Barry has his own private law practice in the Napa Valley in St. Helena and specializes in land-use development and real estate work.I met Barry for the first time at Ricky’s for a football Watch Party. When Barry is not in Manhattan watching football games in person with his college fraternity brothers he joins the CaliforniaCats to cheer on K-State.
Dennis Schmidt – Thank you Barry for sharing your story this afternoon. I believe you were born in Colorado. Did your family move to Kansas or did you just go to K-State?Barry Shotts – We moved from eastern Colorado to Goodland, Kansas, which was well named, when I was five. A Colorado native but really grew up in Kansas and lived in Kansas from age five through going to K-State. I went to Goodland High School for my freshman and sophomore years and then after my sophomore year we moved from Goodland to Hutchinson. I finished high school at Buhler High School in 1982 and finished up at K-State from there.
DS - What led you to K-State?
BS – Engineering. I had an inkling that I wanted to go to law school ultimately, but I didn’t want to major in pre-law so engineering was my focus. I had a couple of influential high school teachers who counseled me in that direction and I thought the engineering program at Kansas State after quite a bit of diligence was outstanding. I went to a summer institute for high school students, loved it, and was lucky enough to receive a Seaton Engineering Scholarship. I decided I wanted to major in nuclear engineering and the other institution down the road; I can’t remember its name (laughs) didn’t have the program. Kansas State did so it made it a pretty easy choice for me.
DS – As you are an attorney now. If you would have actually have gone into pre-law you might have gone to that other institution. Which is amazing as you are such a big K-Stater.
BS – It would have shown a remarkable lack of judgment, but I suppose that was possible (laughs) 2.02
DS – Tell me about your days at Kansas State. What were those years?
BS – I was at K-State from 1982-86. I was in the Beta house, Beta Theta Pi. My experience there was certainly defined by the close friendships with my fraternity brothers at the Beta house. I was pretty busy as I was majoring in nuclear engineering, and was taking about twenty hours a semester for at least the first three years, which left me mercifully fewer hours my senior year, but I was pretty busy as that was a demanding major. Everybody who is an engineering major has to take a class called Engineering Physics their sophomore year and you have an exam every other Friday at 4:30PM. That really tested your convictions on whether you wanted to stay in the College of Engineering, but I did, I stayed busy and got involved in student government as well, which was a great experience.
I went to all of the football and basketball games. Of course we are a lot better now than we were then but it was still fun to go to the games as we could still walk there. At the Beta house we had a group of seats both at the football and basketball games. I was very busy and made some very good friendships and I am in touch with a lot of these guys today.
DS – Is there any one memory from your days at Kansas State that stands out?
BS – I was a finalist for Kansas State Ambassador and I remember walking down the football field at Homecoming with the other finalists. My family was all there. It really instilled in me a holistic view of the campus and what it represented. It was an awesome experience as a junior to be walking down there and standing on the field in a stadium full of people. It really made me feel attached to the University and I appreciated having the opportunity to represent the University. That certainly stands out.
DS – How did you get the opportunity to become an Ambassador finalist?
BS – My recollection was that it was based upon a student wide vote, but I don’t recall how I got to that point. Maybe it was based on a selection by a faculty committee. I honestly don’t remember.
DS – After K-State what did you do?
BS – From there I went to law school at Columbia University in Manhattan, New York – the Big Apple as opposed to the little Apple. I was there from 1986 to 1989.
DS – What was your draw to Columbia? University?
BS – An outstanding law school. I had incredible advice from Nancy Twiss who was the pre-law advisor at the time at K-State. K-State had a very good reputation of sending students to Ivy League schools, Harvard, Yale, Columbia. Nancy gave me incredibly good guidance and quite frankly I felt it was the best law school I was admitted to. An outstanding institution and I loved the thought of going to law school in New York City. The complete opposite literally of where I grew up. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Talk about a great place to go to law school, New York City itself is a laboratory for law. The combination of the quality of the school, the opportunity to live in New York and the campus really drew me.
DS – Did you specialize in a certain law type?
BS – There weren’t specialties, per set. I believe it is the same today. You are really a generalist when you go to law school. You can get an LLM degree as a specialty, but that is after your initial three years. At the time my focus was that I wanted to be a trial lawyer.
DS – After Columbia what did you do?
BS – From New York I went to San Diego and joined the law firm Lathrop and Watkins. I was a litigator in the environmental department and was also a land use development attorney.
DS – How long were you there?
BS – Until 2000
DS – What type of environmental projects did you process?
