Whose Interests Does Clayton Council Member Tuija Catalano Really Represent?

City Council - TTuija Catalano

Tuija Catalano was elected to the Clayton City Council in November of 2016. Prior to that, she was appointed and served as a Clayton City Planning Commissioner from July of 2006 through June of 2011; and then again from July of 2015 through November of 2016.

Despite overwhelming and clear opposition from the citizens of Clayton to large, high-density development projects within the city—especially in the downtown area—Ms. Catalano has consistently voted to approve/allow such projects.

Notable examples of Ms. Catalano’s “Pro-Big Development” record include:

  • Her vote to approve re-zoning of the downtown area (which paved the way for the 3-story Jordan development project).
  • Her vote to allow the Fulcrum downtown development project to move forward.
  • Her vote and support for allowing the development of parolee housing in Clayton.
  • Her tepid “opposition” to SB50 (the bill promoted by State Senator Scott Wiener which would take control away from cities like Clayton and give real estate developers the ability to ignore zoning/safety laws for the construction of high density housing projects).

With regard to SB50, Ms. Catalano will likely point out that she was part of a unanimous vote by the Clayton City Council to send a letter of opposition to it. However, her “opposition” must be considered in proper context. Specifically, while the other council members advocated for a strong, clear and unequivocal opposition to SB50, Ms. Catalano was the lone advocate for a response only to the bill “as written”—that would expressly leave open the possibility of support for the bill if it were slightly modified. This is in stark contrast to the positions taken by her colleagues, including Mayor Julie Pierce—who, despite being friends with its author, clearly characterized SB50 as being wholly and irretrievably flawed. It should also be noted that, contrary to the position taken by Ms. Catalano, SB50 has been unequivocally opposed by over three dozen cities and even by low-income housing organizations throughout California—as it has been recognized as nothing more than a “kickback” to the real estate industry which largely funded Senator Wiener’s campaign.

Given her voting record, the logical question becomes: “Why does Ms. Catalano consistently vote the way she does?” For the answer, one must simply look to what Ms. Catalano does for a living.

Tuija Catalano is a Partner at the San Francisco law firm of Reuben, Junius & Rose LLP, which specializes in real estate law and represents real estate developers and other members of the real estate industry. As stated in her bio on the firm’s website (which can be found at http://www.reubenlaw.com/attorneys/tuija-catalano/ ): “Ms. Catalano has worked on a variety of land use and due diligence matters on behalf of real estate developers, property owners and lenders since 2003…”

Digging further, a review of her publications listed and linked on her firm bio reveals that Ms. Catalano also has a strong personal bias towards high-density, big development projects (which would, of course, benefit her big-dollar clients)—including an article in which she touts the benefits of a Scott Wiener-sponsored bill that was a predecessor to SB50.

Putting all this together: MS. CATALANO’S VOTING RECORD CLEARLY SUGGESTS THAT SHE IS PUTTING HER BIAS AND HER OWN FINANCIAL INTERESTS ABOVE THE INTERESTS AND WILL OF THE PEOPLE SHE WAS ELECTED TO REPRESENT.

In a thread posted on Nextdoor discussing SB50 on which Ms. Catalano posted comments, she was asked point blank to confirm or deny that her clients or law firm would benefit by passage of the bill. She never responded and that thread was then quickly deleted by Catalano’s ally, recently appointed Clayton City Planning Commissioner Terri Denslow.

Given the deletion of that thread, I am posting this one and now (again) ask the following of Ms. Catalano:

  1. Please confirm or deny whether your clients would benefit financially from the passage of SB50;
  2. Please confirm or deny whether your law firm would benefit financially from the passage of SB50;
  3. Please provide a list of all real estate developers represented by you/your firm (and before it is raised as a defense, state/Federal law clearly provide that the identity of clients and the existence of an attorney-client relationship are NOT protected by Attorney-Client or Privacy Privileges).

Council Member Catalano, you should not hide from answering these questions. The citizens of Clayton deserve to know.

 

– Brian Buddell (Post from Nextdoor.com, 1/26/2019)

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