San Juan Capistrano

Editorial Opinion

CCS endorses Reeve, Patterson & Ferguson 
for City Council. Here’s why...

Much is at stake for our community in this City Council election. In our opinion, our unique historic town is going in the wrong direction. We see it in traffic congestion throughout town, in unnecessarily high water bills and in an overall decrease in our quality of life. Incumbent candidates John Taylor and Larry Kramer have contributed to this over the past four years with their council votes.

Our town is now faced with two large development proposals; “Spieker/Laguna Glen” which requires a re-zone from agricultural to high-density at the current Armstrong Nursery’s growing grounds, and the “Urban Village” downtown development project behind the historic Egan House, next to Historic Town Center Park. Urban Village does not conform to the Historic Town Center Master Plan as it mixes residential units with the hotel. Both projects will add traffic to our roads and require water that is in short supply. Candidates Larry Kramer, John Taylor, Stephanie Frisch, Jan Siegel and Rob Williams support these developments in one form or another. 

All five of these candidates also support continued operation of the failed Ground Water Recovery Plant. Their support is inexplicable when the water plant has never produced what they claimed it would, is damaging our aquifer through over-pumping, and is far too expensive to operate for a town our size.

Candidates Derek Reeve, Pam Patterson and Kerry Ferguson are opposed to both developments. They are also opposed to continuing to pour more money into the failed water plant. They are in agreement that given the current mess our town is in, we cannot handle any more traffic, strain on our water resources, or on our wallets. They support either “mothballing” or “regionalizing” the water plant to spread the cost over more cities.

San Juan Capistrano

Kramer, Taylor and Allevato 
Approve Massive Development 

Concerns about traffic, water dismissed

By Kim Lefner

Residents turned out for the council meeting in record numbers last week to oppose the re-zone of the last parcel of agricultural land in town for high-density development.
Residents opposing the Laguna Glen
development were forced to stand as
developer's supporters - many from
out of town, took up all the seating

Development supporters arrived at 2:30, 1 ½ hours before the scheduled meeting. The developer bought them all a box lunch and a light blue “I love San Juan” t-shirt. According to one observer, they were then given “a motivational speech and talking points” by developer Troy Bourne. The “blue shirts” took up the seating in the front of the room. After sitting through a lengthy power point presentation by Bourne, they were the first ones called to the podium to speak by Mayor Sam Allevato. Opponents were not called on to speak until 8:30pm, 4 1/2 hours after the meeting started. Noting the disparity, one opponent asked, “You gave the developer hours and gave us residents three minutes to speak? Who are you representing?

Wearing yellow “NO Re-zone/Save San Juan” t-shirts, opponents arrived just prior to the 4 pm meeting and were forced to stand in the back of the room. This prompted one long-time San Juan resident to remark to the council that the blue-shirted supporters he had spoken with did not live in San Juan, yet were taking seats from residents who will be impacted by the development.

Opponents say the “Laguna Glen” project, proposed on the property next to the Sports Park where Armstrong Nursery has its growing grounds, will forever change San Juan. It’s too big they say. The total building square footage is approximately 750,000sf. In comparison, the Capistrano Unified School District headquarters along the I-5 freeway measures 126,000 square feet. The project footprint is more than 1.4 million square feet, on 33 acres. The buildings will be a mix of one, two and three-story buildings with 400+ residential units and a 100+ bed medical center. It will also add 1,759 daily car/truck trips to San Juan streets. If they exceed the traffic estimates, they are not required to fix it; they need only pay a fee to the City.

Mission Viejo

Editorial Opinion

Vote To Protect Your Neighborhood!

By Steve Magdziak

Responsible leadership on the Mission Viejo City Council could resolve problems created by the incumbents seeking re-election:  

  •  Traffic congestion and parking issues the current council “cannot” fix.
  •  The threat of more housing development – look at the mess  on Oso!
  •  Mission Viejo’s fall to #13 among California’s safest cities.

We have solid evidence of the city council’s incompetence and their irresponsible votes – despite their campaign claims of preserving Mission Viejo’s quality of life. Incumbents Rhonda Reardon and Dave Leckness are sending out slick mailers, paid for by a labor union using the name “Citizens to Protect Mission Viejo”. Why is a union backing self-proclaimed “conservatives” Reardon, Leckness and housing lobbyist Wendy Bucknum?