BS – A lot of environmental lawsuits involving Superfund sites. I typically would represent policyholders holding environmental insurance policies. We would bring actions against insurance companies to provide coverage for alleged environmental liabilities for various Superfund sites. That is how I started out. By the time I left I did an increasing amount of land use development work, which is really what I do today. This generally consists of securing entitlement permits for developers who wish to build something. That was my focus when I left.
DS – What projects in San Diego did you work on that might be familiar with people?
BS – I worked on what ultimately became Petco Park…. the stadium the Padres built. I did some of the groundwork for that. I worked on some big subdivision projects. One called Black Mountain Ranch in the North County of San Diego. I did some work for Catellus, which was the railroad spinoff of Southern Pacific, later Union Pacific Railroad.
DS – After working with Lathrop and Watkins in San Diego did you move to San Francisco or did you have another stop before arriving in the Bay Area?
BS – I moved to San Francisco in 2000 when I was still at Lathrop, but went on sabbatical. I was shuttling back and forth between cities. What led me back to San Diego was my real estate partner Kent Trimble and I were selected to redevelop the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego. It was a vaudeville house that sat dormant for a long time. I moved back to San Diego after six months to piece together a plan to redevelop the Balboa Theatre. I am proud to say that we set the groundwork for the project to be constructed by the Center City Development Corporation, which was the redevelopment agency, which owned the land. We selected the architect for the development and found financing for the project, including historic tax credits, and pushed the ball to the point that CCDC could finish the project, which it did a couple of years ago. It was a great project to work on and I am glad to see it was built.
DS – What are you working on today?
BS – Today, I have my own private law practice, Barry J. Shotts, Attorney at Law in the Napa Valley in St. Helena. I primarily do land use development and real estate work. I recently represented Union Pacific Railroad in connection with its application to expand an existing intermodal facility in San Joaquin County, near Stockton. It is a truck/rail facility where intermodal units are off loaded from rail to truck or vice versa. The main benefit is that you are taking hundreds of trucks off the road, I-580 principally and I-5. I was the land use attorney for this $240 million project. I worked on it for five years. We just got approvals from San Joaquin County to expand and we are in the process of pulling together the building permits to begin construction. I also am working on a project in Newark called the Dumbarton TOD, Transit Oriented Development Project. I represent a property owner who owns approximately ten acres within two hundred acre area. This is a former industrial area that is pretty vacant now and has contamination issues. We pulled together a consortium of eight property owners working with the city of Newark. We succeeded in convincing the City Council to rezone the property from industrial to commercial / residential mixed-use. Within a few months you will be able to see homebuilders begin initial spadework to restore this land that has literally lain fallow and vacant for decades. It will provide residents the opportunity to live in a nice new walk able scale community within walking distance to transit. Then the plan is for new rail service to be established on the old Dumbarton rail bridge corridor, which is actually the first bridge to cross the Bay, to provide transit service to connect Cal Train with BART – Menlo Park to Union City. Residents would literally be able to walk to a train station and get on a train to cross the bay to Menlo Park, Palo Alto and beyond. In the interim there is going to be bus service provided by SamTrans to provide the commuter function. It is pretty exciting as you are now providing hundreds of families with the opportunity to live closer to where they work in a more affordable area, which is particularly important considering the Bay Area economy is becoming super heated again. I have really enjoyed working on that project. I am also working with my real estate partner Kent Trimble to construct permanent supportive housing for veterans.
DS – Being as busy as you are I have seen you at K-State football bowl games and you go back to Manhattan regularly.
BS – I still have football season tickets.
DS – Do you get back for basketball games too?
BS – I have a couple of times. I went back for a game at the holiday break, the CBC Classic. I saw two games. Our game against Gonzaga and Duke. Whenever there is a game over the holidays I usually get to see them play as I go back (to the Midwest) -- my mom is in the Kansas City area -- to catch a basketball game. Otherwise it is mostly football. I have tickets with eight guys from the Beta house. We all sit in the same section. These guys with great foresight started buying season tickets in 1992. I bought into the group in 1998/99. Our seats are on the student side about row 12. Let’s just say the opposing team can hear us!
DS – The teams since Coach Snyder’s arrival have made it more enjoyable since I first started school.
BS - We were all strong supporters of the school in the 80’s, but there is something about an athletic program that can energize an existing school base and the alumni. I remember going back for a game for the first time after a long time since I was in college and people were tailgating, which never happened, people were doing organized cheers, which never happened. I was completely amazed… it was if I had been transported to another planet. It was so fun and energizing… that is when I vowed to start to go back to games every year. I’ve gone back for two to four games ever since. It is so much fun. I have family and friends back there so it is great to go back and see everybody and take in a couple of games. I think I have seen every game they have played in California, though I did miss the regular season game in Fresno. It is not that hard to get back (to Manhattan) if you are a California alum. It is so energizing and fun, particularly living in California and not living in the area of K-State or the Midwest. It really keeps you connected.
