San Juan Capistrano

SJC City Council Majority
Repeals Outgoing Council's Approval of "Urban Village"
Downtown Development

Tuesday, January 20, 2014 - The newly elected City Council majority of Pam Patterson, Kerry Ferguson and re-elected Councilman (now Mayor) Derek Reeve joined Councilman Roy Byrnes in voting to repeal the controversial "Urban Village" hotel & townhome development that was approved by the outgoing council majority at 3 AM on November 19, 2014.

The project was the subject of controversy due to its non-conformance with the General Plan, and residents concerned about the impacts of the project due to traffic and other impacts on Historic downtown, gathered more than 2500 signatures in just 19 days for a referendum which would allow the new council to either vote to repeal the previous decision, or place the issue on the ballot.

The referendum was certified by OC Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley as having enough valid signatures, leaving the door open for the newly seated council to take action on it.

At last Tuesday's council meeting, Councilmembers Patterson, Ferguson and Byrnes joined Mayor Derek Reeve in repealing the previous council majority's vote to approve the project. Councilman Sam Allevato, who supported the project, voted "no" on repealing it. See for more details.

In other council news...


Councilman Roy Byrnes announces his retirement from City Council.
Dr. Byrnes will remain on the council until his replacement is selected by the council majority. Councilman Byrnes previously served a term on the City Council from 1972 - 1976, including a one year term as Mayor, and elected again in 2012 to a four-year term. He and his wife Ilsa have devoted decades of volunteer service to our community, with a special focus on historic preservation and on open space, parks, recreation and equestrian issues. Dr. Byrnes' wisdom and guidance on the council will be missed however, he indicated that he and Ilsa will continue to  volunteer their time to the community.

Brown Act violation "correct and cure"
Maintaining their campaign promise of transparency, the new council majority voted to correct a Brown Act violation committed by the previous (outgoing) council when the item they voted on was different than what was listed on the agenda. The public has a right to know what is being voted on, and the manner in which items are listed on the agenda is important in providing notice to the community in case they wish to offer input to the council.

The new council has also pledged to insure that all City Council Closed Session agenda items are properly listed, so that the public is aware of what is being discussed.      

San Juan Capistrano

Editorial Opinion

CCS endorses Reeve, Patterson & Ferguson 
for City Council. Here’s why...

Much is at stake for our community in this City Council election. In our opinion, our unique historic town is going in the wrong direction. We see it in traffic congestion throughout town, in unnecessarily high water bills and in an overall decrease in our quality of life. Incumbent candidates John Taylor and Larry Kramer have contributed to this over the past four years with their council votes.

Our town is now faced with two large development proposals; “Spieker/Laguna Glen” which requires a re-zone from agricultural to high-density at the current Armstrong Nursery’s growing grounds, and the “Urban Village” downtown development project behind the historic Egan House, next to Historic Town Center Park. Urban Village does not conform to the Historic Town Center Master Plan as it mixes residential units with the hotel. Both projects will add traffic to our roads and require water that is in short supply. Candidates Larry Kramer, John Taylor, Stephanie Frisch, Jan Siegel and Rob Williams support these developments in one form or another. 

All five of these candidates also support continued operation of the failed Ground Water Recovery Plant. Their support is inexplicable when the water plant has never produced what they claimed it would, is damaging our aquifer through over-pumping, and is far too expensive to operate for a town our size.

Candidates Derek Reeve, Pam Patterson and Kerry Ferguson are opposed to both developments. They are also opposed to continuing to pour more money into the failed water plant. They are in agreement that given the current mess our town is in, we cannot handle any more traffic, strain on our water resources, or on our wallets. They support either “mothballing” or “regionalizing” the water plant to spread the cost over more cities.

