Court rules "tiered" water billing illegal


By John Perry and Kim Lefner 

In another “I told you so” moment, the Capistrano Common Sense learned that the Second Appellate District Court appears to have confirmed our suspicion that the manner in which we are billed for water is punitive and therefore violates the law.

The recent Court ruling held that the Palmdale Water District’s “tiered” water billing structure does not comply with Proposition 218. San Juan Capistrano has a similar tiered billing structure as Palmdale in that it punishes consumers for exceeding their monthly water allocation by charging significantly more for each progressive “tier” (amount of water consumed), rather than basing it on the actual cost of providing the service.

Timothy Bittle, Director of Legal Affairs for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association told the CCS,

“This type of structure violates Proposition 218 because the service provided doesn’t reflect the actual cost to the City of providing the service.”


Our City’s four-tiered structure appears to be focused on generating additional revenue for the City while conserving water.

CCS Board members began questioning the water billing structure in 2009, when the City proposed raising water rates by 40%. Unfortunately as is often typical of our City Council and staff, our concerns were simply dismissed and our water rates have continued to automatically increase every year, per the Council’s direction. 


( BASE RATE PER CCF* USAGE AT 0-6 CCF )

CITY/base rate

1. SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO - $3.32/ccf

2. SAN CLEMENTE -$2.40/ccf

3. EL TORO - $1.91/ccf

4. SOUTH COAST - $1.91/ccf

5. SANTA MARGARITA - $1.89/ccf

6. MOULTON NIGUEL - $1.38/ccf

CCF = 100 CUBIC FEET OF WATER
It may take a taxpayer lawsuit to resolve the issue of punitive tiered water rates vs. actual cost of service. CCS will keep you informed as the City tries to find a way around what appears to be this latest violation of Prop 218.

Editor’s Note: Are your water bills too high? We want to hear from you! Please email us at: eboard@ccsense.com .
The good ol' boys ride again

Editorial

Last Tuesday the City Council selected a new Mayor for 2012. The debate was a disgrace; the illusion of fairness slipped to reveal the real power structure that controls our town. To everyone in the room it was obvious; standing in the back of the chamber was ex-Sheriff Brad Gates, close friend and ally of the Rancho Mission Viejo Company, who by all appearances calls the shots in San Juan to Councilmen Allevato, Kramer and Taylor who respond.

Larry Kramer did not distinguish himself when he engaged in a shameful charade to cause himself to be chosen as Mayor. By any criteria (tradition? experience? previous commitment or even simple fairness?) it was Councilmember Laura Freese’s turn to become Mayor. Indeed, last year, newly elected Councilman Larry Kramer publically promised to support Councilmember Freese for Mayor, as he was then displacing her as Mayor pro tem. Yet, he put his past promise aside and moved with iron-fisted determination to deny her due, with nary an apology. So much for integrity.

It was embarrassing to behold. Even residents who previously supported Kramer were ashamed of him, including many women who view this action as sexist. A comment from Abraham Lincoln came to mind; “Everybody is able to bear misfortune reasonably well but, to judge the true worth of a man’s character, give him power”.

Sadly, Larry Kramer does not measure up.
Refunds due for overcharged trash fees

By Clint Worthington 

Occasionally persistence pays off. After initially questioning City council and staff in 2009 about trash fee increases that appeared higher than what the contract allowed, City staff just recently examined trash hauler CR&R’s franchise agreement and found that CR&R had indeed erred in their calculations, resulting in over-charges to their customers.

City staff said they expect to receive CR&R’s new calculations within the next several weeks and is working with them to include the refund on the next quarter’s billing.

Setting aside for a moment why it took ordinary citizens to point out contract errors and why it took so long for staff to investigate, another issue has arisen about CR&R’s contract. CCS has learned that CR&R has had this exclusive contract since 2002 and has never been required to bid on it. If our understanding of the contract is correct, it automatically renews annually – with a 5-year requirement for notice of cancellation or revision! Obviously this clause severely limits the ability of the City to revise, re-negotiate or even to re-bid the service.

This means few, if any service providers will bid on service 5 years in advance.

CR&R’s contract has never been put out to bid and automatically renews annually – with a 5-year requirement for notice of cancellation or revision!

This is unfair to City taxpayers and must be corrected. The required action is for the City Council to give a formal notice of termination to CR&R in January 2012.
Part Two: The Ground Water Recovery Plant

By John Perry

This is a continuation of a 4-part series of the history of the Ground Water Recovery Plant.

The idea for the Ground water recovery plant ( “GWRP”) seemed to originate in the early 1990’s with the Metropolitan Water District (MWD)’s offer to pay a $250 per acre-foot subsidy for locally generated water from an unused source. The San Juan Capistrano Basin Authority (SJBA), city staff, and City Council members believed the calculations from the City–hired water consultant that showed the City could clean up the brackish ground water by building a facility capable of processing 5.1 million gallons of water per day. This would allow them to deliver 4800 acre-feet of clean water per year at a cost just over that being charged by MWD. 

In 2004, Cindy Russell who was then SJC’s Director of Administrative Services and Assistant City Manager said, ”…we need to generate more sources of local water here. This city has an ace in the hole, a huge untapped local source of ground water. The catch is that this plentiful source is too brackish to use as it is, so the issue is how to capitalize on the water most effectively.”

A Capistrano Valley Water Commissioner who served from 1996 - 2004 remembers the backroom negotiations the City had with the Rancho Mission Viejo Company that supported building the GWRP in order to free up basin water allocation for its 14,000 home planned development east of town. The Ranch development was then under consideration for approval by the County of Orange but,

...[the Ranch]  needed to demonstrate that they had the water allocation to service such a large development. If our City could produce more usable water, it would free up a larger allocation to service the Ranch’s development (at least on paper).

The problem was that the City needed to have water rights to 5400 acre feet of raw water to produce 4800 acre feet of finished water per year to meet its goals. Thus, in October 2002, then-City Manager George Scarborough presented for approval a SJBA Project Implementation and Operating Lease Agreement to the Capistrano Valley Water District Board (controlled by the San Juan City Council). The SJBA agreement provided expanded water rights throughout the lease period to enable the City to construct and operate the GWRP.  
The terms of the Agreement with SJBA are astonishing; the City agreed to lease the project from SJBA for a term of 30 years, with a renewal option for another 20 years. For the first 30 years of the initial lease, all costs of the GWRP are borne by the rate payers of San Juan Capistrano, including the initial construction cost of $32 million. 

