Brea Council Meeting on Jamming Through $9MM Parking Structure, Part 2: “Blight” Caplow Must Go

Mark “Blight” Caplow, the man who wants to keep Brea’s “Tower Records” building ugly and empty until its citizens give him EXACTLY what he wants.

4. Caplow Must Release the Hostage

Only one thing about Downtown Brea really does suck :  the deliberately blighted Tower Records building, which this November will “celebrate” the end of its tenth year of being unoccupied.

And do you know who’s responsible for that?  This guy, star of today’s installment of our report on Brea’s 4-hour Council meeting, Mark Caplow, “Blight” to Mr. Manley’s “Dwight.”

Both “Blight” Caplow and Dwight Manley wrongly called me a liar at Wednesday’s meeting (more on that below), but I walked away that night with a higher opinion of Manley than when I came in.  Manley is a true believer in a project that would serve him well and he doesn’t do enough to distinguish his interests from the City’s.  I can deal with that.  But “Blight” Caplow, who unlike Manley is from Beverly Hills rather than Brea, is a coward, a bully, a liar, and a smooth salesman with no regard for his audience.  Strong language?  I’ll back it up!

If Brea ever does build a parking structure on the east side of Brea Blvd., it should be only after Mark “Blight” Caplow sells the Tower Records building,  He has purposely been keeping his sole possession in Downtown Brea ugly, empty, depressing, and blighted-looking while the rest of Downtown has been energetic and thriving.  Unlike Dwight, who I think is wrong but is still emotionally invested in Brea, “Blight” does not have our community’s interests at heart.  He’s been using “urban blight” as hostage-taking to get the extra property value he wants.  (It was the ham-fisted attempt of Dwight and Blight’s most devoted advocate on the Council, Cecilia Hupp, to use the continuing Tower Records vacancy eyesore to justify an urgent Council vote that led me to this realization. Thanks for that, Ms. Hupp!)  Any Councilmember who votes for this project while “Blight” Caplow owns the Tower Records building is giving in to that hostage-taking.

5. Teaching “Blight” Caplow about Property Equity

“Blight” Caplow says that he can’t understand how I and other critics think that he and Manley would make a lot of money — likely more than the rest of Brea combined — on the “investment” (or “giveaway”) of $9 million in tax dollars for a desirable but not really “needed” parking structure.  Here’s how he started his first comment to the Council; the time stamp is from the first part of the four-part video on the City Council’s page:

[32:55]  My name is Mark Caplow.  I’m the owner of the Brea Tower Records Building.  …  I heard before something that kind of makes me excited – that I’m going to make millions of dollars here.  And so I want to ask the blogger [turning most of the way around to look at Greg Diamond] can you please tell me, ‘cause I’d love to hear, what your numbers are, because I have no idea how Dwight Manley and I are going to make millions of dollars on this project.  So please – if you can show me I want you as my accountant.  [33:25]

I’m happy to explain it to you, Mr. Caplow, now that I have the opportunity — although  I’m a bit surprised that a multi-millionaire real estate magnate like you does not already understand the concept of “property equity.”  But (“getting real” for a moment), of course you do understand it, which suggests that you just hope that your audience is gullible and dumb.  That sort of pitch, coming from a Beverly Hills wheeler-dealer who blighted our Downtown for almost a decade to twist our arm into this deal, is truly repugnant.

Your “Tower Records” building, which you’ve left empty for most of almost ten years in an apparent attempt to downplay the profitability of East Downtown Brea unless it gets a new parking structure, is currently worth a certain “Fair Market Value.”  I’m not sure what it is, but conversations with knowledgeable acquaintances suggest that, without a new parking structure, it might be about $4.5 million.  Let’s use that figure for now.

Now, WITH a new parking structure, you could probably sell that property for quite a bit more money, wouldn’t you think?  You and your “Downtown Owners” friends spoke about how a structure would “unlock” the hidden wealth of Downtown, justifying investment of millions of dollars of new development into the two “Superblocks” east of Brea Blvd.  If this project would justify that much new investment money, it logically follows that the value of your building would have gone up.  Your property equity would likely shoot WAY up.  Can we be frank?  THAT’S WHY YOU CARE SO MUCH ABOUT THIS RAW DEAL!

“Property equity,” you may know, is a form of “wealth,” reflecting the difference between what (if anything) you owe on a property and it’s Fair Market Value.  If the FMV goes up, you have more wealth — whether you sell or not — as does Mr. Manley’s building in the middle of the block and Mr. Manzella’s southern building on the block.  The value of Superblock 2 probably goes up significantly as well — more good news for Dwight! — given the horror that people supposedly feel about crossing Brea Blvd. on foot.  So, you all make more money on the property itself, even aside from what you might make in rent on more expensive leases.

6. Breans Ain’t Just Some Dumb Hicks, Mister

So, I’m sorry to turn down your job offer, “Blight,” but I’m an attorney rather than an accountant — and I pride myself in only accepting work from honest clients.  When you told the City of Brea that you just couldn’t understand how people might believe that you and Dwight Manley would make a lot of money due to this huge expenditure of public money — about half of our cash reserve — you pretty much disqualified yourself from that.

One last thing before we go on: challenging me publicly to answer you when you know very well that, as a regular audience member (unlike you, as one favored by the Mayor), I am not allowed to come back up and speak is flat-out cowardly of you.  I can see why you don’t like bloggers, given that blogs give us an uncensored forum to speak the truth.

In conclusion, “Blight”: please sell your property and leave Brea.  You show no indication that you will treat us fairly as partners, rather than as “marks” for your hard sell.  You don’t deserve the benefit of Brea’s taxpayers’ money.  (You are welcome, though, to reply here in this blog without being censored.  And then I’m welcome, of course, to reply right back.)

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)