Mission Viejo

Send in the Boy Scouts

By Joe Holtzman

Mission Viejo city hall has neglected numerous city-owned parcels overgrown with brush. After one homeowner asked repeatedly to have a potential fire hazard addressed, the city finally responded with an unusual answer. A city employee said, "We’ll send Boy Scouts to do the work," referring to the work as “community service”.
This vacant lot in Mission Viejo is one
of many the city has failed to maintain
Performing essential work of a city without pay is not community service. The city has collected tax dollars to do the job, and residents should ask if the area is assigned to a contractor. Fire hazards abound on city and county property, and contractors should be addressing all of them – not just those where a homeowner has complained.

In August 2012, Mission Viejo’s council majority rezoned 12,000 homes into “Special Fire Protection Areas.” The wording was changed from “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones”, but the meaning doesn’t change. The council majority ignored the overwhelming public outcry against the change.

One reason many homes were placed in the “special” zones was their proximity to unmaintained city or county property prone to wildfires. Rezoning could affect insurance rates or property values when sellers have to disclose they are in the zones. Residents can find out online if their street is in a “special” zone by visiting this link: http://www.missionviejoca.org/html/article125.html

It seems we are not the only city seeking to make volunteers do work the city is paid to do. A friend from San Juan Capistrano shared with me an incident in which residents responded with anger to Mayor John Taylor when he told the Marines that since the city “does so much” for the Marines, they should “give back” to the community by weeding the city’s community garden and painting the interior of a city building rented by a pet private charity. As expected, the Marines didn’t complain but residents voiced their displeasure with the city, pointing out that the city does virtually nothing for the Marines, and that the Marine Corps should be respected and thanked for their sacrifice – not used to do the city’s dirty work.

Diverting young volunteers and members of our military from good deeds to do government work without pay isn’t appropriate in the face of so much government waste. Opportunities abound for genuine charitable work that develops character. The example above misses the mark.

Joe Holtzman, an Industrial Engineering and Manufacturing/Distribution Executive with McDonnell Douglas and Ford Motor Company, is a 31-year resident of Mission Viejo.

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