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Councilman Kramer might think it crazy, but I’ve been steadfast with my campaign promises

San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Derek Reeve. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Derek Reeve. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano

By Derek Reeve, San Juan Capistrano City Councilman

While our city leaders may routinely disagree on issues, there is nevertheless the expectation of the public and others that the council will remain respectful and civil with each other.

Unfortunately, that has never been the case for the majority of our city council and particularly Councilman Larry Kramer.

In a recent article in The Dispatch (“New Water Rates Will Set the City on an Upward Path,” June 27-July 10), Councilman Kramer lambasted Councilman Roy Byrnes and me for senselessness and political posturing. His reason? Simply because we disagree with his vote to increase your water rates by more than 30 percent.

This is nothing new for Councilman Kramer. He previously allied himself with radical fringe groups to condemn me for the names of my dogs, publicly called my wife and I bad parents, and he conspired with establishment Orange County RINOs (Republican In Name Only) and a liberal legislator from Northern California to fraudulently induce the attorney general to investigate me for arguing that Kramer’s illegal vote to ban newspapers was itself a violation of the Constitution, just to name a few.

Despite his lack of decorum, he got one thing right. I have never raised taxes or fees. I never have nor will I in the future. I thank him for this moment of accuracy.

This has in fact been a steadfast and consistent position of mine for the past four years. As a liberal politician, Kramer regards this position as crazy and bizarre. However, it is a pledge many Republican candidates for office make. The sad truth is most Republicans fail to keep their word. This was my primary motivation for running for council four years ago. I was tired of supporting candidates who would say one thing and then violate their campaign promises soon after they were elected. I am proud that I have never broken a campaign promise.

Not only have I fought tax and fee increases, and supported tax reductions when the opportunity arose, I even advocated eliminating the needless business licenses, a tax that Kramer supports.

Kramer continues to advocate for taxpayer bonds, taxing downtown parking and a new ordinance that would criminally penalize water usage on top of his 30 percent water rate increase. He refuses to acknowledge that alternatives exist. Why raise taxes when we can simply cut spending? Government does not have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem.

City leaders set a poor example by bullying those who simply disagree with them. Degrading fellow council members and insulting their family is contemptible. While my term on the city council is near conclusion, I urge people to vote for leaders who keep their word and reject spendthrift bullies. Always remember: Together, we can fight City Hall.

Derek Reeve has been a resident of San Juan Capistrano since 1998 and has served on the City Council since 2010. He is a husband and father of two children, who currently attend school in San Juan Capistrano. Professionally, Reeve is an attorney who has been a member of the California State Bar Association since 1996. He is a constitutional scholar and graduate of the University of Southern California, as well as Claremont Graduate University.

In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, The Capistrano Dispatch provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of The Capistrano Dispatch or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at

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comments (14)

  • Wow, Derek, what a novel idea: “City leaders set a poor example by bullying those who simply disagree with them. Degrading fellow council members and insulting their family is contemptible,” I would agree with you, but is it okay for you write immature, sarcastic, demeaning and threatening letters to your constituent should they disagree with you?

    Let’s step back and look at a few of the issues that you and the council have been ignoring – Global warming –> Climate Change –> Sea-Level Rise –> Population Growth –> Drought –> Water.

    Okay, I’ll give you one. Water has been discussed by the council, but haven’t you been the number one obstacle to finding a solution to the water problem?

    Climate Scientist/Writer Joe Romm points out in his July 10, 2014 article: “The bad news is that humanity has dawdled for so long that our only realistic chance to avoid multiple, irreversible, catastrophic climate impacts is to slash both carbon dioxide and the “super pollutants” like methane sharply, starting as soon as possible.”

    Romm continues, quoting Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia’s Earth Institute: “We’ve been told the basic falsehood that somehow fracking is going to save us, which is basically the opposite of the truth.” He closes with “What kind of good news can the world expect after ignoring near-unanimous expert advice for 25 years?” And let’s not overlook the fact that every president since John F. Kennedy has warned us of the coming catastrophe, which we alone are responsible.

