Mission Viejo

                                     Tax Dollars Wasted ... Part II
                                                                 By Larry Gilbert

 Editor’s note: In the August issue, writer Larry Gilbert outlined the history of the original proposed construction of Mission Viejo’s City Hall near the old Mall and Mission Hospital, off Crown Valley Parkway. He then addressed the City’s efforts to create a Town Center in the strip mall across from the library and the present-day City Hall, to compete with other south county cities. The City spent $1 million on the design prior to obtaining voter input. When put to a vote, 75% of voters at the time rejected the construction of the City Hall at that Crown Valley Parkway location. Gilbert also pointed out that the “Village Center” strip mall on Marguerite was never intended by the Mission Viejo Company to become part of a master planned downtown area. 

Listed below is Part II of the article, which addresses the taxpayer-funded redevelopment agency’s role in the proposed “enhancement” of the strip mall and subsequent waste of taxpayer dollars.

Having only three minutes to speak under Public Comments at the August 25th council meeting about the proposed enhancement of the “Village Center” strip mall across from the library, I was unable to include background information about the original intent of the Mission Viejo Company and the will of the voters in developing a Town Center master plan. However, I did address the issue at hand, which is listed in my remarks to the council below.
"(City attorney) Bill Curley; Remember this date as I'm here to support you. I've heard at both a council meeting and a Town Hall meeting that if the city can't convince the 13 stakeholders in the 80-acre Village Center (across from the library) to revitalize their properties, we will replace our city attorney and find new attorneys to force them out. Really?

 Let me take us back to the June 19, 2007 City Workshop that I attended, to illustrate why in my opinion, this is a wrong-headed decision.

 The council at the time retained the services of the Urban Land Institute to address the Village Center eyesore. John Shumway of the Concord Group presented a 33-page plan to transform the area into a vibrant center with 100,000 square feet of lifestyle tenants, 100,000 square feet of inline retail shops and 35,000 to 50,000 square feet of restaurants. The plan also called for 350-450 residential units (that I would have opposed). There would be shops on the ground floor and offices above. The plan would also introduce art in the public places.

 Council members; Please don't spend taxpayer money with another wasteful study on this site! That ship sailed when we received a gift from Governor Jerry Brown in 2011, followed by the CA Supreme Court unanimous vote to abolish our Redevelopment Agencies, which were ultimately dissolved in 2012. 

The 2007 city council, which included member Frank Ury, missed the boat. The time for action was 2007 thru 2011, before we shut down the Redevelopment Agencies. You can no longer impose "eminent domain" to take any of these properties as that hammer was removed from your tool box. If the owners refuse to cooperate, you can still use your police powers of ‘eminent domain’ to take their land for a new fire station, police headquarters or a school, but that's about all. 

The current proposed Legislation, AB-2, won't cut it as this location as it is not a high crime area, does not contain high unemployment, nor is it at a poverty level for consideration under AB-2, should it become law. Three out of four conditions are required to qualify and that Center fails the three that I've just identified.

While I surely agree that the owners should modernize their properties, five former Mayors; Reavis, Kelley (twice), Ury, MacLean and Riordan, have made the task of gaining cooperation from those owners to revitalize their properties much harder to achieve. After having a plan for this area they all dropped the ball.”

Larry Gilbert, a retired electronics industry executive, has lived in Mission Viejo since 1977. He is an elected board member of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights and is a Mayoral Appointee to the M.V. Oversight Board to the (redevelopment) Successor Agency.

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