Beware the Lobbyist in Volunteer’s clothing
By Joe Holtzman
Wendy Bucknum is a professional housing lobbyist running for a Mission Viejo council seat this November. She ran unsuccessfully in 2012, primarily funded by special interest money, while promoting jumbotron-style billboards along Crown Valley Parkway. Her endorsement list – politicians endorsing a lobbyist – is her list of clients who may have benefited from the housing lobby largesse.
Bucknum presents herself to the public as a volunteer – attending community events during work or after hours while campaigning for office. She makes announcements at nearly every council meeting as if she’s the spokesperson for a dozen groups.
Bucknum’s employer PCM is a force in the Community Associations Institute (CAI), a national trade association and special interest group. Research indicates the CAI lobbies state legislatures to promote laws beneficial to them and oppose laws harmful to them. The CAI sells services to HOA lawyers and community managers affiliated with “Common-interest developments” (CIDs), which lean toward higher-density developments. Such projects increase traffic and create problems associated with packing high numbers of people into compact spaces.
The growing number of CIDs and HOAs increases demand for professional property managers who offer such specialties as influencing legislation that governs housing and development. Enter Wendy Bucknum, the lobbyist who tells voters she wants to be on the council because she loves Mission Viejo.
The recovery of the housing market should put residents on high alert if they are concerned about homebuilding on the Casta Del Sol Golf Course, the former Unisys property or any closed school campus. Neighbors of the apartment project nearing completion on Oso can anticipate traffic snarls as well as a structure that doesn’t match its surroundings.
Bucknum’s Form 460 for the period ending June 30 states she’s a “Government & Public Affairs Manager”; that means lobbyist. Also on Bucknum’s most recent Form 460 is a campaign expense of $180 to a high school booster club. Since public schools are prohibited from engaging in politics, voters, the school district and the California Fair Political Practices Enforcement Division should all be looking at this.
Candidates are currently emerging for the council race, and in my opinion any of the others would be better than having a housing lobbyist on the council.
Joe Holtzman, an Industrial Engineering and Manufacturing/Distribution Executive with McDonnell Douglas and Ford Motor Company, is a 31-year resident of Mission Viejo.