UPDATE: Councilmen Allevato, Kramer & Taylor refuse to review restrictions harmful to SJC taxpayers in RMV Riding Park purchase agreement

Watch City Council video clip to the right to see Council members Allevato, Kramer & Taylor refuse to protect San Juan taxpayers while once again defending the Ranch (use scroll bar at bottom of video to scroll to 45:57 minutes)

“We paid for open space but we cannot not even set foot on it,” said San Juan resident Melissa Kaffen while addressing the City Council on March 19.

Kaffen, a former candidate for City Council, was joined by a number of residents in asking the council to place on the agenda a review of the Purchase and Sale Agreement (“PSA”) for the Rancho Mission Viejo [RMV] Riding Park “open space” property.

In a 4-0 vote with Councilman Sam Allevato abstaining, the council agreed to review some of the more restrictive clauses in the PSA.

The property at the corner of Ortega and La Pata was purchased by the taxpayers in 2009. It is tied up with leases, conservation and construction easements and is only open to the general non-paying public one day per year. Residents complained to the council that they pay hundreds of dollars per year in increased property taxes for property they are restricted from using.
“This purchase contract reads more like a long-term lease than a property purchase,” said San Juan resident Mark Speros. “In reviewing the conditions of this sale, my daughter kept asking ‘Why would our city agree to that?’ …the City Council [should] explain why these conditions were made, as there is no rationale for them within the [purchase contract]. This agreement will have a restrictive effect for many generations to come,” he added. 
Speakers also expressed concern that since the property sits across the street from the Ranch's planned development of 14,000 homes and 5 million square feet of retail/commercial space, it is essentially a park for the Ranch, not for San Juan residents. 

Residents urged the council to review and potentially re-negotiate the following clauses they claim benefit the Ranch while damaging San Juan taxpayers:

* "Right of Re-Entry / Power of Termination": This clause states that if the City is…in breach of specific restrictions placed on the property by the Ranch, the Ranch as seller may take back the property with a 15-day written notice.

* "Rodeo License Agreement": Described as “a lucrative monopoly granted to the Ranch” by one resident, this clause allows the Ranch to hold their annual rodeo free of charge on the publicly owned property for fifty years, while prohibiting the City from holding a rodeo or leasing the property to anyone wishing to hold a rodeo during that time.
The purchase agreement allows the Ranch to hold their annual rodeo free of charge on San Juan’s publicly owned property for fifty years, while prohibiting the City from holding a rodeo or leasing the property to anyone wishing to hold a rodeo during that time. 

It was also pointed out that Brad Gates, one of the “Real Property Negotiators” for this land purchase, directed annual rodeo proceeds into his private Open Space Foundation, which according to one speaker, results in taxpayers subsidizing his foundation.

* Restriction on Telecommunications Facilities: Prohibits the property from being "used or otherwise employed in the operation, distribution by transmission and/or provision of telecommunications and associated services from, on or about the property".

“This is another lucrative monopoly granted to the Ranch in the PSA; this is revenue the City should be getting, not the Ranch,” said one of the speakers.

* “Post-Closing Covenants": Clause 16.1 (a) waives the City’s right to object to the impacts from the Ranch’s development they are building across the street from the open space property. This clause states that the Buyer "shall not itself nor counsel others to, directly or indirectly, initiate, aid, request, encourage, file, fund or participate in any administrative hearing, litigation or other action related in any way to the approval and/or the implementation of the Ranch Plan project on Ranch Plan property."

Residents complained that this clause restricts the City from protecting its residents from Ranch traffic. “It doesn’t even allow us to voice our opinion as a City about the massive traffic impacts,” said Kaffen.

Council members Roy Byrnes and Derek Reeve raised the issue of reviewing the PSA after listening to speakers who voiced objections about the way the agreement was negotiated. As several speakers pointed out, it was negotiated and approved entirely behind closed doors by private citizens including Brad Gates, a close personal friend and former business partner of the seller, Tony Moiso of the RMV Co.

Residents expressed concern about the fact that Gates and his fellow negotiators were exempted from filing conflict of interest disclosures and the fact that the PSA is so one-sided in favor of the Ranch.
“We were fooled into voting for the open space bond,” Kim McCarthy told the council. She reminded the council that residents were offered examples of five properties in San Juan that could be purchased with the open space bond money. “The RMV Riding Park outside the City was not one of five,” she said. 

Only later did residents learn that the property being purchased was outside the City limits, in violation of the bond conditions. The City subsequently rushed to annex the property “concurrent with the close of escrow”.
The public is encouraged to attend the meeting at which the PSA will be reviewed. “This was done without our knowledge or approval. We need all hands on deck to let the council know these restrictions should be addressed,” said Kaffen. 
The meeting date will be posted on our website under "Events/Announcements". Please sign up with your email address to be notified of the date.


Anonymous said...

hey common sense people- I watched the council 'show' on video, can't believe that Allavato, kramer & Taylor are so loud and proud about supporting the ranch. They otta be supporting sjc residents. I guess we know who's side there on. Good luck to them in the next election - I have a feeling there gonna need it. keep up the good work and thanks for supporting all the sjc residents.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we use it? Is the city keeping people off of it?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone looked into the possible improprieties by the City Consul who originally worked on giving away the riding park to the Ranch. If the Ranch won't re negotiate the contract why not go after the original consul members?

Anonymous said...

I went to a horse show there last weekend. What do you mean you can't set foot on it?

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