Consensus Planning Grou
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Consensus Planning Grou

Holmes Report

For 13 years, local neighborhood and political opposition had stymied any action that would lead to the expansion or improvement of Los Angeles International Airport. But in 2007, a new executive director turned to Consensus Planning Group to implement a grassroots outreach and community communications designed to address stakeholder concerns and overcome obstacles to progress. While the process is likely to be a long one—most consensus-building efforts are—CPG’s track record on equally contentious and controversial development projects suggests it is the right firm for the job.


In recent years, Consensus Planning Group has earned local recognition for its work helping developer Whitebird overcome opposition and obtain approval from the Los Angeles City Planning Commission and the Los Angeles City Council for its 280-home project in Sunland-Tujunga and for community outreach efforts on behalf of California Department of General Services Real Estate Services Division to earn approval for a new Veterans Affairs’ home to be built in West Los Angeles. And in 2007, it conceived and implemented a comprehensive communications program for PPM Energy as the company sought to build a major wind-energy project in the resort area of Palm Springs, earning community support in the face of entrenched opposition.


According to Bill Rattazzi, president of the Los Angeles/Ventura division of John Laing Homes, which worked with CPG to win approval from the California Coastal Commission to develop 150 homes in the coastal zone in Ventura County:  “As a developer and a builder for over 33 years…one of the reasons that working with the community was so beneficial was Consensus Planning Group’s ability to bridge the interest of the developer and a community.  That is not always easy to do. Most importantly to me, they took the day-to-day organizational travails out of my hands and out of my staff’s hands so we could concentrate on the greater issues.  And the greater issue was convincing the Coastal Commission that this was the right thing to do.  Without Consensus, I don’t think this outcome would have been possible.”


Consensus Planning Group was founded in 1986 by Julie Gertlera veteran of local politics and grass-roots organizing background, and quickly developed a special expertise in building community support for controversial real estate and transportation projects. In 2001, Gertler was joined by son Josh, a veteran of national public relations agencies Hill & Knowlton and Fleishman-Hillard who was named president in 2007 in a restructuring that included new responsibilities for includes vice presidents Lilian DeLoza, Lisa Levy Buch, Nazan Armenian and Eric Moses. The integration of political organizing and media and public relations has made CPG becoming a “go-to” firm for complex and controversial issues and projects, and has helped it expand in recent years with new offices in Orange County and the Inland Empire area.


The past year saw significant growth, with revenues up by more than 35 percent, and new business from Southern California Edison, Limoneira, Regency Centers, Avnet, while the firm continues to represent longer-term clients sych as Honeywell International, Westfield, The Home Depot, BNSF Railway, State of California Real Estate Services Division, PPM Energy, Black and Decker, Los Angeles World Airports, Los Angeles County Metro, Orange County Transportation Authority, State of California High Speed Rail, Republic Services and Sunrise Senior Living. Another development has been the expansion of digital media capabilities, which are now built into the majority of the firm’s programs.

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