Warning; Professional Lobbyist on the Ballot!
By Joe Holtzman
One thing many Mission Viejo residents agree on is that they don’t want a lobbyist on the city council. In the 2012 city council race, Wendy Bucknum ran as a “businesswoman,” but she didn’t say what she does for a living. In this November’s election, voters will know Bucknum is a professional lobbyist in the housing industry. Thanks to Community Common Sense for getting the word out.
Wendy Bucknum ran unsuccessfully in 2012, primarily on special interest money while promoting Jumbotron-style billboards along Crown Valley Parkway. Her endorsers – politicians endorsing a lobbyist – are her clients who may have benefited from housing industry “campaign donations.” Bluntly, some elected officials sell their votes.Bucknum presents herself to the public as a volunteer – attending community events during work or after hours while campaigning for office.
It is important to know who/what Bucknum lobbies for and why a council seat would be a plum for her employer. She works for Professional Community Management (PCM), a huge company that manages Homeowners Associations (HOAs). PCM’s website describes its relationship with developers and builders; “We provide developers and builders the peace of mind of having a single point of contact …”
Bucknum’s employer 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 on the council because she loves Mission Viejo.
The rest of us also love our city, but we want to preserve its low-density housing and family-oriented nature, as designed by the Mission Viejo Company. A factor protecting our city from more development has been the homebuilding slump, which is turning around. Look at Bucknum’s campaign finance reports (Form 460s) and the picture becomes clear. It appears as though her housing development associates and the real estate consortiums are trying to buy a Mission Viejo council seat.
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, and that means lobbyist. 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 32-year resident of Mission Viejo.