    The big question, is what have you Derek Reeve, done to find solutions to the above list of problems? You’re good at delaying tactics to stall the council from doing its job by introducing crazy ordinances such as:

    * Arming teachers in the classroom.
    * Calling for an ordinance to permit the carrying of unloaded sidearms in our public parks.
    * Spreading hate towards “middle eastern students and naming your dog “Muhammad” to insult Muslims.

    Two weeks ago a scientist spokesperson for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) predicted that California would be out of water within the next 24 months if this extended “exceptional” drought continues. On July 8, 2014, Jay Famiglietti, writing for the L.A. Times reported that “We used to have a lot of water in California, but now we don’t. Without a few successive winters of above-average precipitation, we have only enough water in storage to get through the next 12 to 18 months, and that’s it. Beyond that, many of our state and local water managers have thrown up their hands because they just don’t know where our water will come from.” He closes with a warning: “It is time for Southern Californians to wake up and smell the dusty, dry air that has turned the rest of the Golden State brown. We are in big trouble too; we just can’t see it through the over-watered foliage.”

    Patrick Healy, writing for San Diego’s NBC affiliate, states: “Since the early 20th century, sustaining Southern California’s population growth and agricultural industry has required importing water from the Colorado River and from the Central Valley’s Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. Importing water was intended to reduce the drawing down of ground-water, but in an average year, California consumes 1 to 2 million more acre-feet of groundwater than is replenished, the drawdown even more severe in drought years, the study found.”

    It has also become apparent that this years developing El Niño isn’t going to bring the drought to an end. According to the L.A. Times, “recent forecasts [indicate] a weaker El Niño event than first reported, [putting] 2014 . . . on track to become California’s warmest year, and among its driest, on record.”

    On January 17, 2014, “Govenor Jerry Brown officially declared a drought emergency . . . “urging residents to cut water use by 20% and directing state agencies to take a range of steps to ease the effects of water shortages on agriculture, communities and fish and wildlife.”

    Unfortunately, the voluntary conservation approach isn’t working. The Tiered Water Rates that you opposed, going so far as to apparently assist a local group in overturning the rate structure in court, would have helped mitigate some of the problems associated with our diminishing water supply.

    As water becomes more scarce, water rates are not just going up a few cents per 100 gallons, the price is going to skyrocket astronomically because we can’t live without water.

    Let me add in here, that desalination and privatization of our water supplies are not a solution. As Patrick Healy points out in his commentary above, “desalination remains an option for acquiring drinking water from the ocean, but because the existing technology is so energy-expensive, desalinated water is far more expensive than water from other sources.”

    Consequently, we must quickly address the issues of long-term excessive CO2 and short-term pollutants such as methane. We are out of time when it comes to water. A rapidly diminishing water supply coupled with increasing population pose an immediate threat to San Juan Capistrano and our neighboring towns.

    Previously, I mentioned fracking. Fracking is yet another threat to our future, one which Governor Jerry Brown and the legislature endorse in order to balance our budget. First he calls for voluntary conservation of 20% per person, while simultaneously endorsing fracking. That is pure insanity. Fracking consumes an inordinate amount of water. A single well can consume between 54 to 90 million gallons (165,780,000 to 276,300,000 acre feet) of water over its lifetime. It also increases CO2 and methane release into the atmosphere, making it no better than other fossil fuels. Fracking is a no win situation, regardless of which angle you observe it.

    Here are a few things that we should be doing at our local level.

    * Enact the following resolution in order to send a clear message to Sacramento.

    “The people of the City of San Juan Capistrano have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. San Juan Capistrano’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the City of San Juan Capistrano conserves and maintains them for the benefit of all the people.

    Therefore, it is resolved that the unconventional well stimulation technologies known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking), hi-rate gravel packing, and acidizing used to produce oil and gas from shale formations are permanently banned within the city limits of San Juan Capistrano, California and its adjacent ocean waters within the City’s jurisdiction.”

    * Mandate that all new construction include water recycling capability, taking sink and laundry water and using it to flush toilets in the house/building. It is estimated that a family of four can save up to 35% of its water needs by recycling.

    Provide a means for existing home or business owners to retrofit their homes or places of business.

    * Raise the minimum wage in San Juan Capistrano to $15.00 an hour. This would not only boost our economy, it would allow the poorest among us to be able to participate in finding solutions, such as installing drip irrigation for their plants, etc.