It is costing the City’s water ratepayers $2.7 million per year to repay the bond debt until 2035 when the bonds will be paid off. It costs us an additional $3.5 million per year in personnel costs to operate the plant. This does not include maintenance costs, which have amounted to millions more than what was anticipated.

At the end of the lease period, the SJBA will own the GWRP, the City will lose control of it and its water rights will revert to the original 20% of the basin according to the City – Council approved 2010 Urban Water Management Plan prepared by water consultant Malcolm Pirnie.

Under the terms of this Lease Agreement, the City ratepayers will have invested more than $100 million dollars (estimated to be as high as $138 million) in the GWRP only to see control and benefit revert to the SJBA.
I simply cannot understand what the City Council was thinking when they entered into this extremely bad deal.

This is only the beginning. Stay tuned for the upcoming installments; “The Middle Years - 2005 to 2008, and “The End - 2008 and beyond”.







What our readers are saying...

The following are excerpts from recent emails we received from CCS Readers:

Without patriots like you, our city and others will continue to abuse and make stupid decisions that others will pay for long after the city managers have left... Please try to keep up the great work! “ 
- BR, SJC resident

I just wanted to thank you for looking out for us here in San Juan. Your news letter actually answered two questions I had concerning “ the ranch “ and my outrageous water bill! I am really glad there are people out there like you all who take the time to attend meetings and keep the “ good ‘ol boys” in line...or at least let them know there being watched.
KI, SJC Resident

Keep up the good work and effort to keep us informed.- BC, SJC resident

Thanks for keeping us informed about what our city council & staff are doing. This is news I’m not getting anywhere else.CB, SJC resident

Keep your trash off my porch!- Anonymous

We encourage letters to the editor and emails from our readers.

Please submit to: eboard@ccsense.com. Please specify if you prefer to remain anonymous.



“We paid to build it, but we don’t own it”;
the REAL reason YOUR WATER BILLS ARE SO HIGH

By John Perry

If you live in San Juan Capistrano, I am sure you have noticed that your monthly water bills have significantly increased over the past several years. The City has not fully disclosed the reasons for the never-ending upward spiral of the cost of water so I set out to learn why. After reviewing documents obtained through Public Records Act requests, here’s what I found;

Since 2002 SJC water ratepayers have been making payments on a series of bonds issued by our water department for approximately 74 million dollars, at least half of which was spent on infrastructure to build the Ground Water Recovery Plant (“GWRP”). I am still waiting for additional documentation requested from the City to determine how the other half of the bond money was spent.

The documentation indicates that although we paid to build it, we don’t own the GWRP. According to a memo written by then-City Manager George Scarborough and the 2010 Urban Water Management Plan written by City-hired water consultants Malcolm Pirnie and adopted by the City Council, we are only leasing the GWRP for the local water authority, the San Juan Basin Authority (“SJBA”).

At the end of the lease, and after spending 138 million dollars on bond costs, we will turn over the plant and the wells to the SJBA and we will have no more than the 20% water rights granted to us in the first place.

I also learned that with the exception of one year with record rainfall, the GWRP NEVER produced to its design capacity. In other words, it didn’t do what it was supposed to. Rather than holding the design/build firm accountable however, our City let them off the hook, despite the fact that we could have used insurance to help foot the cost of the underperforming facility.
Mayoral priorities

By Kim McCarthy 

In March of this year, the “Annual Mayor’s Dinner Address” to the City was held at El Adobe Restaurant where Mayor Sam Allevato held court with the ‘Good Ol’ Boys’ of San Juan. Well, at least some live in San Juan. Not Rancho Mission Viejo Company land owner Tony Moiso, who was featured in the Mayor’s address but who I understand lives in Laguna Beach.

Instead of a speech, Mayor Allevato showed his creative side with a movie narrated by and starring himself, with appearances by such luminaries as Moiso and Chamber of Commerce President Mark Bodenhamer (who I’m guessing probably doesn’t live here either). The “actors” gushed about the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park “Open Space” that we bought from Moiso for 27 million dollars (that we are prohibited from using). Missing from the movie was any mention of Moiso’s plans to build a city across the street from our “Open Space” and how the traffic created by his development will forever change the lives of San Juan residents.

This “movie” cost us taxpayers around $7000.

At the same time Allevato was debuting his tribute to the Good Ol’ Boys, I was attending a community forum in Dana Point conducted by the San Clemente Border Patrol. All cities in South Orange County were invited, including San Juan. At the meeting, the Border Patrol stated that the “new border” is our South Orange County beaches, where smuggling boats are found abandoned. They explained the dangers of drug and human traffickers and how cities like SJC are used as safe havens for the business of moving people and drugs.

Since SJC received an invitation to the meeting, I wondered why the City did not post the meeting notice on the City website or enclose it in our water bills, as they do other important notices to the community? I asked the council; if one of the main functions of local government is public safety, why did I have to hear about this meeting from a friend in Dana Point? Mayor Sam Allevato responded, “It is not ‘our job’ to do the P.R. for the San Clemente Border Patrol.” The Mayor’s statement says it all. Apparently, he believes his “job” is doing P.R. for the Rancho Mission Viejo Company and playing power broker with taxpayer dollars. If you want to see where the Mayor’s priorities lie in my opinion, you need only view his movie. Go to www.SanJuanCapistrano.org and click on “State of the City 2011”. While watching it think about the 14,000 homes going in across from the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park along with the 5 million sq. ft. of Commercial and Retail and ask yourself why Allevato didn’t protect his constituents from San Juan becoming an on/off ramp for the Ranch? For that matter, why are we paying for sewer (and possibly water?) connections to the Ranch’s new development?

It seems clear that our town needs to break the control of the Good Ol’ Boys. Under their watch, our debt has increased to over 150 million dollars, our water bills have skyrocketed and traffic is just getting worse. In November of 2012 you will have the opportunity to shift the balance of power. I encourage you to stay informed. Your family’s safety and your property values depend on it!
Council supports extension of 241 Toll Road to Ortega.
The question is; why?

Editorial

At a recent City Council “special meeting” the Council majority voted to support the Transportation Corridor Agency’s (“TCA”) proposal to extend a segment of the 241 toll road to Ortega Hwy.

