By Jonathan Volzke
San Juan Capistrano residents generally support a second bond to buy more open space, as long as the measure includes procedures to ensure officials are accountable for managing and spending the money, according to a survey of 400 registered voters.
The poll was taken in early December as part of the effort by the city’s Open Space Committee’s, which is examining whether to protect more land from development—and how to pay for it. Residents were asked whether they’d be willing to pay an additional $35 a year on their property-tax bill per $100,000 in assessed valuation of their property for the open space. The city, home to Mission San Juan Capistrano and the annual Swallows Day Parade, is already 40 percent open space, but more than half of that is privately owned golf courses and similar properties.
In 1990, voters approved a bond measure to purchase open space. The measure was $21 million – $19 million to purchase land; $2 million for improvements. The measure was for $21 million and targeted 140 acres of open space. The city purchased the Kinoshita Farm (56.4 acres) in the southwest portion of town and built a sports park complex. This city also purchased about 68 acres in the northwest area of town, which boasts roughly 590 acres. The city hopes to replicate that success with another bond measure to take more property out of the hands of would-be developers.
The results of the poll, released Thursday, also show strong support for the open-space protection measure on the November 8 ballot. About 68 percent of respondents said they’d likely vote “yes” on that measure, which would require voter approval before general plan changes to land designed open space.
Poll respondents generally said the city of 36,000 was on the right track, with 47 percent of the respondents saying the city was heading in the right direction, while 15 percent said it was heading the wrong way. An additional 28 percent gave mixed reviews, with 10 percent unable to answer.
The general approval rating for the City Council and Planning Commission has dipped since the city last asked in 2001, though: Then, 65 percent of respondents said they approved of the job the council was doing, while only 61 percent gave the high grade this year. The disapproval rating was 21 percent during both surveys. The Planning Commission received a 44 percent approval rating, down from 48 percent in 2001.
The city’s Open Space Committee will discuss the poll results when it meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 7 at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto. The city’s master plan for open space is also on the agenda.