San Juan Capistrano

        Equestrian Trails Incorrectly Re-labeled Multi-purpose
                                                                      By Kim Lefner

A request from at a local Homeowners Association (“HOA”) to remove their equestrian-only trail easement from the City’s “multi-purpose” trail system raises questions about other neighborhood trails. It appears that City staff at some point may have illegally re-labeled easements in some neighborhoods intended for equestrian use only, to include use by hikers and bikers. 
Fences have been cut and removed along the
Stoneridge trail by people illegally accessing
the trail on ATVs and motorcycles 
Although it is unclear why the trails were re-labeled without the apparent knowledge or consent of the property owners, one explanation may have to do with the siren call of grant money. The Orange County Transportation Authority (“OCTA”) and the state Department of Parks and Recreation has endeavored to connect hiking, biking and equestrian trails throughout San Juan and to the new Rancho Mission Viejo developments. The “Recreational Trail Program” offers cities taxpayer-funded grant money to construct and connect these hiking, biking and equestrian trails.  

While the goal may be a noble one, equestrians have expressed concern about sharing trails with bicyclists who at times ride the trails at high rates of speed, which can spook horses and create unsafe conditions. In addition, residents have expressed concern about people accessing gated or remote neighborhoods via the trail system, as well as trail easements being used for parties and encampments.

Mission Viejo

                          Grass Facts Prove Lawns Are Way Cool
                           By Cathy Schlicht, Mayor, City of Mission Viejo

Under the pretense that California’s dry climate is not suitable for lawns, we have been urged to rip out our lawns and replace them with drought-tolerant plants.
Photo credit:

“We have been told that turf serves no functional purpose other than its looks.” That statement made by Bob Muir of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California may not be true.

 In the 1960s, China eliminated much of its grass and trees during its Cultural Revolution. Now, more than 30 years later, China is repairing its landscape by replanting trees and lawns to help reduce its severe pollution problems.

 Grass protects the soil from wind and rain. It prevents soil erosion and traps dirt and dust. It acts as an air filter by removing pollutants. Grasses remove about 6 tons of carbon dioxide per acre per year and convert it to oxygen through photosynthesis. Not only does grass absorb contaminates from the air, it purifies water when its root system soaks up the rain, helping to recharge the groundwater.

Ladera Ranch

                          Civic Council Requests 4-way Stop Sign

After hearing public testimony about the number of traffic and pedestrian safety issues associated with the roadway at Narrow Canyon and Aura Lane, the Ladera Ranch Civic Council drafted a letter to the Orange County Traffic Commission, which is expected to address the issue at their public meeting in October. As an unincorporated area, Ladera Ranch must rely on the County for enhancements to public safety, such as stop signs and/or traffic signals.

This is not the first time that the issue has been raised with the OC Traffic Commission. A report in the OC Register by Marie Ekberg Padilla in September, 2014, stated “…the area has been on the Traffic Commission’s radar since 2006, when the first of several actions – the establishment of the 35 mph speed limit – was taken. In 2007 and 2008, when evaluations for a four-way stop sign were performed, the intersection failed to meet the criteria. In 2011, pedestrian crossing signs were installed and three more speed limit signs were installed along Narrow Canyon. In 2012, the yellow center lines were extended along Narrow Canyon. In 2013, there was a speed survey.”

San Juan Capistrano

Mayor Pro Tem Patterson
                                                                                          Guest Column
              Revitalizing Marine Battalion 1/11 
                        By SJC Mayor Pro Tem Pam Patterson

Several years ago, I volunteered to help with a welcoming party for Marines returning from the Middle East. I was so impressed with the soldiers that I met that day. I was impacted by their service and how much we owe them as a nation.

Now, as a member of the City Council, I am pleased to be committed to the City’s adopted “1/11” Battalion. The 1/11 is an artillery battalion with four firing batteries and a headquarters battery. The City’s involvement with the 1/11 Battalion dates back to 2006, when the Council was approached with the concept of officially adopting a Marine battalion, specifically the First Battalion of the 11th Marine Regiment, based at Camp Pendleton. On August 15th that same year, the 1/11 was officially adopted by the San Juan Capistrano City Council. The resolution declared that, due to the City’s close proximity to the Marine base, and its long history of community involvement and volunteerism, the Council wanted to expand the community’s support and to show appreciation for our military.

Mission Viejo

                                     Tax Dollars Wasted ... Part II
                                                                 By Larry Gilbert

 Editor’s note: In the August issue, writer Larry Gilbert outlined the history of the original proposed construction of Mission Viejo’s City Hall near the old Mall and Mission Hospital, off Crown Valley Parkway. He then addressed the City’s efforts to create a Town Center in the strip mall across from the library and the present-day City Hall, to compete with other south county cities. The City spent $1 million on the design prior to obtaining voter input. When put to a vote, 75% of voters at the time rejected the construction of the City Hall at that Crown Valley Parkway location. Gilbert also pointed out that the “Village Center” strip mall on Marguerite was never intended by the Mission Viejo Company to become part of a master planned downtown area. 