Will you now take action by mailing in your absentee ballot or by going to your polling place on Election Day? Do not vote for Reardon and Leckness or Bucknum!

San Juan Capistrano - Mission Viejo

Teacher’s Union Stalls Negotiations, Attempts to 
Buy Candidates in School Board Race

By Ellen Addonizio and Jim Reardon

The Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) started this school year without a teacher’s union contract, and no negotiations are underway. Meanwhile, the union has paid for the election campaigns of three candidates who, if elected, will secure a school board majority favorable to the union. We believe the refusal to negotiate and the election spending are connected.

The school board opened negotiations with the union on March 12 of this year. The union formally responded on April 23. Since that time, there has been no negotiation and none is planned. The schools have been operating since July 1 without a contract with the teachers.

Salaries and benefits are 90 percent of the cost to operate schools. Three unions and a management association represent CUSD employees. The teacher’s union is by far the largest group, comprised of 2,100 classroom teachers and others. With 63 campuses, CUSD is the largest employer in south Orange County.

We believe the teacher’s union does not want a contract before the school board election on November 4, in order to advance a political agenda. Instead of negotiating as they committed to do in April, the union has stalled and amassed a political war chest of about $150,000 that is being spent to finance three school board candidates. The union, Capistrano Unified Education Association (CUEA), and its affiliated Political Action Committee, CUEA “HOPE”, are spending heavily to support the candidacy of Lynn Hatton in Mission Viejo, along with newcomers Gila Jones in San Juan Capistrano, and Martha McNicholas in Laguna Niguel.

Presumably, all this political spending is intended to secure favorable terms at the bargaining table. How else can you explain the silence from the union at a time when teachers are working with no contract?

Ellen Addonizio was first elected to serve on the CUSD Board of Trustees in 2006, was re-elected in 2010 and is running for re-election in 2014. She serves Area 6, which covers portions of Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel and San Juan Capistrano.

Jim Reardon was elected to the CUSD Board of Trustees in 2012, and serves Area 2 which covers portions of San Juan Capistrano, Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch and Las Flores.



San Juan Capistrano


Union Contributions a Conflict?

Should Council members who accept large campaign contributions from the OC Sheriffs Union recuse themselves from voting to amend or approve the OC Sheriffs Department contract with our City?

Resident Ian Smith suggested such at the Oct. 21 Council meeting, pointing out that Councilmen Allevato, Kramer and Taylor have all accepted large campaign donations from the Sheriffs union (including $5,000 to oppose the recall of Allevato). The council members refused to recuse themselves, noting that it is not (technically) illegal for them to vote on the Sheriffs annual contract for $8 million per year (about 37% of the City’s annual budget), despite having accepted campaign contributions from them.

Smith also pointed out the “outrageously high” salaries of Lt. John Meyer at $310,000 per year, and the Sheriffs Sergeants at $275,000 per year. “No wonder we’re broke,” said Smith.





San Juan Capistrano

Special Favors Questioned

By Kim Lefner

At the October 21 council meeting, resident Clint Worthington addressed the council about an agenda item which amends the lease of city-owned property to Ortega Equestrian Center owner Kathy Holman. Holman who is reportedly a relative of retired Sheriff Brad Gates. Gates was famously referred to as “the 6th Councilman’ by a former council member, due to his influence on the council majority.

Worthington asked the council why Holman is being leased the city property for what amounts to about $246 per year. The lease agreement states that Holman will pay “25% of City sponsored programs" for use of the property. According to the staff report, since 2009 Holman has paid the city a total of $1,232.

Worthington then produced an email exchange between Councilman Sam Allevato and Holman dated November 7, 2011, in which Holman asks for a reduction in the high water bills at her equestrian center. The subject line of her email is: “Water bill is killing me”. Allevato responded with an offer to help by suggesting ways to get a special agricultural (reduced) rate set for stables. He also assured her of votes from Larry Kramer and John Taylor if she could get other stable owners to also make the case for obtaining agricultural rates. Here’s the text of the email response from Sam Allevato:

“Kathy,
The real issue is getting a special rate set for the stables. As you may remember, during the discussion on Agricultural rates, I asked the question lithe stables received a lower rate for their water like the farmers did and the answer was no and that this issue was going to be addressed next time we looked at water rates. Perhaps we could look at this issue sooner than later if all the stables could get together and ask for a special rate based upon it fitting our community character, revenue to the City, similar to the Ag users reasons, etc. Working through the Chamber of Commerce and the new Equestrian Council, this would be a worthwhile endeavor to take on. You know you would have my support, and Larry's, and John's, and ...