    * Mandate water conservation. Set down strict rules and enforce them with substantial fines. Lake Elsinore has recently sent out letters announcing a $500.00 fine for wasting water.

    * Follow the lead of Lincoln and Rocklin, California and reduce the speed limits on our city streets to 35 m.p.h., and endorse the use of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) and installation of solar recharing stations in local parking lots where NEV and electric vehicle operators can recharge their vehicles while they shop.

    The above are just a few things the City Council could have been doing the past four years to mitigate the effects of global warming, climate change, drought, and diminishing water supply, but no, you would rather play politics and stand in the way of those trying to save the future for our children, including your children as well.

  • I support many of Joanna’s suggestions. Fracking is a terrible waste of water which should be going to support both farming and essential residential use, i.e., drinking , etc. Use of our diminishing supply of water for lawns and other ornamental uses must be restricted. Some of my neighbors have been taking out lawns and planting drought-resistant native plants. We are considering it now. Another action all homeowners can take is to install better attic insulation, weatherization, more efficient heating and cooling units, repair ducts, etc. Experts tell us that the typical home wastes up to 50% of the electricity and gas we use. Following the Claremont’s example, the city should partner with community organizations to encourage residents to make these improvements.

  • In a sad era of our history, Senator Joe McCarthy would ask a person the same question over and over again. “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?”
    When he had asked it enough times in public, folks would begin to wonder if there was any truth to it? Is the recipient of the question at least a little guilty? After all, haven’t we all heard this acquisition before?

    This is the type of transgression Derek Reeve is guilty of regarding The Capistrano Dispatch through his columns. I know this fine newspaper allows columnists and letter-to-the-editor writers to speak freely. This is usually a good policy. However, Council Member Reeve is abusing this privilege by using this paper to spread misinformation. His recent Guest Opinion, Vol. 12, Issue 13, is a personal attack and a continuation of his spreading information he knows to be wrong (30% water rates increases). He has previously put forth these same shameful items in your respected paper, at City Council meetings, in the Common Sense newspaper, and elsewhere. He is getting his opportunity to make false claims over and over to the point readers will say, “Hey! Haven’t I previously read about outrageous water increases?”

    This paper retains the right to edit submissions or refuse to print them. Please, in respect for your brand, The Capistrano Dispatch, exercise your rights when Reeve abuses his privileges by stating the same lies and personal attacks over and over again. Please add a footnote with what your reporter knows to be correct data, and add a disclaimer to personal attacks.
    Please do not provide Reeve a forum for his repeated yelling out loud, “Are you now, or have you ever been . . .?”

  • These comments are hysterical since two of the people making comments are rabid socialist who have a history of publicly hating Reeve and his conservative beliefs. You obviously didn’t take his message to heart. Instead you lie, demean and malign Reeve. Larry Kramer must be so proud.

    • Joanna M. Clark

      Patrick, it is obvious that you didn’t read his letter to me, prior to his posting this opinion piece. I agreed with him, but then pointed out that he was just as guilty as the others before I turned to a factual discussion of our water situation.

      I am concerned about one thing . . . our children and grandchildren’s future. Without water, there will be no food, and there is no guarantee this “exceptional” drought is going to end anytime soon. Do you honest believe the cost of our water is going to go down as its availability diminishes.

      I suggest you stop watching Fox news and do a little reading in the peer-reviewed science journals or books written by actual scientists. Then go look at the condition of our rivers at both ends of the state. And as you drive through the central valley, look at the acreage left fallow because there is no water to grow crops.

  • Amen, Dave. In the meantime, the State has acted where the City Council has apparently failed to act … “Wasting water outdoors amid the state’s drought will begin hitting Californians in the wallet under get-tough restrictions passed by state regulators, with fines of up to $500 a day for overwatering front lawns or washing a car without a nozzle on the hose.

    “The State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday considered draft emergency regulations. They are intended to put teeth into conservation efforts that so far have produced disappointing results.

    “Most of the regulations considered by the board are aimed at reducing outdoor water use in cities and towns, which the board said accounts in some areas for more than half of residents’ daily water use.