At the meeting, several residents asked the council how extending the toll road to Ortega, adding potentially thousands more car trips daily to our roads, will benefit the residents of San Juan. The only responses were vague references to alleviating traffic on the I-5 freeway. This makes no sense to us however, considering that this toll road extension appears designed to accommodate the Rancho Mission Viejo Company’s (“the Ranch”) massive planned development on our eastern border. Massive development equals massive traffic.

While the Ranch may have “entitlements” to build up to 14,000 homes, they do not have the approval. In order to get approval, the Ranch needs additional road capacity that will accommodate the enormous amount of traffic that will be generated by their plans to build up to 14,000 homes and 5 million square feet of retail/commercial at Antonio and La Pata. Planning documents indicate that they currently have the green light to build only a relatively small mix of homes and commercial/retail.

Although all San Juan will be impacted by the additional traffic, those most directly impacted will be the neighborhoods along Ortega, San Juan Creek Road and La Novia.
How Many 800 lb Gorillas Are Needed
to Change a Light Bulb at City Hall?

By Roy L. Byrnes, MD Former Mayor, San Juan Capistrano 

The undisclosed and unfunded liability for San Juan Capistrano employee retirement/ health care remains a grinning 800 pound Gorilla lounging in a corner of City Hall.

With a population of 34,734, San Juan has an estimated pension liability of $17.3 million or $500 per resident. San Clemente, in contrast, has double our population at 63,743 residents yet San Clemente has less pension liability; $16.6 million or $262 per resident. Clearly, the difference is a reflection of the financial largess of our recent City Councils. The present Council has avoided confronting this issue of over-generous employee benefits. For years citizens have been justifiably demanding that the Council institute hiring and wage freezes and decrease payroll costs. The Council has continued to ignore the wise advice of concerned citizens but it’s time the Council ‘fessed up to the following 4 simple questions:
  • What are we obligated to pay for retirement benefits? 
  • When is this going to occur? 
  • Where do we get the money? 
  • What steps are necessary to avoid future problems? 
True, the new City Manager was hired with a less generous retirement package than her predecessors – a step in the right direction. But at the same time, the City Clerk received a raise and has a generous car allowance even though it’s unmerited since hers is a desk job. Clearly the salary increase is a step backwards. The Council still hasn’t gotten the message.

So far, this problem has been virtually ignored. The Council has been attacking Mt. Everest with a toothpick when what is needed is a stem-to-stern re-evaluation of City Hall pay and benefit packages in order to bring the compensation of our public service workers in line with comparable positions in the private sector.

Forgotten Neighborhoods & Residents

By Kim McCarthy 

Past and present City Council members have stated that their focus has mostly been on development and downtown redevelopment. They call it “Preserving the Past to Enhance the Future”. 

But in the 11 years I have lived here, instead of enhancing the future I have witnessed council members take actions that contribute to the creation of a sanctuary city for illegal aliens, criminals and welfare recipients.

The result of council actions can be seen in many of our neighborhoods. One example is a neighborhood off Del Obispo that I visited recently. My friends have lived there for decades, raising their children there when it was a new, safe, family-friendly community. They have watched the decline of their once middle-class neighborhood into a gang injunction zone littered with broken beer bottles, abandoned cars and graffiti.

How did this happen, I asked? My friends said neighbors who weren’t lucky enough to sell and get out before the complete transformation have been intimidated into silence by gang bangers threatening them if they complain about the graffiti being spray painted on garages and fences, or the drug paraphernalia left on patches of dying grass. A few of the braver residents have begged City Council members to help them, but they said council members have turned a deaf ear. I asked Mayor Sam Allevato why the city doesn’t step in to help these people. His response was along the lines of well, it’s a low-income neighborhood anyway… as if that explains the council’s unwillingness to confront the problem they helped to create.

I’ve been asked why I care. After all, my friends point out the council members don’t care; why should you? Besides the fact that it’s wrong to ignore the pleas of law abiding residents who have asked for the city’s help, neighborhoods under gang injunctions and the council’s inaction ultimately drag all of our property values down.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can help our neighbors – and ourselves – by putting pressure on the council to pass ordinances addressing blighted neighborhoods. We can work with the council to address code violations and overcrowding. We can demand that the council stop spending our tax dollars on anything but essential services we were promised, like public safety and infrastructure maintenance.

More importantly, we can vote in council members who actually listen to constituents and who will take steps toward cleaning up the mess left by previous councils. Fortunately, we have this opportunity in the 2012 election.

Mobile Home Park Bankruptcy Smells

By John Perry

Just two hours before the residents of the Capistrano Terrace Mobile Home Park were scheduled to receive an offer from an insurance company to settle a “failure to maintain” lawsuit, park owners Capistrano Terrace Ltd. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

This appears to be a move by the mobile home park owners to avoid paying residents both the damages from the “failure to maintain” lawsuit and the relocation costs to which they are entitled as mandated by state law.

When asked by a reporter about the timing of the bankruptcy filing, Richard “Rick” Julian, former general partner of Capistrano Terrace Ltd said the bankruptcy was ”just a coincidence”.

The “failure to maintain” lawsuit was filed by park residents frustrated with the lack of maintenance and repair at the mobile home park. Their claims for damages included park owners refusal to flush the sewer system resulting in sewage backing up into the streets and the units; failure to repair faulty and exposed electrical wiring resulting in blackouts, brownouts and unsafe conditions; failure to maintain slopes and banks resulting in severe erosion and endangering several units; reducing water pressure so severely that units were unable to flush toilets and fire hydrants were rendered inoperable creating a fire hazard, etc.

An OC jury agreed, finding that park owners acted with “malice, oppression or fraud”. They awarded 17 residents $1.1 million in damages. Another 100+ residents have filed and have yet to have their day in court.

Some residents believe that the bankruptcy is an attempt to avoid paying the residents for any of the damages they have suffered.

Water Billing Based on “Assumptions” is a Formula for Higher Fees

By Ian Smith 

A recent staff report to our Utilities Commission revealed over 1800 calls from residents to staffers in just one month. A look at your water bill might explain why. Our water billing system is confusing. More so when errors are made, as I recently discovered.

Each monthly water billing period falls into one of four billing “cycles” or areas, within our city. I live in “Cycle 1” which consists of an area east of the I-5, south of Ortega. My bill arrived on 7/16 for the period from 5/31 - 7/06 ; a 37-day billing cycle. It took the city 10 days to deliver this bill. The bill stated payment was due on or before 8/02 (in just 16 days) or a penalty would be applied!

