The land owner and developer who gave his politically powerful son authority
to operate his enterprises said Thursday that he has taken it back.
Leroy Hansberger and his wife, Helen, revoked the power of attorney held by
Dennis Hansberger, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of
Supervisors, on Tuesday.
The action took place after The Sun reported that the land developer had
given his son, the county's most influential local politician and a
self-proclaimed supporter of development, the authority to manage his
affairs in 1967.
Speculation has grown about a potential conflict of interest, either real or
perceived, because Dennis Hansberger has championed a redevelopment project
to rebuild the mountain community of Cedar Glen, which was largely destroyed
by fire a year ago.
Leroy Hansberger owns 15 lots in the San Bernardino Mountains just outside
the proposed project's border and stands to benefit if sewer and water lines
are built nearby and roads are improved.
In a letter faxed to The Sun and the Daily Facts newspapers Thursday, Leroy
Hansberger stated he decided to make the change in the spirit of helping
restore Cedar Glen. The elder Hansbergers also took away the power of
attorney from their son, David, who had shared authority with his brother,
"We came to the conclusion that perception was more important than
legality," wrote Leroy Hansberger, 86. "Therefore, irrespective of the fact
we were informed by competent legal advisers that the instrument did not
create any power that would legally compromise Dennis Hansberger, in his
role as county supervisor, we chose to remove the perception."
All questions about a possible conflict of interest, particularly with the
Cedar Glen Redevelopment Project, should now disappear, Leroy Hansberger
But some Cedar Glen residents still have questions.
"Now why would he do that unless there was a conflict?" asked Hugh Campbell,
a Cedar Glen resident who works for an aerospace defense company in Orange
County. "That's beautiful."
Dennis Hansberger, 63, has said repeatedly that he has not violated state
conflict-of-interest rules and his father added that his son has never
conducted any business on his behalf. But the Board of Supervisors chairman
recused himself from discussing or voting on the Cedar Glen project after
The Sun's reports.
If the board OKs the project Tuesday, Dennis Hansberger has said, he will
again address and vote on the issues because he owes it to his constituents
in the mountain area.
Leroy Hansberger claims he did not know about the Cedar Glen redevelopment.
His son, though, made the connection. Dennis Hansberger has said he made
sure the project's boundaries did not include his father's properties
because he wanted to eliminate the perception of conflict.
Early versions of the project area were farther away from Leroy Hansberger's
properties. Over time, as county Redevelopment Agency staff members adjusted
the map, it expanded into the area's southwest corner.
But the staff excised a large cleft, slightly less than 500 feet wide and
about 1,000 feet deep, neatly slicing Leroy Hansberger's property from the
project but exposing it to the potential benefit of improvements in
infrastructure by bordering it on three sides by the proposed redevelopment
"It certainly seems suspicious," Campbell said.
John Nowak, director of the Redevelopment Agency, said the triangular cleft
was made before Dennis Hansberger contacted his department and asked that
his father's land not be included.
Staff members chose to cut it out, Nowak said, because it is on a ridge,
which lies west to east. It served little purpose, in terms of emergency
and-or service needs, and they decided to remove it, he said.