San Juan Capistrano

“Very High Density” Development
a Betrayal of Public Trust?

By Kim Lefner

Some of you may remember the campaign in 2008 to convince us to increase our property taxes to purchase "open space" in the City of San Juan. The City’s Open Space Committee marketed the idea that purchasing "open space" in town would protect it from development, and therefore from increased traffic.

My recollection is that we were offered examples of five properties, one of which was the agricultural Vermeulen property next to the Sports Park, currently used as the Armstrong Nursery growing grounds. To many residents, the idea of taxing ourselves for an “open space” bond was attractive, considering that traffic was so impacted (now even more so). Who wouldn’t want to protect that or another property in our lovely historic town from high-density development, right?
Proposed development includes 524 units and 41-bed medical facility*

However, shortly after more than 70% of San Juan residents voted to tax property owners $30 million to purchase "open space", the City’s "Open Space Subcommittee" which included a couple of developers, arranged to serve as "real property negotiators" for the purchase of open space with our public monies. Many residents believed they would negotiate the purchase of the Vermeulen property to save it from development. Instead, we found out - after the fact - that the negotiators used our money to purchase "open space" outside our city limits, from the Rancho Mission Viejo Company whose CEO is a friend and former business partner of the lead negotiator.

Five years later, community concerns about saving agricultural land from development have come home to roost in the proposed “Very High Density” development on the Vermeulen property. According to City documents*, the proposed Spieker Development project is 423 units in two and three-story buildings (the only other three-story structure in San Juan is the parking structure downtown) plus a 60-unit residential care facility and a 41-bed medical facility on 35 acres.

Mission Viejo

MV resident Steve Magdziak
Small Policy Changes Can Bring Big Benefits

By Steve Magdziak

With Congressional approval rating at 9% as of November 2013, it’s safe to say government is out of touch. But while most Americans agree that our Federal government has a spending problem, what many don't know is that local governments spend about as much combined as the Federal government. An example of over-spending can be seen in the “Mission Viejo Top Tier Employee Compensation” table within this article. This leads me to believe that if you knew what really went on at city hall, you might think twice about whom you elect locally, and what can be done to fix these problems.

A few policy changes could rapidly put us back on track. Some have already been implemented around the country, but here in Mission Viejo NONE have been implemented. Let’s ask current and/or future council candidates to incorporate the following ideas into their campaign platforms.

1. Rebate: If the city claims it has a surplus of monies and can afford to: fund social programs, donate money to other government agencies that collect their own taxes, fund unnecessary multimillion-dollar projects, repeatedly exceed budget limits, increase staff cost and donate your tax dollars to the pet charities of public officials, then how about returning the surplus to the residents?
Constitutional Voter Guide 
California Primary Election 
June 3, 2014 

Listed below are Community Common Sense’s recommendations for local (Orange County) races and/or candidates, based on the candidates’ support for fiscal reform/responsibility and adherence to constitutional principles such as protection of personal freedoms and respect for property rights:

U.S. Representative, 45th Congressional District
No recommendation.

California State Senate, 36th District:
Pat Bates is unopposed.

California Assembly, 73rd District:
Jesse Petrilla - YES; Sterling voting record for upholding fiscal conservatism.

Board of Equalization, 4th District:
Van Tran - YES
Diane Harkey - NO; accepted union money; endorses candidates who do not support the values she claims to support.

Superior Court Judges:
Office No. 14: Kevin Haskins - YES
Office No. 20: Helen Hayden - YES
Office No. 27: No recommendation; candidates are:
· Democrat Janet Motoike, incumbent judge appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown
· “No Party Preference” Wayne Philips has a private law practice – unknown political views
Office No. 35: Jeff Ferguson - YES

Orange County Board of Supervisors, 5th District: 
Robert Ming - YES; Fiscally conservative leader; excellent voting record.

Mission Viejo

“Feel Good” Trumps Common Sense

By Ed Sachs

MV resident Ed Sachs
During the April 21 Mission Viejo City Council meeting, council members voted 4-1 to approve Mayor Trish Kelley’s signing of essentially a blank 20-year contract between the Nadadores swim team (a private organization) and the publicly owned Mission Viejo Aquatics Center.