I then discovered my SEWER SERVICE CHARGE had been increased on 06/01. A “Sewer Service” automatic increase had been approved by the previous city council majority starting on July 1, for the next four years. But my calculations revealed that in fact the increase had been applied to the entire billing period in error (not just from July 1st on).

Sewer Insanity

By Ian Smith

Thank goodness it’s not often one has to think about sewers. They aren’t usually a topic of discussion except maybe here in San Juan. At a recent Utilities Commission meeting we learned that some of our aging sewers urgently need repair. In addition, we learned that our City Water Enterprise is at least $8.2 million in debt.

Recently, City staff gave a slide presentation of a sewer investigation which revealed pictures of cracked, deteriorating piping and manhole covers that have been paved over, prohibiting access to sewers. They also discussed complaints from residents about foul odors from sewer gases in the neighborhoods. The repairs will of course increase the current indebtedness of the utility department. There has been no discussion yet regarding funding of the repairs. 

Despite this knowledge the May 4th Council agenda listed an item requesting approval to extend water/sewer lines to the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. Staff claims this is needed to provide water and toilets for the equestrians and other park visitors. The Riding Park is currently leased to an equestrian event promoter who generates significant revenue from equestrian and soccer events. We taxpayers have paid dearly for the property but we cannot use it unless we pay a fee! The City gets none of the revenue and the paltry lease amount we collect pays only a fraction of the principle and interest on the property. Why then should taxpayers pay even more to install toilets for an equestrian event promoter and outside visitors? 

Why is CCS So "Negative"?


Editorial

For the past year and a half, the Capistrano Common Sense (CCS) has exposed the machinations of what many refer to as the entrenched “Good ol’ boy politicos” on the last two City Councils. Our CCS was created by San Juan citizens who became frustrated with the Council’s lack of transparency, self-dealing and financial irresponsibility.

We wear as a badge of pride the fact that neither the Council politicians nor their supporters have been able to demonstrate that we were wrong in any of the dozens of act-based reports we’ve printed. The most that City Council politicians and their supporters seem to be able to manage is to resort to name calling. “Mean-spirited”; “naysayers” and “CCS is so negative” are some of the more popular responses. I guess when you have no real defense you stoop to calling the opposition names. At this point we take it as validation of their concern that we’re exposing the truth. We’re a “watchdog” publication. Would you want your watch dog to growl and bark at a burglar or just lick his hand and go back to sleep?

Mayor Sam's Quarter Million Dollar Raid...

A Letter from Roy Byrnes MD, former SJC Mayor

Mayor Sam Allevato wants you San Juan taxpayers to fork out over $225,000 a year to pay for a Deputy Sheriff as “School Resource Officer” (SRO) for the Capistrano Unified School District. I disagree. Why doesn’t CUSD pay for its own SRO? Nope, says Mayor Sam!

Much as I respect our good Mayor, I think he’s off the reservation on this one. There is absolutely no reason for us to shell-out a quarter million to pay for a school position that could be paid out of CUSD’s massive $374 million annual budget.
“But the SRO does an important job”, says Sam. I agree, yes siree! The SRO is a part of the anti-truant and anti-gang program, and is an asset to the schools in many ways. I commend the program and the excellent Deputies who serve. But these are all school functions. The gang and truancy issues are CUSD’s responsibility. All of the Deputies on the City payroll should be patrolling the city streets to serve the anti-crime needs of all citizens.

Water and Sewer Rates Increase Again!

By Kim Lefner


Are you aware that your water and sewer rates are increasing this month? This isn’t just a one-time increase; your rates will increase every July until 2018 thanks to the vote in February 2010 of the previous council majority. Council members Sam Allevato and Laura Freese joined Mark Nielsen in raising your water rates 40% + last year and approved the on-going automatic increases. 

Sewer fees will increase 5% every year until 2014. Water rates will increase 3% every year until 2015, when the increase will continue at 2% until 2018.


The Time for E-Verify is Now!

By Kim McCarthy


If you could give jobs to unemployed Americans and immigrants who are legally documented to work in the U.S. would you do it? Can you think of any reason not to? Personally, I can’t imagine anyone with the ability to do so choosing not to hire American citizens or legally documented immigrants. Politicians in our own backyard have no problem talking about what they will do about debt and unemployment levels, yet they lack the courage and political will to take simple actions at their disposal that are provided by law. 

Ask yourself why. Who and what are these politicians protecting that could be more important than restoring jobs to local families, enabling them to pay their mortgages, buy gas or purchase groceries to feed their families? Could it be personal ambition, favoritism to those with special interests or political pandering for votes?

Welcome Our New City Manager!

We would like to offer a warm welcome to Ms. Karen Brust, the new City Manager of San Juan Capistrano. We anticipate that she may require a few weeks to re-orient herself from a Charter City to a General Law City. A General Law City expects the City Manager to function as chief administrative officer receiving policy direction from the voters through the elected City Council.

As a grass roots organization dedicated to our social and historical traditions which have existed here for over 200 years, CCS' hope is that San Juan can be restored to a stable, fiscally conservative governmental atmosphere. Indeed, when we meet with Karen Brust, we’ll offer her our opinion that recent City Councils have too closely micromanaged City Hall. They have exhibited an alarming tendency to engage in liberal social engineering which has driven up our debt.

The Phantom Bond

Clint Worthington

In February 2010 the City increased our water rates to pay for an $18 million bond that was to be sold to raise money for improvements to our water enterprise. By May, 2011 the City had collected $1,663,000.00 from SJC water users to re-pay the bond debt.

There's only one problem; the $18 million water bond was never issued, yet the City continues to collect around $111,000 per month from SJC water users to pay for the bond that was never issued.

At the May 3, 2011 City Council meeting, four of the five council members (with Councilman Reeve dissenting) voted to approve transferring the $1,663,000 collected for the never-issued water bond from the City’s Water Enterprise Fund to the City’s general fund.

The City has never reduced the water rates and is still collecting from the water users to pay for that $18 million bond that was never issued.

Common sense and Proposition 218 require that when monies are collected for a specific service and they are not used for that service, they must be returned to the original fee payer. Despite repeated requests, the City has never returned the $1,663,000 to the water users that it collected, nor has the City reduced the water rates that were originally raised to pay for the $18 million bond.

