FPPC Issues Warning Letter To Mr. Dicterow

On April 24, 2017 the FPPC issued a Warning Letter to Mr. Dicterow as a result of the sworn complaints filed against him in October and November of 2016.  Broadly, the FPPC found that Mr. Dicterow had failed to properly disclose his ownership of non-primary-residence income property he owns within his area of influence; going back to at least 2012. However, since he immediately filed an amended 2016 Candidate Form 700 once the complaint was filed they believed this multi-year snafu was a mere oversight, sloppiness or failure to understand the filing rules.  As for the second complaint, that Mr. Dicterow had failed to disclose income received from a business with current, past, or future operations in Laguna Beach, they failed to find evidence of such operation, and hence reaffirmed that he needn’t disclose such income.

What is an FPPC “Warning Letter” and how serious is it?  From the FPPC’s website:

  • Warning Letters – A Warning Letter is issued if a violation of the Act is found but the seriousness of the offense is low, public harm is minimal, and/or other mitigation is found so that a monetary fine is not warranted. Since no administrative penalty is imposed, these letters are issued by the Enforcement Division and do not require approval by the Commissioners. A warning letter can be considered a prior action by the Enforcement Division when considering a future penalty.


LagunaBeachCHAT is satisfied with the decision.  This author (who made the sworn complaints against Mr. Dicterow) believes too, that Mr. Dicterow probably did not materially gain advantage through his position on the City Council with regards to his property in Laguna Woods. But he might have or might in the future and citizens of Laguna Beach deserve to know about his economic interests in this property.  As for the second complaint, this author realizes that he failed to ‘connect the dots’ well-enough for the FPPC to find for that complaint. We still believe that Mr. Dicterow’s ‘unusual’ legal-retainer income for American Computer Optics Inc., owned by a  Laguna Beach resident with occasional business coming before the council, should have been disclosed.  Although the FPPC could not find that ACO conducted business in Laguna Beach (thereby requiring any income derived from this company to be disclosed by Mr. Dicterow), I strongly believe Mr. Dicterow has an obligation to reveal this income arrangement to Laguna Beach’s citizens as long as it continues.

In the end analysis, LagunaBeachCHAT remains concerned and perplexed at how a (now) 5-term City Council member who is by profession, an attorney could have been filing Form 700s for 16 years and fail to understand or worse, feel that accurate disclosures were so trivial, so as not to have understood the filing guidelines and minimum requirements. Rest assured that if we come into additional information with regards to ACO’s operations, or indeed discover any other unreported material economic interest of any of our City council members, we will investigate, and where warranted, file future sworn complaints with the FPPC.

We provide the reader with the FPPC Warning Letter here.

To read the original posting about the complaints here on this site, click here.

Dana Point City-Sponsored Ballot Initiative Fined by State Ethics Watchdog

By THY VO April 13, 2017
Courtesy of The Voice of OC

The campaign committee for Measure I, a ballot initiative sponsored by the city of Dana Point on the June 2016 ballot, will be fined by the state Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to include funding disclosures on campaign banners and printing the disclosures too small on yard signs.

Measure I was one of two competing ballot measures on the June 2016 ballot regarding development in the city’s town center area. It lost.

It’s campaign committee, Save Public Parking: No on H, Yes on I will be fined $3,500, pending approval by the Commission at its April 20 meeting. The committee was appointed by the Dana Point City Council to run the campaign.

According to the FPPC, the committee purchased five large vinyl banners that said “No on H, Yes on I” and included the Committee’s website, but didn’t include a statement describing who paid for the banners.

For more on this story click here

Big money convinces Council to support continued mansionization of coastline

Last night’s (18April17) relatively brief city council meeting spent a lot of time on Public Hearing item #2, which was an appeal against the Design Review Board’s denial of a variance to tear-down & replace a ‘possibly’ historical bluff-top home in South Laguna (31987 Coast Highway).  As is so often the case with items that are brought to the City Council after having been ‘decided’ by a City board or committee, this was a De Novo hearing, meaning the evidence for both sides was to be heard as if nothing had been presented before…all new.

The home in question was never officially on the historic registry, but once plans were proposed by the new owner to raise the house & replace it with an enormous glass & steel modern structure, the city balked and claimed (somewhat ambiguously) that the home might be of historic significance.  Different studies by different ‘historic registry’ consultancies came to different conclusions.  What was not disputed, however, was that this home was the 1st to sit atop the ocean bluff near 1000 steps, and had become iconic to those who frequented the beaches in that area.

The new owner, Mr. Andy Dimitri (CEO of Eximware, a vendor in the cloud-based commodity trading software area) pulled out all the stops. He had a vast array of guns-for-hire (who all got 3 minutes to speak in favor of the project), in addition to his lead gun-fighter, Mr. Larry Nokes (local attorney and involved in all 3 agenda items for tonight’s meeting) who started things off with a 5 minute presentation. I counted 7 people (in addition to Mr. Dimitri himself) who spoke in favor of the appeal. Nokes, Mr. Tom Davis (Davis Law, who represented the seller’s estate in the sale to Mr. Dimitri), Brian Genette (architect), Structural engineer, historical preservationist, CEQA consultant, geological consultant, & 1 neighbor who would benefit from the new building’s setback, all spoke in favor of the appeal because:

a) existing structure is unstable & would have to be partially demolished to stabilize it anyway,

b) existing structure was never revealed to be historic and even so, it doesn’t merit that classification because its quite plain

In support of keeping the structure & denying the appeal were 2 neighbors, and Ann Christoph (representing So Laguna Civic Assoc) who each got 3 minutes to speak.  They were completely and totally outgunned, as you would imagine.

In the end, it was Mr. Dicterow, who famously ran his most recent re-election campaign on several themes, including “Keep the Charm and Character” of Laguna Beach, who boldly stated that he didn’t see clear evidence that the structure in question had any historic value. Hence he was inclined to grant the appeal (thus allowing for the destruction of the existing home).  Mr. Boyd agreed with him. Ultimately, Mr. Dicterow made the motion (Boyd seconding) which carried with a 3/2 vote in favor of granting the appeal and thus allowing the destruction.  Yes, Ms. Iseman voted to grant this appeal; we believe her vote was influenced by the fact that bringing the existing structure up to code would require inserting numerous 86′ deep caissons into the bluff top and partially demolishing the structure. The vote :

Ayes-Dicterow, Boyd, Iseman

Noes: Whalen, Zur Schmiede

The approval did not, however, approve the current proposed design of the vast new building.  That battle will continue.

I was struck how someone who tried to cast himself as a ‘keeper of the character and charm’ could lead the charge to bulldoze Laguna’s past. But in the end, Mr. Dicterow has always been a staunch supporter of ‘property rights’. He is very consistent with that philosophy.  But think about it;  believing in strong property rights is entirely incompatible with ‘keeping the character and charm’ of a place. That circle can’t be squared.

As usual, we must analyze the campaign donations:

Homeless in the OC

In Orange County, new research from UC Irvine estimates an overall savings of $42 million per year if every chronically homeless person is provided permanent supportive housing.  The solution to this growing problem will require that all of our leaders work together, County, Cities, non-profits, communities of faith and the homeless themselves (those not suffering from mental illness) to break the cycle that sees up to 15,000 people a year experiencing at least 1 incident of homelessness, in Orange County. Read more from the Voice of OC here.