San Juan Capistrano

Kramer, Taylor and Allevato 
Approve Massive Development 

Concerns about traffic, water dismissed

By Kim Lefner

Residents turned out for the council meeting in record numbers last week to oppose the re-zone of the last parcel of agricultural land in town for high-density development.
Residents opposing the Laguna Glen
development were forced to stand as
developer's supporters - many from
out of town, took up all the seating

Development supporters arrived at 2:30, 1 ½ hours before the scheduled meeting. The developer bought them all a box lunch and a light blue “I love San Juan” t-shirt. According to one observer, they were then given “a motivational speech and talking points” by developer Troy Bourne. The “blue shirts” took up the seating in the front of the room. After sitting through a lengthy power point presentation by Bourne, they were the first ones called to the podium to speak by Mayor Sam Allevato. Opponents were not called on to speak until 8:30pm, 4 1/2 hours after the meeting started. Noting the disparity, one opponent asked, “You gave the developer hours and gave us residents three minutes to speak? Who are you representing?

Wearing yellow “NO Re-zone/Save San Juan” t-shirts, opponents arrived just prior to the 4 pm meeting and were forced to stand in the back of the room. This prompted one long-time San Juan resident to remark to the council that the blue-shirted supporters he had spoken with did not live in San Juan, yet were taking seats from residents who will be impacted by the development.

Opponents say the “Laguna Glen” project, proposed on the property next to the Sports Park where Armstrong Nursery has its growing grounds, will forever change San Juan. It’s too big they say. The total building square footage is approximately 750,000sf. In comparison, the Capistrano Unified School District headquarters along the I-5 freeway measures 126,000 square feet. The project footprint is more than 1.4 million square feet, on 33 acres. The buildings will be a mix of one, two and three-story buildings with 400+ residential units and a 100+ bed medical center. It will also add 1,759 daily car/truck trips to San Juan streets. If they exceed the traffic estimates, they are not required to fix it; they need only pay a fee to the City.

Mission Viejo

Editorial Opinion

Vote To Protect Your Neighborhood!

By Steve Magdziak

Responsible leadership on the Mission Viejo City Council could resolve problems created by the incumbents seeking re-election:  

  •  Traffic congestion and parking issues the current council “cannot” fix.
  •  The threat of more housing development – look at the mess  on Oso!
  •  Mission Viejo’s fall to #13 among California’s safest cities.

We have solid evidence of the city council’s incompetence and their irresponsible votes – despite their campaign claims of preserving Mission Viejo’s quality of life. Incumbents Rhonda Reardon and Dave Leckness are sending out slick mailers, paid for by a labor union using the name “Citizens to Protect Mission Viejo”. Why is a union backing self-proclaimed “conservatives” Reardon, Leckness and housing lobbyist Wendy Bucknum?

Will you now take action by mailing in your absentee ballot or by going to your polling place on Election Day? Do not vote for Reardon and Leckness or Bucknum!

San Juan Capistrano - Mission Viejo

Teacher’s Union Stalls Negotiations, Attempts to 
Buy Candidates in School Board Race

By Ellen Addonizio and Jim Reardon

The Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) started this school year without a teacher’s union contract, and no negotiations are underway. Meanwhile, the union has paid for the election campaigns of three candidates who, if elected, will secure a school board majority favorable to the union. We believe the refusal to negotiate and the election spending are connected.

The school board opened negotiations with the union on March 12 of this year. The union formally responded on April 23. Since that time, there has been no negotiation and none is planned. The schools have been operating since July 1 without a contract with the teachers.

Salaries and benefits are 90 percent of the cost to operate schools. Three unions and a management association represent CUSD employees. The teacher’s union is by far the largest group, comprised of 2,100 classroom teachers and others. With 63 campuses, CUSD is the largest employer in south Orange County.

We believe the teacher’s union does not want a contract before the school board election on November 4, in order to advance a political agenda. Instead of negotiating as they committed to do in April, the union has stalled and amassed a political war chest of about $150,000 that is being spent to finance three school board candidates. The union, Capistrano Unified Education Association (CUEA), and its affiliated Political Action Committee, CUEA “HOPE”, are spending heavily to support the candidacy of Lynn Hatton in Mission Viejo, along with newcomers Gila Jones in San Juan Capistrano, and Martha McNicholas in Laguna Niguel.