City Council Abuse of Power

View from the Bully Pulpit... 

Kim McCarthy 

In an on-going struggle to maintain their grip on power, the City Council Meeting of May 17th provided yet another example of what happens when elected officials abuse their position.

During the council meeting, several constituents pointed out to Mayor Sam Allevato that he was once again in violation of a city policy that he voted to approve. City Council Policy #124, “The Role of the Mayor” states, “All Council Members, including the Mayor, shall not speak or write on behalf of the City or Council unless a majority of the Council has approved the position being expressed in a properly agendized meeting.” The Mayor’s most recent violation of the policy was in his shameless promotion of the “YES on Measure B” political campaign supporting the developer of the Distrito La Novia project’s wish to force a huge, high-density development on the residents of San Juan over the objections of thousands of residents. One resident remarked during Oral Communications that Mayor Allevato appeared to be a pitchman, “in effect…the head cheerleader at a campaign rally for the (Distrito La Novia) developer ARES (Advanced Real Estate Services)”. 

Mayor Allevato recently took it a step further when he publicly denigrated resident John Perry, who is actively opposed to the Distrito La Novia development. Mayor Allevato publicly called Perry a liar and a hypocrite. We find Mr. Perry to be quite the opposite; we find him to be an asset to the community. Perry is the one who has extensively researched the Ground Water Recovery Plant operation, which ultimately helped to explain why we are being billed such outrageous amounts for our water. He also successfully pushed for an Ad Hoc Forensic Audit Committee to audit the Water Enterprise and the Redevelopment Agency, which have driven up our debt to obscene levels. We can see why Perry is a threat to Allevato and Freese, both of whom contributed to the estimated $150 million debt we have.

Distrito La Novia: No means NO - The Measure B Referendum

Editorial

On June 7, SJC residents will witness democracy in action. Voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to overturn the City Council’s approval to change the General Plan and to Re-zone the property along Valle Road and La Novia above San Juan Creek Road and the “Meadows”, in order to facilitate the Distrito La Novia “mixed-use” development. A “No” vote means that the Council’s approval of the development is overturned. A “Yes” vote means that the Council’s approval of the development is affirmed.

The original development plan granted to the previous property owner differs from what is being proposed now, which is why the current owner asked the City Council to change the General Plan and Re-zone the property to allow a high-density, mixed-use retail/commercial development. The proposed development will include apartments and condos stacked on top of ten 3-story retail and commercial buildings, a 4-story parking structure plus single family homes, 500 horses and an equestrian center. In a 4-1 vote (with Councilman Derek Reeve opposed), the City Council voted to approve the change.

The Council approved it over the objections of hundreds of residents, who implored the council to reject the new development plan. The residents say the new development plan is too dense, will create too much additional traffic, is out of character with our “small town”, requires excavation of the old hazardous waste dump with unknown consequences and improperly places 500 horses (which can be increased up to 1500 with one vote of the Council) and night lighting next to their quiet neighborhoods. After all, the residents argue, they were promised protection from intrusive, dense development through the General Plan and Zoning laws.

The Planning Commission agreed with the residents and recommended that the Council reject the proposed development, citing the “…significant building massing and intensity and a 4-level parking structure that will be incompatible with the low-density character of the nearby neighborhoods.” The Council ignored the concerns of the Planning Commission and the residents and instead voted to approve the GPA and Re-zone, using as justification the need to “generate revenue” for the City through what the Council assumes will be increased sales tax revenue from the retail/commercial and equestrian component (a risky assumption in our estimation, given the city’s track record).

The Race Card

Tony Brown 

Rac-ism - noun rac-ist - adj. & noun

1.A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2. A policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3. Hatred or intolerance of another race, other races.

Our nation’s history is full of examples of racism, the most obvious ones, of course, being the institution of slavery and the near destruction of the native Americans. This nation nearly destroyed itself over the practice of slavery with the civil war in the 1860’s. This self-correction came at the cost of about 500,000 lives.
For the soul of the nation it was worth the cost because slavery was ended as an acceptable practice. Native Americans were the target of early American settlers of various European backgrounds for many different reasons yet did manage to survive and today many tribes seem to be doing better. Racism and discrimination have lived on of course and, as it seems to be part of the human make-up, we do see it in today’s world.

Under no circumstance would I say that Americans are perfect. We are far from it. But we, collectively (as a nation), have a good soul and we love to help others. We are the most generous nation in the history of the world (I’m speaking of the people) and we do have the ability to self-correct. We do want to do the right thing. We do want prosperity for all. We are a nation of laws and as citizens our social contract is that we (all of us) agree to respect and obey these laws. Not all of these laws are good laws, but unless and until a law is changed, we have still agreed to obey it.

Some People Say...

Editorial


It seems hard to believe but we celebrated our one year anniversary last month of publishing Capistrano Common Sense! So many of you have contacted us and thanked us for bringing so many vital community issues to your attention and we appreciate your comments. Of course, there are also a few naysayers, as well. 

Most recently former Council Member Mark Nielsen criticized us for being negative and not offering actual practical solutions. This is simply not true. We have offered many positive solutions to the challenges our City faces. Here are a few of those: stop spending what we don’t have, stop borrowing and increasing our debt load, stop contributing 100% medical for City employees AND their dependents, stop contributing 100% of employee retirement contributions, stop spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on social engineering, enforce our laws and codes across the board--don’t pick and choose which and for whom. Just as the message was sent loud and clear last November on a national level, it’s time for our City to reduce the size of government, stick to the basics and allow private enterprise to flourish. Government isn’t the solution to our problems and many times it is the problem itself.

Chevron Settlement Most Unsettling

By Kim Lefner

Is the Chevron “settlement” merely a capitulation?

The recent announcement by the City that a settlement had been reached with Chevron over contamination of our drinking water with MTBE (a known carcinogen) was presented as a victory for SJC. Juan Garcia, Regional Manager, Chevron Policy, Government and Public Affairs said about the settlement, "We have always accepted responsibility for the unfortunate release of gasoline containing MTBE. We have consistently strived to do what is necessary to take the appropriate measures to address the situation… This agreement clears the way for us to fulfill our commitment to the people of San Juan Capistrano, which we have been eager to do for a long time.” A reading of the actual settlement agreement however, indicates that water ratepayers are stuck with picking up much of the tab resulting from Chevron’s “unfortunate release of gasoline containing MTBE” into our water supply. The question that comes to mind immediately upon reading the settlement is, why would our taxpayer-funded negotiators settle for only $3.1 million in incremental payments, when City documents indicate that our contamination-related expenses amounted to well over $6 million without legal fees?

