The City of San Juan Capistrano’s current agreement for Blenheim Facility Management to oversee operations at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park is now good through June 30.
The City Council approved a short-term lease extension on Tuesday, March 21, since the agreement was set to expire on March 31.
City representatives are negotiating with Blenheim officials Robert and Hillary Ridland, a married couple—also known as The Ridland Group—on a long-term agreement that would ensure continued oversight of and improvements at the riding park.
The city owns the property and purchased it and the wider Eastern Open Space, which includes Reata Park, from Rancho Mission Viejo in 2010.
“At that time and continuously since then, the property has been operated by Blenheim Facility Management under various agreements with the city,” Assistant to the City Manager and Community Services Director Matisse Reischl said. “BFM, as they’re known, provides equestrian competitions, soccer tournaments, community and holiday events, and concerts at the facility.”
The short-term extension calls for escalating monthly payments to the city: $40,000 due on April 1, $60,000 due on May 1, and $80,000 due on June 1. Those funds will go toward maintaining and operating the town’s Eastern Open Space.
Councilmember Troy Bourne said the “significant” rent increase is due to increasing urgency with getting a long-term agreement in place.
“Some of these projects we’re required to see completed as a city have timelines associated with them, and we’re trying to avoid creating liability for the city by creating some urgency in the short-term extension, so we can get this deal done as consistent as possible with what was originally proposed,” Bourne said.
The city is required to facilitate water quality improvements under a consent decree reached years ago, following a lawsuit by Orange County Coastkeeper over poor water quality at the Eastern Open Space due to horses at the park contributing to water pollution through excrement.
Similar short-term lease extensions have been previously approved.