San Juan Capistrano

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Crony leadership in the three communities we serve are threatening our advertisers and placing illegal restrictions on the circulation of this newspaper. You can help us fight back by subscribing to the Community Common Sense (CCS). Your subscription will ensure that the newspaper is delivered directly to you without threat of interruption from those seeking to control the message.

Listed below are examples of comments made to our Advertising Director, Kim McCarthy. Some names are withheld, but these comments will give you an idea of the lengths those in power will go to silence the CCS:

  • You have not done anything wrong, the advertising was working. The owner just told me to pay you for the contract but not run any ads. A close friend of his told him not to continue advertising in the CCS.”
  • “The CCS is rubbish!” - Mission Viejo City Councilman Frank Ury when asked about his voting record, based on Public Records and printed in the January 2014 issue of the CCS. Remark was made during a candidate forum for the OC Board of Supervisors primary race, June 2014.
  • “I would like to advertise in your paper but these guys will stop at nothing. Here’s a donation…please keep up the good work...”

Laguna Woods Village

Changes on GRF Board Reflect Democracy in Action

By Kim Lefner

On June 13th, Corporate Board Members comprised of all the Directors from the United Mutual, Third Mutual, and Mutual 50, held a special meeting to vote on the removal of Golden Rain Foundation (“GRF”) president Larry Souza and GRF treasurer, Heather Gerson, as allowed under the GRF bylaws.
The proposed Recreation Master Plan including new clubhouse
pictured above, was put on hold by the GRF Board majority. 

This special meeting was called because the six-member majority on GRF refused to abide by an amendment passed by the Corporate Board Members which required the GRF to obtain a majority vote from the Corporate Board Members prior to “the construction of additional facilities; [and] the demolition and/or rebuilding of existing facilities.” The Board majority was determined to continue to implement the Recreation Master Plan including the demolition of Clubhouse 2, and the spending of tens of millions of dollars without community approval or support.

A minimum of 5,765 votes are required in order to recall a Board member. When the votes of the Corporate Board Members were counted, 7,956 votes had been cast in favor of recalling both Larry Souza and Heather Gerson.

The election board was then sworn in and took an oath as to their impartiality in the outcome. The Election Board was chaired by alternate member Bob Hatch whose impartiality was called into question when during the open hearing, he admitted his friendship with Larry Souza, saying “I love the guy!”

The numbers were clear after the vote; both GRF Board members Souza and Gerson had been recalled. However, while Bob Hatch certified the accuracy of the ballot numbers, he refused to certify the recall. Instead, he called for an opinion of the four attorneys representing each board (United, Third, Fifty and GRF).

The attorneys for United, The Towers, and GRF agreed with the results of the final vote. However, Third’s attorney protested the final result and was able to push the certification of the vote to a future date. Although there was no question about the votes to recall of Souza and Gerson from the GRF Board., Bob Hatch withheld the final certification.

Mission Viejo

Fire Zone Controversy Reignites

By Joe Holtzman

Approximately half of Mission Viejo homes are now in the high-risk fire zone. If anyone was in doubt, the Orange County Fire Authority notified those homeowners in May to anticipate property inspections by the OCFA.

How did 12,000 homes get added into the high-risk zone? The Mission Viejo council majority members made this decision on July 2, 2012, and ratified it on Aug. 20, 2012. Most homeowners were unaware, except for the 400 who pleaded with the council not to rezone their homes.

My intention in writing is not to undermine the concern for fire safety. However, here is what I learned; our city had already met fire safety standards that exceed the state fire safety requirements of Government Code Section 51179. The council had no reason to rezone any homes. The biggest fire risk is on government property – city, county and state. Public property is exempt from requirements regarding hazardous brush. Instead of addressing hazards on public property, the council majority added 12,000 Mission Viejo homes into the fire zone.

Guest Column - San Juan Capistrano

   What Would Judge Egan Think?

                             By Kerry Ferguson

Photo here I don’t exactly know what Judge Richard Egan would think about the proposed 3-story San Juan Hotel and 3-story villas the Urban Village Company plans to develop merely a few feet from the judge’s beautiful brick Victorian home on Camino Capistrano.

