An Opportunity for San Juan Voters

John Perry, CCS Reader

The voters of San Juan Capistrano have an opportunity to change the way business is conducted in the future by the City Council. I can think of five good reasons why the incumbents do not deserve to be re-elected.

- The City Council has failed to manage the delivery of water to its residents without an endless series of rate increases. Since 2006, when (Lon) Uso and (Mark) Nielsen were elected, the water rates, including sewer, have nearly doubled. Every time the local water plant (GWRP) gets in the red, the council comes back to the ratepayers for another tax increase.

- Uso and Nielsen were involved on a committee with the developer of the Distrito La Novia/Meadows project promising to deliver a General Plan amendment and zoning change if the developer, ARES, agreed to build the kind of project they wanted. When ARES purchased the property, they knew they had entitlements to build a hotel and residential units. However, the City Council needs revenue and they see this project as the "golden goose," despite opposition from nearby residents who will be impacted by the traffic, excavation of the dump and at least 500 horses

- The City Council has failed the residents who thought they voted for open-space bonds, only to find that a secret deal had been cut with the equestrian elite to purchase the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. This $27.5 million giveaway to the ranch is currently leased back to the previous operator for $200,000 per year when the cost to the taxpayers is over $2 million per year in bond repayment and maintenance costs.

- The Orange County Register reported that San Juan Capistrano's city manager was being paid $324,000 per year, the second-highest in the county. The City Council defended the salary, saying the city manager really was being paid for doing two jobs, city manager and utilities director, and that he was really saving the city money. The Register also disclosed that six top city administrators were all making more than $200,000. Not bad, huh?

- The city has blundered into a $9.4 million judgment for demanding property dedication as part of a 30-house development by a local resident. The resident sued and the jury found the city has acted improperly by requiring the property as a condition for approval of the development. The loss is not covered by insurance, and interest is accruing at $1,800 per day while the city ponders an appeal. Unless the city prevails on appeal, the city may have to declare bankruptcy if they can't find a pot of gold. Vote on Nov. 2 to change the City Council of San Juan Capistrano.

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