San Juan Capistrano

Tapped Out

Despite Warnings, City Over-pumped Basin

By John Perry

When the City decided to fund and build the $43 million Ground Water Recovery Plant (GWRP), the City Council justified the enormous cost by telling the residents, “we have to diversify our water supply to add reliability so that the City will have water in case of an extreme drought or earthquake that might interrupt the flow of water from the Metropolitan Water District” (MWD).

Well, we now have an extreme drought and guess what? The GWRP is not drought proof. In fact the San Juan Basin from which the GWRP pumps its water is in danger of drying up because of over pumping by San Juan Basin Authority members.

The Northern portion of the San Juan Basin controlled by the Rancho Mission Viejo Company is going dry because of overuse. Water is now being trucked in to portions of the upper basin because the wells are not producing due to water levels which have dropped to dangerously low levels below the well intakes.

The middle and lower basins also face the same prospect. Wells around the GWRP are now pumping at or below sea level because the water level has dropped by 35 feet in the past several years. Compounding the problem is the lack of replenishment from rainfall, according to a report prepared by Wildermuth Environmental Engineering. The consulting firm is concerned about sea water intrusion into the basin that would contaminate the water in the basin, making it unusable.

Laguna Woods Village

Time for an Independent Audit?

By Kim Lefner

Calls for an independent, forensic audit of operational expenses date back a number of years. In 2010, a residents’ group “Residents Voice” reviewed and questioned expenses charged to homeowners by PCM employees. PCM and Golden Rain Foundation (GRF) Board members claimed at the time that the expenses were work-related. When pressed about credit card charges for meals at upscale restaurants and visits to pricey entertainment venues, PCM then-General Manager Milton Johns claimed the credit cards were for “Emergency use only”.
A review of the charges however, indicates lavish spending with homeowners’ HOA dues money. Examples of some of the charges include meals at expensive restaurants such as Five Crowns in Corona del Mar ($834.71), the Chart House in Dana Point ($564.21) and Gullivers in Newport Beach ($543.72), among many others.

Entertainment charges included Dana Wharf Sportfishing ($375.00), the Disney Club ($700.00) and Dave & Buster’s ($811.72). There was even a charge for a purchase from Tiffany & Co. for $441.72, which we understand was for “earrings” as a retirement gift to a departing employee. When Residents Voice members questioned PCM employee Jerry Storage about the charges for such entertainment as a sportfishing cruise, they were told only that the charges were “mutually agreed upon expenses.” Storage is still employed as the General Manager of PCM in LWV and did not respond to request for input to this article.

Mission Viejo

Beware the Lobbyist in Volunteer’s clothing

By Joe Holtzman

Wendy Bucknum is a professional housing lobbyist running for a Mission Viejo council seat this November. She ran unsuccessfully in 2012, primarily funded by special interest money, while promoting jumbotron-style billboards along Crown Valley Parkway. Her endorsement list – politicians endorsing a lobbyist – is her list of clients who may have benefited from the housing lobby largesse.

Bucknum presents herself to the public as a volunteer – attending community events during work or after hours while campaigning for office. She makes announcements at nearly every council meeting as if she’s the spokesperson for a dozen groups.

To recap my article in the April edition of CCS, it is important to know who/what Bucknum lobbies for and why a council seat would be a plum for her employer. She works for Professional Community Management (PCM), a huge company that manages homeowner associations (HOAs). PCM’s website describes its relationship with developers and builders; “We provide developers and builders the peace of mind of having a single point of contact …”

Bucknum’s employer PCM is a force in the Community Associations Institute (CAI), a national trade association and special interest group. Research indicates the CAI lobbies state legislatures to promote laws beneficial to them and oppose laws harmful to them. The CAI sells services to HOA lawyers and community managers affiliated with “Common-interest developments” (CIDs), which lean toward higher-density developments. Such projects increase traffic and create problems associated with packing high numbers of people into compact spaces.

San Juan Capistrano

2012 Voting Record of SJC Councilmen 
Larry Kramer, Derek Reeve and John Taylor

Over the next 3 months leading up to the election, we will print the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Voting Record of SJC Council members Larry Kramer, Derek Reeve and John Taylor, all of whom are running for re-election to the SJC City Council in November. Only votes related to fiscal and quality of life impacts are listed, beginning in year 2012.

Mark Your Calendar...

San Juan Capistrano

                                                                     Letter to the Editor

                             Connecting the Dots...

Recently I came across a half page color ad in a local paper promoting the “Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo” held at the “Corner of Ortega Highway & Antonio/La Pata” - with no mention of it being in our city or the fact it’s OUR property! I thought the purchase agreement for this “Open Space” property required the property to be identified as the “Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano” in ALL advertisements?

Here, the real proof of where our council majority control comes from can be easily seen by the list of rodeo sponsors – Holy cow! Of the 25 sponsors listed, ALL BUT THREE (Cox, Mission Hospital, and The Ranch Restaurant) are developers, builders or key suppliers to builders! I think it’s pretty obvious how Sam Allevato’s anti-recall war chest filled as quickly as an Indy car gets in and out of a pit stop!

Even more suspect is the mention that “monies raised are donated to local SJC charities”, with no mention of which “charities” will benefit. Could the failure to list them be due to the fact that one of the primary beneficiaries of the rodeo revenue is Brad Gates’ Open Space Foundation? Gates was the “designated” (not clear by whom) lead negotiator for the purchase of the park with $27.5 million of our tax dollars (while, at the same time banning residents from using our property ~Great negotiation!!!). Gates also negotiated into the purchase agreement that “the majority of rodeo revenues” be directed to his Open Space Foundation and a couple of other pet charities.

