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DIGGING DEEPER ON FIELDTRIP, EVOQUE AND BLU SEQUOIA
Did Josh Seigel mislead City Council? Or did City Council just ask the wrong question?
I don’t own Evoque Modern. I own this home as an individual. I have no stake in Evoque Modern. — Josh Seigel at the February 15 Twentynine Palms City Council hearing on the property located at 68467 Sullivan Road
On February 15, the City Council voted 4-1 to deny an appeal that one of several large recently constructed purpose-built short term rentals not be granted an operating permit. Yes, that’s a lot of double negatives; when you untangle them, the upshot is the Twentynine Palms City Council agreed that the owner, Josh Seigel, would be granted an STR permit for his property on Sullivan Road.
The appeal denial followed a series of exchanges between Seigel and Council Member Octavious Scott in which Scott attempted to sort out the role the STR plays in Seigel’s business interests, which appear to include collaborations between the LLCs Fieldtrip Hospitality and Evoque Modern, and the Nevada-based corporation Blu Sequoia.
Seigel’s statement about not “owning” Evoque Modern may be factually correct….but does Evoque Modern and its principal, Dan Tseng, have a stake in Josh Seigel and in Fieldtrip Hospitality, his LLC? If so, did Seigel appear to mislead Council about the relationship between Seigel, and the LLCs Fieldtrip Hospitality and Evoque Modern?
What is Fieldtrip Hospitality? Who is involved?
Fieldtrip is an LA-based boutique hospitality brand focused on the acquisition, development and operation of luxury short term rentals. The company was founded by myself (Josh Seigel), Mike Seversky, Ramin Savar, and Dan Tseng. — Josh Seigel, interview with Voyage LA, August 22, 2022.
So in the interview Seigel establishes that Dan Tseng is one of the founders of Fieldtrip Hospitality, which was formed in July 2020.
As this screen shot demonstrates, Dan Tseng is also a principal of Evoque Modern. The two LLCs share a building in Yucca Valley and the logos of both LLCs are prominent on the building (see photo at the top of this article). So at the very least, it appears that Seigel and Tseng are business partners.
But there’s more. Our research has uncovered the chain of ownership for the structure located at 68467 Sullivan Road, which was the subject of the STR appeal filed by John and Kat Talley-Jones:
10/11/2019 Blu Sequoia purchased the lot from Michelle DeLacey
02/27/2020 Title was transferred from Blu Sequoia to Evoque Modern
07/10/2020 Joshua and Jodi Seigel purchased the 2.5 acre lot from Evoque Modern
06/20/2022 VHR22-195: STR Permit application filed, Josh Seigel listed as owner, Lauren@stayfieldtrip.com is listed as owner email, and Fieldtrip Hospitality is listed as the contact phone number.
So…perhaps Council failed to ask the right questions enabling Seigel to factually state, “I don’t own Evoque Modern.” Seigel does not appear to have a legal stake in Evoque Modern. But it appears that Seigel withheld the depth of the relationship between himself, Evoque Modern and Fieldtrip Hospitality.
Now where does Blu Sequoia figure in this?
Blu Sequoia is a Nevada-based builder specializing in modular construction - Marlow Lafountaine is listed as the principal. Blu Sequoia was the builder of the property located at 68467 Sullivan Road as well as the builder on the two-story purpose-built STRs recently completed in Indian Cove as well as on other Evoque / Fieldtrip properties.
In addition to the property at 68467 Sullivan Road, these are the other Indian Cove properties that have passed through, are owned by or managed by Evoque/Dan Tseng, Fieldtrip/Josh Seigel/Dan Tseng and/or Blu Sequoia/Marlow Lafountaine
7050 Indian Cove Rd. (New two story build)
09/23/2020 Blu Sequoia purchased lot from Filippo Family Trust
06/16/2022 VHR22-192: STR Permit application filed, Josh Seigel listed as owner, Lauren@stayfieldtrip.com is listed as owner email, and Fieldtrip Hospitality is listed as the contact phone number.
Parcel number 0614022030000 (adjacent to 7050 Indian Cove Rd)
11/24/21 Evoque Modern LLC purchased lot Ralph Peck family Trust
68982 Sullivan Rd. (New two story build)
03/25/2020 Blu Sequoia Modern Inc purchased lot from James Park
08/26/2022 Ownership changes to Evoque Modern LLC
08/29/2022 50% of ownership changes to Olivera Tramonto LLC, 50% retained by Evoque Modern
8/29/2022 VHR22-248: STR Permit application filed, Marlow Lafountaine listed as owner, Lauren@stayfieldtrip.com is listed as owner email, and Fieldtrip Hospitality is listed as the contact phone number.
6830 Indian Cove Rd.
07/06/2021 Evoque Modern LLC purchased lot from Joseph Morreale
6840 Indian Cove Rd.
07/06/2021 Evoque Modern LLC purchased lot from Joseph Morreale
Parcel number 0613061160000 (adjacent to the STR at 68467 Sullivan Road)
10/19/2020 Evoque Modern LLC purchased lot from Philip Block
08/06/2021 Ownership changes to 50% Josh Seigel and 50% Jodi Taitz (Josh Seigel’s wife)
There are also several undeveloped properties in other Twentynine Palms neighborhoods owned by Dez-X LLC and DR20 LLC, both owned by Tseng.
You may ask, why is this important? The “purpose-built” STRs that Evoque, Fieldtrip and Blu Sequoia collaborate on are altering the profile of neighborhoods throughout the Morongo Basin. They present a new evolution in the development of STRs, purchasing infill lots in residential zoning that could be used for single family residential homes (SFRs). Instead these LLCs, per their own description of their business model, are building luxury structures designed to act as units of a disbursed boutique hotel chain.
Evoque/Dan Tseng, Fieldtrip/Josh Seigel/Dan Tseng and/or Blu Sequoia/Marlow Lafountaine have purchased seven lots in Indian Cove and have built out five of them. Three are permitted or in the permit process for STRs. Two are still under construction and two are vacant. This degree of investment in a small neighborhood such as Indian Cove can yield substantial change.
The three structures completed to date are out of scale with existing residential homes and disrupt the views and privacy enjoyed by permanent residents. Should they ever enter the real estate market, the structures are outfitted with luxury amenities that put them out of reach of most Morongo Basin residents. And this business endeavor is taking place in residential zoning in the midst of a housing crisis.
Later in the Voyage LA interview, Seigel discusses some of the challenges faced by Fieldtrip: Another obstacle unique to our space is the ever-changing regulatory landscape. Local governments across the country are struggling to create sustainable policies that balance the needs of local communities (particularly with respect to housing supply) and short term rental operators; this friction requires ongoing advocacy in our markets.
One wonders what kind of advocacy Seigel feels is necessary to reduce “friction” in their “market”? Perhaps we’ll learn more when Council begins reviewing potential changes to the STR ordinance at their February 28 meeting.
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Parcel ownership data obtained from public San Bernardino County records. STR permit and ownership data from City of Twentynine Palms Public Information Requests (PIRs). Note that SB County parcel ownership records sometimes take as long as two months to update.
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