San Juan Capistrano

Just Buy Water from the Cheapest Source!

By Kim Lefner

Mixed messages about the high cost of water leave ratepayers asking “Are rate increases really necessary?” and “What is the true cost of producing ‘our own’ water?” So we approached the CCS’ “resident water expert” John Perry of the Capistrano Taxpayers Association (CTA) to get the scoop about the true cost of water and the proposed rate increases.

Perry stated that the city applies our property tax revenue only to Tier 1 in an attempt he says, to make the Tier 1 water rate appear lower than what it really is. If you removed the tax subsidy from Tier 1, the rate would increase by about 40%.

This is problematic says Perry, because the amount of water (in ccfs) the city allocates for Tier 1 is so unrealistically low (it’s based on third world standards) that most people who bought homes with yards and/or pools before the cost of water was an issue, are pushed up into Tiers 2, 3 or 4 which get no property tax subsidy. 
Perry maintains that since ratepayers in Tiers 2, 3 & 4 are already punished with unreasonably and progressively higher rates; the tax subsidy should be equally distributed among those tiers to make the water more affordable for all - and not just one category of ratepayer.

Laguna Woods Village

Who Owns Your Facilities and Assets?

By Kim Lefner

At the May 13, 2014 meeting of Laguna Woods Village’s United Board, Golden Rain Foundation (“GRF”) attorney Chris Robinson surprised Homeowners when she made the following statement; “GRF does own the facilities...they are not owned by the mutuals...”

However, a review of the original founding Trust agreement, subsequent Amendments to the Trust and the CC&Rs tell a different story. The Trust documents indicate that the GRF serves only as the Trustee for the Homeowners (“Trust members”); it’s the Trust members (Homeowners) who own everything, including all facilities and other assets.
With such disinformation circulating, it is helpful to know what the Trust agreement and CC&Rs state that the GRF can - and cannot - do with your money and your assets. We will attempt to clarify some of the confusion in a series of articles in the Community Common Sense over the next several months.  According to the Trust documents, GRF is the Trustee and owns no land, improvements, money or assets.

Mission Viejo

Who Vets Grand Jury Panelists?

By Larry Gilbert

Each year the Superior Court in Orange County conducts a drawing for citizens to serve on the Grand Jury. This year they selected 19 members and 9 alternates to serve on the Grand Jury for 2014-2015. While we have the opportunity to vet and vote for Superior Court Judges, what do we know about those Grand Jury members? This new panel is to take the oath of office and begin a one-year term on July 1, 2014.

My question relates to the vetting process of these applicants whose responsibilities include being watchdogs for their fellow citizens. In my call to the Grand Jury department, I was told that one of the panelists whose name was drawn is former Mission Viejo mayor Robert D. Breton.

There are many city documents and newspaper articles that I retain for future reference. One example relates to Councilman Breton when he was fundraising for our city library. Quoting from Frank Messina's headline account in the LA Times, he wrote: "Several Orange County architectural firms have accused City Councilman Robert D. Breton of asking them to contribute $1,000 to a library campaign fund if they want a chance to bid for the proposed building's design contract."

San Juan Capistrano

Guest Column

Together We Can Fight City Hall!

By Derek Reeve, Esq. 
San Juan Capistrano City Council member

This is a call to action! As many of you know, the council majority of Sam Allevato, Larry Kramer and John Taylor demand that water rates be increased. Councilmember Byrnes and I alone cannot stop the water rate increase however, with your help we can. Proposition 218 requires that if "a majority" of ratepayers protest the water rate increase, the council majority cannot approve it.

Water rate protests must be in written form and signed by the tenant or homeowner whose name is on the water bill. You may download a Water Rate protest form from the Capistrano Taxpayers Association website at: www.capotax.org.

Once the form is completed and signed, it must be either mailed or hand delivered to the City Clerk, however be sure they arrive before the end of the Proposition 218 Water Rate Hearing on June 17 or they will not count.

Second, I would like to set the record straight. The council majority is attempting to spin that I support a rate increase because I do not support the illegal tiered rate system. Let me be clear; while I absolutely support a uniform or flat rate, I absolutely do not support a rate increase. What I support is getting out of the water business which would actually reduce rates for everyone. If we continue to operate the Ground Water Recovery Plant which is the position that the council majority supports, we can expect our water rates to increase, as the water plant is just too expensive to operate - especially since the San Juan Basin is already at or dangerously close to sea level, which puts it at risk for sea water intrusion.

Derek Reeve, a Constitutional Law attorney, was elected to the SJC City Council in 2010. He has been a resident of San Juan since 1998, where he resides with his wife and two stepsons.





