Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Crowds for Caruso

A massive horde packed the Masonic Lodge to comment on The Shops at Santa Anita, and apparently Caruso put the charm on afterburner, according to Kenneth Todd Ruiz in the Pasadena Star-News.

Although the firm will have to wait until Wednesday night for the Planning Commission to meet again and make a recommendation for or against the proposal, its CEO, Rick Caruso, brought his charismatic appeal to the more than 800 people packing the Arcadia Masonic Temple.

"Hopefully the next time we have a public debate like this it will be in our public, community theater," said Caruso, touting one of the amenities proposed in the 830,000- square-foot outdoor mall he'd like to build at Santa Anita Park.
Nice touch, Rick.

Surprisingly, the public commentary seems to have been overwhelmingly positive. I say surprisingly because given the amount of controversy, I would have expected more representation on the part of the opposition, a la Arcadia First. Of course, Harvey Englander, who is working with Westfield to fight the project, read more nefarious deeds into the silence:
Englander questioned the "random" order in which the speaker cards were pulled, and said it didn't seem to reflect the 200 cards turned in by those wanting to voice their opposition.
Excellent. Noncommittal assertions of scandal. Well done, Harvey (who is, after all, a "veteral political consultant").

More thoughts to follow, but it was interesting that several homeowners associations joined just about every public official in Arcadia in endorsing the project. Unless Caruso has bought them off, it would seem to undermine assertions that have been circulating that agency endorsements were tied to developer incentives as opposed to the good of Arcadia.