Caruso Affiliated faced stiff opposition to an 829,000-square-foot retail center in the parking lot of the Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, California. Initial polling showed that 52 percent of the community opposed The Shops at Santa Anita, while only 39 percent were in favor of the project.
Caruso Affiliated hired Navigators Global to design, manage and implement a communications and public relations campaign in support of The Shops at Santa Anita. Navigators Global solicited community support through print, television and direct-mail advertising, and produced an hour-long town hall segment hosted by Rick Caruso that was mailed to local residents and ran on local cable television stations. Despite being outspent by more than four to one, Caruso Affiliated was able to gain the unanimous support of the Planning Commission, community leaders and local organizations, including the police and fire unions, the school board and all the homeowners associations.
In April of 2007, the Arcadia City Council voted 5-0 in favor of The Shops at Santa Anita.
It was anticipated that the opposition would seek a referendum to overturn the city council decision. Navigators Global prepared a full referendum campaign, including a multifaceted signature rescission campaign to block the referendum from getting on the ballot, and was prepared to wage a full-scale campaign to beat the referendum. However, within two days of the council’s vote, Navigators Global’s campaign proved successful when the opposition pulled the plug on their referendum campaign.