I do know what it was that brought my great grandparents here in the 1880’s – elbow room. They purposely left the crowded cities of the East and headed west looking for room to raise their families. If there was anything they didn’t want, it was every last space crowded to the hilt.
Historic Egan House on Camino Capistrano

Packing our little Historic Downtown with "high density" projects that need parking for guests, employees and event goers will further pressure our streets and parking facilities.

It is great to look down the east side of Camino Capistrano from the Mission and see charming and varied vintage buildings mixed with lovely little parks all the way to the Egan House.

Laguna Woods Village

Recall of United Board Fails

By Kim Lefner

An overwhelming majority of the United Mutual community voted against a recall of the United Board on Tuesday, July 2. The ballot numbers revealed 2,132 "No" votes against the recall and only 925 in favor, despite money spent promoting the recall by the “Enough Is Enough” group.

According to Protect Property Values (“PPV”) Club President Stevie Magid, “The community voiced their opinion on holding down spending, not creating new debt, and keeping our Village affordable by saying NO to the Recreation Master Plan and the demolition of Club House 2. When given the opportunity to express their opinions in an expensive election which was forced by a petition of only 449 United Mutual owner signatures, the owners spoke loudly and clearly. We are not a country club, but a community of retirees that want to live out our lives in a place that we can afford, and continue to enjoy the amenities and quality of life that we already have.”

According to Magid, residents are concerned about the lack of transparency and openness in the governing bodies in Laguna Woods, especially their ability to spend money without input from homeowners and residents. “No longer will that be business as usual in Laguna Woods Village,” said Magid.

Letter to the Editor - Mission Viejo

               Voting Records Prove 
             Helpful at Election Time

Prior to the June 3 Primary Election, I walked my Mission Viejo neighborhood and reminded everyone to vote. Some people told me they weren’t going to vote, and others said they didn’t know who to vote for. When so many candidates claim to be reformers and conservatives, it becomes difficult to tell which ones are genuine.

I have found Community Common Sense helpful with information on candidates. In December CCS published Anna Bryson’s voting record as a Capistrano school board trustee, and in January CCS published Frank Ury’s Mission Viejo council voting record. Bryson’s votes didn’t match her claims of being an education reformer, and Ury’s votes didn’t match his conservative claims.

Bryson lost her bid for an Assembly seat after spending a lot of money on mailers. Ury’s run for the Board of Supervisors ended despite three successful city council campaigns. Voters deserve credit for eliminating candidates with bad voting records, and CCS deserves credit for shining a light on them. Neighbors I spoke with said the mail they received from candidates became excessive, and it didn’t help them make a decision.

The large newspapers should follow CCS’s lead and focus on facts like voting records instead of favoring editorial employees’ political buddies. One reason we have low-information voters is the low-information news outlets.

Donna Snow
Mission Viejo

Letter to the Editor - San Juan Capistrano

             New Development 
       a Not-So-Welcome Change

Good news, San Juan Capistrano residents! Big changes are coming your way!! Your City Council, who you helped elect, is working diligently to transform your beloved hometown into something you won’t even recognize. Their hearts are so big they’re embracing the needs of the outside community, rather than indulge the wants of their own small constituency. Instead of giving in to small-minded and self-indulgent concerns of residents who want to keep our little town neighborly and pleasant, they’re looking ahead to the capital they can make from the developers and the bed taxes they can collect, so they can continue to over-spend on our behalf.

As you may already know, three of the projects they’re currently planning for our small town are The Shops at Capistrano, Urban Village’s San Juan Hotel & Villas, and Speiker Development’s Laguna Glen Continuing Care Retirement Community. Of course, there are many other developments they’re working on as well, but just these three projects alone will turn more than 41 acres of our town into high-density developments, meaning more outstanding architecture surrounding us, more of our abundant water supply being used up, more time spent idling in our cars smiling at our new neighbors! They’re expected to generate well over 3,400 additional vehicle trips in our town each day! You think traffic’s fun now? Just wait!

