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.


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 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.
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