It should be no surprise to observers of the real estate scene that there is such an organization as the Southern California Commercial Property Owners Assn. (SCCPOA); what is surprising is that it took so long to organize.
Formed in December, 1984, the Studio City-based organization brings together developers, brokers, contractors, engineers, architects, title companies, chambers of commerce and even tenants to address common problems.
In many ways, the association is modeled on the prestigious Washington-based Urban Land Institute, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
William C. Hayes, president of Windsor Financial Corp., Encino, the chairman of the board of the property owners group, believes that the association can in time reach the prestige level of the ULI.
'Many Areas of Expertise'
"We have in our ranks professionals, who have many areas of expertise that we can share with planners and others," Hayes said, but declined to say how many members the association has. Another association source estimated that the groupn has 125 members.
Stan Rothbart of Western Commercial Development Co., Thousand Oaks, president of the association, said that although the membership includes many who are fierce competitors in their fields, "we all realize that we can help the cause of responsible development by emphasizing its positive aspects."
Rothbart said that SCCPOA is definitely not a lobbying group, but serves as a "data base" for information about development.
"We are in business to educate the public about the services provided by developers as part of their projects--such as street improvements, sidewalks and other off-site improvements that most people probably don't realize are constructed by developers," he said.
Don't Get the Credit
Although he recognizes that many people and governmental units will automatically question any information that comes from the association on the grounds that the data is self-serving, architect Tom Layman of T. W. Layman Associates, Canoga Park, believes that developers do more planning than they are given credit for by either governmental bodies or the general public. He is chairman of the association's planning committee.
"The act of development itself involves planning, either good or bad, and we want to see only the best kind of development," Layman said. "It's a matter of self preservation."
Still insisting that SCCPOA is not a formal lobbying organization, all three men interviewed expressed strong reservations about the Braude-Yaroslavsky initiative that goes before Los Angeles voters this fall.
"If the initiative passes, the burden for providing services will fall more heavily on homeowners, with special assessments and other methods of paying for needed services," Hayes asserted.
Basically, the initiative, which qualified earlier this month for the November city ballot, would cut by half the allowable size of future buildings on about 85% of the commercial and industrial property in the city. It exempts built-up areas such as downtown and Hollywood.
It was written by Councilmen Marvin Braude and Zev Yaroslavsky and has been attacked by developers, the building industry and organized labor. In addition, some minority council members have attacked the initiative measure as elitist and unfair to poor areas of Los Angeles, which they say, need more development.
The initiative is favored by traditionally powerful homeowner associations in affluent communities such as Encino, Studio City and Brentwood.
Commercial real estate broker Michael Zugsmith, president of Zugsmith & Associates, Studio City, a member of the board of directors of SCCPOA, said that although the organization itself is not a lobbying group, it has retained the services of Ken Spiker and Phil Krakover, registered lobbyists. Zugsmith is chairman of the group's governmental affairs committee.
"We represent the interests of everybody involved in commercial property, including brokers like me, lawyers, accountants, investors and others," Zugsmith said. "In many ways, we're like homeowner groups. I'm a member of the Studio City Homeowners Assn. and I'm concerned about the quality of development in my community. So, too, is SCCPOA."