If that all sounds good to you and you’d like to thank our civic leaders as much as I would, for knowing what’s best for us better than we do, please remember them at re-election time this coming November.

Shelley Bachelder
San Juan Capistrano

Letter to the Editor - Laguna Woods Village

          "Let’s Fix What We Got"

My husband and I have lived in Laguna Woods Village for 20 happy years [but] I feel out- raged that GRF wants to spend our money (which in the end we pay) on a master plan that few people want. I go to the mini gym which is very well equipped and the bus passes from outside my door to the administration building.

Some times I go to the gym in club house one [as] Bus 8 goes there. Who wants to sit in the hot sun or rain in an open auditorium?

Our monthly assessments have doubled since we have lived here [yet] we have dry rot in our awnings for the past years, waiting until there is enough money to fix [them] and people in some areas have poor lighting. LW residents should be able to vote where the money goes - lets fix what we got.

Laguna Woods Village

Mission Viejo


                                      By Larry Gilbert

In our lifetime we learn that there are two types of pork; one found in supermarkets and restaurants and the other where our elected officials put their hands out grabbing government funds. In this example they often make the argument of our being "donor" cities, counties or states as we provide more in taxes than we receive back from other agencies. To justify their actions we often hear elected officials say "if we don't grab it someone else will" and, “it's our money.” If every elected official focused on our "needs" rather than their "wants" we would all be better off and our national debt would not continue to break records by the minute.

We even have pork in Mission Viejo and I'm not referring to the Mission Viejo HS farm. Council member Reardon's $450,000 "earmark" to add street lighting along Muirlands Blvd was approved by a 4-1 vote at the June 16th Mission Viejo City Council meeting. We have not added any housing along this street since long before we became a city and annexed Aegean Hills (in 1992). So this project is not required infrastructure for new development. As to public safety. from what I have read there are no reported complaints of people being mugged walking down Muirlands or an increase in car accidents due to a lack of street lighting. All of the intersections along Muirlands are well illuminated. From what I can determine this project was not on the Agenda for consideration by our City Planning and Transportation Committee whose members surely should have been given time for their input.

Laguna Woods Village

What’s On Your Wish List?

The CCS has received suggestions from residents of Laguna Woods Village about changes they would like to see made by a new GRF Board. Listed below are a few of these suggestions.

1. Implement a “conflict of interest” policy to discourage contracts awarded to vendors and/or contractors with close ties to GRF Board members and PCM Property Managers.

2. Implement a resolution that requires a majority vote (up to 2/3) of the homeowners before spending HOA dues over a set amount (to be determined).

3. Eliminate the requirement for unionized PCM staff (such as gardners).

4. Initiate a forensic audit of PCM expenditures on services/vendors/contractors; especially those that have not gone out for bid.

5. Implement a resolution to require obtaining at least three bids for construction projects.

Do you have any items to add to the “wish list”? If so, we want to hear from you! Email us at:, or mail your suggestions to the Community Common Sense, 30240 Rancho Viejo Rd., Suite A, San Juan Capistrano CA 92675. Suggestions will be printed in an upcoming issue.

Letter to the Editor - Mission Viejo


I appreciate the news that you provide through your newsletter. I read [a] story about which towns lead the country in sprawl growth from 2000 - 2010, and Mission Viejo is at the tops of the list. The city council and mayors of Mission Viejo just can't say no to developers or their contributions. I hope you can include this in your newsletter including a list of city council members who are on the take with the developers.


Tom Meyer
Mission Viejo

Editor’s note: We reviewed the report Mr. Meyer referenced in his letter, and found the following:
According to a report in “The Atlantic City Lab”, Mission Viejo ranks fourth in the nation of urban areas that gained the most compactness from 2000 - 2010.

Lead researchers on the rankings, Reid Ewing and Shima Hamidi of the University of Utah, scored the largest 162 U.S. urbanized areas on the Sprawl Index or “Compactness Index”. The report looks at four metrics; density, land use mix, activity centering, and street accessibility. 

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