Presumably, all this political spending is intended to secure favorable terms at the bargaining table. How else can you explain the silence from the union at a time when teachers are working with no contract?

Ellen Addonizio was first elected to serve on the CUSD Board of Trustees in 2006, was re-elected in 2010 and is running for re-election in 2014. She serves Area 6, which covers portions of Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel and San Juan Capistrano.

Jim Reardon was elected to the CUSD Board of Trustees in 2012, and serves Area 2 which covers portions of San Juan Capistrano, Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch and Las Flores.

San Juan Capistrano

Union Contributions a Conflict?

Should Council members who accept large campaign contributions from the OC Sheriffs Union recuse themselves from voting to amend or approve the OC Sheriffs Department contract with our City?

Resident Ian Smith suggested such at the Oct. 21 Council meeting, pointing out that Councilmen Allevato, Kramer and Taylor have all accepted large campaign donations from the Sheriffs union (including $5,000 to oppose the recall of Allevato). The council members refused to recuse themselves, noting that it is not (technically) illegal for them to vote on the Sheriffs annual contract for $8 million per year (about 37% of the City’s annual budget), despite having accepted campaign contributions from them.

Smith also pointed out the “outrageously high” salaries of Lt. John Meyer at $310,000 per year, and the Sheriffs Sergeants at $275,000 per year. “No wonder we’re broke,” said Smith.

San Juan Capistrano

Special Favors Questioned

By Kim Lefner

At the October 21 council meeting, resident Clint Worthington addressed the council about an agenda item which amends the lease of city-owned property to Ortega Equestrian Center owner Kathy Holman. Holman who is reportedly a relative of retired Sheriff Brad Gates. Gates was famously referred to as “the 6th Councilman’ by a former council member, due to his influence on the council majority.

Worthington asked the council why Holman is being leased the city property for what amounts to about $246 per year. The lease agreement states that Holman will pay “25% of City sponsored programs" for use of the property. According to the staff report, since 2009 Holman has paid the city a total of $1,232.

Worthington then produced an email exchange between Councilman Sam Allevato and Holman dated November 7, 2011, in which Holman asks for a reduction in the high water bills at her equestrian center. The subject line of her email is: “Water bill is killing me”. Allevato responded with an offer to help by suggesting ways to get a special agricultural (reduced) rate set for stables. He also assured her of votes from Larry Kramer and John Taylor if she could get other stable owners to also make the case for obtaining agricultural rates. Here’s the text of the email response from Sam Allevato:

The real issue is getting a special rate set for the stables. As you may remember, during the discussion on Agricultural rates, I asked the question lithe stables received a lower rate for their water like the farmers did and the answer was no and that this issue was going to be addressed next time we looked at water rates. Perhaps we could look at this issue sooner than later if all the stables could get together and ask for a special rate based upon it fitting our community character, revenue to the City, similar to the Ag users reasons, etc. Working through the Chamber of Commerce and the new Equestrian Council, this would be a worthwhile endeavor to take on. You know you would have my support, and Larry's, and John's, and ...


Holman was granted the agricultural rate, which appears to violate the city’s requirement that agricultural rates be billed only for agricultural purposes. It is unknown whether other stable owners also got the reduced rate. Worthington pointed out that billing equestrians at lower rates violates Proposition 218, which states that the city can only bill customers for what it actually costs to deliver the water. “The city cannot bill customers for something we do not derive direct benefit from. Subsidizing businesses by giving them a reduced rate amounts to charging residential customers more for service they are not receiving. That violates the law,” Worthington said. Besides, Worthington pointed out, an equestrian center is not “agricultural use”.

“This is just more evidence of the favoritism displayed towards those the council majority likes, while sticking the rest of us residents with the tab,” Worthington said.

Letter to the Editor
                                Dirty Politics                                   
Dirty politics in this town.

All the political signs for Reeve are gone from Camino Capistrano north of the Mission. In their place are signs for Taylor, Frisch, Kramer, Siegel and Williams.

I am spreading the word to friends and neighbors not to vote for the above mentioned.

Diane Morgan
San Juan Capistrano
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