Listed below is Part II of the article, which addresses the taxpayer-funded redevelopment agency’s role in the proposed “enhancement” of the strip mall and subsequent waste of taxpayer dollars.

Having only three minutes to speak under Public Comments at the August 25th council meeting about the proposed enhancement of the “Village Center” strip mall across from the library, I was unable to include background information about the original intent of the Mission Viejo Company and the will of the voters in developing a Town Center master plan. However, I did address the issue at hand, which is listed in my remarks to the council below.

San Juan Capistrano

                                                                         Rumors vs Reality

In our on-going effort to separate fact from spin, we have listed below several rumors that have been floating around town about City governance, versus the facts based on our research and documentation.

Rumor: Current city council members are being investigated by the OC District Attorney.

Fact: Documentation confirms that both sides (proponents and opponents) of the December 2014 “Urban Village” referendum filed complaints with the OC District Attorney (“OCDA”). The entire matter is being investigated by the OCDA. Although details of the investigation are not open to the public, a copy of the resident’s complaint was forwarded to the CCS and can be found along with the OCDA’s response, on our website at:, under “Community Links”.

Rumor: The hiring of consultant and former Laguna Niguel councilmember Robert Ming was being done "under the radar" on the Consent Calendar, and not all councilmembers were in agreement about retaining him as a city consultant.

Fact: In order to set the record straight, the new council majority waived confidentiality of the discussion about this issue, which originally took place in a closed door session of the City Council. The now-opened closed session discussion reveals that all five councilmembers were in agreement with hiring Ming as a consultant, and agreed to have staff work out the details before placing it on the next City Council agenda.   

Rumor: Water refunds will be paid by the taxpayers.

Fact: Refunds are the taxpayers' dollars, illegally collected in the first place.

Mission Viejo Letter to the Editor

                            Political Water Pressure

Huge kudos to Mission Viejo Mayor Cathy Schlicht for standing against the replacement of our city parks' natural turf with artificial turf. She warned against possible unintended consequences and unknowns like soil alterations, heavy rain runoffs, etc. (Granted, there's nothing as irresistible as "free" money forked over by hardworking federal, state, county and city taxpayers.) But her concerns have proven correct.

Three years ago in an unfortunate effort to cooperate with the Brown Administration's Taxpayer Funded Water Conservation Program, Los Angeles high schools installed artificial turf on all their football fields. This summer, however, the artificial turf melted on all the fields. And after the plastic melted, the little, green blades of "grass" transformed into little, hard rocks; making the fields completely unfit for any athletic activity.

To our detriment the Brown Government Policies are destroying California, and what has

happened to L.A.'s football fields is only one example of Jerry Brown's failing policies. True, California's urban populations have saved about three percent of the state's water, but thousands of gallons of water are wasted and flow out to sea every day simply because Mr. Brown refuses to build a dam or two.

It's as if a plumber thought he could solve a customer's high water usage problem by fixing some leaking household faucets, but at the same time he turns a blind eye to the 15-foot geyser jettisoning out of a pipeline in the front yard with a wide river of water flowing down the street out to sea. And then when the customer complains about the continuing high numbers on his water meter, the plumber suggests cutting back on water usage.  

California's problem is not lack of water! No! California's problem is lack of good government and good "plumbing"! California is no longer green and golden! Instead, we are "Jerry Brown" Brown and that is our New Green. Water tables are low, agriculture is suffering huge losses, forests fires are unabated. And California, once a Refuge from the Dust Bowl, is becoming its own Dust Bowl.

When Mr. Brown's term finally expires, California citizens should seriously consider building a monument to his memory. It would be timely and appropriate to build a water reservoir. And it could be named "Dam Jerry Brown."

Again, kudos to Mayor Cathy Schlicht for standing against political pressure and for standing for water pressure!

Paula Steinhauer
Mission Viejo


San Juan Capistrano

                       Committee Considers Moratorium
                        on Neighborhood Rehab Facilities

In response to a sudden proliferation of “sober living” rehabilitation homes in some San Juan neighborhoods, Councilmember Kerry Ferguson scheduled a Town Hall meeting at City Hall on September 24 to give residents an opportunity to offer input on the issue, and has asked that the issue be placed on the October City Council Agenda.
As the council member serving on the Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee, Ferguson has met with residents to find solutions to problems such as parking, overcrowding and other situations that cause a deterioration in their quality of life. It was during these meetings that the issue of sober living homes in various neighborhoods was raised.

  Although legally allowed under state law and believed by many to be a beneficial part of alcohol and drug abuse recovery, Ferguson said, “many of these homes fall under the radar of reasonable regulation that would benefit both those living [in the facilities] and their neighbors.”
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