Sam“

Holman was granted the agricultural rate, which appears to violate the city’s requirement that agricultural rates be billed only for agricultural purposes. It is unknown whether other stable owners also got the reduced rate. Worthington pointed out that billing equestrians at lower rates violates Proposition 218, which states that the city can only bill customers for what it actually costs to deliver the water. “The city cannot bill customers for something we do not derive direct benefit from. Subsidizing businesses by giving them a reduced rate amounts to charging residential customers more for service they are not receiving. That violates the law,” Worthington said. Besides, Worthington pointed out, an equestrian center is not “agricultural use”.

“This is just more evidence of the favoritism displayed towards those the council majority likes, while sticking the rest of us residents with the tab,” Worthington said.





Letter to the Editor
                                Dirty Politics                                   
                                          
Dirty politics in this town.

All the political signs for Reeve are gone from Camino Capistrano north of the Mission. In their place are signs for Taylor, Frisch, Kramer, Siegel and Williams.

I am spreading the word to friends and neighbors not to vote for the above mentioned.

Diane Morgan
San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano

       Major Traffic Increases on the Horizon 


                                              by Kim Lefner

Anyone trying to get through town knows that traffic in our small town is a mess. It’s not just the new freeway interchange project; the traffic was backed up before that project even started. 
                    
Compounding the problem are development projects that have been approved but not yet built. The largest of these in terms of traffic, is the Distrito La Novia project. Traffic studies estimate 8,000 additional car trips per day added to our already crowded streets, including haulers removing the estimated 25 tons of waste daily from the 775-horse Equestrian Center approved on that site. “Mitigation measures” proposed by the Draft Environmental Impact Report (“DEIR”) consisted only of “lane striping”, “street alignments”, or “payment of in lieu fees”. There was no plan in the DEIR for the daily disposal of the 25 tons of horse manure.

 Other developments approved but not yet built include: 
  • Pacifica San Juan/Sea Country - 416 homes, 96 built as of April, 2014. Above the CUSD headquarters building.
  • Ventanas - 236,329sf of two-story office buildings. Commercial development at the end of Calle Arroyo (near 24 Hour Fitness shopping center). Approved for. Rumors are circulating that the land owners now want to request approval for a medical center and hotel on that site.·
  • Centra Pointe - 34,874sf of two-story office buildings. Rancho Viejo Road across from Marbella Plaza. Under construction.
  • Oliva residential development; 31 approved/ nine more proposed. Under construction , on Del Obispo, across the street from Armstrong’s Nursery/Vermeulen Ranch Center (where the proposed Spieker Development would be built if approved).
  • The Oaks - 32 homes (at last count) on the former Oaks Equestrian Center site.

Mission Viejo

                       Mission Viejo City Council - Let’s Start Over!

                                                              By Steve Magdziak

In Mission Viejo, eight candidates are running for three city council seats on the Nov. 4 ballot. Trish Kelley is terming out, and Dave Leckness and Rhonda Reardon are running for re-election.

I can sum up this election in three words: let’s start over. Remove the incumbents and elect three challengers – Desi Kiss, Ed Sachs and Greg Raths.
Desi Kiss has my vote because he comprehends the budget, Capital Improvement Projects and how the city staff operates. I’m confident he can’t be bought, and he won’t allow the progressives in City Hall to run over the council or deplete the reserves. Desi says the city is at a crossroads, and he wants to preserve the Mission Viejo Company’s low-density plan.

Ed Sachs retired as CEO of the Mobile Electronics Division of Pioneer Electronics, and he serves on the city’s Financial Advisory Commission. He’s good with numbers, smart and quick on his feet. I’m voting for Ed because he’s an advocate of small government and he asks for accountability. He’s a good business manager.

