As Mission Viejo celebrates its 25th anniversary, it is worth noting that the road has not been without potholes. Some of these problems have been fixed thanks to the efforts of residents passionate about protecting their community. This is the first in a series of articles about those “everyday residents” who have made a difference.
Over the years we have lost some of our community activists who loved our city. I tip my hat to "Tex" Shannon whom I met standing along Alicia Parkway by our Lake, gathering signatures to block a MV Company-funded effort to install a wall along Alicia Parkway at Lake Mission Viejo that would impair the view of the lake and mountains.
We joined forces and created a flyer objecting to the proposed project. The October 20, 1989 Saddleback Valley News stated, “Residents Larry Gilbert and W. W. “Tex” Shannon have gathered signatures opposing any construction, brought their case to the planning commission and city council, written letters to the newspaper and passed out flyers explaining their position".
Having attended Lake Board meetings during this effort, I also questioned their ballot process to obtain feedback from Lake Members before proceeding with the project. Returning home one night I found my Ballot thrown on our driveway after it was mailed and postmarked. This was a David vs. Goliath battle, with the MV Company spending over $100,000. Despite this, we stopped them, having spent less than $50 for the printing of our flyers plus the time and efforts of committed residents.
A more recent battle involving the Lake was the “revised sidewalk plan”, approved after a legal battle between the city and the Lake Association. The city called it the “Lake Promenade”. We call it the “Million Dollar Sidewalk”, as costs went overboard. As a result of this city project we met another resident, Joe Holtzman, who had been monitoring the project. Joe pointed out that at one time, the project was "73% over schedule and 24% above the original cited costs." After our legal fight we negotiated with the Lake and agreed to equally split the project estimate of $765,000. The Lake Association did not share in the cost overrun however, which resulted in the project exceeding one million dollars for a glitzy sidewalk.
Speaking of David vs. Goliath, I must report that our City Manager Dennis Wilberg is reading the Community Common Sense newspaper and is not pleased that we are exposing incompetently managed activities in our city. One of the topics covered in this series will be his involvement in the bogus illegal dumping allegation at Curtis Park. It remains to be seen how or if he will attempt to interfere with the CCS’ efforts to inform the community, as some of the officials in San Juan Capistrano have attempted to do. Stay tuned.
Larry Gilbert, a retired electronics industry executive, has lived in Mission Viejo since 1977. He is an elected board member of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. Larry is also a former Board Member of South Coast Christian Assembly church and leader of their Senior Ministry.
Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.