    “The regulations prohibit overwatering of lawns and landscaping that causes runoff onto sidewalks or streets, washing sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces, using a hose to wash a vehicle unless the hose has a shut-off nozzle and using drinking water in a fountain or decorative water feature unless the water is recirculated.” – NBC News.

    Perhaps it is time the Council consider the resolution to ban fracking here and send a message to Sacramento. We are not the only ones that should be conserving water.

  • Aren’t you the same yahoo Dave Solt that with Laura Freeze wanted to take taxpayer money and purchase distressed low income property. Talk about communism. Whatever happened to capitalism Dave. Tell me How successful you were at your pet project. How much taxpayer money did you spend with attorneys to get this legislation approved ?

    After you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money Dave Solt, how many properties did you buy? Was it twenty, ten, five or zero. What a waste of time and money your pet project was.

    Thank you Derek Reeve for not raising taxes. Thank you Derek Reeve for not raising water rates. Thank you Derek Reeve for not raising Sewer rates.

  • Not sure you are aware of this, Joanna Clark, but San Juan Capistrano does not have any oil wells or fracking. In my opinion, a nut case.

    • Gus, you are correct in that we do not have any fracking going on in San Juan Capistrano.

      The issue is where does our water come from? The fracking is going on north of us, and the frackers are syphoning off millions to billions of gallons of water that should be reserved for agriculture and residential use. If we don’t get some rain it is predicted California will be out of water within 24 months. Others have predicted that we’ll be out of water within the next 12 to 24 months. Seventeen towns in Northern California have been reported to be on the verge of running out of water in the next 60 to 90 days.

      The San Juan basin is threatened as well as our other sources of water, because it is primarily recharged from the San Juan and Trabuco Canyon creeks, and they are drying up just like all the other rivers in California. The bottom line is that our GWRP cannot supply the needs of our entire city if we lose our water supply from the MWD.

      The governor has declared an emergency and asked us to cutback on our water use by 20%. Voluntarily conservation didn’t work, so this past week the state started invoking fines up to $500. At the same time the state has given a green light to expanded fracking.

      A number of cities and counties have already banned fracking. The goal is to send a message to Sacramento that the citizen’s of California will not tolerate fracking, especially during this extend “exceptional” drought.

      Stopping the fracking will impact jobs in Kern county, but as many citizens of county have said, there is a potential for a lot more “green” jobs in the county installing solar and wind turbines,

      As water becomes more scarce, water and food prices will escalate until it will be only affordable by the richest among us.

      • So what you are saying is that it is a non event in San Juan Capistrano? Being a non event in our city, isn’t it tough to send a message to Sacramento when it does not means zero changes to any of the business in San Juan Capistrano ?

        The GWRP was never designed to meet 100% of the water needs of the residents of San Juan. In fact, during a drought as you mentioned, the GWRP is useless as the water table is dropping rapidly. In addition, you have the salt water incursion that is eminent due to that salt water incursion.

        If you don’t think that is true, our city is spending 1.6 million dollars in purchasing recycled water to recharge the San Juan Basin. We are now paying for the water twice.

        Maybe your comments are truly based upon a state level and not a city level as fracking does not effect our city.

  • Guz, are you crazy? You don’t think a lack of water isn’t going to affect our local businesses here in San Juan, or the residents for that matter.

    I am well aware Guz as to the geological history of the San Juan Basin, and when the water levels drop salt water incursion will occur. I’m also aware that we are currently drawing about 43% of our water from the basin via the GWRP.

    Please consider the following:

    1) We are in an extended “exceptional” drought. If you don’t know what “exceptional” means in relation to a drought, I suggest you look it up.

    2) There is no evidence that the drought is going to end this year, or even next year. All we can do is pray. Oh, did I mention, that the Governors of Oklahoma and Texas tried that when they asked the faithful to pray to God to end the drought. The drought spread to New Mexico and the Carolinas, so either God wasn’t listening or she was sending a message to us . . . “You broke my beautiful creation. You are responsible and it is your responsibility to fix it, otherwise I will take it back and start over after you are all gone.”

    3) State reservoirs are at an all time low. Rivers are running dry.

    4) Farmers in the Central Valley are leaving acres fallow because of a lack of water.

