The Del Obispo Double-Cross

by Kim McCarthy 

Sometimes when we try to make things better, we make them worse…” This statement by Council member Laura Freese during a recent City Council meeting was in reference to yet another City-created debacle, the Del Obispo Railroad Crossing just past Camino Capistrano.

Cost to SJC taxpayers: $1.1 million to “upgrade” it with a signal that creates major congestion. Apparently the signal was added because the City thought it was required in order to establish a “Quiet Zone Crossing”… until the Councilman Derek Reeve asked at a council meeting whether the signal at the railroad track was required for a Quiet Zone. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) representative answered “no” and went on to say, “The [OCTA] project team never made that recommendation because of the concerns about traffic”. My first thought was, “then why the heck did we pay to put it there?”

Councilman Sam Allevato offered the following observation, “…the Quiet Zone was the most important thing…I understand that people might experience a slight delay…”. A “slight delay”? Really? He must not drive to the other side of town much. In his typical tone-deaf manner, he also referred to the “Ghost Train” as “…a slight irritant.” Probably because he’s a retiree with grown children who lives East of the freeway, the Ghost Train traffic is out of sight out of mind for Sam. He isn’t one of the many parents who shuttle their kids to school or the Sports Park, or one of the thousands of residents who live in neighborhoods off Del Obispo who sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic daily, thanks to the domino effect generated by this mess of an “improvement”. You can thank him at the ballot box in November.

Roll back the water rate increase!


As if water rates weren’t high enough already, they are slated to increase again in July. In fact, the previous City Council majority which included Sam Allevato and Laura Freese, voted to automatically increase water rates 3% every year until 2015, then by 2% until 2018.

3% doesn’t sound like much - until you do the math. Add 3% to last year’s total bills, then take that figure, multiply it by 3% and you have the present year’s total. Repeat this formula every year until 2015 then repeat the formula with a 2% annual increase until 2018. The result is a substantial overall increase in your water bill.

This increase doesn’t even include an increase to the already substantial “Service Charge”; it was raised 5.7% in 2011 and a whopping 17.1% this year. What did we get for this increased “fee”? Nothing, so far as we can tell.

The Ranch Makes its Play; They Win - We Lose!

by Roy Byrnes MD, former Mayor, San Juan Capistrano 

For years the Rancho Mission Viejo Company (“the Ranch”) has been perceived as a shadowy entity shaping City Council policy - but not for the benefit of the residents of San Juan Capistrano. In March, in a moment of high drama and fanfare, Ranch CEO Anthony “Tony” Moiso announced the start of construction of 14,000 homes which with 5 million square feet of commercial and retail space, will form the new “City of Rancho Mission Viejo” on our Eastern border.

In a shameless display of self-congratulation, Mr. Moiso proclaimed: “If you leave this world and you made it a little better… we did a good job” (sic). Of course he failed to mention the hugely destructive impacts on the quality of life of San Juan Capistrano from his massive development.

Let’s face the truth: the Ranch’s behemoth development is the death knell for this quiet village that we used to know and admire. The over-burdened traffic from this project will become insufferable as Ortega Highway is converted into a parking lot. City documents indicate that our deteriorating sewer system will be used to service this massive new development.

The fragile, unique charms of San Juan Capistrano will be forever dissipated. Our once-quaint historic community will lose its identity, becoming instead merely a freeway on-and-off ramp to serve the Ranch’s new City. This is the reason for the upcoming interchange reconstruction at the I-5 and Ortega Highway. This disruption of traffic will have a profoundly negative effect on our downtown business community. One wonders how many businesses will survive, especially when the Ranch’s new retail centers draw business away from our merchants.

This advancing disaster for San Juan Capistrano is not unexpected. For years our City Council has given the Ranch everything it wished, typically at the expense of the citizens of San Juan. Case in point is the 2009 Purchase & Sale Agreement in which San Juan property owners’ taxes were raised to pay 27.5 million dollars for 132 acres of Ranch property. The Ranch’s property was marketed to us as “open space” but a more accurate term for it is “closed space” since we can’t set foot on it without permission. I wonder if San Juan residents would have voted to tax themselves to buy it if they knew they would have to pay for their kids to play soccer on it, or if they knew that half of the “open space” was already protected with conservation easements.

Join the Capistrano Taxpayers Association!

In response to community concerns about such issues as the rising cost of water, property tax increases and various other “fee” increases passed on to residents and businesses by our City government, a group of local residents recently announced the formation of a non-profit public interest organization, the Capistrano Taxpayers Association (CTA).

According to CTA’s mission statement, “the CTA will foster and advance the interest of taxpayers within the City of San Juan Capistrano, and immediately adjacent areas. Providing research, analysis, and education on matters of interest to said taxpayers while advocating fiscal responsibility, accountability and best practices in local government affairs."

The organization was the brainchild of local residents who have an interest in assuring that governing bodies comply with State and Federal regulations, the CTA intends to serve as a watchdog over elected officials and bureaucrats who spend taxpayer monies in order to assure that the public interest is protected.

The organization also plans to monitor the voting records of elected officials, especially with respect to taxation issues and will provide a “report card” to voters to use as an election guide.

The CTA is offering Associate Memberships for $25 per year. Membership fees will provide the member with a mailed copy of CCS newsletters for a year, access to the CTA website that contains insider information including research and reporting of issues of concern to Capistrano taxpayers and for establishment of a legal defense fund. Memberships are not tax deductable because the CTA is formed as a 501(c) (4) corporation in the State of California.

Membership is open to all San Juan Capistrano and nearby residents who have an interest in determining and protecting how their tax dollars are spent. To become a member or to support the CTA’s efforts, please visit the CTA website at: or mail check payable to the CTA at:

Capistrano Taxpayers Association
P.O. Box 1452
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

You may also print out a Membership Application by clicking on this link:
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