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.
But Leckness apparently didn't grasp that the council majority's bad decision in 2012 was related to the insurance agent's warning. As Leckness was sounding the alarm about insurance coverage, I noted that he seemed to be getting pointed messages to STOP TALKING from Council members Ury, Reardon and Kelley. Instead of admitting they caused the problem, these council members claimed they had “fixed it”. Regardless of their spin, the result is clear; don't let your insurance coverage lapse. At least one very big insurance company will drop you and not reinstate your coverage if your home is in a fire zone.

Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht cast the only vote against the 2012 rezoning, correctly stating that impacts to homeowners would be an increase in insurance rates and that homeowners would have to disclose the liability when selling their homes*. This prediction was confirmed when, following the 2012 majority decision to rezone, the legal counsel for the Department of Real Estate indicated home sellers and their real estate agents are indeed obligated to disclose that a home is in a high-risk zone (or “Special” fire zone – the terms are interchangeable).

The June 3 Primary Election includes an important race for the 5th District OC Board of Supervisors (“BOS”). Councilman Ury would now like a “promotion” to the BOS. I am urging voters to instead support Ury’s opponent, Laguna Niguel Councilman Robert Ming, to represent and watch out for us at the county level. Ming’s city council wisely did not put any homes into the fire zones.

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

Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.

*To read Councilwoman Schlicht’s 2012 comments and a list of Mission Viejo streets in the fire zones, visit: http://www.missionviejoca.org/html/article125.html

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