|May I help you close down|
the beach, Mr. Geffen?
Wendy Greuel, in her quest to become the next Mayor of Los Angeles, likes to portray herself as some sort of "everywoman," the consummate Valley mom who's an "outsider."
After nearly three decades on the inside of local and federal government, and a stint as a high priced Hollywood lobbyist, one has to, well, uh, laugh.
A little item from Greuel's past is truly indicative of the elite power circles that Greuel runs in and her true disdain for the average citizen. Back from a time when Greuel was paid handsomely to do the political bidding of one of the richest and most powerful men in America.
|The Dream Team|
As a lobbyist for the groundbreaking DreamWorks, SKG film studio founded by Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg, David Geffen
and Jeff Katzenberg, most of Wendy's work included barking up municipal commissions when it came to studio construction and the usual industry related banging on politicians' doors.
In 2000, however, Greuel was called upon by Geffen to handle a personal issue that put him at odds with environmentalists and the state's Coastal Commission, the government agency charged with protecting the over 800 miles of California's beautiful coastline.
Geffen, who owns a series of connected parcels in Malibu, including the former home of screen legend Doris Day, ins't a big fan of public access to the beachfront surrounding his home, despite the fact that the beach belongs to us all to enjoy. According to Wikpedia, "While the sand mean high tide is public property, residents have fought to keep the public out of the area and the beaches private and Geffen fought an infamous battle for decades to keep the public from using an easement he was supposed to grant under terms of building his home on Carbon Beach before losing the court battle in 2005 and having to open the gates beside his home to the public." This battle was an important one for environmentalists and others who have fought for beach access.
Geffen later sought special consideration to build a sea wall, in order to protect one of his homes from the impact of waves and sea spray. The studio excecutive wanted to construct a 46 foot long timber and concrete barrier was of a type that Commission staff had been discouraging in that it had been show these sea walls worsened beach erosion and removed sand from the areas open to public enjoyment. The staff asked Geffen instead to build a concrete wall similar to that built by his neighbors (such as actor Lloyd Bridges) that allowed for a more natural flow of seawater. Geffen refused, saying he'd have to tear down the guest house to do so.
Lacking Commission approval to build the sea wall, Geffen went to work. In 2000, just a short few years before Greuel was elected to the LA City Council, DreamWorks ace political action team was pressed into action; according to an LA Times story from the period
Geffen assigned two savvy political operators, Andy Spahn and Wendy Greuel, to the task. Usually the duo oversees legislative matters and fund-raising for the studio's chieftains, who give hundreds of thousands of dollars to various candidates and causes.
Spahn and Greuel immediately went to work, hounding Commission members, tracking down then Governor Gray Davis and then Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg at Hollywood events until they were able to get Davis to stack the Commission deck such that Geffen got the vote he needed.
|Geffen's Home Sweet Home|
One can easily assume that the narrative of Wendy Greuel as a middle class mom from the Valley, who owns a small lumber yard with her family and who is on your side is one that is well crafted by her high priced campaign team. Average folks don't get special favors when it comes to their fancy beachfront homes; indeed stories are replete with LA residents and homeowners who have nightmares with departments such as Building and Safety and no one to advocate for them. And Wendy Greuel, champion of the downtrodden, actually worked with a man who many see as public enemy number one when it comes to coastal access.
Don't drink the Kool-Aid folks, look between the lines as these politicians sell you a nice story, that isn't anywhere close to reality.
Labels: coastal access, david geffen, Decade of Decline, dreamworks, insiders, wendy greuel