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San Juan Capistrano Mayor Sam Allevato. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano
City Councilman Sam Allevato. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano

By Councilman Sam Allevato

I ask this question because it is truly perplexing why a very small vocal segment of this wonderful community wants to keep our town in the downward spiral of stagnation, vacant storefronts and vacant lots, especially downtown and other areas planned for development. First it was an In-N-Out Restaurant, which was planned for Del Obispo, but is now an auto parts store where you can watch folks repairing their cars in the parking lot instead. The latest victim of this “sky is falling” mentality is the retirement community planned for the Vermeulen property. The new majority on the City Council voted (4-1) this past council meeting to rescind the approval of the project after a referendum was circulated at Von’s and other places asking people to sign so this issue could be put to a vote of the public. But what does this new majority do? For the first time in San Juan history, they voted to rescind the approvals themselves, denying the public the right to vote on this project as promised by the signature gatherers. Mindboggling to say the least; disingenuous at its worst. This project would have provided much needed housing for our seniors, allowing them to stay in the community they love. Oh, did I mention that this project would have also paid approximately $10 million in developer fees and would have been the single highest property tax generator in the city, and would have had an aquatics complex for our residents, and with no significant impact by traffic? Now the opponents of this project want the city to buy this land for ball fields. I ask where the city is going to get the $20-$30 million to buy this land—even if the property owners consented to sell to the city—which they have withheld twice in the past.

Now you are being asked to sign a petition to block a boutique hotel project for our downtown by the same group of individuals that killed the retirement community. In spite of the fact that this hotel would bring new vitality and synergism to the downtown, much new revenue for the city (estimated at $1 million in transient occupancy and property tax annually) and new residents that could actually live, work and shop downtown as our Los Rios residents do, you are being cajoled at Von’s again to sign a petition to block this improvement to downtown. Do you want our downtown to continue to not have any new development or progress? Or do you prefer the revolving doors of restaurants and businesses that continue to open and then fail due to the lack of commerce downtown, where no new buildings have been built in the last 20 years in spite of the fact that 10 buildings have been knocked down in the same time period? Do you want more consignment stores and dollar stores for retail businesses or another restaurant that struggles to keep its doors open?

Which project will be next? I predict that the Trader Joe’s shopping center next to the Mission (Goveia Project) will be in the crosshairs next. Why would we want a really successful retailer in our town that our residents would actually use, when we could have the current vacant lot covered with weeds, trash and the unfortunate homeless? I am asking residents to wake up to what is happening before it is too late and our town reverts to the 1950s—no shoppers, no commerce, no revenue and no residents who want to live here any longer.

PLEASE NOTE: 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 editorial@thecapistranodispatch.com.

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comments (455)

  • Mechelle Lawrence Adams

    Dear Council member Sam,

    As business leader of the year getting my recent award from you at the December Council meeting, (thank you again) I think that businesses that: 1) focus on offering and protecting our historic brand, 2) provide solutions to parking issues before getting more approvals that generate greater deficiencies, and 3) are consistent with our general plan would go along way toward getting the entire community’s support.

    Not every one is on a “side” per se. Some, like me, want to protect our historic identity and also have a boutique hotel too. Some, like me, want a boutique hotel sans large scale pc style housing. Some of us find our selves in a position of wanting some things but not being willing to sacrifice other things out of fear or threat that the downtown is waning. Because, downtown is not waning, it is continuing to evolve and grow into a rather special, organic authentic potential. It has survived the Caltrans project and the future should be brighter with the recession behind us and co op marketing funds helping to direct attendance to the area in this coming year. As a business leader operating the largest business in the downtown with a $5 million annual budget, I am not just speaking from the heart, I am also speaking from experience. “History” is more profitable in many measurable and immeasurable ways than “generic” when it comes to business success. Look at all the businesses downtown that are making it, one thing they have in common is being unique and being in a historic setting or building. They stand out from the common setting of a free off ramp center. And they employ our locals, promote our community, and generate tax revenue – the unique business operators are our ambassadors to the world stage that the Mission puts us on.

    And yes, a generic – predictable- retail project across from Mission is deeply concerning to me as a former planner, director, resident, property owner, parent, and business person – you are correct. But know for the record the developer has been graciously invited to get creative and pay tribute to the history of the Native American community that perished in the earthquake that felled the Great Stone Church. The developer has been kindly reached out to -to be encouraged to not marginalize the downtown businesses, museums and stake holders, to hear on how to make the potential project special. I hope he/they consider our suggestions, none were “deal breakers”, and all included the potential for us to change our position on what is now just a typical corner automobile oriented retail setting. But alas, no response yet to suggestions to make it something special, in the shadow of the Mission and gateway to our downtown.

    The developer of the Lab and Anaheim Packing House in contrast, is being recruited from cities like Laguna Niguel to develop cool – long lasting development that is consistent with history and still highly profitable. We should reach out to these kinds of developers that can deliver on both fronts – and not make it an “either -or” .

    As a former planner for the City, and the business development manager, the General Plan calls for the cultivation of history, open space, horses, and the protection of a village-like community. The fact is that SJC is unique – it’s all about our brand – and the City’s expert economic development consultant even said essentially last summer that “SJC offers retail experiences you cannot get on the internet, you need to pursue those unique, authentic experiences for greater economic success – you have an anchor any community would want and need to build upon it.”

    Let’s retain our brand, build upon it, and be mindful that general plan amendments should be worth fighting for and worth it. Adding or deleting anything in our historic downtown’s adopted long term planning standards should really take this into consideration in its design and application. Thank you for considering these comments. I won’t be debating here on line, just offering this one opinion in response to what has been posted. Happy New Year every one!

    Respectfully submitted.

    • Mechelle, I appreciate your comments and the spirit in which they are offered. As a SJC resident, I agree that most of us are not on sides but want to be able to sit down and have an honest conversation about what is best for the city or for any given project. Residents need to understand that is not happening with the new council. Spieker has reached out for months to Pam Patterson and Kerry Ferguson to discuss how to improve the proposed retirement community (before and after the election) and they refused to meet even once.

      • Here comes the cavalry!

      • How appropriate on the anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee!

      • Troy we were all there the night you gave pointers on talking points to out of town blue shirts in seats taken at 2:30 for a city council meeting slated to begin at 4pm. That was dishonest. Residents had to stand with no dinner, while you provided box lunches for your out of towners. We will move on, but we will not forget what you did. Why would anyone trust you now? Your over the top senior plan to destroy SJC with traffic and construction was rejected using a referendum. Our city needs to go forward. Build Shangrila somewhere else. And, I know for a fact that Kerry talked to you. So, another lie.

      • I’m glad you came out to the meeting when our project was approved, Rose. I admire the commitment of all the residents who came out on both sides of the issue. City staff encouraged all interested residents to come to the meeting early because the prior meeting filled up well before the start time. As a courtesy to our supporters (many of whom are seniors and expected to be there for hours) we brought sack lunches and bottled water–and offered them to ALL who attended the meeting–even those who came to oppose the project. The majority of the supporters were from SJC, although some were from neighboring cities. Claims that supporters were “bussed in from San Diego” are flatly false–speakers stated their city of residency at each comment. Mrs. Ferguson has never agreed to meet with us despite numerous invitations. We would welcome that meeting even now. Perhaps you could arrange the meeting and join. We would welcome your input as well.

      • Troy Bourne, you need to understand that the residents in less than twenty days gathered twice as many signatures as needed for the referendum without any advertising or a website. I understand this is a huge blow to your ego. However, the residents have taken the legal action necessary to stop your project as it does not fit. You need to understand that your project may be a better fit elsewhere, but not here. Best of luck to you.

      • Clint, thank you for your comments. As I have offered in the past, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you personally to discuss your views on the project and creative steps forward at this site or others. I hope you’ll reconsider. There may be a better use for this property or a better site for ours and I would appreciate your input. You are right about the number of signatures collected and I think the signature collectors are to be congratulated for the hard work and effort they put in. There is no question there are many residents who do not want to see the Vermeulen property developed at all. However, even if all the signatures collected were valid, the total represents less than a quarter of the voters in our town. The city’s last referendum collected the same number of signatures, but once the voters learned about the project and the alternatives they voted to support the project by a considerable margin.

        At the time of that referendum, you probably remember that the editors of the Common Sense newsletter strongly supported letting the public vote writing “The beauty of the referendum process is that it serves as an important check on the power of three or four individuals to impose their will on many thousands in the community”. It was disappointing to hear the same group direct the council to ignore the public’s request for a vote now that they are in a position to impose their will. If they are confident the broader group of city voters will agree with their position, why will they not let the public voice be heard—particularly when it would cost the city nothing?

        As Ms. Clark inferred in her comments below, California courts have held that, despite the number of neighbors who may disagree, property rights are not entirely determined by city officials. The property owners are entitled to an economically viable use of their land and they are entitled to equal treatment, e.g., to be treated in the same manner as other land owners in similar situations have been treated by the city. The city itself declared that the Vermeulen’s property would be for open to “RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT” if it were not purchased when the city chose to purchase the Kinoshita farm across the street. The council’s new claim that the designation of agri-business should never be changed, after changing surrounding agri-business sites, may prove difficult to defend given that the first thing the city itself did with its neighboring agri-business land (after paying fair market value) was to change the General Plan to allow for its development (see Kinoshita Elementary, Community Center, etc.).

        I hope that the city council and neighbors like yourself will change their current posture and agree to have a series of meaningful conversations about the future of the property, whether it’s for a care community or some other use. I do not believe that the current approach of refusing to talk will yield good results for the city or the property. I think we can all agree that worst case scenario would be an outcome similar to what we recently saw across the street when the city emptied its reserves and raised our debt burden paying a multi million dollar legal settlement only to see the proposed development go in anyway.

      • Troy Bourne, thank you for inviting to meet me with you. Maybe at this point I should mention that the City Council overturned the approval of the project. Your project does not have approval to be built. It was the legal right of the City Council to decide not to hold an election and spend the taxpayers money. I understand that you have a problem with that. Keep in mind Mr. Bourne that the residents don’t have a problem with that. For the second referendum on the hotel, the residents collected over 2,500 signatures in even less time than the first referendum with no advertising and no website and after the City Council decided to not put the issue before the voters because of the overwhelming amount of signatures collected..

        I am sorry Mr. Bourne, but like Sam Allevato, your reasoning does not hold water.

      • Clint~ You are on the right path. 🙂

      • Troy, you need to tell the truth. I have listened to countless and lengthy explanations from you directly regarding the scope and details of your project.
        I also did met with you prior to the referendum’s completion and listened to your offer to purchase a different property for your development, which I have always contended publicly and privately was an excellent project but not for the Vermuelen location. After our conversation, I followed through by taking your offer to the people who could act upon it. They contacted you and told you what you needed to do to obtain the new location. They told you we all would be willing to help you. We are waiting for you to follow through.
        Respectfully,
        Kerry Ferguson

      • Kerry, if this online board is the only place you are willing to engage as my city council member, I will take advantage of it and welcome the opportunity to discuss the proposed community.  You describe “countless” interactions with me and claim I am being dishonest when I say you refuse to meet with Spieker. In my recollection, I have only spoken with you twice in my life, once in a park where I introduced myself to you, briefly described our project, and invited you to come learn about it. You agreed to a future meeting while others were watching then subsequently canceled our meeting in a phone call claiming you had already made up your mind to oppose the project.  You refused repeated invitations to sit down and discuss ideas, then finally agreed to “listen to me” for 5 minutes in the Von’s parking lot—only if I literally set a timer. When the timer buzzed you walked off. Do you remember other meetings? Have we ever sat down together to discuss this project?

        In the spirit of “needing to tell the truth”, would you please also explain the following?

        1. You signed and distributed an online petition falsely claiming the traffic study conducted for the project left out a key intersection and was therefore invalid. The intersection (once your group spelled it correctly) was discovered on dozens of pages and analysis throughout the study–which concluded there would be no significant impact at that intersection or others. Do you feel it would have been honest to tell those who signed that you made a significant mistake?

        2. The same petition falsely claimed the care community would “disturb the existing biological balance of animals, drainage, natural vegetation and soil” on the site. You know that an independent, licensed biologist studied the site and concluded, “there are no natural plant communities within the project site and the proposed project would not contribute to the loss of natural habitat”. This is one of several reasons the OC Register stated your group had “misrepresented” the project. Are the biologist and the Register wrong? If so, what biological impacts are you aware of?

        While gathering signatures, you and your supporters passed out flyers falsely claiming the proposed care community was “High Density Residential”, a use which generates more than 400% more traffic impact than the care community.  Other flyers you passed out falsely claimed the project was 1.4 million sq. ft., nearly double its actual size. Can you explain why, when all the information about the project has been online for half a year, your group still can’t communicate its use or size accurately?

        In what can only be described as a class warfare political stunt, your co-candidate published that our project was “elitist” then quoted entry level pricing more than double actual pricing. Rather than correct her when you knew the truth–knew that other cities counted portions of our communities as “affordable housing”–you repeated her figures and the same “elitist” label in your comments in a public meeting. Why do you want seniors to think they can’t afford this when hundreds of locals have evaluated the costs and decided they can?

        When you voted to block the promised public vote on the community you falsely claimed the project would double traffic—repeating a claim made by your co-candidate. Traffic engineers have called your claim “ridiculous”—and it wildly contradicts every study conducted on the site. Can you share the traffic numbers you are using and the time of day you believe traffic will be doubled?

        I know some will tell you not to answer these questions directly—to pivot with a clever remark and try to change the subject, but if it’s time to tell the truth, please honestly answer each question. I know you want to serve our city well and I believe you can, but that needs to start with open and honest dialogue and a commitment to oppose dishonesty on both sides of your political positions and personal self interests.

      • “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours”? You must know by now that NOBODY will ever believe anything you say!

        Question: Who actually owns that parcel now? When, exactly did that transfer from the Vermeulen family take place?

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, from what City Council Member Kerry Ferguson states what you are not telling the truth are you ? Kerry Ferguson did meet with you. You have continually thrown people under the bus Troy Bourne until they call you out on it that you are wrong. You personally did this to me at Coffee Chat until I called you out on it and you had to apologize. It appears Troy Bourne that you have the same habits as Sam Allevato.

      • Clint, I have responded to Mrs. Ferguson’s post regarding her willingness to meet. I guess you and I can both await her response.

      • Kerry, As someone who proudly voted for you, I have to admit that I’m beginning to lose hope in your ability to steer SJC in the right direction. You claim that the retirement community is an excellent project, just in a different location. Rather than sling mud with Mr. Bourne, why aren’t you offering a solution? Why aren’t you leading? As an elected official focused on creating a environment in which our city and fellow residents can thrive, why aren’t you the one initiating a meeting rather than passing the info on to people you claim “could act upon it”? Rather than sitting back while a potentially large tax payer and excellent project slips away to a more welcoming town, please step up and create a solution. You are no longer campaigning. Now it’s time to show us why we were smart to put our faith in you.

