San Juan Capistrano

Golf Course Sues City Over “Stolen” Water

By John Perry

The San Juan Hills Golf Course filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court on August 28 against the City of San Juan Capistrano and the San Juan Basin Authority for Breach of Contract, Trespass, Conversion of Water, and Negligence. The Golf Course is asking for a Permanent injunction and Damages incurred by the Golf Course.

The basis of the dispute is the amount of water the City is pumping from the San Juan Basin (the aquifer) that lies beneath the Golf Course. In 1997, the City and the Golf Course signed an agreement that the construction of the Ground Water Recovery Plant (GWRP) could not interfere with the Golf Course’s right to pump 550 acre feet of water per year from its wells.

Two years ago the City obtained a grant from Federal and State sources to expand the GWRP to increase its output, which required increased pumping of the basin (see “Tapped Out; City Over-pumped Basin” in the August CCS). The suit claims that the City is pumping over 500 million gallons per year of water from city wells near the golf course well and that action combined with a lack of rainfall has caused the basin water levels to drop to 53 feet below ground level. This has resulted in a shortfall in the amount of water available to the Golf Course, which fell from 550 acre feet to 200 acre feet per year.

The Golf Course has accused the City of over-pumping water in violation of the signed and notarized agreement in place since 1997. Without its rightful allocation of water, the Golf Course has been forced to stop watering portions of grass and landscape, causing plants and trees to die.

Mission Viejo

Look Who’s Running for City Council...

By Kirk Kelley

In the November 4 Mission Viejo city election, three council seats are on the ballot. Trish Kelley is terming out, and Dave Leckness and Rhonda Reardon are running for re-election.
Following is a summary of the eight Mission Viejo council candidates, including their ballot designations. While the CCS editorial staff has not yet endorsed candidates, I am offering a preview of the candidates. Three stars = highly recommended; 2 stars = recommended; 1 star = has merit.

*** Ed Sachs, Mission Viejo Commissioner/Business Owner: Retired CEO of Pioneer Electronics. He’s on the city’s Financial Advisory Commission, and he understands the city budget. From his ballot statement, Ed wants to reduce the size and scope of government and its intrusion into residents’ lives. He wants to hold city hall accountable to the taxpayer. Ed has also been a contributing writer to the Community Common Sense.

San Juan Capistrano

Councilman Taylor's Plagiarism Hypocrisy

By Kim Lefner

More than three years ago City Councilman Derek Reeve was accused of plagiarism when he responded to a request to write an online blog and used material without proper attribution. Reeve had submitted a lengthy blog post which unbeknownst to him was then broken up into three posts, and run as a series. It was further down in his blog post that he alluded to the material having come from another source, although he did not state the actual source. Because the blog was broken up into a series of three posts however, the mention of the material coming from elsewhere was not evident in the initial post, and he was accused of plagiarism.

What followed was a rather vicious attack on Reeve’s character, including from fellow Councilman John Taylor who wrote at the time, “Members of an elected body are supposed to be leaders—plagiarism is against the law … This lack of character and leadership is a hindrance in his ability to govern the affairs of our City.”

Based on his own characterization, Councilman Taylor himself is guilty of a “lack of character and leadership” in a recent formal article (as opposed to an online blog) Taylor wrote about the vector control in the July 11, 2014 Capistrano Dispatch. His article closely matches and is at times identical to a June 18 article in the San Clemente Times by former San Clemente City Councilman Jim Dahl, in which Dahl wrote about communicable diseases, "Examples include dengue fever, swine flu (H1N1) and avian flu (H5N1) also known as bird flu and malaria. And sadly, cases of typhus have already been reported in the county making the threat real and the work that OCVCD does more important than ever."

Several weeks later Taylor plagiarized Dahl almost verbatim when he wrote in his article, "Cases of dengue fever, swine flu (H1N1), avian flu (H5N1)—also known as bird flu—and malaria are increasing. Sadly, cases of typhus have already been reported in the county, making the threat real and the work that OCVCD does more important than ever."

Both articles are remarkably similar throughout. See the links below and judge for yourself:

Ironically, Dahl appears himself to have plagiarized a June 2nd OC Register article written by Lucille Kring:

Mission Viejo

Warning; Professional Lobbyist on the Ballot!

By Joe Holtzman

One thing many Mission Viejo residents agree on is that they don’t want a lobbyist on the city council. In the 2012 city council race, Wendy Bucknum ran as a “businesswoman,” but she didn’t say what she does for a living. In this November’s election, voters will know Bucknum is a professional lobbyist in the housing industry. Thanks to Community Common Sense for getting the word out.

Wendy Bucknum ran unsuccessfully in 2012, primarily on special interest money while promoting Jumbotron-style billboards along Crown Valley Parkway. Her endorsers – politicians endorsing a lobbyist – are her clients who may have benefited from housing industry “campaign donations.” Bluntly, some elected officials sell their votes.Bucknum presents herself to the public as a volunteer – attending community events during work or after hours while campaigning for office.

