Allevato, Kramer & Taylor Reject Review of RMV Purchase Contract

In a 3-2 vote, Councilmen Sam Allevato, Larry Kramer and John Taylor voted to reject the review of questionable conditions in the Rancho Mission Viejo (“the Ranch”) Riding Park/Open Space purchase contract. Residents claim some purchase contract provisions benefit the Ranch, not San Juan residents.

Speakers at the April 2 council meeting urged the council to review the purchase contract conditions with the Ranch at CEO Tony Moiso’s invitation, in an effort to re-negotiate some of the more “injurious” conditions to San Juan residents.

Responding to criticism that San Juan residents can’t set foot on the property they are paying for and that we paid to preserve property that was already protected, Allevato admitted, “Yes, it is currently leased, and you can’t have a picnic there…but we purchased it to preserve it as Open Space.” Allevato then admitted that, “…there was already open space that was preserved [on the property]…” 

Several speakers cried foul on the secrecy of the property negotiation and purchase, pointing out that it was negotiated entirely behind closed doors by friends of seller Tony Moiso. Brad Gates, who led the behind-closed-doors negotiations with Dick Paulsen and Tom Lunnen, is a longtime friend and former business partner of Moiso. Allevato stated that he did not believe that the Ranch would agree to renegotiate the conditions, but Councilman Roy Byrnes read from a note he received from Ranch CEO Tony Moiso (the seller) stating that they “…look forward to working together in a long, critical and complete review…” of the contract.

Residents lambasted Allevato and his former fellow council members for allowing the purchase agreement plus all of the terms and conditions to be negotiated and approved behind closed doors by friends of the seller, with no public input – then exempting the negotiators from conflict of interest disclosures.

Despite the connection to the seller, in a questionably legal move all three real property negotiators were exempted from the conflict of interest disclosures required of every City commission and committee member, although no one seems to know who exempted them or why. (Editor’s note: as of this writing, no council vote supporting the exemption was found).

Councilman Larry Kramer defended his vote not to review the contract stating, “I am not willing to take any more time to look at this,” adding, “we need to look ahead and focus on our goals…” Kramer, Allevato and Taylor have been criticized for their goal to support spending millions more on developing “Reata Park” (the former lemon grove site) at the Open Space property, and for indebting San Juan taxpayers to $300,000 per year to maintain it – money that residents say we do not have. “How about paving our streets or lowering our water rates?” asked one speaker.

The past is “It’s a priority,” said Kramer of the council’s push to develop Reata Park. But speakers at the meeting pointedly questioned whether Reata Park was being rushed to completion at San Juan taxpayer expense in order to serve the Ranch’s new “Sendero” community due to open this summer. Reata Park sits directly across the street from the Ranch’s new “Sendero” development.

Video of the councilmember’s remarks can be seen in the video footage of the SJC City Council Meeting on our website at: Scroll to 1:18 to view council members’ remarks.


Anonymous said...

I wasn't here when they bought this open space land, why did they buy it - what did they say was the reason?

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