      • Martha~don’t you realize that urging Kelly or any other Council to individually seek another solution to Laguna Glen is the very type of action that led to this mess?

      • I thought I was opposed to the Laguna Glen project. I voted for the new council because I thought things were being approved too fast and I thought if we elected them they would slow down the process a bit. I can only speak from my experience, but I was told by a signature gatherer at Starbucks that the new council would let us vote on Laguna Glen if I signed the petition (which I did). I was disappointed when they blocked that vote. It seemed dishonest to me and it didn’t feel right to not let the people decide, so I didn’t sign the hotel petition. If what the developer is saying above is true about all the talk about traffic and the other stuff then I’m even more disappointed because those were exactly the things I was told by the people opposing the project, including Pam and Kerry. Honest is honest no matter what we want or don’t want built. Kerry, are you going to respond? Will you please post your traffic figures? That seems fair.

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, just to give you a heads up, the permit for your trailer (office) expired in November. You now have a un-permitted structure on that property.

        In addition, the approval for that permit was conditioned that this trailer was for informational purposes only. The taking of deposits as you have repeatedly admitted for your project is outside the scope of “informational purposes”.

        If you cannot even put up a temporary trailer legally for the stated purpose, how in the world would you project ever be built ? Wait, your project is dead.

      • Clint~~in fact, I was given a folder with all the blank “paper work”….the receipt of a deposit states that a $1,000 deposit only gives a person a “Priority Number” to make a selection whenever plans are finalized. All it is, is a place in line. Even at that, the prices being quoted for individual apartments are not for the PURCHASE of that apartment, just the ability to live in it and pay an additional $3000-$5000 per month in fees. The LLC, A Delaware Corp. retains all rights of ownership of the property. The project seems to be under the control of the Department of Social Services instead of the Department of Real Estate, where this would not be allowed.

      • My dear friend, Bonnie. Oh my stars! Sounds like when you were shopping for a place to put your friend or family member or whomever you were shopping for when you researched all the assisted living, board & care, nursing homes, etc. you forgot to talk to The Covington right next door in Aliso Viejo — that is a care community (CCRC) like the one you are railing against. It isn’t Leisure World or Rossmoor, you don’t buy it or rent which is why the department of social services not the department of real estate is responsible to oversee it. They probably explained that to you and you forgot. You should check out Vi Living in La Jolla and Carlsbad by the Sea and Casa de Las Campanas, all local CCRCs between Irvine and San Diego. There are differences in what each community offers, sure, but they are all going to give you the same story — don’t move here if you want to own a home, move here because you want to plan for your future and not have a child decide what the cheapest nursing home they can afford is that you live in when you can’t decide for yourself. Good heavens girl, CCRCs are all over the country and no one owns their place and they all pay those monthly fees for “services and amenities”. For Pete’s sake, call the dept of social services in any of the 50 states (incl. CA) and find out why they govern these places and not the dept of real estate. It’s ok that you don’t want a retirement community built in SJC for our seniors but please stop acting like you know what it’s all about and that it is BAD especially if you want to decide and plan for your very own future. That’s not how we were raised in the Tri-Valley.

      • Cindy~oviously I am NOT your dear friend. Troy and his company are. I have researched all of these CCRC’s. As well as many others across the country. They are extremely expensive and only for the top 1%. Comperable care is abundant at much less cost in every California community.

      • So you are saying you consider your friends that live in the Speiker community in Pleasanton are in the 1% or they wouldn’t have chosen a CCRC.

      • CCRC’s are not as popular in California as in other areas of the country, like the East Coast. But they are much less expensive there than Speiker, as are other CCRC’s here.

        I live on a fixed income from investments. I know what sort of investment vehicles are available. At current rates, to make enough to fund $3500 a month in just maintainence fees, you would need invested capital of nearly $1,000,000. Add to that, the cash forward to move into Laguna Glen of $300,000 to $1,000,000, and a prospect would need easily $2,000,000 in capital.

      • Wait a minute Bonnie, are you a professional charging fees as you told Mr. Bourne, or on a fixed income? It has been great getting to know ALL about you.

      • Incurable Optimist

        Bonnie, I’ve been over to the Covington, and have spoken to Bob, their salesperson. Their rates are not any lower that those of Spieker. Not sure where you got your info. Also, everyone knows that anywhere outside of California will be less expensive than living here. It’s a choice we make.

  • Your personal opinion is not shared with many residents, Step aside.

    • The owner of the LAB is a good man, but he’s also a good businessman. Have you looked at the proposal he put forth for the city of Laguna Niguel, Mechelle? It includes 200 multi-family homes, 229,000 square feet of commercial space, 6,000 square feet of offices space and another 6,000 square feet of open/event space — all on 22 acres.

      The Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club and local businesses supported another plan (the property is under County, not City control, by the way). There is no way SJC would support a plan with that density.

      Others have opposed the LAB owner, too, in an effort to preserve their small-town feel. Voters in San Clemente rejected a proposal he put forth for North Beach.

      http://ballotpedia.org/San_Clemente_Playa_Del_Norte_Development_at_North_Beach,_Measure_A_%28March_2011%29

      He’s done some great stuff, but the project you continue to oppose on the long-vacant lot across from the Mission is very good — the other suggestions I’ve seen are nothing more than pipe dreams and red herrings.

    • Troy..As Barbara told you in front of the City Council and all those who heard your pathitic talk, SHAME ON U…Who in the heck brings strangers, out of towners, into a SJC Council meeting for your behalf at a very early time with boxed lunches to verbally adress our Council to help pass your cause? Allevato, the lost soul that he is, never said ” please give up your seats to those who live here in SJC” and are committed to make a comment against your baffeling financial goal. Why Allevato will be gone and his compadres were ousted.

      Troy BOURNE, chose a loosing horse, and the people prevailed. A lesson that money can’t buy everything!

      Bye Bye, and so long….

      • Thank you for reminding all here of Barbara’s words. Shame on you. Is money more important than integrity. NO ONE in the city offices told residents to arrive at 2:30.

        Money cannot buy respect.

  • Mechelle Lawrence Adams

    Bonnie, is this directed at me?

  • Mechelle Lawrence Adams

    Hi Bonnie,
    I wasn’t sure if your comment was directed to Sam or me about stepping aside. Sorry if I was confusing. Happy New Year.

    • Mechelle, my comment was obviously directed to the author of the letter.
      I have no idea why you might have assumed it was directed at you. But since you asked, my personal opinion is that the Mission and the Church might well benefit from new management, a view held by many. From “Garden Gate”, to your disgraceful treatment of Jerry Nieblas and the Native groups, to the shoddy, destructive, on the cheap, “preservation” methods…..your tenure can be called, “The Pursuit of Money” era. Oh, you are not alone. You have Fr. Art (aka FART as he is known by locals) calling the shots hidden in the background. No other Mission has been so commercialized. And all of that without having to contribute to adequate parking because of inflated attendance numbers. Is your “gift store” performing to original projections of $5,000 a day? I doubt it….but….I recently purchased a Christmas ornament there…the price tag said $12.99….when I got home my receipt showed a charge of $15.99…..read the 10 Commandments lately? Thou shalt NOT Steal!

  • While I have been opposed to the Laguna Glen and Hotel project from the beginning, I was led to believe the petition called for the Laguna Glen project to be put to a vote of the people. The repeal of the project without allowing the people to decide was to be expected, however. Reeve will make the decisions now, and the people be damned.

  • Joanna, perhaps the correct procedure was to repeal the approval first. Then the council can consider a re-look at the proposal, or a public referendum (which would cost money).

    • Bonnie, Spieker was willing to pay for the cost of the election so that the people of SJC could vote on the project as signature collectors promised. It would not have cost the city anything to deliver on that promise.

      • Spieker willing to pay for the cost of the election would most-likely be cheaper than a law suit.

      • Exactly. Even a chimp could figure that out.

      • I agree, Bonnie. I think Mayor Reeve can be reasonable and I don’t understand his decision here. He has been a vocal critic of prior councils putting the city into difficult legal positions (Scalzo $9.6 million judgement across the from Spieker project) and here he could have avoided that while at the same time honoring his promise to let the people decide on important issues facing the city.

      • Troy Bourne, be serious. Your offer to pay the election costs was to meet with the city in closed session. You full well new the city could not meet with you in closed session as it would be a Brown Act violation as those meetings must be held in open session for the public to hear. Troy Bourne, it is the law.

      • Clint, financial negotiations with city councils happen in closed session on a regular basis. It is one of the primary reasons for closed sessions. It is not a violation of the Brown Act. The agreement can then be voted on in a public session following. The council expressed no Brown Act concern at our meeting, but your concerns may be based on the fact that the council chose not to place the cost of the election on the closed session agenda in advance of the meeting. When the council then asked us if we were willing to pay, it may have been inappropriate for them to go into closed session without having placed in on the agenda in advance. This is one of the reasons city council members typically meet or direct staff to meet with applicants to discuss these matters in advance of public hearings. This council chose not to do so. We were never asked about our willingness to pay for the election until the very end of the public meeting after the mayor cited cost as his reason for not allowing the public to vote on the issue. Now that he and the council are aware that cost is not an issue, I hope they will re-address it. If the council wishes to negotiate the cost of the election in a public meeting we would be open to that as well.

      • Troy~ your comment about The Brown Act shows exactly why there is such a thing. And why the County Grand Jury is empowered to investigate/prosecute offenders. Negoations that involve changes as major as this project need to be aired in an open, public manner.

      • Bonnie, I apologize if I was not clear. I was not suggesting the council determine the fate of the project in closed session, but work out the details of how we would pay the city’s cost of the referendum election. Again, if the council prefers to negotiate those details in an open session or in a subcommittee meeting we would be open to that as well.

      • Troy~~your comment is double-speak and the very reason this series of posts has evolved. Only in an environment where public officials are willing to be corrupted can “back-room” deals happen. You can’t have it both ways. My suspicion, and it is only that, is that what you thought was your “deal” started when the railroad wouldn’t give access to the Rancho Capistrano property.

        ‘back-room”

      • Thanks again for your comments, Bonnie. I’m sure I’m not as familiar as you are with the history of SJC politics, but I can tell you that no one from Spieker has ever been in a closed session with any SJC council. Our project on the Vermeulen site started when the council unanimously voted in a public session in August of 2013 to initiate the GPA process for the continuing care community on this site. The council again voted unanimously in February of 2014 in a public council meeting to proceed with the EIR for the project. Since the project started we have paid for every study and complied with every request the council and planning commission asked for on the project. We have openly invited each member of the city council and planning commission to tour our existing communities. We’ve also given tours of our projects to over a hundred interested residents who wanted to know what it was like first hand and were willing to invest the time. We’ve opened an information center to the public with scale models and all the environmental studies available for review. I’m not sure what else you would have us do to be more transparent.

      • Here again, we have you in double-speak. “Clint, financial negotiations with city councils happen in closed session on a regular basis. It is one of the primary reasons for closed sessions. It is not a violation of the Brown Act. The agreement can then be voted on in a public session following. The council expressed no Brown Act concern at our meeting,” That says you were in a closed session with the council, or it’s representatives. We GET it.

      • Again, Bonnie. I was speaking of closed sessions in general. The city council has them every couple of weeks to discuss financial negotiations such as lawsuits, land purchases, etc. Spieker has never been part of one. In the PUBLIC meeting where we were asked by the council if we were willing to pay for the election, the council did not raise any concern about the Brown Act. If the city council would have preferred to negotiate it in the public meeting we would have.

      • Troy Bourne, “financial negotiations” as you state may not me conducted in closed session. It is against the law under the Ralph M. Brown Act. The only items that may be discussed behind closed doors is personnel issues, litigation and with regards to the purchase of real property, the only items that may be discussed in closed session are the purchase price, payment and terms. Anything else is against the law.

        As the video of the City Council meeting shows and you have continually written about, your offer to discuss paying for the election costs is completely illegal and may not be done under the Ralph M. brewing Act.

        Like previous posters have stated, dirty back room deals are illegal and I am surprised that a man who continually calls people liars would suggest a dirty back room deal.

        Troy Bourne, you are sounding more and more like Sam Allevato.

      • Clint, again part of your post is correct and part incorrect, but it raises some important issues. You are wrong about the legality of Spieker paying for the cost of the election. California law allows for cities to be reimbursed fully for the cost of special elections (see Government Code section 37354). There was nothing illegal about our offer to cover the taxpayers’ expense. You are, however, right about about the content of closed sessions. Most people who are familiar with the project’s history, and certainly every member of the council, understand that part of our and the property owners’ future negotiations with the city will most likely involve the potential for the purchase of real property and/or litigation—because some members of the current council have suggested that the city should purchase the Vermeulen property for a park and other members seem committed to invite and defend a lawsuit. Again, we would have no problem having all of these discussions in open session if that is the council preference.

        Why are you opposed to letting the public vote if Spieker is willing to pay for the cost of the election?

      • Have you never heard of the term “conflict of interest”? Under the Brown Act of 1953 (long before you were born) closed meetings (with a quorem) can be held to discuss Personnel matters, Pending Litigation (with limitations) Labor negotiations, and Property negotiations relating to price or payment terms. As the City does not OWN the Vermeulen property ANY meetings your company held with members of the City Council are not valid.

      • Bonnie, why are you opposed to a public vote if Spieker is willing to pay for it?

      • I have never said I was opposed to a public vote for any project. Don’t put words in my mouth.

      • I sincerely apologize. I should not have inferred. Would you support a public vote on the project?

      • Troy Bourne, i never stated it was illegal for Spieker development was illegal, I did say it was illegal for you to propose meeting with the city council to discuss paying the election costs in closed session. It is very disingenuous of you to keep quoting me things that I have not said or written. I have spoken not to you before at Coffee Chat publicly to stop quoting myself on statements that I have not made. I will ask again, that you stop doing so Troy Bourne.

        Remember, it is not the council preference to have these discussions, IT IS THE LAW !!! It is a requirement under the Ralph M. Brown Act.

        As for your comment regarding the public vote, do you not get it Troy Bourne ? THE CITY COUNCIL OVERTURNED THE PREVIOUS DECISION. Your project was not approved. No public vote is required !!!!! Do you not get that Troy Bourne ??

    • Bonnie – your proposal is good, but illegal. With the project defeated, the land owner is prohibited from submitting a similar project for a year. Watch out for what you get now — it might not require a zone change…

  • Mechelle Lawrence Adams

    I am happy to adjust your receipt, and apologize . This is the first I’ve heard about over charging, I am sure with crazy business season a human error was made, and I am happy to correct it. It certainly is not intentional.

    Also, Ms. Benton, while you are entitled to think your thoughts and are a strong writer – name calling a priest is not necessary. This post is about development perspectives in downtown, and we can disagree without being disagreeable. I have said my piece, and wish you peace.

