Another Broken Promise?

Capistrano Common Sense Editorial Board

For two years, members of our City Council have quietly been working behind the scenes to encourage a land developer to build a mixed commercial, residential and equestrian complex on the vacant land bordered by San Juan Creek Road, Valle Road and La Novia – the area generally across the street from Plant Depot. The City has now gone public with this plan and may be poised to approve it, breaking a promise made to residents in the mid-1980’s.

This location already has specific approval for a hotel and 460 units of single-family residential housing, none of which have been built. Homeowners along La Novia were informed of this plan in the mid-1980's when they bought their homes and now council members want to alter the approval and the City’s General Plan itself in ways that residents believe will degrade their neighborhoods.

Land-use approvals, also known as entitlements, are not merely assets of the landowner. They are also  promises made to the surrounding property owners and our City as a whole. When La Novia residents asked what would be built on the adjacent land, they were told that a hotel and more homes were planned. No mention was made of a commercial shopping center and equestrian facilities for 775 horses!

Affected residents have a right to be outraged by this behavior. Our City is money-grubbing and willing to do anything that can be justified by a promise of increased tax revenue. But these promises are illusion. In the current economy, nothing can be built on the property but the new entitlements will remain as a future reminder of this broken promise.

Instead of trying to raise City revenues through illusionary schemes that merely enrich landowners, our council members should focus on reducing expenses at City Hall to fit within existing sources of revenue.


Anonymous said...

The attitude around City Hall stinks. While professing that residential areas are a "net loser" for the city, the councilmen and planning department bend over backward to defend the private property rights of those with vacant land that might be developed.

What about the private property rights of existing resident property owners?

I agree, the city made a promise when it approved the original plan. What has changed besides the preferences of the landowner?

What if I wanted to convert my La Novia residence into a bed and breakfast? Would I be given the same consideration?

Kim McCarthy said...

City council members have expressed to me how upset they are about this article (and this paper in general) and their opinion it is inaccurate...

So why didn't they take Lon Uso up on his motion to stop the closed door meetings and have more transparency?

...So why don't they broadcast for free on Cox the city council meetings like many other cities so resident can see for themselves how they operate and what they have to say?

...So why don't they have a newsletter anymore to let residents know what is going on? They have money for consultants and $324,000 for a city manager without any experience.

...How dare we citizens, at our own cost, print a local paper with facts to inform residents of what is going on---is this what some of the councilmembers are really upset about? TRUTH and TRANSPARENCY?

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