meeting of the SLO City Architectural Review Committee and Cultural Heritage Committee.

In his speech, Hill repeated a presentation PB Companies staffers made to members of Save Our Downtown, a group with a mission to protect and promote the historical character, design, livability and economic success of San Luis Obispo’s downtown.

In their presentations, both PB Companies staffers and Hill said the project’s approval would help satisfy a need for workforce housing for employees of technology companies.

“Adam Hill, SLO, noted on state and county policies for the creation of a variety of housing in urban centers; commented on the importance of providing workforce housing for employees of technology-oriented companies,” the minutes of the July 13 meeting say.

Hill did not disclose his financial relationship with San Luis Consulting to the city before making his presentation.

In addition to state conflict of interest regulations, the city of San Luis Obispo passed an ordinance several decades ago making it a misdemeanor to speak in favor of a project without disclosing financial ties to the developer.

In 1994, San Luis Obispo passed an ordinance that requires “municipal advocates” to register with the city before attempting to influence decisions or actions of officials or staff in favor of a business in which they have financial ties. In addition, before speaking publicly, the ordinance requires the speaker to make an “oral disclosure of registration.”

“The city recognizes that municipal advocates do not have public authority, but they may have significant influence on the city, and the public has a right to know who is being paid to influence the decisions being made by the city, and any financial relationship between those who are being influenced and those who are trying to influence them,” according to the ordinance.

PB Companies is also attempting to get Coast National Bank Board members to lobby the city of San Luis Obispo to approve the project, according to a signed letter of intent between the bank and PB Companies uncovered by CCN.

According to the letter of intent, Coast National bank intends to be a co-applicant with PB Companies in one or more of the applications for the San Luis Square project. In the letter, the parties agree to multiple terms including the bank board’s support.

“The benefits for the parties are significant and include, increased circulation and parking,” and “potential public hearing and written support on behalf of Coast and its board members,” says the letter of intent which was signed by Belsher, Petetit and Coast National Bank CEO Anita Robinson.

Before being elected to office, Hill worked as a part-time lecturer for Cal Poly’s English department.

Hill first won a seat on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors in 2008 and has since developed close relationships with a string of prominent local developers including Belsher, Petetit and Gary Grossman.

SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill, Dee Torres, developer Gary Grossman and Pismo Councilman Erik Howell at a recent fundraiser at Grossman's home.

SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill, Dee Torres, developer Gary Grossman and Pismo Beach Councilman Erik Howell at a recent fundraiser at Grossman’s home.

In fall 2014, Hill aggressively attempted to persuade members of the San Luis Obispo City Council to vote in favor of a land use change needed by developer Grossman to develop large parcels near the airport.

Shortly after Grossman entered into an agreement to buy the Dalidio Ranch, Grossman began lobbying the city to override a ruling by the airport commission limiting residential density in the flight path because of safety concerns.

Several local developers interviewed by CCN said residential projects are currently making more money than commercial ones, so Grossman would stand to receive a higher return on his investment by building high-density housing in the flight path.

While Hill lobbied city council members for the override, Grossman made a $50,000 donation to the SLO Housing Connection, a nonprofit started and run by Hill’s wife. The council then voted 4-1 in favor of the airport land use change.

Public officials have an ethical duty to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, said Hana Callaghan, the director of the government ethics program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

“Public officials have a fiduciary duty of loyalty to the public,” Callaghan said. “They have to put the public’s interests before their own.”

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agag1

Caption the photo of the cozy quartet, Birds of a feather…


joseywales

PUKING


JordanJ

I used to think Erik Howell was one of the good guys. Adam Hill has been bullying developers for money for years and is known to threaten those who question his bad behavior. Dozens of Dee Torres’s former coworkers claim she steals from the poor. Erik Howell is at many events and must be aware of some of these issues.


It appears Erik Howell doesn’t care how Adam Hill and his wife treat the public, as long as they can all indulge together in the spoils of public office.


indigo1955

Intuitively, I had a very odd sensation in the pit of my stomach upon reading this. That feeling started with a small freeway billboard sign I saw while northbound on the 101 freeway a little over a year ago. The sign read: “We are very excited about San Luis Obispo!” and it had the name of a bank at the bottom. I immediately knew what that meant. When you get a greed-infestation-elite-wanna-be going on in a city—it is over. Kiss this place goodbye—it is done. Palms will be greased and pockets will be lined. It would take a MAJOR stand right now by locals citizens to stop this whole train wreck. I assure you that will never happen here.