  • Oh my gosh, the Mission Gift Store is an astoundingly successful addition to the downtown. I don’t know who could see it any other way. The execution is pure class with a wonderful fusion of clean contemporary design housed within quaint Mission-style architecture. The products offered: clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs to the wonderful wall of unique crosses are appealing and of quality. Tourists walk away from an incredible Mission with not only the opportunity to take a memory home but with every purchase are given the opportunity to donate to the Mission. We did some of our Christmas shopping there and were more than happy to add a few extra dollars in. Mechelle, you guys knocked it out of the park, and on a first and only attempt not an easy task, a big congrats in order there. This project stands as a template of bringing additional value to previously existing space in the Downtown that was previously less beneficial to the residents and tourists. We may all have disagreements on specific developments, but had to chime in that the Mission Gift Store did it right.

    • Actually, Steve, the old gift store had most of the same merchandise with more books, music. It’s just in a different setting, better lighting, improved display. The architecture, while on a contemporary note, contains elements that belong in New Mexico…..lodge pole Pines do not grow in this part of CA and do not belong on a building with historic status. I agree it is better to not have to pay the high regular entrance fee just to access the gift store, however that was a solvable problem through the gate on El Camino through which access is granted to Serra Chapel. The gift store was only one reason for the structure; it also provides office space. Guess they didn’t like the bodega.

    • I apologize in advance Steve for not understanding your remarks. I thought you were seeking to be humourous. “A fusion of clean contemporary design” in the mission gift shop? Tourists are expecting a National Historic Landmark, perhaps of the Mission Style and with some creative art work for sale, relative to Father Serra’s origin and old California. We do have several local artists who could place art on commission. Oil or Water Color’s and crafts and arts created by local artists would be unique. And, again, the Sat art fair group are a good source of local crafts people. These items would be much superior than the trinkets now sold in the gift store. I made a point of doing all of my Christmas shopping in town. I found nothing in the gift shop. Why would I buy trinkets made in China?

      • Rose, really like this idea of local artists and crafts, would be a wonderful touch to a wonderful gift shop.

      • Steve~~you need to take a look at the demographics of SJC. This is NOT Newport Beach, Malibu, even Santa Monica. Where are the Kimpton’s? Aspen, San Francisco, Palm Beach….all in areas of wide spread great wealth and a wide variety of activities, museums, historical places, culinary and high level entertainment, plus public transportation. San Juan has The Hunt Club, and the ghetto, and virtually no middle class. The Mission has priced out the folks who actually provided the slave labor to build it. Is it any wonder the best eatery in town is Las Golandrinas? San Juan spent a boatload of money to develop a plan for downtown, then at the first opportunity, threw it out to get this “hotel”. Hotel mania has been front and center for the last 30 years on succeeding City councils….the “magic fix”. So was Franciscan Plaza. The only good feature of that City guided project is the parking garage nobody uses. If the city’s major problem us homeless folks, WHERE are the creative ideas to deal with that?

      • Bonnie, as usual your opinions are passionate and have merit. Please do consider that Kimpton also has boutique locations in: Santa Barbara, Sedona, Old Town Scottsdale, AZ, and such locations. Regarding the HTC Master Plan, you should take a closer look on what they penciled in on my property. This portion was primarily overseen by local developers and it consists of condo complexes with retail/commercial lining the new Forster Street. Check out the HTC pdf online. Three different types of condo structures: Courtyard Housing, Row Housing (behind the Egan House), and Work Live Lofts. 3 different types of condo complexes with a maximum unit number of 128! This is what I was handed as a goal for my property to help SJC. Yes, after being put-off by these local developers wanting to maximize housing units and complexes of condos or “doors” as they call them, I was definitely more of a fan of the concept of a hotel and a reduction in residential to only 30 townhomes all tied into the Hotel program and amenities. Please remember that I’m not a developer and my involvement has been 100% to try to help out the local business owners, City commerce, and growing drugs and incidences of violence in and around the HTC Park in the downtown that most are putting a deaf ear to. This isn’t about making money. I originally never intended to sell or move from the property and have turned down larger offers for the property in the past. Why specifically Hotel brands are drawn to this particular piece of property in town is beyond my reach of knowledge. But the one thing I am positive of is this project is infinitely superior to the massive number of condo units that was planned in that same space. San Juan has had at least one hotel in Downtown from the late 1800’s to the early 1960’s. A San Juan with a hotel in the downtown is closer to an historical San Juan. The Egan House was residential and indeed a “house.” Regarding commerce, Hotels may not be a “magical fix” but traditionally instantly bolster local businesses and City revenue. I agree with many comments here regarding the look and feel that would be the best, but please know that it was the city staff, not the developers, that instructed to have the architecture not compete with the Mission.

    • Steve…who paid for the remodel of Mission Gift Store? And, who designed and built the “Wonderful fusion of clean contemporary design” in the Old California Mission? I was advised that local artists and crafts people would not be allowed to put their, Paintings, Crafts, and handmade jewelry in the Mission Gift Store. Hard to believe that can be considered good business. I did all my Christmas shopping in town but found nothing unique in Mission Gift. It was the same old little metal swallows, etc. Does Mission Gift generate a profit every month?

  • ps…..part of my objection to the hotel, is that it will likely turn into another Franciscan Plaza, another City sponsored project. SJC does NOT need another like that. Talk about empty storefronts! The out of state owners raised the rents beyond the ability of sustainability for the merchants.

  • Bonnie, totally agree with you that the last thing San Juan needs is more empty storefronts and failing businesses. If you’re right that would indeed be a problem. Historically, Hotels have a tendency to help improve the commerce of a town by enhancing the tourism business. This entire project is about increasing the number of pedestrians in the downtown that will be shopping, eating, etc. Kimpton hotels have only had that effect on the cities they have built in. They have a loyal following of travelers that love staying at their hotels. This is why Palm Springs just approved a $50 million dollar incentive package just to get a Kimpton. San Juan will pay nothing. The one thing I can honestly tell you is that my wife and I would not be involved in this if we did not believe it would help all of the local businesses in town and enhance the downtown San Juan experience. I completely respect your and everyone’s personal opinion regarding the project and wish everyone a happy, healthy and successful new year.

    • Steve, I have heard the Kimpton argument before….but let’s not try to compare oranges and apples. Each of the communities that has a Kimpton is unique and different. It’s a bit like assuming that the traffic from Mission visitors will sustain SJC,,,,,but when you look at all the coherts that comprise the numbers as reported, that’s when the picture clears. 4th Graders don’t spend much money; neither do the little ladies from Leisure World on a bus trip. SJC needs something BIG to change the situation. And that might well need to have some money behind it. I was in serious talks several years ago with the then responsible folks at the Southwest Indian museum in Mt. Washington, LA. They were looking for satellite locations for their very extensive collection. The idea was that a museum would take over the then vacant Edwards theatre. The museum would have been good for the Mission; the Mission good for the museum. Both accessible by train (so minimizing traffic/parking) and could have been helpful in filling up at least some of the empty store fronts in Franciscan Plaza. Gil Jones, mayor at the time said,”Great idea, but I don’t have anyone to work on it”. Project died, Autry stepped in and did a very bad deal for the Southwest. Promised them the moon, never happened. My background is in RE development, analysis of data relating to communities.

    • Steve Odekirk, simply said, the project does not fit downtown. Over 2,500 signatures were turned into the City Clerk on December 23rd as part of a referendum against the project. Respectfully, while you and your wife maybe for the project as owners of the property , the other residents in the area are not.

      • Clint, the reality is that at every public meeting regarding the Hotel project over the last two years there have been significantly more residents present in favor of the project than against. That is simple math. The petition you mention utilized the use of blatant misinformation to acquire signatures. A headline on their flyer/poster stated “SJC Residents were left out of the process” when in reality residents have been opening involved for 2+ years. They used a fabricated, blatantly false, out of scale image, significantly misrepresenting the size of the Hotel, and used it to garner signatures. Along with these are a plethora of audio/video recordings of petitioners lying to residents to acquire signatures. Not only do these items legally destroy the legitimacy of the petition, but it is against the law to utilize misinformation to acquire signatures on a petition. Any person stating or utilizing false information in spoken, text, or visual form can be convicted of a crime. This issue has nothing to do with the Hotel project but with ethics and legality. It is 100% fine for anyone to have their own opinion regarding any issue in San Juan, but when a group of individuals conspire to use blatant mis-truths to orchestrate the outcomes they want, it crosses the line and raises the question as to who is actually at the helm of these dishonest moves. In this case if the use of this petition is pursued, we will all most likely end up finding out.

      • Steve Odekirk, you are incorrect. A meeting held at 3 am in the morning is leaving the residents out of the process. A meeting where the City Council chambers are so packed that you are unable to even obtain a slip to speak is leaving the residents out of the process. A meeting that did not allow Americans with disabilities to attend is leaving the residents out of the process. I could go on and on your statement. In addition, our city is not ruled by how many people attend a meeting who are for or against a project. That is not how projects are approved or denied in our city.

      • Steve, Clint is right on this point. In NO way was that sham of a cc meeting indicative of the whole community and what they want when. It lasted until 3am. I could not stay till the end and no seating. Which didn’t matter anyway, Sam was going to vote his special projects approved, no matter what anyone said. This is why he is gone. Those who stood with him now have a tarnished name. You think anyone will buy insurance from that young woman indorsed by Sam? Hell NO! Lay down with dogs. So the saying goes. We are known far and wide across the US as a town where the swallows return and the dirty politics at the city level. Sams group makes Palm Beach look like play school. We are done with dirty politics. We voted in an ethical group. You will see.

      • Clint, as you know, a meeting was not held at 3AM. The meeting started at 6PM and I, like many others had to wait through the other Council agenda items before even getting to the Hotel project. There was an incredibly large equestrian crowd for the early agenda items. Nothing was “held” at 3AM, that is how late the meeting went. I can’t even comment on your American Disabilities statement as that has nothing to do with the Hotel project but more, I’m guessing you’re referring to the building itself that all meetings are held in??? Does this mean you believe that the Spieker project should not have lost to the referendum because it was held in the same building? Are we now disavowing every decision that was ever made in that building? Try to stay on point if you have a point to make. As you offered, personally, I would love to hear you go on and on. See if you can make it past two sentences without saying something fabricated or off point.

      • Rose, I really hope you’re right regarding an ethical group. The boondoggle of the blatant mis-truths being used in the current petition could bring instant tarnish. Using false information to garner signatures can bring legal convictions to any individual involved in that process, and there are several individuals involved in this.

      • Sorry, Steve…..everyone knows the agenda is set by the head of the council. You are right, the meeting did not start at 3am. But this immediately urgent item was left until last for a purpose. Nobody here is stupid.

      • Bonnie, all I can say to that is I personally would have been thrilled to have the Hotel agenda item up first. I like everyone else present were grousing about having to be there for so long.

      • Steve Odekerk, are you kidding me ? The vote for your project was at 3am. The City Council meeting ended at 3:07 am. If you need to review the times, the video is on the city website. The City is required to be ADA accessible. This meeting was not ADA accessible. That is evidenced by the OCFA determining the building was overcrowded and residents were removed. So when you state that meeting were accessible to all, that is not true. Many people were turned away who did not want to stand out in the cold and never received had the opportunity to speak. The time of 3am is not conducive to families with children to speak and be heard as allowed by the Ralph M. Brown Act.

      • Clint, if you support “letting the people be heard” then why do you support the new council’s decision to deny the people the right to an up or down vote on the project? And please spare me the argument that it saves the city the expense of a special election. I can’t accept that argument at face value from someone who pushed for a special recall election that would have taken place within months of a scheduled election day and would have cost the city just as much as a special vote on this project.

      • Why don’t you use your real name?

      • Why don’t you ask Suzy Que?

      • Susie Okay, that is very simple. The recall of Sam Allevato required a special election. A referendum can either go before the voters or have the decision overturned which is put to the City Council.

      • Clint, I can tell you are an extremely literal person. Much more a “letter of the law” type of guy than a “spirit of the law” type.

      • Clint Worthington

        You can also add that I am not afraid to post under my name either.

      • Indeed you do Gus Gunderson … erh I mean Clint … or is it Patrick Ewing now. I get so confused!

      • Clint Worthington

        Susie Okay, again, I have the guts to post under my name. It is unfortunate that you don’t.

      • I believe I acknowledged that … but then again, you already knew that Clint, didn’t you?

      • Clint Worthington

        Susie Okay, again, it is unfortunate that you don’t post in your real name.

  • Laguna Niguel is cool? Yikes.

  • IMHO a hotel could bring in business, but not a Kimpton. Sorry they are so “not San Juan Capistrano”. https://www.kimptonhotels.com/special-offers. Many residents would agree to a small hotel that is in keeping with the mission design. Consider what Duane Robert did to convert the old Mission Inn in Riverside. Great job. And, only 238 rooms and suites for presidents and celebrities. Three restaurants and and the place is always full. The Mission Inn like the one in Riverside is too large for that site but something smaller in the mission style could be built downtown. The property where the orange groves are is still a better site and walking distance to the mission. Regarding the gift shop in the mission. Someone please help them someone. $5000 a day come on? Don’t we have some marketing people in San Juan Capistrano who can help them. Maybe some local artists could bring work in. The art fair crafts people come to mind. Consider the Davenport Hotel gift shop http://experiencespokane.com/shopping/ they promote all things local. Why can’t we do that? Must we have the same old tacky metal swallows and overpriced junk? As to why the referendum’s came about and which came first the chicken or the egg? Consider the city council meeting that lasted until 3am, while residents stood and waited for their turn to speak against overdevelopment. We are done with things being done the old way. Thank God we have a new mayor and new city council members. Let’s go to work and make this city a better place.

    • Rose, if you educate yourself on the Kimpton brand, you’ll find they are the number one boutique hotel brand in the country and they actually custom each hotel to the city they move into. This is rare and makes them a wonderful fit for San Juan. I like your idea about local art and products in the gift shop, would be a very cool fit.

      • Steve Odekirk, the Wall Street Journal reported on December 15, that the Kimpto Hotels was sold. Everything that was promised by Kimpton Hotels to the City Council is out the window as Kimpton Hotels is now under completely different ownership.

      • Clint, your statement is completely inaccurate. Kimpton’s new ownership has no effect on the San Juan Kimpton, they love the location. I can tell you have a lot of knowledge Clint, but it always seems to be laced with arbitrary concepts that you spew out as fact. Let’s not forget the first time you and I had any contact, you were harshly accusing me online of not even living in San Juan, when my wife and I have been here for 21 years and raised both our daughters here. I’m actually quite interested in the knowledge base you often speak from but it gets tough to trust the validity of your facts when they are accompanied by nasty comments that are not true. I’m guessing Clint minus anger/hate = a pretty awesome guy.

