Mission Viejo

                                   City Property Appraisal Way Off

                                                                  by Kirk Kelley

During the May 18 Mission Viejo council meeting, the council voted to sell city-owned property ("Site C") near the animal shelter. The speed with which it happened is one thing, and the questions about the value of the property are a whole other matter.
The 33-acre parcel was appraised in 2007 at $57.5 million. Eight years later, the same parcel was appraised at $7.96 million.

 To put the decreased value into perspective, a similar property in Mission Viejo (28-acre Casta del Sol open space) was appraised in 2008 at $840,000. In 2014, the value was $3.6 million.

Can anyone explain why the Site C appraisal plummeted while the Casta open space appraisal increased by 400 percent? No notable changes took place on either property during the time frame.
As another twist, the sellers and the buyers are the same people. The council members were acting as the city council to sell the property to the council members acting as the Mission Viejo Housing Authority to buy the property.

The transfer of Site C passed with a 4-1 vote with Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht dissenting. She expressed surprise that her fellow council members weren't interested in asking questions or getting another appraisal. The council majority proceeded as if the transaction were a fire sale.

The Mission Viejo Housing Authority can now sell the property by “flipping” it to a housing developer.

What information is missing to explain why four council members quickly sold taxpayers' property at a drastic reduction in price? For one thing, the city's projections for revenue aren't so good. The council voted in May to spend $1.5 million paying down an unfunded liability of retiree health benefits. The council voted on June 14 to spend $7.7 million on the Marguerite swim center remodel -- choosing the most expensive option (4-1 vote with Councilwoman Schlicht dissenting). On the other hand, city administrator Keith Rattay said in May that he didn't have enough money in his budget to create a water conservation plan, so he would proceed to tear out the grass in city parks to save water.

It looks as if the council majority bought itself some breathing room by selling a 33-acre parcel at a greatly reduced price. A Mission Viejo resident who made public comments about the transaction said it sounded like the City of Bell.

Kirk Kelley is a longtime Mission Viejo resident who is a fiscal conservative and an advocate of open government.


What do you think about this deal? Do you think the city should obtain another appraisal? The CCS wants to hear from you! Email us at: eboard@ccsense.com.

Kirk Kelley is a longtime Mission Viejo resident who is a fiscal conservative and an advocate of open government.


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