Laguna Woods Village

The $18.7 MILLION “RECREATION MASTER PLAN”

Results of a March 2014 informal survey conducted of Laguna Woods Village residents in the United Mutual reveal that of 300 respondents, 81% were opposed to demolishing Clubhouse 2 and building a Main Lounge.
The “Laguna Woods Village” website (www.lagunawoodsvillage.com) states the following about the proposed $18.7 million “Recreation Master Plan”:

“A financially prudent plan, half of the estimated $18 million investment will be funded through reserves that had been set aside for this very purpose; the other half will be funded through low interest rate loans that will be paid back through the Facilities Fee. This plan will NOT result in new or special assessments of Village...”

But residents and some of the mutual Board members question the legality of spending $18.7 million to demolish existing and construct new facilities without the vote or written consent of the homeowners.

Mission Viejo

No Censors Allowed

By Ed Sachs

President John F. Kennedy said, “If [the United States] is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all - except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms.”

I am not surprised to learn there are those who oppose this paper. Just as there are those who do not like Fox News or MSNBC or the New York Times. Recently, while attending a candidate forum featuring the Orange County Board of Supervisors candidates, I was surprised to hear Mission Viejo Councilman Frank Ury declare the Community Common Sense as “rubbish.”

His meaning was clear. He would now be the censor to tell us what we should and should not read. But, you see, it is the censor who is not invited. The censor must not be sworn into public office. There may be any number of reasons for opposition to the articles presented in this newspaper. Attempts to shut down speech, whether you agree or disagree, should never be tolerated!

One of the many reasons this paper was established was to give voice to community members who are limited to 3 minutes for public comments during council meetings. Elected officials may speak for hours during public meetings. Increasingly, local residents feel as though their voices have not been heard, nor their opinion considered. It is through this and other publications that residents may speak to their fellow voters.

San Juan Capistrano

A Message from Spieker Development

Troy Bourne, a representative for the proposed 34-acre “Very High Density” development project on the Vermeulen property (currently occupied by Armstrong’s Nursery growing grounds) called us to clarify a few items in an article which ran in the May issue of the CCS.

Bourne pointed out that there is one other three-story building in San Juan besides the parking structure downtown which we evidently overlooked. It is “Atria San Juan”, a small “seniors community” located next to the golf course on on San Juan Creek Road.

Mr. Bourne also offered more details about the proposed Spieker Development project. He stated that “ ...a little over 11 acres include single level cottages (most are 1400-1600 sq. ft.) that we refer to as villas.” He further stated that the Independent Living portion includes 74 villas (single story), 64 garden terraces (two story) and 280 courtyard apartments (three story). The health center contains 41 skilled nursing rooms (single story), 21 memory care rooms (single story), and 39 assisted living units (two story), totaling 1,450,000 square feet of living space on approximately 33 acres.

Laguna Woods Village

                                                                      This just in...


“Enough is Enough” Request for TRO Denied

May 30, 2014 - The group known as “Enough is Enough” led by Marc Bayer, Maggie Blackwell, John Gee, Maggie Brown and Judith Gaither, and represented by attorney Steven P. Price, filed an ex-parte request for a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) to try and prevent United from mailing out recall ballots for a July 2, 2014 recall election count. The judge rejected the TRO and it is unlikely that the issue will be heard again.

The United Board opposes the demolition of existing facilities and construction of new facilities at a cost of $18.7 million. The United Board believes that the “Recreation Master Plan” should be subject to a majority vote of the homeowners.

Enough is Enough supports the Recreation Master Plan and initiated a recall of all United Board members because of their opposition to the Recreation Master Plan. Enough is Enough wanted to include replacement names for the United Board members on the recall ballot, but the United Board felt it was not in compliance with their bylaws.

United Board President Pat English, stated that [Enough is Enough] has already driven up the legal costs by at least $10,000 and she expects the total bill for the recall may reach $50,000 when all the costs have been counted.

Mission Viejo

Fire Hazard Zone Update

By Joe Holtzman

Approximately half of Mission Viejo’s homeowners are receiving letters from the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA). The letters are the first direct notice to homeowners who were blindsided by a City
Council majority decision in July 2012. With a 4-1 vote, the council added 12,000 homes to the 3,000 already in the fire zone, re-naming it a “Special Fire Protection Area”. Four hundred residents attended meetings in 2012 and pleaded with the council not to add any homes into the fire zone.

Homeowners in the fire zone will now be subject to inspections and told to remove brush and fire-prone trees. They should also anticipate higher insurance rates, lower property values and possible loss of insurance coverage.
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