      • Steve I have taken a look at Kimpton. They are a poor mans Pullman. Sterile, cold, brash colors in conflict, they do not fit the Mission Style. We need warm woods, rich rustic, arched doorways and adobe. Possibly a couple of presidential suites. You seem set in stone on Kimpton and that style is in total contrast to the old world Mission Style. If we can solve our water problems and that seems unlikely I would agree to a small hotel in the very charming old world mission style, similar to The Mission Inn in Riverside, which is a Mission Revival style. But, something closer to that. Everyone objects to the condo’s and that goes against the city plan for no housing downtown. Your going to have to bend if you want the city support.

      • Rose, I agree with your thoughts regarding Mission style. It’s one of my personal favorites and why we live in SJC. First, I’m not the developer. Second, it’s the city that wanted to have the hotel not “compete” with the Mission, regarding design, not the developers. Third, I’m not trying to push anything through or have the capacity to “bend” as it’s not my development. It was not my intention to sell or develop the property. I have been participating in this process by request of the City to aid in the local commerce. My only personal vestment is in trying to help the local business owners, many of who are struggling. I truly wish some of you had the benefit of witnessing all of the ridiculously crass, overbuilt and greedy plans that were brought to me by local developers prior to a hotel showing up. Regarding texture and feel of a town, if you go to San Luis Obispo which is where my mom is from and a wonderful destination, you’ll find several different flavors of hotels within the city, from the very quaint Apple Farm Inn, where we usually choose to stay, to more contemporary boutique hotels in the downtown, yet San Luis has still retained it’s original, old world charm. Hotels do not ruin destinations, they simply offer tourists a place to stay. Everything around the hotel is still exactly the same. One could argue that Rome should have never put a hotel in, you can’t get more historical than that. But then we would not be able to visit there.

      • Steve Odekerk, again, check the Wall Street Journal. That is where the information on the sale of the Kimpton Hotels came from. Entirely new ownership. Please explain exactly where that information is inaccurate. Why is it Mr. Odekerk, that everytime someone disagrees with you, they have inaccurate information? The last time I checked, the Wall Street Journal is a very well respected newspaper.

      • Okay, Clint. I’ll try to write this one slower… Yes, the Kimpton brand is under new ownership. They were acquired by the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Spend a minute on Google and find out that they acquired Kimpton because it is the leader in boutique hotels, which they want to be a part of. Their goals are to support and expand the impressive Kimpton slate, and the SJC Kimpton agreement is firm and completely unchanged. And yes, the Wall Street Journal is a very well respected newspaper. I’m a bit confused on how that relates here, but can concur with you that it’s a good newspaper.

      • Steve Odekerk, I had to bring up the WSJ as you stated my comments were “”completely inaccurate”. They were not as you subsequently admitted. Thank you. I will respect you and not write something “slower” for you. I do not need to insult you as the facts speak for themselves. Whenever ownership of a business changes, changes are made. The changes may be subtle or significant, but they are changes. There will be changes to Kimpton Hotels. It is inevitable. Just like changing the director or producer of a movie. There are changes.

      • Clint, you stated that the SJC Kimpton agreement was no longer in place. That statement is 100% wrong. I guess that’s one of the “facts that speak for themselves” that you’re talking about.

      • Steve Oedekurk, you are 100 percent wrong. I never have said or written such at thing about a Kimoton Hotel contract not being in place. Please do not put words in my mouth that have never been said or written.

      • Clint! No need to put words into your mouth! Here’s your exact quote 9 entries up from this one:

        “Everything that was promised by Kimpton Hotels to the City Council is out the window as Kimpton Hotels is now under completely different ownership.”

        In reality, everything that was Promised by Kimpton Hotels is still completely in place exactly as it was. 100% the same. Rendering your statement false.

      • Steve Oedekerk, what I said and what you quoted me as saying are two different things. Nowhere did I say ” a contract was not in place”, did I Steve Oedekurk ? If you are going to quote me, then quote me correctly and once again, please don’t make things up.

        It reminds me of the illegal sign on your property across from El Adobe. Just tell “the Truth” Steve Oedekurk and quit misquoting me.

      • Clint, your quote is exactly as stated above. There’s no way to try to suddenly make it accurate.

      • Steve Oedekerk, again nowhere have is ever written or said “a contract is not in place”. Nowhere. You may be able to misquote people or bully them on a continual basis as it may work in your line of work. Fortunately, it does not work here. Best of luck to you Mr. Oedekurk.

      • Clint, it’s apparent you have problems. I wish you well.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Odekerk, again best of luck to you.

    • Rose~~you won’t get artists to show anything at the Mission…..they want a huge commission on every sale and on every customer that buys from that artist. One of the artists told me that. They even want part of the profits of any photographs taken if sold.

      • Bonnie…Who wants a commission? The mission gift or the artists? I presume you mean the mission gift store. Well…. no wonder it is what it is. Nick nacks made in China. Those people need help to make it profitable.

      • Anything in connection with the Mission……they used to have an art show in the soldier’s barracks….3 or 4 times a year. Selected artists brought their work, paid for the refreshments, and hung their work. Members of the Mission groups were invited for an after-hours art show. It was one of the most community friendly activities they have had. But the artists had to pay the Mission a commission on sales. I contacted one of them later, and he told me about the financial arrangements. It’s always about the money.

      • Bonnie…this is a little off the track of Sams “What is going on?” and more to how do we fix our town suggestion. From time to time I have seen artists painting in the mission garden. It reminds me of Monmarte in Paris which is just near Sacre Coeur. I still have the oil paintings I bought from a couple of students so many years ago. We could open the mission to artists and tourists, shoppers as they do in Paris. It is and was. a great draw for tourists. Whether the artist becomes a Van Gogh or just a starving artist the art work becomes a memory of a trip to San Juan Capistrano. We could coordinate with schools and artists to paint for a day and sell their work. The artist would be learning something and they can sell their work they should not be penalized by donating to the mission cause. A mission was established so many years ago to create a working mission and help residents to become self sufficient. Why NOW would we change the original concept, by charging residents to become self sufficient? Seems like a completely opposite mission statement for the mission. What is there mission? The Mission gift shop needs help. The mission could bring this town to life again. And, really, they need to get rid of the made in China junk.

      • “We” don’t own the Mission…..the Catholic Church owns it and the Diocese of Orange manages it. Those artists you saw have to pay to be able to paint there. President Abraham Lincoln restored ownership in 1865 after a Supreme Court ruling that Mexico never owned them, Spain did. And under international law, they were the property of Spain.

      • The Catholic church owns a National Historic Landmark? So why doesn’t the Catholic Church maintain it? I didn’t know the Catholic Church could own an American Historic landmark. The Catholic Church certainly has the means to maintain and restore the mission. Has anyone considered sending them a water bill?

      • Rose~~~The Mission used to have a large display about the ownership of the Mission. I used to be a docent there…..it was required to learn about that.

  • I would not be opposed to the hotel if the city were to first resolve our traffic and water problems. I would still oppose the housing coupled to the hotel, however.

    If the scientists are correct, we will be out-of-water in 12 to 18 months if the drought doesn’t end. If this happens, what value will there be in building a hotel without water?

    I doubt the new council made up of CCS members will do anything. All they ever do is talk about cutting our water rates. What they don’t seem capable of understanding is that water is set to become the most valuable resource on earth, even more precious than oil.

    “California has an incredibly complicated system of water management, in which hundreds of water districts make decisions at the local level, and the competition between agricultural, environmental, industrial and urban needs is intense.”

    The Madera Irrigation District recently made nearly $7 million selling about 3,200 acre-feet.
    All of the district’s water went to farms; the city of Santa Barbara, which has its own water shortages, was outbid.

    The reality of the situation is that we shouldn’t be allowing any new construction that will increase our population until we find a way to resolve the coming water shortages. How will the City provide existing residents and business with adequate water at a price we can each afford.

    Need additional water? Let the bidding begin.

    • Joanna Clark, the wells in San Juan are already out of water and have been required by the San Juan Basin Authority to shut down two wells because of over pumping by the City. The over pumping by the City has dropped the water table and allowed salt water intrusion into the San Juan Basin water table. Up the Ortega, the wells have all run dry. As you are aware, the golf course has sued the city for over pumping the San Juan basin as the golf course has superior water rights to the cities water rights.

      Thank Sam Allevato for the damn it we are going to make the GWRP work no matter what the impact or what the cost is. In the meantime, the next thing you will start to see is the land begin to subside from the drop in the water table.

      • The science of sinkholes. http://water.usgs.gov/edu/sinkholes.html
        Yes, it can happen here. Poor land management and our ex mayor wants to know “What is going on?”
        New sinkholes have been correlated to land-use practices, especially from groundwater pumping and from construction and development practices. Sinkholes can also form when natural water-drainage patterns are changed and new water-diversion systems are developed. Some sinkholes form when the land surface is changed, such as when industrial and runoff-storage ponds are created. The substantial weight of the new material can trigger an underground collapse of supporting material, thus causing a sinkhole.

        The overburden sediments that cover buried cavities in the aquifer systems are delicately balanced by ground-water fluid pressure. The water below ground is actually helping to keep the surface soil in place. Groundwater pumping for urban water supply and for irrigation can produce new sinkholes In sinkhole-prone areas. If pumping results in a lowering of groundwater levels, then underground structural failure, and thus, sinkholes, can occur.

      • Clint, Rose, Bonnie, here is the proposed ban to protect our water that I’ve tried to get the previous council to pass without success, and I would like the new council to adopt.

        “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.”

        I don’t have $15 million to buy a seat at the table in Sacramento. Getting the counties and cities to pass the above ban would send a message to the Governor — BAN FRACKING. This is how they did it in New York state; 200 cities banned the process forcing the Governor to ban fracking. Fracking siphons off considerable water to frack their wells, but when you compare it to agriculture and residential use, it becomes a small percentage. The problem is that the waste water is TOXIC, and it often gets into local aquifers and makes the water unfit for human consumption.

        Ask yourself, “Would I want a hydraulic fracturing well next to my home or my children’s school?” These wells create air and ground water pollution, and they are being built close to homes and schools in the Central Valley. If that toxic waste water makes it into the aquifers that feed us water from the north, then we will all suffer the same fate as the people of the central valley.

      • Then why are you debating my stance that we have a over-stressed water supply, Clint? My position has been no more building until the traffic and water problems are resolved.

        If we run out of water, what do you think will happen to our property values and over all economy here in San Juan Capistrano?

        Fresh water is becoming the most valuable resource on the planet and when it’s gone the game is over.

      • I would support the ban on fracking. Not many people know what fracking is unless they have researched it, or worked in the oil industry. Clint is talking about our ground water well (GWRP) and Joanna is talking about a ban on the unregulated oil companies who use water under pressure mixed with toxic chemicals to recover oil from low producing oil wells. The oil companies can use 6,000 to 600,000 US gallons of fracking fluids. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Fracking_and_water_consumption ) and there is much debate on how much fresh water is used to frack a single well. It is wise for America to become self reliant and use less foreign oil. But to use our precious water in California, a typically dry state is not good. California is also a huge agricultural state where growers need water for orchards and fresh produce that supplies a hungry country. Many of these growers have oil wells on their land. So nothing stops an oil company from fracking on an orchard full of almond trees. There is no regulation on oil companies about the chemicals they use to add to the water. There is a long list of chemicals that can be used none of them are good for humans, plants or animals. The chemicals are there to eat thru shale to retrieve the oil. So, it has to be corrosive. Accidents happen and the fracking solution spills or errupts into ground water. They have had fracking accidents all over the US and California. So most of you wonder why does this affect us in San Juan Capistrano? The water we use is coming from someplace else. When we allow oil companies to Frack in Bakersfield or Monterey it uses water that may have been on its way here. Then subtract the water that is contaminated and cannot be used due to fracking, a ground water well in Napa’s water becomes toxic so the Vintner must use city water. The cost of wine goes up. And, another source of water becomes toxic and we have an Erin Brockovitch situation. So I would support the a ban on fracking. In all this chaos of overdevelopment and city council reorganization when did this proposal go to the CC?

  • Hard to argue with Joanna on the water issue. The city council should put a hold on all building or new water permits until the water issue is resolved. Other cities in California have a moratorium on building, yet SJC has approved one project after another. I do believe though that the 12 -19 month “out of water” prediction was issued before the last rain. It might buy us some time. But, we still need to an affordable water plan for homes and businesses here now. Definitely NO on condo’s attached to a hotel of any size.

    • Hi Rose, I forgot to answer your question regarding when do the proposal go to the council. I started lobbying the council about nine to 10 months ago.

      “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.”

      I only received two responses that directly referred to the suggested ban. Sam’s position was that this was a Federal/State matter. Reeve’s response was one of sarcasm, innuendo, and cherry picked facts generally taken out of context or just factually wrong.

  • Rose, The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows “the recent rains in California are not having much impact after three dry years.”

    “Despite a southward shift of the precipitation over the period, the moisture during the week not sufficient to afford drought relief to California,” the report said. “The rain, which tallied locally more than 2 inches in northern California, will certainly benefit pastures and begin the process of aiding reservoirs. However, the moisture still fell well short of what is needed to ease the impacts of a three-year drought.”
    The report shows that most of the recent rain fell in the extreme and exceptional drought areas north of Sacramento.”

    “Farther south, the abysmal start to the current Water Year (which began Oct. 1) continued; rainfall to-date (since Oct. 1) has totaled 20 to 50 percent of normal in the Exceptional Drought areas around San Francisco, and locally less than 20 percent of normal in the Exceptional Drought areas around Los Angeles,” the report stated. “Likewise, the dry, mostly mild start to the winter has left snowpacks in the Sierra Nevada well short of normal.” (Ed Royce, Recent Rain Not Enough To Ease California Drought, Capitol Public Radio, December 27, 2014)

    The “series of rainstorms — one of which was powerful and destructive for residents statewide — helped deposit needed moisture to California, but it’s going to take 11 trillion gallons of water in storage to recover from the drought, NASA scientists said this week.”

    “California must receive three seasons of above-average rainfall to get back to a “manageable situation,” said Jay Famiglietti, senior water-cycle scientist of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.” (Veronica Rocha, “California drought: We need 11 trillion gallons of water in the bank,” Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2914).

    • Joanna, I agree that we are in a water crisis in California. Every proposed project should be subject to a thorough review through a water consumption and preservation lens. On the Vermeulen property, and others, residents and city officials should also take into account the water that is currently being used on the site. The current tenant has acknowledged using as much as 1.5 million gallons of potable drinking water each month to irrigate the potted plants stored on the site before they are loaded on trucks for distribution. This water is sold at agriculture rates subsidized by the balance of the water users in the city (you and I are helping to pay for it). I’d be happy to review the proposed water management plan Spieker developed in conjunction with the city over the past year if you are interested. The city staff said it was the best they had ever seen submitted. It includes recycled water lines, drought tolerant landscapes and millions of dollars to upgrade the city’s broader water infrastructure. You can reach me at tbourne@spk.com.

