San Juan Capistrano

Letter to the Editor

The cost of bad decisions

I have watched with dismay too many council decisions that have cost us millions in legal fees over the years. The latest is the council majority’s approval of the Mercado Market when they knew it did not have enough parking. The council majority has proven that they will not stop one minute to consider the potential cost of a lawsuit. Take note of the Mercado fiasco the latest among many, several of which are listed below:

1. Mercado Market approval which violated city zoning - LOST. Decision upheld on appeal. Legal fees to be determined but backs up the basics of poor decision-making by the council majority.

2. CCS Newspaper Ban / violation of First Amendment rights to free speech - LOST. OC Superior Court judge restored newspapers to public property pending further judgment(s) with potential to lose so many more taxpayer dollars. There are Legal fees to be determined but estimated at more than $10,000 so far.

3. CTA lawsuit against city for illegal water rate structure - LOST. An OC Superior Court judgment also awarded $200,000 in legal fees to CTA attorney thru 9/30/13, not counting the fees paid to the attorneys representing the city, estimated to be hundreds of thousands of taxpayer’s dollars.
4. Appeal of CTA lawsuit judgment. Council majority voted 3-0 to file an appeal of this court decision in the very same appellate court that upheld a similar judgment in favor of the City of Palmdale. There will be significant legal fees yet to be determined.

5. Class Action lawsuit filed on behalf of all ratepayers by an SJC resident, to recover illegally billed water rates. Case was filed recently in response to CTA lawsuit victory. Meanwhile, the city continues to bill the illegal rates. If they lose the appeal they will potentially be liable for up to $30 million in refunds to us residents who have been overcharged on our water bills for the past three years. They continue to illegally bill residents despite repeated warnings of the dire financial consequences.

6. Scalzo lawsuit filed by an SJC resident - LOST. Cost $9 million plus many thousands in legal fees.

7. San Juan Creek Rd injury accident filed by an SJC resident due to city’s negligence in failing to maintain a center median - LOST. Jury awarded plaintiff $8.3 million, plus legal fees.

Every one of these cases happened on Sam Allevato's watch, and Numbers 1, 2, 3, & 4 with the votes of Councilmen Larry Kramer and John Taylor in addition to Allevato.

How can these councilmen complain about the cost of a recall when Sam Allevato’s poor decisions have cost we residents too many millions? The amount of a recall is a drop in the ocean compared to the many millions wasted on poor decisions by Sam Allevato and the council majority.

It surely would be far less expensive and beneficial to elect a council majority that is more responsible about how our tax dollars are spent and who will make decisions that represent only the best interests of our residents. These three have clearly demonstrated an abandonment of sound judgment.

Ian Smith
San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano

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