To Be or Not to Be...Squeaky Clean...

by Ian Smith


Editor's note:
Since this article was written, the City Council approved the recommendation from the "Ad Hoc Audit Committee" that an independent auditor, separate from the "general auditor", be hired to conduct an in-depth forensic audit of the Water Enterprise and the Redevelopment Agency. The ad hoc audit committee will develop the Scope of Work and select the auditor(s).

For the many of our readers who know our publication from past months I am proud to proclaim another success for the benefit of our city residents. On the agenda of the March 1 City Council meeting was a topic close to the focus of our recent writings. Not only had we written considerably about transparency in our city governance but had expressed loud and clear, numerous times, the need for a full financial audit of the books. This was more specifically for the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) and the Water Division. They denied us more than once with pitiful excuses. We are grateful that the council voted 5-0 to the motion to form an Audit Committee which would be comprised of two council members, Mayor Allevato and Derek Reeve.

Update on the Ortega Widening

The following letter was sent to the City Council on April 5 by SJC resident Lennie DeCaro, who has been closely monitoring the City’s involvement in the widening of Ortega Highway. We believe it’s important to share with our readers another perspective about the City’s stated “need” for the Ortega widening.

Dear Councilmembers, 

Once again, I wish to remind you that I will hold our City responsible for any negotiations with Caltrans that are not in our best interests. In considering settlement negotiations, I would ask you to review the numerous letters and documents I have previously submitted objecting to the widening. 

The Council’s lack of outrage over the widening of Ortega has been of real concern to me and I would like to hear what you are doing to protect our town. There is nothing that will have a more negative impact on our City than the 14,000 home development that will take place on our City’s edge once the widening and interchange expansion on Ortega takes place.

Is this Sam Won Capistrano?

Overreaching by our Mayor...
Orrie Brown

The last water bill I received included a letter on official stationery from the Office of the Mayor, entitled “Understanding the importance of redevelopment to everyone”. I knew that Mayor Allevato had sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, approved with a four to one vote (Reeve dissenting), but I did not recall hearing or reading of a decision by City Council to send a similar letter to residents of San Juan Capistrano. A few days later I received an email blast letter “Understanding the facts about City Debt”.

Is SJC the next City of Bell?

Editorial Board

Nerves were clearly struck at the March 2nd City Council meeting when SJC resident Mamie Maywhort brought to light the fact that some staff members earned more in 2010 than in 2009; when we were told that staff took an across the board pay cut in 2010. According to city payroll records for 2010, many employees actually received raises, not reductions.  It appears that the majority of the raises were given at the executive level.  Both the Assistant Utilities Director and Senior Executive Assistant earned $10,000 more in 2010 than they did in 2009.

Here is what happened. After she spoke, Mayor Allevato asked CFO Cindy Russell and Human Resources Director Kathleen Springer for their explanations.  Their responses were basically non-answers.  Something about reduction in furlough days, promotions, regular step increases, etc. Their explanations made no sense to us for the following reasons:
  • If we are not mistaken, employees took every other Friday off and two weeks off during Christmas as furlough days.  We dont think they did this in 2009.  So, is this furlough thing just a bunch of smoke and mirrors to let us think they are taking cuts with furlough days?
  • Promotions?  Who?   As far as we know Cindy Russell, Steven Apple, Kathleen Springer, or Cathy Salcedo (just to name a few) did not change job responsibilities in 2010, but they all received nice raises.
  • Automatic "step" increases? This is nothing more than entitlement in the public sector.  How about raises ONLY when you merit it?

Do You Know What Your City Attorney is Doing?

Roy L. Byrnes, for Mayor of San Juan Capistrano

When you read this article about the San Juan City Attorney, you might be surprised. Last year our City Attorney and his firm were paid well over a million dollars. Compare that to neighboring Laguna Niguel with a population twice that of San Juan; their legal fees totaled around $300,000 last year while ours exceeded $1.2 million. What does our City Attorney do to earn his $1.2 million?

The City Attorney's job is to protect his clients interests. Great, that's me, you'll say. You're wrong! He's not your attorney; he has no interest in protecting you. The real job of this million dollar lawyer has been to facilitate the politico network controlling our City Hall. Since the City Attorney is required by canons of legal ethics to serve the interests of his client, be it the City Council or City staff, he cannot be the champion of the interests of the citizens of San Juan  something the average citizen fails to realize.

Here are several examples of how the City Attorney serves City Hall politicos, often to the detriment of San Juan citizens:

Status of E-Verify

Hopefully, most of our readers have heard of the government tool, E-Verify, that employers can use to be sure their current or prospective employees have the legal right to work in this country.  It is free, 99.6% accurate and readily available to any employer who has a computer and internet access.

In these, and any economic times, it is vital that employers hire only those that have the legal right to be legally employed. The best source of information on the accuracy and effectiveness of E-Verify is the government-commissioned Westat report, which came out early last year The Obama Administration's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services summary of the Westat report (Westat Evaluation of the E-Verify Program: USCIS Synopsis of Key Findings and Program Implications, January 28, 2010) says that:

  • over 99 percent of authorized workers are initially found to be employment authorized, and the majority of the rest are ultimately found to be authorized
  • E-Verify accurately detects the status of unauthorized workers almost half of the time
  • it may be that E-Verify deters many unauthorized workers from even applying for jobs
  • E-Verify is much more effective than the Form I-9 verification process used without E-Verify
  • E-Verify is the best available tool to help employers determine whether their employees are authorized to work in the United States
  • E-Verify reduces discrimination against foreign-born workers
  • Employers are generally satisfied with the program and feel it is non-burdensome

From Open Space to Open Checkbook

Being Taken for a Ride
Kim Lefner and Ian Smith

Some things never change. Take for example the continuous attempts by elected officials and their unelected staff to part you from your hard-earned money.

As if paying the highly inflated price of $205,000 per acre for the “RMV Riding Park” (previously appraised at $57,000 per acre) wasn’t enough, we continue to pay for costly “improvements” to this property with little obvious benefit to SJC taxpayers.