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 Homeowners 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 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

A Win for Free Speech; a “Black Eye” for the City

The Community Common Sense was born out of the frustration of residents over the lack of information coming from City Hall four years ago. The top three topics covered have been the Ground Water Recovery Plant, the RMV Open Space boondoggle and traffic problems. Through it all we have learned that if the council majority, supported by a taxpayer-funded city attorney, are morally bankrupt they can easily control the message which allows them to control tax-payers and especially, their money.
L-R: Rutan & Tucker attorney Phil Kohn
Larry Kramer, Hans Vam Ligten
& Sam Allevato confer about the
newspaper ban at the courthouse -
on your dime.

This became glaringly obvious in the past year when we placed our newsstand next to others in front of City Hall and the Community Center. Within 4 days, Councilmen Sam Allevato, Larry Kramer and John Taylor voted in secret to ban newspapers from city property. They likely never anticipated the firestorm of controversy that would follow their decision. But the First Amendment is a fundamental constitutional right worth fighting for. Thankfully, Laguna Hills attorney Wayne Tate agreed, and offered to defend our right to free speech pro bono while San Juan taxpayers footed the estimated $60,000 bill for Allevato, Kramer & Taylor’s on-going quest to silence us.

San Juan Capistrano

SJC resident Pam Patterson
Guest Opinion Column 

Time to Retire “The Pack”

By Pam Patterson

The present majority on the San Juan City Council, which typically votes as a pack, is very adept at creating messes for us, the resident citizens of San Juan. You can see it in a typical day as you go about your business, in the gridlock which makes you leave 20 minutes earlier than previously to get to the freeway or just to get through town. You can see it on your water bill, which is higher than what most everyone else in the county is paying and which comes with a hefty City debt of $50 million to build a Groundwater Recovery Plant that we don’t even own. The water plant has generated lots of expensive lawsuits and attorneys’ fees, the most recent of which was filed August 28, 2014 due to the City's mess of so over-pumping the wells that they are nearly dry and in danger of salt water getting into our water supply.

If you have your ear to the ground, you may hear about the latest out-of-town developer getting special treatment at the hands of “The Pack” (Councilmen Allevato, Taylor & Kramer), enabling him to make lots of money at our expense. The latest is converting the last bit of San Juan high grade agricultural land located at Armstrong Nursery, into about 750,000 square feet (1.4 million total) of high density elitist senior living – again at our expense, as it would DOUBLE the traffic on Del Obispo, if that is even possible to do! The price tag on entry to Laguna Glen on the low end is $650,000 cash and $5,000 a month – so certainly not being built for an average San Juan resident, as is the claim.

It is clear to me that the current council majority who have contributed so much to this mess, must now step aside in order to allow qualified candidates to help clean up the mess that they have helped create. It won’t be easy, but I for one, am up for the challenge.

Pam has been a resident of San Juan Capistrano since 1995. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Whittier College before attending Western State Law School, where she served on Law Review and received American Jurisprudence Awards (the highest single grade in a class) in Wills and Trusts. Pam completed her post-graduate studies in Accounting at UCLA, and later founded a law firm before becoming the mother of five.

Mission Viejo

Letter to the Editor 

Character Counts

From my home, I can see the lights of city sports fields on La Paz and Felipe, and I have driven by the fields many times. Are residents aware the lights are sometimes left on for hours with no one on the fields? When I informed the city of this, one council member thanked me, and another one sent a rude response, complete with his city council title and the city seal.

Councilman Dave Leckness wrote;

“Hi Lamar,

Do you have any idea how ridiculous you come off? When you type in all capitals and say stupid-ass things in your email it makes it hard to take your comments seriously. To ask for someone to be replaced because lights were on our fields and only a few people were there is nuts. You don’t have all the facts and your running-off your mouth.


In my report to City Hall, I said the city administrator responsible for monitoring the lights, Kelly Doyle, wasn’t doing his job. I said I would speak during a council meeting about his performance. Can you believe City Hall countered by arranging to have the council give an award to the person responsible for the sports fields? I decided not to speak at that meeting. It was a setup, whereby I would have embarrassed the person and his family present for the award.

After I told Leckness that his response to my initial message had been rude, he emailed me again:

Mission Viejo

Letter to the Editor 
Council Erred on Fire Zone Decision

Public comments are sometimes the most amusing part of the Mission Viejo council meetings. During the Aug. 18 meeting, did I hear correctly that a resident thanked the council majority for putting her home in the Fire Zone (also called the Special Fire Protection Area)? She said the council majority’s maneuver was quite creative to get the city out of the control of the Fire Authority.

In my opinion, the council did the exact opposite by adding 12,000 Mission Viejo homes into the Fire Zone. With the total now up to 15,000 homes, those of us in the Fire Zone are subject to having our properties inspected by the Fire Authority.

The public speaker on Aug. 18 went on to suggest city employees should accompany the Orange County Fire Authority employees who are to inspect our homes, as if the Fire Authority can’t be trusted.

I have a different suggestion. The Fire Authority should put out fires, the city employees should tend to city business, and none of them should inspect our homes.

The Mission Viejo council majority should have followed the lead of cities like Laguna Niguel and not rezoned any homes into the Fire Zone.

Donna Snow
Mission Viejo
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