The Nadadores may pay $76,000 a month for their share of utilities and will now allow residents some limited use of the aquatics center. What was tabled for discussions later are the anticipated financing details to the city-owned facility. The Nadadores will be soliciting Mission Viejo taxpayers to fund more than $6,000,000 for maintenance and facility upgrades that do not include their desired million-dollar dive platform.

Why would the council majority want to rush to sign an incomplete document? True, the current agreement ends in a couple of months, but an ongoing month-to-month contract extension could be allowed until the final agreement details are negotiated by both parties. So many open questions remain that will not be considered in this agreement. Will the public have the opportunity to voice their opinion about Mission Viejo spending taxpayer money for a project costing more than our city’s Tennis Center, Dog Park and Bocce Ball courts combined? And these three facilities are open for all our residents’ use!

Mission Viejo

Park Restrooms a Necessity - Part 1 

MV resident Larry Gilbert
By Larry Gilbert

This is part one of two addressing the need to provide some form of restrooms in Mission Viejo sports parks. The following concerns and true experiences were expressed by MV parents.

I briefly touched on this topic in both the August and September issues of this newspaper covering the million dollar dog park" and the million dollar special needs playground. Beyond that I have addressed this need at both Community Service and Council Meetings since last fall. It's called priorities. Only nine of our 39 parks have restrooms. Compare that fact to San Clemente whose 18 parks have 13 restrooms for their residents and visitors*.

Our children playing baseball have restrooms at park ball fields, yet the same humanitarian consideration was not extended for our highly used soccer fields. Without consideration of providing any portable or permanent restroom facility needs, our neighborhood parks have been scheduled for AYSO league games where families spend most of a Saturday or Sunday watching their children and grandchildren in action. Despite the City boasting of having millions in developer park fees, the city has not added a single restroom other than the one at Melinda Park, since the March 2006 Master Plan was created.

Mission Viejo

“Fire Hazard Re-Zones” Impact Homeowners

By Joe Holtzman

Is your Mission Viejo home in a fire-hazard zone? Two years ago, Mission Viejo City Council members Frank Ury, Dave Leckness, Trish Kelley and Rhonda Reardon rezoned 12,000 homes into “Special” high-risk fire-hazard zones without the knowledge of most residents. A list of streets in the zones is referenced below.
Despite strong objections from residents who attended the July 1, 2012 meeting, the council majority added 12,000 Mission Viejo homes to the 3,000 homes already in the fire zones. In my opinion, these council members had no compelling reason to take this action, and wrongly said no negative impact would result.

Four months ago, Leckness apparently didn’t connect the dots on what the council had done. He announced during the Jan. 20 meeting that an insurance agent for a major carrier is warning residents who live in fire zones not to let their coverage lapse (the homes that Leckness voted to include). The agent purportedly said that lapsed policies could result in loss of coverage. Of course, premiums would rise with any increased risk.

San Juan Capistrano

Letter to the Editor
                               "Pound the facts, not the table"

On April 16, I attended a forum which featured candidates who will be running this November for one seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. The candidate panel included Laguna Niguel Council member Robert Ming, Mission Viejo Council member Frank Ury and Dana Point Council member Lisa Bartlett.

A question was posed to Frank Ury based on an article in the April issue of the Community Common Sense entitled, “Voting Records Speak Louder Than Words.“ The article cites a “scorecard” created by the Liberty First organization, which graded candidates’ council votes over a 3-year period (2009 -2011) relative to such issues as personal freedoms, property rights and fiscal responsibility.

The lowest score was Lisa Bartlett at 66%, Frank Ury’s score was the next lowest at 69%, and Robert Ming had a near-perfect score of 96%, meaning that he was the candidate whose votes were most supportive of fiscal responsibility, protection of personal freedoms and property rights.

Frank Ury was asked by a voter in attendance to explain his low score. In an effort to avoid answering the question he became agitated and called the Community Common Sense “rubbish.” That was essentially his response to the question.
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