      • Troy Bourne, so let’s use you figures that Armstrong Nursery uses 1.5 million gallons a month of water. That is fifty gallons of water a day. How many plants are on site 10.000 ? At ten thousand plants, that means each one of those plants receives five gallons of water a day of water, seven days a week. I truly have a hard time believing the nursery uses 50,000 gallons of water a day.

        Troy, you and Sam Allevato sound exactly alike.

      • Clint, your math is off. If the nursery uses 1.5 million gallons of water per month. If you count a month to be 30 days., it uses 50,000 gallons per day, not fifty, A 31 day month would use 48387.09677419355 per day.

      • Troy…give it up. Even if we had rain for 40 days and 40 nights, that would not change the less than accorate traffic report on the EIR. A car count on Del Obispo from 2010 was plugged in due to construction on Del Obispo in 2013-the date of the report. This is the biggest project to ever be presented to our CCouncil and the traffic report was not timely, or thorough. We have a No-Go zone in our little town right now. No one can go into town after 2:30. The car pool moms are picking up kids. They do not live here but their kids attend school in one of the 10 private schools in San Juan Capistrano. 5000 kids and that does not count kids in public schools. The city planners voted no. Sam did his I will have my way, not sure what he promised you. But, the residents have spoken.

      • Rose, I agree that traffic is a very real issue along Del Obispo. I drive it every day. Spieker did not conduct the two traffic studies that were completed–they were performed by independent engineering firms. People can disagree about the engineering methodologies for the city’s base traffic map, but its broadly accepted that the continuing care community would generate fewer new trips–particularly at those peak traffic hours you are describing–than other uses such as residential housing or more schools. This is in part because we have fewer residents per unit and our residents typically do not commute to work. As we have done with other city’s we offered to staff our employees so that the shifts would be in off peak hours minimizing the impact on school moms and others. I agree that if, when the current tenant leaves, the site is never developed traffic will be less than would occur with our care community, but I don’t think that is a likely scenario long term. I would be happy to meet with you to review the traffic studies or to discuss other ideas you may have.

      • Troy Bourne, with the report stating that 1,758 trips would be generated, with the vehicle 17 feet long, if you laid those vehicles end to end that traffic jam would be 5.66 miles long.

        Now, that you have admitted Troy Bourne that there is traffic on Del Obispo, where would have 5.66 miles of traffic fit ? It wouldn’t without disrupting the residents.

        Best of luck to you Troy Bourne.

  • So while California recovers from this long term drought, oil companies are still allowed to frack wells all over California. This is unregulated unless it is an offshore frack. California is still using fresh water for fracking. If we need 11 trillion gallons of water, why allow California oil companies to continue fracking which consumes an average of 134,000 gallons of fresh water per frack. Add to this water cancer causing chemicals that eat through shale to retrieve the oil and you get accidents and contaminated ground water. The farmers need water to sustain orchards and families need water for daily life. I have never been in favor of more laws and regulations but if these oil companies are allowed to use millions of gallons of water and chemicals with no regulation UNLESS it is an offshore frack. Residents will be penalized for over using water. Contractors are also unregulated in their use of water to contain dust during construction. This is how each city can step up to the plate and say NO not in my town. No Mr. Developer you may not grade building sites and underground parking lots. A year long progect creates dirt and dust in the air. The water used by contractors is not okay. The water used by oil companies is not okay. http://blogs.kqed.org/science/audio/with-drought-new-scrutiny-over-frackings-water-use/ (Lauren wrote a good piece about Fracking but omitted the caustic chemicals used to eat thru the shale). So as the rain comes in spit and spurts let us use the water wisely. Halt building permits, halt fracking.

    • Wow! Looks like there have been issues bothering folks for a long time…..many of them hidden from the public. Thank you all for sharing your concerns. Perhaps we should meet.

  • Well said, Rose. Unfortunately the Legislature and Governor have been bought for the sum of $15 million. I have tried unsuccessfully to get the city council to join other cities and counties to ban fracking. Two hundred cities and townships in New York State did this and forced the governor to act and ban fracking. It is the only way we are going to stop this insanity, because you or I do not have $15 million to buy a seat at the table in Sacramento.

  • Your first sentence ” very small vocal minority “. It appears you did not see the election results from last November Sam Allevato. Pam Patterson almost doubled the number of votes that incumbent Larry Kramer received. No longer are you able to out the residents voters down by calling them a “very small vocal minority”. The residents have spoken, and spoken loudly. Look to your right as you sit on the dias Sam. All of your friends are gone. The people who signed the referendum spoke loudly when the turned in over twice as many signatures as needed in less than twenty days, without a website, and no advertisement. The residents again spoke loudly when the signatures when over 2500 signatures were turned in to the City Clerk on December 23rd to overturn yet another one of your decisions to build on Steve Odekirk’s land/Josh Host project to build the hotel.

    Go ahead Sam Allevato keep calling the resident voters a “very small minority”. It makes my day everytime you say that. It is unfortunate, that you must have your PR person Dave Ellsi comment on here to prop you up. You single handily Sam Allevato made San Juan the only city in the Untied States that had a restraint order against it to allow newspapers to be distributed. Prior to that Sam Allevato, you had the City Attorney threaten the publishers with criminal prosecution distribution of newspapers.

    On January 21st the Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on your appeal of fighting the residents on returning the residents own money to them for the illegal water rates that you charged. Imagine that. Fighting the residents to return their own money to them for illegal water rates you charged !!!

    Sam, please continue insulting the residents and the voters. I savor every time you do this !

    Sam, please just resign.

  • Thank you Clint. We are not a small minority of San Juan Capistrano residents and we are not misinformed activists Sam. San Juan Capistrano is our home. We drive the over crowded roads and pay pretty hefty property taxes for the priveledge of living here. Add to that we pay an extra chunk of cash on our property tax bill to your Equestrian Events private sector events park. We are still wondering how that happened? We simply voted YES on open space on 08. Seven years later we are finally figuring out what you did with that land deal and how it affects us financially. Add to this the illegal water rate added to our water bills for ground water and you have the nerve to ask us, “Just what is going on?” Let me ask you Sam? Just how long did you think you could get away with manipulating residents and using your position as mayor to do so?

  • Sam Allevato, you spent over $500,000.00 for a traffic signal at Reata Park (that is the park off of Ortega that nobody goes to, and is named after one of your large campaign contributors). You spent well over one million dollars for the boondoggle of an intersection at Rancho Viejo Road and Junipero Serra only to have everything ripped out because the design was so incredibly horrible. A total loss of over one million dollars. You had no problem Sam Allevato repaving Rancho Viejo Road in front of your house despite it being paved just 15 years earlier.

    Despite all of this ill spent millions of dollars Sam Allevato, you have still not repaved Alipaz since it was first paved 44 years ago. The road is in horrible condition and has sink in some spots as much as 10 inches. Why Sam Allevato all the special favors to people who contribute to your campaign, the road in front of your house gets repaved, despite it being new, over 1 million dollars of wasted money for a boon doggle of an intersection, yet we cannot get Alipaz repaved after 44 years. That is not right Sam Allevato.

    Please resign Sam Allevato.

  • Sam Allevato, why are you not telling the public about the depositions you have been required to give regarding the Great Park ? Why Sam Allevato did you vote for your employers contract when it came before the SJC City Council. That is completely illegal, yet you did it Sam Allevato. Why did you not tell the public Sam that your employer billed the taxpayers over $300,000.00 a year for your services at the boon dogged Great Park ? Maybe that is why you thought it was ok to pay a City Manager $324,000.00 a year. You even called That City Manager Joe tait, the “Guru of Water”. Tell us Sam, after paying that City Manager Joe tait almost as much as the President of the United States, how has the GWRP functioned since then ? It hasn’t has it Sam ? Over an 8 million dollar deficit, it has not met any water production goals whatsoever, and the water rates are higher than ever.

    Please resign Sam.

  • What boggles the mind is why Sam had the audacity to write the letter asking, “Just what is going on?” The list of transgressions against our city it long. And, it cost residents of SJC millions of dollars. He hit us in our pocket book. Whether adding a fee onto our tax bill for the Park on La Pata, or the water bill, or overpaying the city manager, or giving contracts to companies he had an business or personal affiliation with. The donations from people wanting favors, like the Vermulen family. He repaved his street but left others to sink. He showed favoritism for the equestrian park and private business by way of a renewed lease. What has happened Sam, should you have any doubt, is the residents are screaming for a fresh city council and a well run town. San Juan Capistrano could be great. You have not worked for our best interests. The ballot measure in 08 was for open space and most of us voted yes. Now we are paying for a park you negotiated to buy behind closed doors and you lease it out to Blenheim Equestrian events. This was not ethical. I just returned from Dana Point this evening and everything is so clean, landscape is well manicured with flowing suculents. The stores are cleaner. Maybe we need a suggestion box on tasks needing to be done in our city that can make San Juan Capistrano as good as it can be. Colorful, unique, clean, and indicative of Old California. Clint is right, please resign Sam.

    • Rose, when the suggestion box you mention is complete, the bottom line you will find is that Dana Point has available funding and San Juan does not. Dana Point receives north of $13 million dollars in bed tax every year from Dana Point Hotels alone. This allows them to provide and upkeep all of these elements you and all of us find so appealing. It allows them to brainstorm ideas of tasks to enhance their city. San Juan is currently being crippled by a lack of business, local commerce, and lack of City revenue. What we lose in business we gain in an ever expanding homeless population. This is the most likely direction San Juan is heading in if the town’s commerce is continually ignored. I see a lot of this first hand, but so many of the people that comment on the Downtown aren’t actually in it everyday seeing what is really happening and transforming.

      • Steve Odekirk, San Juan is being strangled by the over 100 million dollars in debt that San Juan has accumulated while Sam Allevato has been on the City Council. Bed tax does not resolve the problem. Simply stop spending and have a city budget that lives within its means. What is wrong with that Mr. Odekirk ? Is it wrong for a city to live within its budget ?

      • Nothing is wrong with that, Clint. I agree that the concept of reducing spending and having a city budget that lives within its means is 100% dead on. Now re-read your first sentence and put your thinking cap on. If SJC is $100 million in debt, reduced spending is not enough to climb out of a $100 million hole. You need BOTH approaches to work. Reduced and only responsible spending within a budget combined with increased business revenue to bolster local commerce as well as the City. If both sides would stop fighting it will become clear that half of a plan on either side will not work. Dare I say that everyone bringing their ideas together is the big fix here. You have an attacking style when you write, Clint. You’re a smart enough guy that you don’t really need it.

      • Steve Odekerk, when increasing revenue is at the detriment of the residents, then is the revenue worth it. The answer is no.

      • Yes, Clint, and when increased revenue is at a huge benefit to the residents, the answer is yes.

      • Steve Oedekerk, sorry the residents don’t agree with you. In fact, more than 2,500 signatures on the referendum do not agree with you.

      • The residents also don’t agree with adding an additional 1,662 daily car trips that the Hotel and condos would generate, Steve.

      • Steve Oedekirk, just to give you a heads up, the sign that you placed over the legally required sign for the project that faces El Adobe does not appear to be a legally permitted sign. You might want to get a permit for it.

      • 2,500 signatures that they had to break the law to get. It is illegal to use false information to acquire a signature on a petition of referendum. Every individual that did it or was a part of it can be convicted of a crime. Untrue statements were printed, fabricated images were used, and there are a huge assortment of audio and video recordings of petitioners saying mis-truths to acquire signatures. Interesting that the people orchestrating the petition felt the need to lie to sway opinion and acquire signatures.

      • Steve, the residents also don’t agree with downtown gridlock from the additional 1,662 daily car trips that the hotel and condominiums will generate.

      • Hey, P. Ewing. I concur with anything regarding traffic concerns as we’re also residents in town. That figure is a correct figure from the traffic report. I believe the way they derive the number is by estimating 6 trips per car per day for each hotel room at full capacity, and estimating 2 cars per Villa with 6 trips each per day. Seems a bit of an excessive formula but definitely better that they estimate higher than lower in a case like this.

      • Clint Worthington

        It is always interesting when the owner of the property does not like the number of traffic trips, but does not stop him from developing the property.

      • Clint, with that logic, hotels would not exist as every time a hotel has gone anywhere people, of course, have to drive in and out of it. This is how hotels work. There has not been a single instance where a Kimpton hotel has hurt a town. It has only added value in everyone’s property value, additional revenue to the local business owners, additional revenue to the city, and a big boost to tourism.

        Hotels work. they’re good for towns and San Juan historically has had several. But, yes, cars do have to drive in and out of them.

      • With a daily car trip count of 1,662 if you laid all of those vehicles end to end you would have a line of vehicles 5.35 miles long. Where exactly do you fit that many vehicles when presently we can’t even cross the railroad tracks at Del Obispo and you have emergency vehicles that get stuck in traffic. This project is not the right fit for our city. When the Marriott was built there were not any concerns as it was the right place for that project. This project is simply not a good fit for our town.

      • Steve…It is also illegal to manipulate the EIR report so that it displays a view that will slide into the plan and traffic allowable. The last two plans were manipulated. The city sent out a request for an EIr to the company they typically deal with with certain perameters asking for hot spots on Del Obispo and Camino Capistrano. And, they measure peak. So who decides what is peak? Peak for Irvine is 4:30 to 5:30 and that is what was measured for car flow for three mid week days on your plan. However, that excludes the car pool moms. We have 10 private schools in SJC and 5000 students in addition to the public schools. All the moms are driving thru town beginning at 2:30 to 3:30. We have gridlock on Del Obispo from 2:30 to 5:30 and there is a lag between 3:30 and 4:30. The city sends out a designed request for Enviornmental Impact on traffic and the report was not accurate for our city. It is in these small ways that data can be manipulated to reflect a number that will slip into the plan and show no significant impact. We have a huge problem right down town and on Del Obispo. We need comprehensive EIR reports not boiler plate and a rubber stamp from Allevato. I think you may have been drawn into this but, you are not forthcoming with the city people who urged you to get in on this. And, I have checked on the city web site. There is no city stake holders or city design group listed on the web site. You say the city brought you in on this but you will not tell us who specifically. You say there is no conspiracy and it is beginning to look more and more like there is back room deals and deals arranged over dinner in town. This is exactly what we do not want anymore in our town.

      • Rose, I can really see you really wish that there were back door dinners held in town. Unfortunately, the only meetings I went to were open meetings with the design company presenting the HTC Master Plan and looking for input. This plan was eventually passed in 2012.

        Regarding traffic, I can’t recall a time where a hotel was put into a downtown and did anything other that provide a place for tourists to stay. If there are those that want to believe a Kimpton Hotel in the downtown will suddenly make it un-driveable, they are entitled to that opinion.

