By City Councilwoman Kerry Ferguson
Siempre Adelante, Nunca Atras. Like San Junipero Serra, let’s keep San Juan Capistrano moving forward—it’s no time to regress. Some claim to be truth-tellers, but they tell mostly half-truths, leaving out important facts, and in some cases, telling untruths all together.
Will the Vermeulen lawsuit bankrupt our city? Mayor Derek Reeve says absolutely not, and with good reason. The city has filed a challenge on many grounds.
The lawsuit denies the city’s right to decide zoning by forcing it to up-zone. That’s contrary to California law. The landowners may not want to use or sell it for agribusiness uses, but someone else could, quite profitably—Armstrong Gardens has for years. The lawsuit also improperly undermines the will of the voters, who exercised their inherent referendum powers. The city wisely listened to the 60 percent of voters who voted against incumbents favoring the Spieker project during the last election. Also, Spieker didn’t challenge the repeal in a timely manner (within 90 days after the repeal).
As to Spieker’s second proposal, the California Election Code prohibits our acting contrary to the referendum within 12 months. Claims of regulatory taking, due process and equal protection are challenged on procedural and legal grounds. Last, the idea that Measure D and Measure Y funds required spending on the Vermeulen property is an untimely attempt to change decades-old decisions. In short, the city looks forward to having their defense to this lawsuit heard by the court.
These same naysayers say Robert Ming is unqualified and his hiring as a consultant was unjustified. Ming was elected twice to the Laguna Niguel City Council and twice as mayor, and he’s also a founder and the first president of the Association of California Cities-Orange County, chosen by his peers. He has consulted similarly with several cities and will help greatly in searching for a new city manager, one who will assemble and lead a great team to help our city continue upward.
Naysayers also contend falsely that the City Council is not working for all our residents. We meet constantly with constituents, whether they voted for us or not. We’re working to enhance everyone’s quality of life while preserving the best of our past. San Juan Capistrano is on the verge of a renaissance, and we’re happy to lead the way forward.
We are bringing the beautiful Mission Inn San Juan Capistrano to town after others had given up in favor of a strip mall with little support. It will be a landmark—another “jewel” to join the “Jewel of the Missions.” Another hotel is also planned—one that’s far superior to the proposal rammed through at 3 a.m. by the former City Council. We’re also encouraging a new Camino Real Playhouse.
Last year, in response to my article “What Would Judge Egan Think?” Bill Griffith partnered with Dan Friess to restore the Egan House, which stood vacant for 10 years. Now it will house a fabulous bakery/deli.
After years of talking, important projects are moving ahead, such as closing gaps in our trails and doing something about the Ghost Train. A new lane will prevent back-ups, for starters. At last, we’ll see a super-size skate park at our Sports Park.
We’re also working to improve safety and the quality of life of neighbors impacted by overcrowding and inconsiderate parking.
The naysayers, including Councilman Sam Allevato, claimed our summer trolley would be a boondoggle—costing the city way too much. Councilman Allevato wrote it was “running in circles, empty for hours.” However, records showed it was rarely empty, enjoyed by all and ran a useful route that helped with parking. We well exceeded our 10 riders per hour goal and—thanks to an AQMD grant and help from the Mission and Heritage Tourism Association—we only needed a few thousand dollars from the general fund.
As I’m finishing this, yet another set of misrepresentations and untruths has been revealed, showing the lengths naysayers and bullies will go to in order to regain power. Stay tuned.