San Juan’s Own ‘Reality Show’

Imagine your elderly parents are moving cross-country to buy their dream house… 

You’ve never meddled in their affairs because, well, they’re your parents. You celebrate the news of their purchase with them. It sounds amazing; a huge lot with a working orchard, and their friend “Brad” negotiated a “sweetheart” deal for them from the seller, his friend “Tony”. Sounds like they did well!

When you finally visit them, you find that the place doesn’t match their description at all. Instead of a spacious lot with a fruit orchard, it’s a small, cramped apartment backing to a freeway on-ramp under construction for several years. Confused, you ask if this is the place they purchased.

“No, Dear. This is just where we live.”

You can’t be hearing this correctly, so you start asking questions. They are proud of their purchase and believe it will be a legacy for the family, so it’s hard to get clear answers. Exasperated, you corner them.

“Why aren’t you living there right now?”

“Because! This is the week of The Summer Carnival Spectacular! People come from all over the nation to participate, eat, and shop. It’s a huge event and it’s held at our place!” they proclaim, honored to own this special place.

Your concern grows as they describe the strange conditions of the sale. Tony gets to hold The Spectacular at their place free, for the next 50 years! And your parents won’t see a dime of the resulting profits (although their friend Brad’s foundation gets a sizable cut). Worse yet, they have to pay all the fees related to the event! Stranger still, they’re forbidden for 50 years from ever hosting their own similar event or from changing the name of the property, “Tony’s Place”.

How is this possible? You must be missing something! So you goad your folks into giving you the purchase agreement and begin reading.

Each paragraph sets off new waves of nausea:
§ The orchard sits in a known toxic dump that your parents have to pay to clean up.

§ Although the property has a well, your parents are only allowed to draw enough water to irrigate their property once a week for 5 minutes while Tony keeps all the water rights.

§ Your parents are forbidden from ever installing outdoor lights.

§ They are prohibited from installing a satellite dish.

§ Tony has limited the number of guests and the times of day they can visit.

§ Outdoor party? They must get permission from Tony to serve alcohol.

§ They have to install (and pay for) a performance stage within a year.

§ Tony keeps all mineral rights and unlimited access to explore and drill without additional permission.

§ Your parents are prohibited from suing or even questioning the impacts from the huge city Tony is building across the street.

Then you read the paragraph that makes you gasp; if any of these conditions aren’t met, [your parents] will give the property back to Tony and forfeit the purchase price IN FULL.

“How did you agree to all these restrictions?” you ask.

“Oh, we weren’t there…our friend Brad represented us. He said it was a stellar deal and we didn’t even need to read the details. So we just signed and gave him our money.”

Does this sound like a B-grade Hollywood script? Unfortunately, it’s a “Reality Show”; YOUR Reality Show. If this sounds impossible, reread the above with the following substitutions:

Your Parents (City Council),

The Summer Carnival Spectacular (Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo),

Brad (Brad Gates),

Brad’s Foundation (Open Space Foundation),

Tony (Tony Moiso, Rancho Mission Viejo Company CEO),

Satellite Dish (lucrative Cell Phone Towers).

The rest is from the purchase agreement, paid for with your increased property taxes.

Incredibly, there’s more. Don’t believe me? Read the document yourself at: - Click on the link to “RMV Purchase & Sale Agreement”.

Editor’s Note: The above was submitted by a 17-year resident of San Juan who asked to remain anonymous. 

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