    5) Check out the Landsat photographs of Lakes Powell and Mead taken annually since 1985. Mead is less than a third its original size, and Las Vegas is constructing an eight-foot diameter pipe to the deepest point in the lake. They want that last drop of water. When the lakes level reaches 1050 feet, the electrical generators stop, and the remaining water will be divided up between the states in accordance with the treaty.

    6) Our population here in Southern California is growing, putting more demands on our dwindling water supply.

    7) The USDA predicts that California will run out of water in the next 24 months. Another group predicts 12 to 18 months, if we don’t get sufficient rain to recharge our reservoirs and rivers.

    8) A single well consumes 3 to 5 million gallons of water in a single frack. If you frack a well 18 times, the amount of water consumed increases to 54 to 90 million gallons. If you sink 1000 new wells, the water consumed increases to 54 to 90 billion gallons. Convert that to acre feet. That water is toxic after a frack, and it cannot be used for agriculture, drinking, cooking or bathing.

    It the drought continues, our population continues to grow, and the oil and gas cartels are allowed to syphon off billions of gallons of water, we are going to be either out of water, or the water will be so expensive that only the rich will be able to afford it. By the way, “About two weeks ago, three South Coast water agencies — desperate to augment supplies in the face of a withering drought — combined forces to place a bid on surplus State Water from purveyors in Madera County. They offered what they thought at the time was an extravagant amount: $1,600 an acre-foot. They didn’t come close. The winning bid weighed in at a staggering $2,200 per acre-foot, and the three thirsty water districts, Montecito, Santa Barbara and Solvang, came up empty.”

    “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” — Ben Franklin

    The state isn’t listening to us individual citizens. The only alternative is for the cities and counties to ban fracking. If that doesn’t get Sacramento’s attention, then we are all screwed.

    So Guz, what do you propose to resolve this water catastrophe that is starring us in the face. I’ve met many like you, but no one has offered a solution.

  • Uhhh…Joanna if we are out of water, so is everyone else. Every business in California would be affected. It is not exclusive to San Juan Capistrano.

    Sorry Joanna, not in an extended exceptional drought. Quit playing the drama card. We have had a couple of dry years. So what. It is cyclical. We will also have a couple of wet years too. Again, it is cyclical.

    Yes, There are reservoirs and rivers that are not dry. I am sorry you missed those. Farmers do leave the land fallow. It is called a wise use of the land so you do not deplete it of the minerals and nutrients that plants need. Get a clue Drama Joanna.

    As for Lake Meade and Lake Powell, yes that is called a water use plan. All planned for years ago. No Drama there.

    I don’t propose anything Joanna. It is a dry water year. Get over it. In the next year or two, we will be flooded with water and you will be all dramaded out because so much water is going into the ocean. Take a chill pill.

  • Geez, Gus . . . have you looked at the U.S. Drought Monitor lately.

    Are those reservoirs or rivers you mention at near or full capacity? I suggest you take a look around the state. As for the rivers – Lots of water in the San Joaquin there to draw upon.

    I hope you’re right Gus, that we will get rain in the coming year, but I would rather trust the science than someone such as yourself who chooses to live in a dream world. The link below has a January 2014 picture of the Almaden reservoir up by San Jose. Doesn’t look like it’s in very good shape.

    In the meantime, forget taxes, the cost of water is going to up and those who can’t afford to pay will no doubt get their water shut off, e.g. Detroit.

    • Uhhhh….Joanna lakes and rivers are not designed to be at near or full capacity. When they are at or near capacity it produces flooding as they cannot handle more water. But then you already knew that didn’t you Joanna ?

      Interestingly enough, the largest lake that is closest to us, Diamond Lake in Hemet is full. But again, you already knew that Joanna didn’t you ?

      Creating drama with the Chicken Liitle approach is not becoming to you.

      Lastly, I am so glad that you brought up Detroit. The problem with the water, has nothing to do with water, it has to do with the city filing BANKRUPTCY. Even the former employees who were receiving a pension are taking a haircut.

      The Dramatic Chicken Liitle approach is not becoming to you Joanna. It will rain again like it has for millions of years. Just ask Noah.

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