        If you roll around in your head any downtown you’ve ever traveled to and stayed in a hotel, you’ll find that it did not land as an aberration or traffic destroyer, but simply offered you a place to stay.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Odekirk, hmmmm…….”can’t recall a time when a hotel provided anything other than a place for tourists to stay”. Steve you might want to check right next door to your property. The Historic Town Center Park is the property that hotel was on. You might want to walk next door and read the plaque and see the photographs. It is unfortunate that I am the one that had to bring to your attention what was located next to your property.

      • Dude, what are you even talking about? That is relevant to nothing I wrote. Have another beer.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Oedekerk, first of all my name is not “dude”. Second, I don’t drink beer. It is unfortunate that you don’t read your own posts. The quote was from your own posts. When you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what lie you told.

      • Clint, I was simply siting that I could not track the logic base in your message.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Oedekerk, I am sorry that “dude” stumped you.

      • Clint, good comment. I’m glad to see you have a sense of humor.

  • Steve, the suggestion box is not a bad idea. Maybe our residents have suggestions for making room for the homeless in a humanitarian way. Many have expressed ideas for how best to use the Vermulen property. Over the past year I have heard many “how about this” ideas for our town while collecting signatures or holding a picket sign. I heard several suggestions of residents pooling their personal funds to buy and develop the Vermulen property themselves. Someone else suggested horse drawn carriages and an outdoor event platform for dancing or night movies. Yes, it takes money. But our money has had a poor caretaker. Millions of dollars have been spent on frivolous law suits, and pet projects pushed through by Sam. San Juan Capistrano would not be so poor if we had not been paying a President’s salary to a City Manager- $324,000.00 a year. The list is long, very long. Steve you have been approaced many time to present a “Mission Style” plan with fewer room and NO permanent condo’s. You ignore the suggestions. No one wants a Kimpton hotel in SJC. It does not fit. Residents want quaint and charming (like the Mission Inn in Riverside) not sleek modern. it doe not fit San Juan Capistrano. It is like going to Paris and having lunch at McDonalds. You might consider one of the other lot near the back of the mission. Do some horse trading, you are a businessman. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. You can quote me on that. And, Dana Point does have more money to work with coming from the harbor boat rentals. They have also had a city council working for the city betterment, not pet projects that suck money from the city coffers. Dana Point does not pay the city manager 324,000.00. It has become obvious that you are SET on this Kimpton hotel, I would suggest you open your mind to “Old World California” . Talk to Duane Roberts or ask his advice. Each unique hotel in old towns do very well by maintaining their old world charm. Like the Davenport in Spokane or the Columbia Gorge Hotel on Hood River . We are living in a town with a world renowned historical landmark, our mission, so this is not just about money. It is about preserving history and keeping our town unique and charming. Our last mayor did a very poor job for us in the past few years. I realize it takes money and we have been paying our taxes and add-ons. But, we have gone backwards. Look around. Really look. Big Lots has been dirty with broken doors for 12 years, dirty broken carts and overcrowded store with merchandise blocking isles. There is a fire waiting to happen.. Who owns that property? That strip mall is a disgrace. Pannera has been a good addition. The movie theatre is great and always clean. So we have a new governing city council and residents are committed to particpative. Do a little research Steve and create a hotel that will work as ad addition to the mission not an sleek modern clash of angles up against adobe. Good luck Steve I hope you can open your mind to what could be.

    • Rose, your knowledge of SJC is so very apparent to me and I personally find your thoughts and opinions important, but when you accuse me of ignoring suggestions as though I’m the developer and this entire thing is something I brewed up you are sorely mistaken. The City came to me asking me if I would be willing to alter the property to help the commerce in the Downtown. Maybe I’m crazy for doing this, but at that moment in time, roughly 3 years ago, I talked to my wife and we agreed to be open to the idea. So the HTC Master plan gets approved and a cavalcade of developers show up at my door, some of the greediest of which were local developers that had much input on the HTC Master Plan and what was mapped out for my property. It consists of condo complexes with retail/commercial lining the new Forster Street. Check out the HTC pdf online for yourself. Three different types of condo structures: Courtyard Housing, Row Housing (behind the Egan House), and Work Live Lofts. 3 different types of condo complexes with a maximum unit number of 128! This is what I was handed as a goal for my property to help SJC. THIS was my starting point. And yes, after being rather disgusted by these local developers wanting to maximize housing units and complexes of condos or “doors” as they call them, describing to me where all of the money is. How you make money on “doors” and you lose money building a Hotel. You lose money putting Forster Street through. You make money on “doors, doors, doors…” Yes, I was definitely more of a fan of the concept of a Hotel and a reduction in residential to only 30 townhomes all tied into the Hotel program and amenities. It’s the only plan I saw that was not greed based. If you were in my shoes, your primary opinions would stay the same, as they should, but I promise that you would view the overall picture a bit differently. There are bigger villains lurking in the shadows that want to turn the downtown into an Irvine-like condo park. We should be welcoming the concept of hotels with a low number of residential units that are directly tied to a major boutique hotel brand. This is an insurance policy that the property will always be kept up in the highest of quality and protected from the construction of massive residential structures. We will be trading out a severely growing drug and violence problem in the HTC Park, Plaza and surrounding area, for a 24 hour business that will increase tourism and commerce with the rest of San Juan staying exactly the same. But it will be a safer San Juan. At the present rate of escalation, within 5 years our town will be unsafe to walk in at night after dark. This is where the current “preserved” San Juan is heading. We may all get to witness it, we’ll see.

      This is not open land we’re talking about here. Concrete and buildings are being replaced with concrete and buildings. There will be more trees than present. The majority of my property and buildings can not be seen as it is land-locked. The same will be true of the Hotel. The Hotel brings San Juan back to its historical roots of having a hotel in the Downtown that will be of benefit to residents and tourists for years to come. All at the price tag of free, with the added bonus of paying out millions a year to local commerce and nearly a million dollars a year toward sorely needed city revenue. It’s not just about money, but about building something of value to the city rather than the slated plan of condo complexes. These same developers are now pretending to be anti-residential and actively trying to kill projects so they can acquire the land and go with the “doors, doors, doors” initiative. Trying to get close to the new council so they can become the only “go to” developers in town. This is a much larger concern as these players are funded and willing to wait out councils if needed. Honestly, I know more now than I wish I knew regarding some of the players.

      • Steve~~~your perspective is enlightening. I, and the others posting here, would probably LOVE to know WHO, exactly, from “the City”, came to you. Whomever it was already knew, or should have known, that they had approved a plan for the downtown area that specified NO RESIDENTIAL.

      • Thank you Steve. I appreciate your candor. Who exactly approached you? You say the city approaced you. Can You be more specific? Because this whole thing has turned neighbor against neighbor. We want a charming business friendly downtown. We do not want grid lock traffic. Those EIR reports are not being read thoroughly-not just yours. As Bonnie pointed out we have had a plan in place so who came along and incouraged you to move foreward on this hotel? Did they say, “Forget the plan we will fix it?” in that good ole boy way of business. This is what I invision. I could be wrong. But someone led you to believe that the existing city plan could be manipulated. WHO? I want names. If what you say is true you have been victimized too. Please tell us who?

      • You GO, Rose!

        I do agree with Joanne that the water issue should be front and center. But first there are these 2 dangling development projects that need a conclusion. There could be lawsuits. Hard to avoid when City leaders go out of bounds. We’ll have to live with that. But they must be concluded.

      • Hey, Rose. Easy to answer. But first it’s important to point out that the Master Plan does not specify no residential. On the contrary it blatantly includes residential with renderings of such. I just went to the SJC city site and if you go to this page: http://www.sanjuancapistrano.org/index.aspx?page=1429
        Then click the fifth entry: Project Description, and a .pdf will download.
        Then go to page 24 and 25 where the changes to the town per the plan will toggle on and off when you go back and forth between the pages.
        Just follow the legend and you’ll see at a glance the “multi-family residential” that pops up over the town and my property. There are docs/pages with even more detail regarding my property but this one is a quick way for someone to get their bearings on the full suggested changes to the downtown within this plan.
        Regarding my plaza property, a developer would be able to build a maximum of 128 condo units on my property, which is just crazy. I was swung over when the entry of a Hotel came up and that was only from Urban Village. Every other developer was trying to maximize “doors” which is where the huge profits are. Hotels are more long term investments so most developers avoid as you initially lose a lot of money up front building them.

        On the questions of who was involved: Back before the HTC Master Plan was approved in 2011, I believe, the city would hold meetings in various local restaurants, I believe they were called stakeholder meetings. There were different council members at different meetings, but to your question the meetings involved a lot of local business owners and residents. Although I couldn’t make it to all the meetings, this is where I was first shown the intention of the Master Plan and the first sight I saw of my property having been drafted into a new incarnation. Also in attendance and doing a lot of the explaining were the individuals from the company that had executed the plans. It was explained to me that my property was a critical element in the execution of the plan. That’s where it all started for my wife Tonie and I. We started this process with the intention to help with commerce in the Downtown. It’s not the greatest thing in the world to intend to help out and have a group think you’re up to something but I guess that goes with the territory. The only individuals with dollar signs in their eyes that I have met are the local developers that wanted and want to build multiple condo complexes. At this point, I’m thinking we should all go to dinner or something, it would be a time saver! I’m not into “camps” or hate based stuff, but I believe the open exchange of facts is always beneficial to all involved.

      • Sorry, Bonnie, just saw your comment, did not mean to exclude you from my answer to Rose.

      • Steve…Can you be a bit more specific? You said, “easy to answer but”, then went on to tell me to toggle on pg 25. 2nd. para. “HTC Master Plan was approved in 2011, I believe, the city would hold meetings in various local restaurants, I believe they were called stakeholder meetings.” I may have to get Trey Gowdy in here to get a straight answer.
        Just tell me who was at the dinner? And, who prepared this toggle plan? I am not a genius but not a resident of Bell either. As you mentioned residents are angry. Let’s get serious. Name names. Not dinners, Stakeholders, Plan Writers? Who????????

      • Great comment. THANKS, Rose!!!!!!

      • That’s sounding like “the City”, or someone at “the City” altered the HTC.

      • Okay, Rose. I’ll try to condense key points for clarity:
        1) The Master Plan not only supports residential but has it literally drawn into the plan
        2) There was no “dinner,” these were several open meetings where the local community and business owners could comment on the developing HTC Master Plan, with as many as 40-50 local business owners, residents, council members, plan designers, etc in attendance. I’m sorry I do not have an attendance roster but I do not.
        3) These meetings took place in 2011, the plan was approved in 2012
        4) The link I provided is from the SJC CITY WEBSITE. It’s the CITY’S DOCUMENT for the HTC MASTER PLAN. Everything that you would ever want to review to educate yourself is there. I was trying to make it easy for everyone as it’s all extremely lengthy.

        Hope these bullet points are less confusing for you.

      • Steve….. You said in you were approached by the city. You are being really evasive. You said there were several stateholder meetings at restaurants around town. So, you went to dinner and discussed your property, but you can not name one name of the people you had dinner with?
        I am not trying to be ugly. But, maybe we do need Trey Gowdy.
        Don’t direct me to a link. If you say you were approached by the city and presented this plan to you on putting a hotel and condo’s downtown, anyone and everyone will believe you, just tell us who “they” are. Who approached you?

      • Rose, please re-read my entry above yours. That has the answer to every question you’re asking. I’m being the opposite of evasive, as I’ve actually been in a respectful exchange of information. I don’t think your getting ugly but definitely very confusing. I think you’re trying to track down a conspiracy theory that doesn’t exist. I find it really weird you want me to come up with 40-50 names of everyone that was present in several public gatherings. It is a ridiculous request, I’m not your employee.

        The reason I steered you to a link is you were very incorrectly stating that the Master Plan did not allow for residential. I would think you would have appreciated me steering you in a direction where you could educate yourself that the Master Plan both allowed and dictated the inclusion of residential.

        I’ll give it one more try:
        1) The City Council put together an initiative that turned into the HTC Master Plan (you should educate yourself on what this is)
        2) My property on that plan was drawn up within this plan mostly residential and some commercial/retail along the new Forster Street.
        3) Many developers approached me with condo complexes toward the max allowable 128 units, and I did not like these greed based, copious residential plans.
        4) When Urban Village approached with the Hotel and low number of Villas, I believed that would be a big win for the city, residents and tourists.

        If you’re looking for some kind of witch burning, you’ve come to the wrong guy. I will leave all of the nastiness to others.

      • Rose, interesting that Steve Oedekirk has mentioned several times that the city has approached him, but refuses to state who from the city approached him. Why ?

      • Steve, YOU should educate yourself on the HTC Master Plan … the maximum number of residential units permitted on 44 acres of Historic Town Center Revitalization area (in which your 3.17 acre property is part of) is 71 units. Urban Village project alone with 30 condos is proposing to build out 42% of what is allowed under the HTC Master Plan covering 44 acres. In addition, Urban Village proposes 3-story condos while the Master Plan has a height restriction of one to 2-story residential units. I say “proposed” because without a General Plan Amendment, you are permitted 0 residential units on your property.

      • Steve…many of us are truly interested to know “who in the city” approached you. You are not forthcoming with an answer. Several stakeholders met at restaurants in town. You must have some names. Like, Sam, Hans, business owners of _________? Can you just tell us who in the city approached you, you would have much more credibility. I believe you were approached an led to believe the plan could be maneuvered to allow housing. Why won’t you tell us who from the city approached you? Still waiting for an answer.

      • I think you are on the right track, Rose. Would like to discuss with you.

      • Wow, you guys are enthralling, No intelligent back and forth here. The information is all there. Good luck with your fabricated witch hunt. I may contact you the next time I need conspiracy theories for a film. I can see you are of the types that need to have a villain in their life and if there isn’t one present you then need to create one. Great luck with that, maybe you can pin it on Sam that seems to be an arbitrarily popular move. “Uh oh, the milk spilled:” Sam did it. “Hey, it’s kind of cold outside:” Sam did it. Happy New Years, guys.

      • Notice Steve Oedekurk still has not stated who approached him from the City? Since Mr. Oedekurk is unwilling to identify this person from the city, it leaves one to believe that Mr. Oedekurk is protecting the only person who appears to be on his side. That would be Sam Allevato. We know where the other City Council members are who supported Steve Oedekurk and the project for his property. Voted off of the City Council.

        Sam Allevato needs to resign.

      • Wow, Clint pulled the Allevato card! What a shock. A wonderful one stop shop. Will try this again Clint, take a really close look at this next line it contains the answer you’re looking for but don’t want to hear: THE CITY HELD STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS AND THE DESIGN GROUP MADE A PRESENTATION TO LOCAL BUSINESS OWNERS AND RESIDENTS TO INTRODUCE THE HTC MASTER PLAN. That’s how myself and everyone in town was approached by the City. There was ALREADY RESIDENTIAL IN THE PLAN.

        I’m sure you’ll figure out some way to find that confusing or unclear. Good luck with the witch hunt, unfortunately there’s no witch. Happy hunting.

