City Staff Deceives Public In Order To Pass Controversial Rezoning

Smoking Gun : City Staff Deceives Public In Order To Pass Controversial Rezoning


8/26/13 – Facing unprecedented public protest, on July 23, 2013 the Banning City Council approved the highly controversial Housing Element rezoning. According to City Staff, the size of the new VHDR (Very High Density Residential) area was to be 26 acres, located on the corner of Sunset Avenue and Bobcat Drive.

A thorough review by the Banning Informer has uncovered that the true size of the VHDR rezoned area was severely misrepresented : it is not 26  but 60.35 acres ! – more than twice the size of what the public was made to believe!

.Here is what was presented to the public in the July 23 agenda package, page 104:



Note that Parcel 537-190-018 is identified as having a parcel size of 26.0 acres. Parcels 537-190-021 and 537-190-020 on the East side of Dysart Park were subsequently dropped by Staff during public session.

In the following video of the public session of July 23 we can hear Development Director Zai Abu Bakar make reference to those “26 acres” :



A look at the Assessor’s Map for parcel 537-190-018 shows that this parcel is in reality 60.35 acres, not 26 !


click image to enlarge

City Manager Takata and Development Director Zai Abu Bakar

Betrayed the public’s trust : City Manager Takata and Development Director Zai Abu Bakar

This map can be found at the Riverside County Assessor‘s website – click here. (enter parcel number 537190018). The size and shape of this parcel can also be verified on the Riverside County Land Information Systemclick here.



Lies about the lot size are only one part of the equation. In order to support the lie, Zai Abu Bakar  – under the supervision of City manager Andy Takata – even went so far as to produce the following fake parcel map, showing a “fantasy” 26 acre parcel :



image captured from live video of 7/23 – click image to enlarge


The (edited) blue arrow points to the supposed 26 acre parcel (537-190-018). Note that the shape of the parcel is now depicted as rectangular, while in reality the shape is triangular – and more than twice in size. Note also that the white round lot number is only partially located within the marked parcel – while on all other parcels the white lot number is in the center, where it belongs.

The above should make it clear this was not an innocent mistake : it appears a “fantasy” rectangular parcel was created for the purpose of downplaying the impact of the rezoning and getting it to pass.

The manufacture of a distorted “fantasy map” serves as clear evidence that City Staff intentionally misrepresented the parcel size. The use of such deceptive tactics may serve as an explanation as to why Zai Abu Bakar seemed extremely nervous throughout her entire presentation.



crime-scene-tapeWith the grand deception now exposed, the damage to the City of Banning has become unconscionable : with 60 acres of VHDR zoning, over 1,448 apartments can now be built on the corner of Sunset Avenue and Bobcat Drive (as opposed to 520 on 26 ac). Half of those apartments will be low-income housing. At an assumed average occupancy rate of 3 per household, over 4,000 residents could be camped into this corner.

The area South of Interstate 10 is the only area left in Banning that would allow for a high quality development, but with a VHDR zoning, such outcome now may be nothing more than wishful thinking.

There can be little doubt that this land use will attract crime, which is bound to affect the entire City, with particular impact on Serrano Del Vista, Sun Lakes and Mount San Jacinto College. This is a disaster for the City of Banning.



This incident is not the first time that City Manager Takata is misrepresenting facts in order to get his way :

  •  In November of 2011 Takata recommended that the Council should pay a $1.8 M oil spill bill, even though the City only owed $ 500,000, according to an expert consultant’s review. Takata falsely represented to the Council that the same consultants supported the $ 1.8M bill (see his statements on video in this article). An unsuspecting Council followed Takata’s recommendation and authorized payment of the $1.8 M . As a direct result, the taxpayer lost $ 1.3M.


  • Takata allegedly engaged in a similar deception in regards to a City contract with  Banning Airport Developer Iddo Benzeevi. Benzeevi’s Highland Fairview offices in Moreno Valley were recently searched by the FBI (story). Council member Don Peterson says that when he heard about the raid, he became concerned. Peterson says that he asked Takata if we could “get out of this contract”. According to Peterson, Takata’s response was that he did not think so –  the Mayor had already signed it. It later turned out that the Mayor never signed it.



The citizens of Banning have been betrayed ! This is an absolute outrage.

If the City Council wants to have any credibility left with the public, heads will now have to roll at City Hall : City manager Takata and his sidekick, Abu Bakar, both have inflicted tremendous damage on the citizens of Banning. Both ought to be immediately terminated  for cause. Anything short of their termination will not solve Banning’s demise.

It is time to clean house !


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