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THE ISSUE                                                                                     

Concerned about the plans of the powerful Caruso Affiliated mall developer to convert the historic Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California to a 800,000 square foot outdoor mall and a 100,000 square foot gambling facility, local citizens founded Arcadia First to block the massive building. Confronted with Caruso's aggressive public relations and lobbying campaign, Arcadia First hired Burnside & Associates to slow the political process, eliminate certain features of the project, and stop the project from moving forward.



Burnside & Associates hit the ground running in February 2006 with a multi-phase program:


  • Using site based and door- to-door petition gathering, Burnside & Associates qualified two measures for the November 2006 ballot.  Measures N and P required the city of Arcadia to enforce its strict outdoor advertising ordinances and to ensure that all parking in the city remain free of charge. These measures were designed to reduce the proposed outdoor mall's profitability by up to 30% and thus dissuade the developer from proceeding.


  • After successfully qualifying Measures N and P for the ballot, Burnside & Associates placed a full time, experienced campaign staffer on the ground to direct a paid phone call and paid canvass operation.  The campaign's objective was to identify supporters of Measures N and P and motivate them to vote by mail and at the polls.  Voters were identified as supporters, undecideds, or opponents.  Supporters were offered a vote-by-mail application which was either mailed to them or filled out by the voter at the door.  We then used several rounds of chase phone calls to ensure that our supporters turned in both their applications and their ballots.  Those who had not were targeted with an aggressive phone and door-to-door based Get out the Vote program.


  • After the success of the N and P canvass, Burnside & Associates began an intense persuasion, membership recruitment, and mobilization canvass directly for Arcadia First.  Bilingual Chinese canvassers visited registered voters, informed them about the issue, and collected membership signup and endorsement forms from supportive voters, while explaining facts about the project's negative impact to those who were undecided or leaning towards supporting the project.  The canvass resulted in 1,219 residents joining Arcadia First, of which 495 people agreed to attend a community meeting.


  • A paid canvass and paid phone calls were used to educate and mobilize supportive residents to attend both the Arcadia Planning Commission and City Council meetings to speak out against the project.  This mobilization resulted in turning out 400 supporters to each the planning commission and city council meetings to voice their opposition to building the project.



The November 2006 election resulted in both Measures N and P being approved by a very narrow margin.  Measure N passed by 99 votes, or 50.3% - 49.7%.  Measure P passed by 308 votes, or 51% - 49%.  A close scrutiny of the vote totals brought one fact home:  both measures were defeated by voters who actually went to the polls.  But they passed in the final count because of the overwhelming vote margin provided by ballots cast by mail.  Burnside & Associates' aggressive vote-by-mail program made the difference.  Arcadia First removed the simulcast gaming center and the housing elements from the final approved project.


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