      • Steve Oedekurk, again, you stated “you were approached by the City”. Who in the city were you approached by. If you were actually approached by the city, you should have no problem stating who that person is. That is unless you are protecting Sam Allevato and do not want to name him. Come on Mr. Oedekurk tell us who in the city approached you instead of avoiding the question.

      • Clint, the city held stakeholder meetings for all of us business owners in the downtown. The design group presented the plan. I guess at this point you should consult a dictionary on definitions of the words involved. I can’t help you with the ability to read and process clear statements.

      • “Us business owners in town” is not a special privledged class.

      • Steve, YOU should educate yourself on the HTC Master Plan. The Master Plan allows a MAXIMUM of 71 residential units on 44 acres of the Historic Town Center Revitalization area, in which your 3.17 acres is a part of. Urban Village proposes to build 30 condominiums, which would be 42% of the total residential units allowed on the 44 acre Town Center area. In addition, Urban Village proposes 3-story condominiums while the Master Plan permits one and 2-story units only. I say “proposes” because without a General Plan Amendment, your property is currently zoned for 0 residential units.

      • Hey, P. Ewing. Actually here are the full specifics per the code:
        – HTC Master Plan Zoning allows for a maximum of 30 homes per acre
        – Plaza site = 3.17 Acres for a maximum of 95 homes
        – If a developer includes 10% affordable housing, they are awarded a 35% increase, resulting in a new possible maximum of 128 homes.

        In my opinion, this tricky way of bumping up this ridiculous number of homes was concocted by local developers, as one of them has tried to acquire the property from me several times in the past, continually referencing the desire to put as many as 125 units on the property. These types of plans have always turned me off in a huge way and this is why when the Hotel showed up on a plan I felt it was something that would really benefit the town, tourists, residents and local business owners.

        I believe some people on here are innocently mistaking the HTC Master Plan for the General Plan.

        Regarding the villas, they are 2 stories with a mezzanine/deck. Even if one considers the mezzanine/deck a “story”, the overall height of each villa does not exceed the overall height limit for a two story home in SJC, this is why the mezzanine was ultimately allowed.

        Regarding the # of car trips you listed elsewhere, that is a correct figure from the traffic report. I believe the way they derive the number is by estimating 6 trips per car per day for each hotel room at full capacity, and estimating 2 cars per Villa with 6 trips each per day. Seems a bit of an excessive formula but definitely better that they estimate higher than lower in a case like this.

      • Under the HTC Master Plan, your 3.17 acre property is designated as mixed-use development which is defined as the COMBINING of two or more types of land uses such as retail, commercial and residential WITHIN your property. The conceptual site plan of your property in the HTC Master Plan illustrates a blending of one and 2-story retail, residential, commercial, and live-work, and clearly does not intend for exclusive residential use. To take the basic calculation of multiplying 30 DU’s per acre would render upwards of 1,300 residential units on 44 acres of the HTC Revitalization area instead of the maximum 71 units permitted. So based on the Master Plan, it is not possible to turn Historic downtown into “condo town” and without a General Plan Amendment, NO residential units are currently allowed. I appreciate your passion for business commerce in town, but please look at the impact of what Urban Village is proposing with such a large scale development. Consider just a boutique hotel without the residential and the businesses will get the hotel they want, residents won’t feel like their historic/village-like town is compromised, and downtown traffic won’t drive locals to neighboring cities to eat and shop. As for the proposed townhomes, Urban Village’s report describes them as 3-story that would require exception from the City.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Oedekirk, you still have not stated who from the city approached you ? That it is, if it actually happened.

      • Clint, I actually have several times. Now, again:

        The city held stakeholder meetings for all of us business owners in the downtown. The design group presented the plan to everyone.

        That is how the city approached me, as well as every other business owner in the downtown.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Oedekirk, this answer is entirely different than what you have said previously that the city approached you personally. In fact, here is your quote from the beginning of this post “The City came to me asking me if I would be willing to alter the property to help the commerce in the Downtown”. So now your story is that no one from the city approached you, that it was a meeting that was held for all the business owners in town.

        So Mr. Oedekirk, which story is correct: The story “The City came to me asking me if I would be willing to alter the property…….” , or, is it the story that you attended a meeting for all the downtown business owners.

        Only one can be correct.

      • Clint, that quote is correct and they’re both one in the same. I get your desire to create an outcome your looking for, but the reality is the stakeholder meetings in town is where I first learned that the city was interested in seeing if I would be open to redeveloping the property.

        This degree of badgering is getting interesting. Curious to see the next angle…

      • The angle is simple. There is no such thing as a “steakholder” group in SJC or any other place.

      • Bonnie, I never said or implied that the local business owners are a “special privileged class.” These are your words and I don’t know what place that is coming from.

        In reality the local business owners are a really nice group of very down to earth people that supply the SJC residents with food and entertainment. These are humble people working extremely hard to make a living and some of which are struggling to keep their doors open. I don’t know why you would have any type of bias against them.

      • It is simply a violation of the Brown Act for ANY City to invite only certain folks to a meeting. By law, they must have open meetings. It is even illegal for more than 2 of them to exchange phone calls, e-mails, lunches, or any other form of communication without meeting the definition of the ability to have a “closed” session.

      • Well the brown act was safe, as already mentioned these were public meetings with business ownets and residents.

      • That, possibly remains to be seen.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Odekurk, no one is badgering. You make a statement and questions are asked about your statement. You continually dance around your answers and are not straight forward with any of your answers. You have insulted myself and other people who have posted with statements such as I will say this slow for you.

        What appears to be an illegal and un-permitted sign across from El Adobe continues to only infuriate people more. It just displays that the rules apply to everyone else but Steve Oedekurk. Which surprisingly fits with everything else with this project and the residents have seen right through it.

      • Clint, I’m completely content with people reading through the comments and assessing for themselves who’s attacking, badgering, hunting for conspiracy theories, etc. You try to make it a crime for someone like myself to openly participate and answer questions. I would suggest some type of anger management.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Oedekirk, you are sounding more and more like Sam Allevato.

      • Clint, I like how when you have nothing intelligent to say you just go to your home base of insulting Sam or saying someone is like Sam. You really should try to let go of your hate, I believe it would greatly help you in the short and long run.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Oedekerk, thank you for your suggestion. No hate here. As the signatures for the referendum attest to, the residents don’t like it when a big landowner/developer tries to take advantage of them. It is public knowledge that Sam Allevato is your friend and he supports you.

        Not insulting Sam. Just stating Sam Facts. By the way, did you know Sam Allevato as a City Council Member voted for a contract for his employer while in the City Council ? Did you know Sam Allevatos employer charged the taxpayers over $300,000.00 a year for his services. You can read Sam Allevatos depositions regarding where all the money went from the Great Park in the audit/investigation on the website. Do you need more Sam Facts about your friend ?

      • And how exactly is it that I’m trying to take advantage of the residents, Clint? By selling the property so there can be a Kimpton hotel in town? That’s my dastardly deed? I did not design the project, but believe San Juan having it’s 6th Hotel in the Downtown will be amazing. I also think the Villas that are tied into the hotel amenities will be primarily inhabited by current residents that love SJC and our Downtown. I think it is a great project for the residents, local business owners and sorely needed city revenue.

        Anyone that believes we should not have a hotel or this particular project is entirely entitled to that opinion.

  • Clint, Bonnie..don’t waste your time on Sam “the has been” Allevato…We are done with him and his cohorts, the reign of terror is over. “We the People” have spoken, and enough is enough. Many illegal and wrong Council decisions triggered this landslide new Council election, and it’s just gaining in strength. Eyes were opened, and Sam’s door was slammed shut forever. For me, personally, it was the banning of the news paper in front of City Hall..for others it was the Speiker development and the 9+ hour CC meeting pushing thru all Sam’s peoples’ agendas. Sadly, we will spend a year cleaning up their last minute ditch efforts and failed attempts. So, rejoyce this new year, as Sam and those he represents are a thing of the past, having no power whats-so-ever. Happy New Four Years to San Juan!

    • Susie~~there are still many folks who don’t know the whole story…..keep sharing or they will come back.

    • Bonnie…this is a little off the track of Sams “What is going on?” and more to how do we fix our town suggestion. From time to time I have seen artists painting in the mission garden. It reminds me of Monmarte in Paris which is just near Sacre Coeur. I still have the oil paintings I bought from a couple of students so many years ago. We could open the mission to artists and tourists, shoppers as they do in Paris. It is and was. a great draw for tourists. Whether the artist becomes a Van Gogh or just a starving artist the art work becomes a memory of a trip to San Juan Capistrano. We could coordinate with schools and artists to paint for a day and sell their work. The artist would be learning something and they can sell their work they should not be penalized by donating to the mission cause. A mission was established so many years ago to create a working mission and help residents to become self sufficient. Why NOW would we change the original concept, by charging residents to become self sufficient? Seems like a completely opposite mission statement for the mission. What is there mission? The Mission gift shop needs help. The mission could bring this town to life again. And, really, they need to get rid of the made in China junk.

    • Suzie, I wish I had more faith in the new Council. When I wrote to Reeve earlier this year, all I got back was sarcasm, innuendo and cherry picked facts that were not even close to what was happening both scientifically and politically.

      I sent e-mails prior to most of the new candidates regarding our diminishing water and only got one response. Unfortunately, she didn’t get elected.

      The CCS group appears to have no clue. All they talk about is cutting our water rates, when water is on the road to becoming more expensive. Santa Barbara was outbid when they tried to purchase needed water and when push comes to shove, I doubt if we’ll be able to outbid Santa Ana or Costa Mesa or even Mission Viejo when the bidding starts.

      • Joanna..our new city council members have just been elected. Have a little faith. Many long time residents took up picket signs and rosters to get honesty back in this city. As you can see there are many issues related to Sam. Water is a huge problem and we all saw the video of water being trucked into a town in Santa Barbara. First we need to halt building. We also need to live within our budget. Hiring a city manager for 324,000 was very poor use of our city dollars and got us no where. San Juan Capistrano is also paying to water the park on La Pata, the land that was purchased for an equestrian event has to be maintained and watered. We need to do something about that. That is water needed for residents already here. The three council members who were elected were AGAINST building during a drought. We were also against good ole boy tactics used against residents in the past. Time for a change Joanna. I hope you will reconsider your opinion of these fine people.

      • Joanna~~MV get water from Moulton Niguel and Santa Margarita water districts.

      • My concern centers around Reeve. Naming his dog “Muhammad” in order to insult Muslims, suggesting an ordinance to allow carrying of guns in our public parks, and his letter to me in response to my calling for a ban on fracking within our City limits.

        I attempted to get an answer from the new council members prior to the election to ascertain their position on our water crisis. I only got one response, from a candidate that did not get elected.

        I did exchange e-mails with Kerry Ferguson after she was elected regarding adopting an ordinance that would require all new construction to include solar power, similar to the ordinances enacted by Lancaster and Sebastropol. She is opposed to the idea because more and more people are signing up with Solar City, and she does not believe the ordinance is necessary.

        My position is that we need to reduce our carbon foot print. We are already seeing the disastrous effects of climate change – drought, wildfires, more severe storms and sea-level rise. We also need to limit population growth here until we can resolve our water and traffic problems. And we need to take serious action on water conservation.

        If the new candidates take action on these issues, I will support them.

      • Bonnie, I am aware of that. Ultimately, however, if the state runs out of water, the water districts will start bidding against each other. Santa Barbara’s water is in short supply. They recently bid an insane amount for water ($1600 per acre foot), and they were outbid by approximately $700 per acre foot. When push comes to shove, all of the water districts will be bidding against each other to get the last drop of water.

      • Joanna….I am behind you and will support you re the ban of fracking. We can make a presentation to our city council with more support, as residents begin to realize that our water comes from the north. And, water used by oil companies in Bakersfield, Monterey, Napa takes water that was on it’s way south. But, if you deviate from your goal to halt water permits for new develepments and ban fracking all because you are angry over an unrelated issue. Mr. Reeve named his dog a name you do not like. So what? One of your e-mails was unresponded to. I have had several letters unresponded to. Let’s stick to water, your passion and knowledge about water can help us. Forget the dog. Re: water rates, that was not the fault of CCS. They just reported it. The water company was billing residents for ground water and they were not using ground water. A law suit was filed. Residents won. The city council appealed. Residents are still waiting for our refund. Actually, CCS has been less biased than most newspapers in the last few years. I watch for yellow journalism. I watch for a paper that would use their private e-mail addresses for these blogs to target people who disagree with some who disagree with the “good ole boys” way of doing things. Joanna, your points on water running out are well taken. Let’s not get off track.

  • I agree with the others who have asked for Allevato’s resignation. It will be hard for him to work with a new Council that has integrity on their side as well as the best interests of the citizens of San Juan Capistrano at heart. He might also resign stating he is teaching fifth graders the meaning of his favorite adjactive, “disingenuous”, as the definition seems to written all over his face. Sam Allevato stated himself in an OC interview following the landslide election of the new peoples council, that he could not work in the new City Council “toxic” environment…Well OK then, just resign, and we will believe any excuse you give. Believe me!

  • Joanna..you seem to pretend to know something about water..Are you employed, perhaps, by the Rancho Margarita water district? Just a guess!

    • I am retired, Ruth. My background is multidisciplinary including anti-submarine warfare instructor, saturation diving research, project manager on the Safeguard/Sprint ABM System, and global AIDS education.

      I got interested in water conservation about 10 years ago having spent time in fresh water stressed areas. I began taking environmental science courses via Coursera, became an active member of a number of professional organizations (AAAS, IEEE, etc) and spend an enormous amount of time reading science journals and books on the subject.

      I have also been conducting “environmental Saturdays” offering a wide range of films on the subject. The local turn-out has been pretty poor, however. Most attendees come from Irvine, Fullerton and Laguna Woods.

      • Great credentials. I bow to your superior knowledge. Keep us informed. I would like to know more. I have not heard of the Saturday meetings. Maybe our city coucil needs to be educated to the real problem of water running out or being contaminated. No one person can be expected to be an expert in every field. Which begs the question, why did we pay 327,000 to a city manager to deal with the GWRP? Wonder what his credentials were? Let me guess, cousin of ___? I’ll bet about now, Sam is wondering why he wrote this letter to ask, “Just what is going on?”

      • I have invited the previous council to attend, but they were no shows.

  • Joanna. Question: Are you a coffee chatter, perhaps a supporter of Mark Nielsen and Rob Williams? Your UV comments are revealing to those of us that know.

    Suggestion…..stay employed a bit longer in the water field as a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Just imagine…… over time you might achieve a smiggen of knowledge, and not be so full of hot air!

  • I suspect Shirley that she knows a bit more than you. Tell us, what are your solutions to end the drought and insuring we have adequate and affordable water?