Forget that we don’t know where the money is coming from to pay for these “improvements”. History shows that if the Ranch wants it, our city council inevitably complies – with SJC taxpayer dollars, of course.

Who We Are and What We Do

§ We would like to introduce you, our readers, to San Juan Capistrano's new Police Chief, Lt. John Meyer. Lt. Meyer will be writing an article, periodically, for CCS. If you have any questions for him, please submit them to CCS editorial board. Welcome Lt. Meyer!


Lt. John Meyer, OCSD

For the past 50 years since incorporation, the City of San Juan Capistrano has contracted its law enforcement services from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The team of Orange County Sheriff Deputies and Professional and Support staff (San Juan Capistrano Police Services), that provide Law Enforcement Services to the city of San Juan Capistrano, occupy offices in the renovated historic San Juan Hot Springs Dance Hall located at the south end of Paseo Adelanto just south of City Hall (32400 Paseo Adelanto).

My name is John Meyer. I am a Lieutenant with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and as your Chief of Police Services, I oversee a staff of 29 (4 Sergeants, 2 Investigators, 21 Sheriff Deputies, and 2 Community Service Officers). It is my goal to provide the finest law enforcement. We work in a collaborative partnership with a variety of other organizations, community and civic groups. The outstanding support we receive from City Staff, the Mayor and the City Council enables us to provide responsive and professional Law Enforcement services to all residents and visitors in San Juan Capistrano.

No Problem, it's Other People's Money

Kim Lefner

When I tell people that San Juan Capistrano has debt of over $153 million, mouths drop open. Much like mine did when the council majority approved increasing that debt at a recent council meeting. Our biggest debts are divided mostly two ways; bond debt is approximately $106 million and Redevelopment Agency debt is approximately $47 million. If you divide this debt by the 11,000 households in SJC, it amounts to $13,909 per household!

Thats such a staggering figure that I wondered if this was typical for a town our size. So I researched the debt of neighboring cities Laguna Niguel and Aliso Viejo to see how we stack up. I couldnt find any debt in Laguna Niguels most recent budget figures. I did find interest earnings of $2.1 million for the year however. And rather than take out a loan (issue bonds) to finance a new City Hall, it looks like they budgeted $1.4 million towards it. Theyre saving for it, rather than borrowing money. Aliso Viejo, with a population of 45,000 has about $7.78 million in debt with an annual payment of $812,000, for a new City Hall built in 2006. How is it, I wondered, that SJC, which is smaller than either of those cities, has debt amounting to approximately 19 times the debt of both of these cities combined?

Chamber of Commerce Promotes Racial Divide

Orrie Brown

What prompted the Chamber of Commerce to develop the newly formed Latino Council? I asked Mark Bodenhamer, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, that question on January 25 and have never received an answer.

The Chamber of Commerce should not be establishing a Council based on skin color, race or ethnicity.  Yes, they have a Restaurant Council, a Car Dealers Council, Equestrian Council, and so forth, focusing on a specific segment of business.  But this Council is different.  This only serves to reinforce the cultural divide in San Juan Capistrano.

According to Mr. Bodenhamer, What the Council DOES do is attempt to get people from different backgrounds working and learning together.  The Council is almost entirely focused on two areas: economics and education.  How is that applicable ONLY to the Latino Council?  Arent those goals for the entire Chamber of Commerce?  How does having a separate Latino Council bring our community together?  Is the Latino Council made up of businesses owned by Latinos? Is the Latino Council focused on businesses that choose to serve only Latinos?

Again, what was the impetus for the Latino Council?  Did Latinos or Latino businesses feel they were not welcome or included in the Chambers activities?  Why do they feel they need to have a separate entity from the Chamber, at large?  These are all unanswered questions asked of Mr. Bodenhamer.

The fact that our taxpayer dollars, at least $25,000 per year (and a sweetheart rental in a City owned building at a greatly reduced rent), go to the Chamber gives us the right to ask these questions and we do deserve some answers.  The last thing this community needs is more devisiveness and separation by race, skin color, and ethnicity.

Instead of dividing our community even further, the Chamber of Commerce should strive to serve all businesses and bring us together.

Bond

Another Four Letter Word


Ever wonder how the city can increase debt without voter approval?  Check out the latest borrowing our city is proposing here.

Scroll down to the bottom and you will see two bond offerings proposed by the City of SJC; one is to borrow over $3 million to pay the Scalzo lawsuit (incredibly, we're borrowing to pay a judgment, which means with interest).  Below that, yet another bond offering for $24 million.  These two item will take our city bond debt total past $180 million by mid-year.

For a step-by-step guide to accumulating public debt while avoiding voter approval, click here.

More Taxation by Citation

Third installment...
Kim McCarthy

These are the results of a citizens request concerning public safety in San Juan Capistrano.  A public request for information with the Orange County Sheriff Department for tickets issued over a 90 day period in SJC yielded 857 citations. After reviewing these citations at the OCSD building in Santa Ana, it was decided to spend over $90 dollars for copies of some of the tickets so that concerned citizens could thoroughly review them to get the answers to the many questions we have that affect public safety in the town where we raise our children. While sorting the tickets by violation, a re-occurring pattern of driving without a license, no insurance, or registration began to appear.

Here is the breakdown of those drivers with multiple violations:

  • 63 - no license or expired drivers license (8 had case #s noting possible impound or storage)
  • 16 - driving with a suspended license, along with 2nd offenses such as open container, speeding, illegal window tinting, violation of right of way (15 had case #s)
  • 16 - no license / no proof of insurance and/or uninsured motorist. Many of these had a 3rd offense such as failure to yield at stop sign, illegally tinted windows, speeding (2 had case #s)
  • 11 - no license, no registration and no insurance (4 had case #s)
  • 3 - cited multiple times for no license, expired registration and registration fraud (each were assigned a case #)
  • 9 - no insurance and no registration (no case #s were noted on these)
  • 42 - expired registration along with a 2nd offense such as speeding, illegal use of cell phone or parking violation (15 subject to tow)
  • 51 - no proof of insurance along with 2nd offense such as speeding, driving with a suspended license, cell phone, expired registration (5 case #s)
  • 211 - TOTAL - for combinations of driving unlicensed, without a license, without registration, no registration, no proof of insurance, no insurance (Sept-Nov 2010)
This scares the heck out of me!  If you are unlicensed you are not qualified to drive and have no identification, therefore a major public safety hazard. If you dont have insurance you become my problem and my insurance company's problem. Bottom line is, all 211 of these cars should be towed and stored! I have many questions as I am sure you do. For the sake of open and honest discourse regarding these violations and the effect they have on the safety of the citizens of SJC, please submit questions and concerns to the eboard@ccsense.com and we will submit them to Lt. John Meyer and post the answers online.