If Desi and Ed both win, Mission Viejo wins. Both men have had professional standing in world-class corporations, and that’s a bonus for our city council.

Greg Raths is the third candidate for the three openings on the council. He’s running as a fiscal conservative, and he’s a retired Marine Corps colonel.

I am recommending against Rhonda Reardon, Dave Leckness and Wendy Bucknum. Bucknum publicly says the three are running together, and Leckness privately says they are not.

San Juan Capistrano


                                Who is Looking Out for the Taxpayers?

                                                                     By Kim Lefner

Plagiarism is bad enough, but using tax dollars to promote and justify one’s existence is even worse in my opinion.

In the September issue of the CCS we reported on an “Opinion Column” in the Capistrano Dispatch about the Orange County Vector Control, allegedly written by Councilman John Taylor. Taylor’s column contained wording identical to a Dispatch “Opinion Column” by former San Clemente Councilman Jim Dahl, and an article published in the OC Register by Anaheim Council member Lucille Kring. Taylor, Dahl and Kring all serve on the Board of the taxpayer-funded OC Vector Control. They were appointed to represent the taxpayers from their respective cities.


 The taxpayer-funded OC Vector Control has 35 Board members
           representing  cities throughout Orange County

Recently, OC Register reporter Meghann Cuniff wrote an article in which former Dispatch editor-turned-public-relations-representative Jonathan Volzke stated that he actually wrote all three of the columns, which the elected officials then claimed as their own. Volzke was working as a public relations representative for a PR firm that had the OC Vector Control as a client. Volzke suggested that this type of misrepresentation is somehow OK because it’s done all the time.   

We now question how elected officials like Taylor, who are supposed to be looking out for the taxpayers’ best interests, instead allow a paid PR firm to use them to promote the PR firms’ clients. This seems like a conflict, especially when the OC Vector Control had recently proposed yet another property tax increase to pay $1 million for a museum exhibit promoting the OC Vector Control. If the elected official is promoting the taxpayer-funded agency, then who is looking out for the taxpayer?

San Juan Capistrano

Roy L. Byrnes, MD
                                    Guest Opinion Column 

                               An Open Letter
               to San Juan Residents
         from San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Dr. Roy Byrnes

I’m the senior member of your City Council and I 'm furious. Two years ago, at the age of 88, I came out of retirement because I couldn’t stand to watch this great City be further decimated by a bunch of greedy folks masquerading as leaders.

Forty years ago as Mayor of San Juan, I established our first General Plan for the City. This capped the population and created the ambiance that we enjoy today. Sadly, the hopes and dreams that we then established are dissolving like a sugar cube in boiling water. Now I drive down the Ortega at a snail’s pace witnessing the hills being carved-up for 14,000 more homes to our east. San Juan Capistrano is becoming merely a freeway on/off ramp for the Ranch's new developments. Our lack of local response is due to out of town power brokers who have stacked the deck on our City Council. We must put a stop to this evil control. Like a spoiled child, this Council deserves a trip to the woodshed to have it's bottom warmed. 

The “Allevato machine”, which controls the Council, seems to have a love affair with litigation. They have never found a lawyer or a litigation they didn't want to embrace. If this gladdens your heart, then pick the slate of Kramer and Taylor. They have pushed our legal bills with the firm of Rutan and Tucker to over a million dollars a year – and rising!

Mission Viejo

                         Know Who You’re Voting For
                                                                    
                                                              By Joe Holtzman

Two Mission Viejo City Council candidates came under scrutiny on September 3. How did they respond? They misrepresented their records, ideology and votes, defying facts on video and audiotape.                        

The occasion was the county’s GOP endorsement committee meeting. Councilwoman Rhonda Reardon and challenger Wendy Bucknum took adjacent seats facing six members of the Orange County Republican Central Committee.

Audience members were allowed to speak in opposition to the candidates. Four Mission Viejo residents informed the committee that Bucknum is a paid lobbyist whose campaign is financed with special-interest money. They exposed Reardon’s false claim she lowered the city’s pension debt and cut wasteful spending.

San Juan Capistrano

Letter to the Editor
                                                                                                                         
            
                                            Nature, Politics and Water

Natural forces and a decade of bad political decisions are converging to create a water crisis in San Juan that is almost unimaginable. Property values, lifestyle and employment are among the items at stake. Serious long-term environmental damage may already be underway too.