Mission Viejo

Letter to the Editor 

     Fire Zone Questions Go Unanswered

Community Common Sense has done a good job of raising awareness of the Fire Map issue. I didn’t know half of Mission Viejo’s homes are now in the high-risk fire-hazard area. With all the information at hand, including Cal Fire’s Fire Map, why would anyone say that no Mission Viejo homes are in the Fire Zone?

As CCS reported, the decision by the council majority in July 2012 added 12,000 Mission Viejo homes to the 3,000 previously in the high-risk fire zone. The council increased potential liabilities to residents – lower property values, higher insurance rates and more bureaucracy.

The 12,000 homes were added with a 4-1 council vote. Rhonda Reardon, Trish Kelley, Frank Ury and Dave Leckness voted in favor of the change, and Cathy Schlicht voted against it.

At a city council meeting last month, Councilwoman Reardon tried to explain what happened, but her presentation didn’t address some basic questions.

What criteria were used to decide which homes were added? Who redrew the boundary and what are their qualifications for making decisions? Since Cal Fire is the authority on the state’s Fire Map, how can a city council majority overrule the state authority? Was Cal Fire even consulted when the boundary lines were redrawn?

Councilwoman Reardon has said Mission Viejo “has no homes in the Fire Zone.” However, thousands of Mission Viejo homeowners received the notice from the Orange County Fire Authority in May that their properties will be inspected. These properties include the ones the council added. As an equally problematic issue, Mission Viejo’s homes are on Cal Fire’s Fire Map.

Here’s the link to the information on Cal Fire’s website:

Kirk Kelley
Mission Viejo

San Juan Capistrano

Guest Column

Down the Rabbit Hole into San Juan-derland
SJC resident Tom Perrin

                             By Tom Perrin

Things in San Juan Capistrano (SJC) just get “curiouser and curiouser.” I now suspect that the “Mad Hatter” is in charge of city planning, as the city’s perspective seems wildly distorted. While many large cities try to restore and enhance their “old town” areas in order to attract more tourists, SJC seems to want to modernize and blur our town’s distinctive heritage.

The rationale offered for some of the actions taken by the city include rejecting “In-n-Out” restaurant’s downtown application because it might add to the traffic congestion; forcing the “unpainting” of the red door of the “The Woman’s Club of San Juan Capistrano” because the city felt the color was inappropriate, and the eviction of the dinosaur from “Zoomars Petting Zoo,” because, according to SJC city staff, it didn’t fit with the area’s historical character.

Yet now, the SJC Planning Commission apparently wants to create an “urban village - complete with restaurants and retail space,” by building 33 townhomes and a 136 room hotel directly in the center of town. How does this fit into the area’s historical character? To me, it looks like these proposed projects are a far greater threat to SJC than the dinosaur evicted from Zoomars, and it raises a more important question; how will this development impact the existing traffic congestion?

Laguna Woods Village

  Letter to the Editor 
                     Thumbs Up on Wish List     

I agree with your "Wish List" printed in the CCSense. These are good safeguards against "human nature".

Frank Q.
Laguna Woods Village

Letter to the Editor 

         Speaking of a Wish List...

Can we forbid absentee owners to rent their inherited condos to welfare recipients, persons on disability, registered sex offenders, persons on parole or probation, and (worse) renting by the room to different renters?

In an 8-condo building, 2 condos in a neighborhood are rented by the room. Do we have to share our neighborhood with such persons?

A condo owner
(Name withheld on request)
                                                                    Letter to the Editor 
                     The Importance of Voting

Laguna Woods Village pays PCM to manage the work needed to operate our community. Our elected boards provide oversight of that work [and outside contractors]. Laguna Woods is beautiful and well-cared for.

Perhaps the most important duty of the board members is to see that our costs are kept under control. This has worked fairly well for 50 years. The officers who are elected by the residents have usually been above reproach as far as conflicts of interests are concerned.

In recent times however, the Golden Rain Foundation Board embarked on what seemed to be excessive over-spending. A Recreation Master Plan to spend more then 18 million dollars in the next two years was rolled out in an almost obsessive, heavy handed manner. It would also create more monthly charges to operate another building. Yet when members showed objection and concern, GRF President Lynn Dvorak ordered them removed from the room by security. The [Board] officers seemed so aggressive in regard to their plan that one had to wonder why they would not allow the residents who were being indebted, to vote on it or even object to it in an open meeting.

Mission Viejo

Letter to the Editor 

             City Hall Underestimates Reaction         

The Coronado neighborhood in south Mission Viejo fought City Hall and won. Congratulations to the citizens who live near Avery Parkway for their July 14 victory.

The City Planning Commission received a proposal from Saddleback College to allow parking on Avery Parkway. Amazingly, the city staff was supporting the proposal against the wishes of the residents. Maybe the city staff underestimated the ability of the neighborhood to fight off another traffic problem. Residents mobilized, and the college withdrew the proposal.

Following is an example of a Coronado resident’s protest, which was sent to city officials and entered into the public record:

San Juan Capistrano

                                                                   Letter to the Editor 

                 "No” to the Status Quo

I just received a copy of a campaign statement from city council candidate Stephanie Frisch that raises some serious concerns.

Frisch is proposing “parking solutions” for the "growing parking problem" in the downtown area, which has become over-crowded and at times impossible to park for shopping and dining.

The first thing that struck me is the irony in Frisch acknowledging a problem that the council men she supports; Sam Allevato, Larry Kramer and John Taylor, helped to create.

The second thing that occurred to me is, isn't this one of the jobs of the Transportation Commission? If not, it should be. Duplicating efforts by creating even more committees just contributes to more red tape and bureaucracy. Establishing committees are one of the few things Government bureaucrats are good at. That’s not a compliment. How many "Blue Ribbon Commissions" have we convened over the past 20 years to study the downtown development plan - and at what cost?
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