CR&R Trash Expansion

More pickings from the dumpster...

Ian Smith

It was announced at the SJC Council Meeting on Tuesday February 1 that CR&R is planning on constructing a new facility on La Pata just south of Ortega Highway. This new facility will house a new transfer station for the trash trucks which collect from all homes in San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano and other local areas. You might well ask what the concerns are. This is to be a huge 70,000 sq. ft facility, to be built on a road where the only other major user at this time is our new San Juan Hills High School. Most parents now drive to the school as the bus service is very limited. The only traffic otherwise is the heavy traffic to the waste sites.

Redevelopment San Juan Style

What's in a word?

Jim Reardon

The term "redevelopment" often is used to avoid discussion of unpleasant specific realities in our town. The positive connotation of the term obscures uncomfortable facts.

Our City has a Redevelopment Agency. This is the arm of City Hall that just gifted $5 million of borrowed public money to a car dealership. By the City's own estimate, the break-even return of this arrangement is at least 12 years in the future. Under numerous obvious scenarios, the City may never see a return on these funds. Have we forgotten how and why we lost the previous car dealers?

Economic Profiling by the OC Sheriff and San Juan Capistrano

More Taxation by Citation... 

Kim McCarthy

A Public Request for Information filed with the OCSD yielded the following response:

  • Provide the last 90 days of tickets written in SJC- OCSD: We have collected documents responsive to your request for copies of tickets written in SJC in the last 90 days. If you wish to view the responsive records, free of charge, please contact the Media Relations office at (714) 647-7042. If you want copies of the documents there are 857 pages and, pursuant to Government Code section 6253(b), you are required to pay the direct cost of duplication, which is $171.45. Redactions have been made to some of the responsive documents pursuant to Government Code section 6254(c) and (k); Article 1, section 1 of the California Constitution.
  • Provide weekly tickets issued in SJC- OCSD: The Sheriff declines to produce copies of tickets issued in SJC on a weekly basis, as the California Public Records Act does not apply to records that are not yet in existence.
  • Provide last 90 days record of tickets ‘PAID’ in SJC- OCSD: The Sheriff has no records responsive to your request for information on tickets paid in the last 90 days. We suggest you contact Orange County Superior Court to request this information.
  • How is the ticket revenue divided between the OCSD and the City of SJC- OCSD: We suggest you contact Orange County Superior Court to request this information.
  • How many police officers are assigned to SJC and exactly WHERE and WHAT do they do all day- OCSD: San Juan Police Services has 1- Lieutenant, 4- Sergeants, 2- Investigators and *21- Deputies. They are assigned to front-line law enforcement duties, document crime, investigate crime, conduct preventative, targeted and specialized enforcement, traffic enforcement and investigations. The deputies provide 24/7 coverage to the city. During the shifts, sworn deputies are engaged in either preventative, directed or assigned patrol duties, in addition to administrative duties. *(this is over a 24 hour 7 day period, therefore approximately 3 deputies at a time are on duty). 

Currently, Capistrano Common Sense is compiling a team of residents to view the 857 pages of tickets given in SJC over a 90 day period, the findings will be reported in the next issue of Capistrano Common Sense. Orange County Superior Court is also being contacted for an explanation of how the revenue from tickets issued in SJC is divided between our city and the county.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution,” as it is written. The oath is to the Constitution, not to politicians, bureaucrats, political parties, or big business. But what appears to be going on in SJC is a complete lack of law enforcement, operating under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” with Hutchens CITE and RELEASE policy allowing illegals to go free, drive unlicensed, without insurance or registration… they are undocumented, therefore they can’t be located to arrest or collect on fines anyway. This is a major factor in why San Juan Capistrano is a Sanctuary for illegal aliens and why some of us are being economically profiled for citations. An ASAP here in San Juan Capistrano conveyed to Capistrano Common Sense that they were told by a representative of the local Sheriff’s office not to bother ticketing in the Villas for outdated registrations.

Bottom line: When you make excuses for people to break the law you are making the choice to sacrifice those who are not breaking the law to a host of unintended consequences; overpopulation, crime, blight, gangs, a complete breakdown of our cities infrastructure…this is unlawful and unethical. ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

Water Bondage

In too deep...
John Perry

Our City Council plans to sell another $18 million in bonds to support the expansion of the Ground Water Recovery Plant (GWRP) and to finance the pipeline system to distribute recycled water. This bond sale is in addition to the previous bond sales which amount to over $72 million since 2002.

For those of you unfamiliar with bonds, they are defined as debt instruments with the purpose of raising capital by borrowing. Government agencies such as cities and other types of institutions sell bonds. Generally, a bond is a promise to repay the principal along with interest. The city has sold a number of bonds to finance such things as capital improvements and land purchases.

The principal and interest are repaid with city funds (your taxes). The City Council has repeatedly increased water rates since 2002 to provide funding for these water bonds over a period of 30 years. The rate increases imposed by the City Council in February 2010 included the anticipated bond funding of the $18 million in capital improvements to our GWRP, as outlined in a “Water Rate Study” prepared for our city by utilities consultant Black & Veatch and adopted by the Council in February 2010.

The El Horno Creek Flood of 2010

City spin is all wet...
Orrie Brown

On Wednesday, December 22, we awoke to a portion of our home under standing water, our garage flooded and about 16” to 20” of water running through our property. El Horno Creek had overflowed its banks. We had no warning from anyone that this might occur, meaning we did not receive a reverse 911 call, as other residents in potential danger, did receive.

We began the cleanup process and placed multiple calls to the City’s main phone and also to the Public Works department. We were never able to speak to a live person nor did anyone return our calls. We did not know if anyone at City Hall even knew that Horno Creek had spilled, as all attention seemed to be focused on Trabuco Creek, which was also damaged. Yes, there were many homes in danger from a POTENTIAL breach, but Mission Flats neighborhood was actually FLOODED and received zero attention.
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