The upcoming election represents an opportunity for the community to change direction on water by changing the majority of our City Council.

Our city is now embroiled in two separate lawsuits arising from its water policies. While city wells are nearly empty, the city council has chosen quietly to protect the status quo. There is no logic to this except to protect their control of the City Council. The interests of this majority are also aligned with our lavishly expensive Utility Department staff and their fabulously expensive Groundwater Recovery Plant [“GWRP”]. The GWRP is a miraculous device; it drains the wells and the city treasury simultaneously!

In July, the ruling council majority implemented new water rates that are cynically opposed to water conservation, rewarding everyone in town with a 50 percent increase in their allocation of the lowest cost water. Afterward, they lecture us about the necessity of conservation!  

After the election, they will be forced to reverse course and implement draconian water penalties in response to obvious natural conditions. The structure of these inevitable restrictions will affect your property values, your lifestyle and jobs in this area.

Voters would be wise to install a fresh majority to consider these crisis issues from a new and independent perspective.

Jim Reardon
San Juan Capistrano

Member, Capistrano Taxpayers Association
 



Mission Viejo

Letter to the Editor
                     More On Billboards,
                             Toll Lanes                          

In the September CCS, I wrote about the Mission Viejo City Council race with a brief description of each candidate. A reader emailed the Mission Viejo editor and asked for further information about council incumbent Rhonda Reardon, who is running for re-election.

 The article referenced her support for electronic billboards and toll lanes on the 405. Discussions can be found on council videotapes (1-21-13 for billboards; 12-2-13 and 9-2-14 for toll roads).

 Additionally, Reardon in December 2012 arranged a private meeting on behalf of billboard developer Colby Durnin and consultant Roger Faubel. She invited residents as well as Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht. The residents told CCS the meeting was to talk down their resistance to billboards.

Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht said, “Rhonda’s position during the meeting was that she was OK with the electronic billboards on the Kaleidoscope building as long as they faced the freeway and not homes.”
If residents watch the 1-12-13 council meeting, they will observe Reardon’s concern about offsite advertising on the billboards and her vote in the 4-1 majority against asking city staff to work on changing the city’s sign ordinance.

Councilwoman Schlicht told CCS, “The electronic billboards are not dead. They’ll be back after the election.”
 Reardon had two opportunities during council meetings (12-2-13 and 9-2-14) to go on record opposing toll lanes on the 405. Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht twice attempted to pass a resolution in opposition to toll lanes. No other council member supported the resolutions, and no action was taken by the council. Perhaps there’s a fine line between supporting toll lanes and being opposed to opposing them.
Kirk Kelley
Mission Viejo
 

Mission Viejo

Letter to the Editor
                                                                             
                         Restore Mission Viejo to #1

Two city council incumbents are in campaign mode – Dave Leckness and Rhonda Reardon. They’re saying Mission Viejo is California’s safest city, and Reardon said it in her ballot statement.

How many years has it been since Mission Viejo was the safest city?

Based on FBI crime data, Mission Viejo is No. 13 on one list (http://lawstreetmedia.com/slideshow-americas-safest-dangerous-cities/california-2014/) and No. 18 on another (http://www.safewise.com/blog/50-safest-cities-california/). Rather than claiming we’re No. 1, shouldn’t the incumbents explain the decline?

They should also explain why the costs of policing the city have gone up 76 percent during the past 10 years. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/public-635037-safety-percent.html

Rather than keeping the city safe, Leckness and Reardon are contributing to its decline. They’re changing our community of single-family homes and open space to high-density projects. Leckness and Reardon have either approved high-density housing (e.g., on Oso near the freeway) or increased apartment density (on Los Alisos near the 241).

Watch Leckness on this YouTube video, crowing about the apartments and turning Oso into an 8-lane freeway for cut-through traffic, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2BR8HX5TMs&feature=em-share_video_user

Instead of listening to campaign rhetoric, let’s elect leaders to restore our city to No. 1. I strongly recommend that voters remove both Leckness and Reardon from the council in the Nov. 4 election.

Lamar Kelsoe
Mission Viejo
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