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Nestande, Seeking to Avoid a Controversy, Announces House Purchase

January 24, 1987|JOHN NEEDHAM | Times County Bureau Chief

Supervisor Bruce Nestande, whose living arrangements raised conflict-of-interest questions last year, announced Friday that he is buying a new house built by a developer friend and is paying the full $251,500 price.

Nestande said he visited the Rockinghorse Ridge project in Orange developed by his friend Al Baldwin, head of the Irvine-based Baldwin Co., last Sunday and put $5,000 in an escrow account on the home.

Nestande took the unusual step of issuing a press release to announce his purchase because his search for a residence was questioned last year. He said he wanted to let everyone know that he paid the full price "rather than someone finding out and thinking that it was anything other than what it was, a straight-out purchase."

Nestande, a veteran of six years in the state Assembly and six years as a supervisor, announced Wednesday that he was resigning from the Board of Supervisors as of next Tuesday, halfway through his second four-year term.

In May of 1985 Nestande and his wife sold their home on Orange View Lane in Orange to buy a new home, but the deal fell through.

From July, 1985, to March, 1986, he leased a home in the Rockinghorse Ridge project for $1,200 a month from Baldwin. Nestande rented a model home in the project and such homes normally are not rented, according to a Baldwin executive.

Last April, Nestande moved into an apartment in Fullerton.

Soon after Nestande moved from Rockinghorse Ridge, plans for expansion of a major Baldwin project in Nestande's district, Portola Hills, came up for approval by the supervisors. The project eventually was approved, but Nestande said if he had known the project was coming up he would not have rented the house.

Meanwhile, Nestande was storing his wife's furniture at a Newport Beach home owned by developer and friend David Stein, who also had projects pending before the supervisors. Nestande said he stayed overnight at the house two or three nights and his wife spent occasional nights there.

A Baldwin official said at the time that Nestande was paying "market rent." A Stein spokesman said that although Nestande might be saving storage charges, Stein was saving money by not renting furniture, so it was an "even swap."

Shirley Grindle, author of the county's law requiring disclosure of campaign donations, said at the time that she was concerned about a supervisor receiving opportunities not available to the general public from developers seeking county approval of planned projects.

Nestande said Friday that he and his wife had been house-hunting for six months but "purposely made no inquiries at the sales office" of the Rockinghorse Ridge development until after Baldwin's Portola Hills project cleared the board last December.

The new house is in the 3rd District, which Nestande has represented as a supervisor, and should be ready for occupancy in April, he said.

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