DS – Barry other than the fun you have of going back to K-State what else do you do when you are not working?
BS – I do triathlons. I have done Olympic distance triathlons, Half Iron Man triathlons. It keeps me in shape. I like the balance of combining running, swimming and biking. I actually did not know how to swim until about five years ago. I did the Escape From Alcatraz in 2008 – 2009. A little bit scary to be out in the middle of the Bay and looking at the Golden Gate Bridge when you just learned how to swim about a year before that. They take you out in the San Francisco Belle close to Alcatraz. You jump off the boat and you swim to shore. It’s a pretty awesome experience. The tide is pretty strong so you don’t want to aim straight to Crissy Field. If you aim there you will end up in the Farallon’s (islands) if you are not careful. You have to aim way to the left if you are going to shore. That was quite an experience. Most recently I was in Hawaii and did a Half Iron Man triathlon at Kona where the famous Iron Man Kona race is in October, but my race was the Half Iron Man where it is a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. By the way there was a shark attack in Kona a week after my race just south of where I was swimming. It was a great experience. There is actually a K-State connection. It was a tough race, very humid, very hot. I thought I was prepared. I made a fueling/nutritional error – I’ll put it that way. I felt really, really good on the swim, felt really good on the bike for the most part. About three-quarters through the bike I was feeling a little dizzy, nauseous, weak. By the time I pulled into the transition area for the bike to the run my hotel was about twenty feet away. I had a very comfortable hotel room with a nice view of the ocean and a waterfall and I just kind of wanted to walk off the course and go to the hotel room, but I started the run, run in parenthesis, I couldn’t really run by this point as I was weaker and dizzy and nauseous, nothing seemed to work. It was a struggle just to get to mile one. I trudged on in a combination of jogging and walking. I had to do a half marathon without being able to run at all. I honestly wanted to quit so many times. A lot of the run was on a golf course. I just wanted to curl up and take a nap. I kid you not but I thought of Bill Snyder’s Sixteen Goals. I never played football for K-State, but I thought of Bill Snyder’s Sixteen Goals including basically you never surrender, you never quit. I trudged along and trudged along and I made it past the finish line a minute and a half before the cut off. Meaning that seventy-five seconds later my time would not have counted. I would not have been considered a finisher. I had a pretty good bike session and swim and a little bit of leeway. I never imagined that I would be chasing the cut off time, but I made it with seventy-five seconds to spare. Just after I got to the finish line I talked to my triathlon coach, Duane Franks, and we talked about what went wrong. I said Duane I am going to have to lay down. I laid down literally ten feet away from the finish line. They could not find my pulse. I was cramping miserably. Every time I tried to move I cramped. I was dizzy and they had to come and get a cart and cart me to the med tent where they gave me not one, but two units of saline via IV. My blood pressure was 90 over 50. An hour later my blood pressure was back to normal and I walked off. During the race I kept thinking about the basic principal that you just couldn’t quit. You just have to keep going. If Bill Snyder can build a winning football team in the middle of Kansas I can finish a Half Iron Man Triathlon even if I don’t feel like it is my day.
DS – This year you got married, made the big move.
BS – I did finally at the age of forty-eight. I went to Hawaii for the first time because we got married in Maui. It was great. It was a small wedding of about forty people at a private estate south of Lahaina and then Brigit, my wife, and I went to Lanai’ for our honeymoon. It was wonderful. We just got back from the Big Island a couple of weeks ago as I did the triathlon I spoke about. So I have been to Hawaii twice in six months and had never been in the forty-eight years prior and can’t wait to get back. It was quite honestly the perfect wedding and everything we envisioned.
DS – Did you wear any purple at the wedding?
BS – I decided that everyone attending needed to know, if they didn’t already to know about K-State football. I had very little input on the wedding, but the one thing that I insisted on was the selection of the wine and the selection of the table cards. Instead of numbers or esoteric names every table at our wedding was named after a K-State football player or coach. There was somebody named Bill Snyder (smiles) for whom one of the table was named after, Darren Sproles, Optimus Kline. It was kind of fun for me and a nice little tweak from me for some of my friends who went to places like Florida State and beyond.
DS – Anything else you would like to add?
BS – Nope. Don’t think so.