Go back to staring at your boob tube, wash your antidepressants down with your fluoride and chlorinated water and continue to shuffle through your daily grind (alarm clock, shower, coffee, work, home, tv, back to bed–and do it over and over). Celebrate the upcoming holidays on a programmed and slotted Gregorian calendar, buy all the plastic decorations you can from China, and CONSUME. Drink until you forget, and when you get older….try and summon the memory of a quaint, mellow beach town…


justbeware

The movers and shakers in SLO would never want to admit anything’s amiss in happy town–after all, how could THEY have been duped by Hill and just about everyone he associates with?

Is anyone willing to do the hard work and get Hill unelected?

Probably not.


slolusion

Or, you could enjoy a place with high quality of life, with growing opportunities for everyone.

Beats the trailer next to the recently closed Haggens as an option.


But not to worry, most of Rural America is done so you can easily find a place to “commune” how you like in nearly every state.


AmericaBeautiful

OR, you and your family and friends can attend EVERY City Council meeting and Supervise the idiots thereon.

Take action,… or SLO will be run over. (See video above re: Fontana)


Jorge Estrada

San Luis Obispo is thirsty for North County water and IF Adam Hill is financially benifiting by his exploitation of this resource, my opinion is that he should recuse himself from the Board of Supervisors on any water issue vote that could affect his projects.


whatdouno

Hill works for himself, no one or nothing else matters; as long as Hill is happy.


Slowerfaster

Wishful thinking no doubt.


Or jealousy ?


Pelican1

The picture looks like some kind of promo for Viagra…


ToHellinaHandBasket

And if I my add an old addage Pelican1…..


It looks like a circle jerk. With Torres as the the pivot point.


SLOBIRD

For Dee or all the scums drowling?


Jim Anderson

Adam Hill’s Team of political cronies are responsible for more than one scandal. Aaron Ochs is clearly Team Adam Hill. When reporters contacted Adam Hill last week on the 13th to ask questions about his other “job,” Adam immediately contacted his boy troll and told him to go to work. On October 13th at 2:39 am Arron posted this pic of CCN reporters https://www.facebook.com/calcoastfraud, three hours before the article showing Adam Hill’s criminal activity was published. James Wagstaffe, the lawyer suing CCN for reporting that Charles Tenborg of ECO Solutions was illegally dumping PG&E’s hazardous waste, (video evidence here https://youtu.be/_7Jmr5AFRY4) served CCN threatening papers for writing about Aaron Ochs. When Wagstaffe learned that Ochs was deleting evidence from his internet sites, Wagstaffe dropped the case. James Wagstaffe has involved himself in a criminal conspiracy to silence the news. We will have to get a group photo of Team Adam Hill when they are all called to the stand under oath, under the penalty of perjury. Remember, James Wagstaffe is Team Adam Hill through his thirty year friendship and work relationship with Team Adam Hill members Adamski and Moroski. Heads up Wagstaffe, attempting to silence the news will only make world news.


what the

Don’t forget, Tom Jones of PG&E called Team Adam Hill for help covering up the mishandling of his hazardous waste. It’s a conspiracy theory when there is no evidence. One piece of evidence and the theory becomes possible, when you get enough evidence, it becomes a probability. https://youtu.be/_7Jmr5AFRY4


IronHub

Does history repeat itself? Or has nothing changed since 1998? PG&E, illegal dumping of haz-mat — nothing new.


http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/PG-E-Investigated-On-PCB-Dumping-Charges-Probe-2999044.php


kettle

James Wagstaffe? this guy http://www.kerrwagstaffe.com/attorneys/james-m-wagstaffe/ is helping a social media troll do a gamergate on local women?


That is offensive.


Jim Anderson

Yup, that’s the one. A celebrity lawyer who helps the likes of Ochs and Charles Tenborg, both for free. Here is Tenborg, hauling PG&E’s hazardous waste and dumping the toxic crap in the backside of Cold Canyon Landfill, he gets caught, then Wagstaffe jumps in and says, “I’ll save you Charles, for free!” Very transparent. Wagstaffe jumped on the sinking ship of Adam Hill. He must really owe Adamski for something. Wagstaffe, hero to swine.


Black_Copter_Pilot

I need to shower after reading this.


65buick

Barf.


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