    • Berta, you think? Geeze why wasn’t Joanna hired as city planner and water guru? Lots of retired people run for city council. We need her kind of knowledge about water. This is California. People all over the country think we are all over filling our swimmin pools.

      • Berta. Sorry. I meant to write (hire Joanna as city manager). Typo. Brain fog.

      • Rose, if I thought I was qualified I’d offer my services for a $1.00 a year, but the job requires experience that I don’t have. But thank you for the kind words.

        Can you contact me at joanna@aegis.org. I’d like to put a meeting together with Bonnie and a few other interested parties to see if we can come up with some ideas that could be presented as a group.

        I think I will try and get things organized and have a “Environmental Saturday” meeting on the 10th of January. More later on this.

      • Joanna~~I will try, but I cannot drive yet, But will look forward to it,,,,,please come Rose, you will be an asset!

      • Will attend if possible.

  • 138 comments, and most are negative. I’m guessing Sam Allevato is sick that he ever wrote this article. After all, he states that our town is ” in the downward spiral of stagnation”, and why is that…you decide…he’s the one who has been at the helm for the past ten years, not our current Council. Ask yourselves why are we in this pickle? Our new Council will work for the people, listen to the people, and in return, that will bring prosperity to our community and make this the best New Year ever, with many more to follow. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    • Susie dear—-you hit it on the head. What has Allevato done for us over the years? Cost the residents lots of money is what my neighbors and I think. We just see more traffic, more empty store fronts, restaurants closing, trains blocking traffic that never pass, a park that apparently we paid for but can’t use, water bills that have doubled because Allevato loves the water plant that is a failure, pot holes on streets, a City Hall that is an eye sore, and our beautiful eastern mountains being cut up into box homes because he pushed and pushed for the Ranch, more and more law suits—–oh my dear, it is simply shameful and stressful to watch. When does his seat come up for election? I am not big business, but, I vote.

      • Exactly Ruth…. residents have had it with Sam’s way of doing things as you listed in your post. We tried to get him recalled and city businesses donated 74K in about 30 days to support Sam to fight the community gathering recall signatures. He was a bully at the grocery store when seniors sat gathering signatures. He used his money to send slick flyers demeaning residents who oppose him. He needs to resign.

    • Given the number of empty store fronts, perhaps their is something worth considering in Councilman Allevato’s comment.

      The disparity in personal income has grown over the years. The rich have grown richer, while the middle-class and working poor incomes have stagnated as the cost of living.

      I suggested a few months ago that we should follow the lead of other cities and raise out minimum wage in SJC to $15.00 p/hour. Increased income means increased buying power and improved economy.

      Perhaps it is time we explore how it is working for those cities. And, while we’re at it, take a look at Richmond, California and what a progressive City Council has achieved there.

      • Joanna, the proposed retirement community would be one of the top employers in the city—creating local jobs that would keep residents from needing to commute to Irvine or further. Everything from entry jobs for local students and recent graduates to nursing and executive positions. Even with the small team we have now, we have an employee who walks to our office on Del Obispo from her home in SJC–another rides a scooter.

      • But most employees will not be able to do that, and many will come from outside SJC, as will most likely most of your residents. This is not a project that benefits SJC.

      • Ms. Benton, you are right that not ALL of our employees will come from SJC, nor will 100% of our residents. But to those in SJC who do need a job, or the seniors in San Juan who have signed up to live here, I don’t think they’ll mind if, in addition to them, someone from San Clemente also gets a good job and some seniors from Dana Point also receive needed care and services.

      • Knowing a bit about the demographics of the area, I suspect there will be few very locals who will be able to afford residence there. That’s your marketing problem. But please stop saying this will be a place for seniors from SJC. But here is a question you can answer….WHY did you seek out a parcel that you knew would require a major change in the planning documents for SJC? And then totally ignore all the obvious obstacles to the property?

      • Ms. Benton, well over one hundred seniors from SJC have already placed deposits for the care community. We’ve fortunately not struggled with a marketing problem—we’ve seen more than 2X the advance deposits we have seen in our other communities, which are completely full. This fall the Common Sense newsletter published inaccurate pricing information, presumably in an effort to build opposition to the project. They wrote that the the project was “elitist” and that the price tag “on the low end” is more than double our actual entry level pricing. If anyone from that paper had taken five minutes and walked into our info center they could have walked out with pricing guidance showing prices are expected to start at less than half the median home value in SJC. If they spent a few minutes on the phone they could have found out that entry level pricing at our community in Carlsbad is $290,000 and at our newest community (opened in 2013) entry pricing is $269,000. I acknowledge these prices are not affordable for everyone in SJC, and that some residents will choose to pay more for larger homes. But these entry level prices are affordable for many SJC residents—and much more affordable than many other options.

      • Troy~~~I did visit your marketing trailer. The prices quoted to me were nothing like that. And I have obtained information from your projects in Thousand Oaks and Pleasanton and those prices were nothing like that. I have friends who live in the Pleasanton project and relatives in the area. They also have friends who put down initial deposits, but by the time the project was liveable, they were no longer able to meet the “independent living” standards.

      • I’m glad you visited our office. I wish I could have met you. There was clearly some misunderstanding about pricing if that was your take away. If you’d like to stop by today or another time, I can walk you through the printed pricing information or show you the pricing report we were required to file with the State Department of Social Services. I can also give you printed pricing info for the other communities I mentioned above. I’m sorry that I don’t have a record of your visit or who you met with but I’m happy to meet with you in person.

      • Ms. Benton, I think your question “why here?” is fair. Even most of the project’s opponents have acknowledged that the proposed care community is an attractive and needed use but would like to see it built further from their personal home. I’d like to answer your question in two ways.

        First, why San Juan Capistrano? According to US census data, Over 15% of the residents in San Juan Capistrano are over the age of 65. That number is expected to grow significantly in the next 10 to 20 years. The current percentage is 37% higher than in California as a whole. 70% of those over the age of 65 will need some type of long term care and the SJC market simply does not have enough quality care facilities to meet the needs of those who want to stay near their families and friends as their needs change.

        Second, why this particular site? There are very few available sites where a continuing care community can be built in SJC. If you are aware of an alternative site you think would be a better fit, I would welcome the conversation. The Vermuelen site is soon to be vacant. It is surrounded by existing institutional uses (care facility, schools, churches) and medium to high density residential developments (mobile homes, condominiums, apartments and houses) all built on former agri-business sites that were no longer financially viable with farming uses. Some will be quick to point out that some lower density neighborhoods (including multi million dollar estates) exist on the hillside across Del Obispo, but no low density neighborhoods exist near the project on the valley floor. The site contains no animal or plant habitats that would be disturbed and it provides future residents with convenient access to historic downtown and the beach, both venues our future residents are attracted to. Our residents at our existing communities are avid volunteers and being next door to schools, churches and the community center are attractive from that point of view as well. Being just a few steps from the market is attractive as well so that residents can grab groceries without having to drive.

      • Incurable Optimist

        Bonnie – do you live in SJC?

      • Incurable Optimist, where do live? And why are you afraid to reveal you real name?

      • Troy… Cudo’s to the professor who taught your classes on business negotiation. You probably aced business negotiation strategy. You counter every objection with what you bring to the deal. It is the permanent damage to our town that you take away. You can not negotiate the negatives. You’re are bringing this to the table, is your counter to every objection. More employment. Yea. The main issue is that Laguna Glen is not a fit in. You worked a deal with Allevato and others to get a shoe in and now the residents of SJC are up in arms, literally with picket signs. Your development might fit out of the city but not on the Vermulen property.

      • Ms. Stone, I did take a negotiation class in college and was taught that if two groups were willing to sit down together and discuss their needs honestly a “win-win” solution could often be found. That has also been my professional experience. I do often try to share the attractive benefits our community can provide to the city and its residents. I have seen the great impact they can have—particularly upon the community’s residents and their families—but also on the broader community.

      • Clint Worthington

        What empty storefronts ?

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, please tell us what this prices are ? Tell us the full range of prices and the monthly maintenance fee. You shouldn’t have a problem with that.

        Oh by the way Mr. Bourne, you used the same marketing technique at Pleasanton regarding taking deposits. Do I need to priced you to the link to the almost verbatim newspaper articles?

      • Clint, “Cindy Borden” gives a pretty good overview of our pricing, program and value proposition in her comment on a different Dispatch article. I’ve copied a link below. If you need more detail, let me know.

        http://www.thecapistranodispatch.com/city-council-overturns-spieker-rezoning/#comments

        You are right that we use similar programs at all of our communities, broadly regarded as some of the best in the country. All of our Southern California communities are full with long wait lists and the programs and pricing are similar to what we would offer in SJC.

      • Incurable Optimist

        Joanna, I unlike others who are weighing in on what should happen in our city, are from San Juan. However, I agree with what Rose Stone wrote on January 2, 2:26 p.m. – “Using a Nom de plume is appropriate since residents have been maligned in Hit Mailers, and ridiculed in Cartoon mailers. Actually, those were the tipping point for many in San Juan Capistrano. Others, were threatened in blogs like these. Most of us are residents with children. During the recall a high ranking official’s daughter made comments on my personal facebook page. This was during the newspaper, freedom of speech/press debacle in town. Good Lord can you blame anyone for being careful?”

      • Clint, take a drive around town. For lease sign on the building on the north side of Del Obispo at the bridge. Two in the shopping centers on Camino Capistrano, possibly three if you count Big Lots, they appear to be clearing out the building this evening, and I wasn’t looking this evening.

      • Clint Worthington

        Joanna Clark, three empty storefronts out of the approximately 3,500 business licenses in the City is actually extremely low. There will always be empty store fronts. Even Beverly Hills has empty store fronts.

      • Joanna, you are right about Big Lots. they are done. Well, maybe the new tenant will keep it clean or the owner. That whole strip mall needs help. Who owns that strip mall?

      • Troy, In regards your answer to Bonnie, Why Here? I am not sure where you gathered your data on demographics. But, they do not include the Hispanic populace who were not counted on the last census. Right or wrong, they are here. They work as gardeners, housekeepers, nanny’s and their children attend public school here. They are not in your tally. NO One knows how many are here exactly, but they drive cars and go to work everyday. Then you say there are 37% of the populace over 65 who need senior housing. Do you know how many people want to retire and reside in their own home. Many people HATE Leisure World type places. SJC is a place where neighbors have been here forever and we help each other. I helped signature takers by giving them a break for restroom and food. That is the kind of community we have here. You, Troy are new to our town. Many of us moved here long ago for the small town, community connection. We are the Steel Magnolias of SJC. We have lived through the good and the bad times. Now we stand together to keep our small town charm and rid our community of some poor leaders who did not act in our best interests. You are tenacious about your project. Laguna Glen could be great but not on the Vermulen property. I am sure some real estate people in town would love to find the right parcel for your project. And, they are out there. Real Estate is not scarce as you move out Ortega. There are so many parcels that would be less traffic impacting. Our community was led to believe the Vermulen property would be purchased by the city on 08 and we voted on a bond that is now costing us money every year. Please let it go. I can recommend a good realtor who can help you find another parcel.

      • Troy, Clearly you excelled a negotiations class. ” I did take a negotiation class in college and was taught that if two groups were willing to sit down together and discuss their needs honestly a “win-win” solution could often be found. That has also been my professional experience. ” But you sat down at the negotiation table with ” the city council” and “Stake Holders” and other city employees. For the city coffers and Spieker it is a win win. For the city-the community it is a win – lose. #1 you never asked the populace how we would enjoy a small city inside a city on Del Obispo? Hundred of people attended city council meetings and waited until 3am to speak against this oversized development. They rushed from work to attend meetings, both the city planning meetings and the city council meetings. Packed with residents saying NO because of WATER, Infrastructure, TRAFFIC. and what you take away–our small town charm. You negotiated with Allevato and city officials. You did not negotiate with residents. You tried to run us over. We have lived thru the Olivia chaos of huge cats grading every day for a year reshaping the ground for a 12 months in 2014. The dirt and dust forced us off our patios and left cracks in the decks and walls. The ralleigh waves rumbled under our feet in our homes. Now we are left to make repairs ourselves as the developer and city say, “get a lawyer”. We have had really poor stewardship of our city during the last 6 years or so. We have been drawn into land deals being promised open space, and while this is not your fault, you have been negotiating with that group. A group who did not represent the best interest of residents, but his own ego and the city coffers. Now we are determined to clean up our town. This would never have happened in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo or Laguna Beach. This is not a win win for residents.

      • Ms. Stone, I think you misunderstand how our application process was conducted. We did not have secret negotiating sessions with Sam Allevato or anyone else. The entire city was notified on several occasions regarding our project via mailers that we paid for. We held numerous public meetings for over a year. We sent our own mail out to thousands of homes in our town letting them know about the project and providing our phone number, inviting residents to call and meet. We opened an information center for the public to learn about the project and give their feedback. We hosted dozens of luncheons for thousands who attended and wanted to learn about the project. And, while I recognize that you and many others do not want the project in your neighborhood, please also understand that many, many residents do want the project. That was a big part of the feedback we received. Hundreds of your neighbors have placed waitlist deposits on the hope that the project is built. It is a quaint and comforting thought that neighbors will take care of each other as we age, and to a great degree I know that happens, but many of your neighbors understand that care communities exist because many seniors will eventually require care that cannot be provided by a friendly neighbor or child—but needs to be conducted by a professional in a professional setting. They want the peace of mind that comes from knowing that regardless of what care they may need as they age they have a realistic plan in place.

        There also seems to be a big discrepancy between your two recurring themes. The first is that you believe that there is a broad conspiracy led by Sam Allevato holding secret meetings and exchanging financial favors in order to build projects without getting any input from the residents of SJC. But your other recurring theme seems completely counter—that you don’t want to participate in any meetings with the land owners or developers. You and the new council refuse to come to the table and discuss issues, ideas and solutions. To cap it off you called for and supported the new city council’s unprecedented decision to block the public’s input from the decision process. What clearer way could we have heard what all residents of SJC wanted than by having an up or down vote?

      • …And welcome to the Kim McCarthy school of racism! It was only a matter of time before the smut surfaced. As a member of SJC’s “hispanic populace” NOT employed in the “gardening, housekeeping and nanny” fields, is it cool with you if I take offense to your bigoted rant? God forbid we oppose a project without hating Mexicans at the same time! Congratulations, SJC! This is the group you just elected to run the city. And Pam, Kerry and Derrick, before you stumble to distance yourself from your group’s disgusting hate speech, would you mind letting us know if McCarthy is still hosting your “think” sessions and fundraisers? Judging from her screaming instructions at your last meeting, I’m guessing she’s still pulling all your strings. Thank you for pulling back the sheet and revealing the true nature of the “Common Sense” crowd once again. The General Plan is our constitution? Well then here’s our town’s new Magna Carta. Read and weep:

        http://www.ocregister.com/articles/school-167072-marco-spanish.html

        http://www.ccsense.com/2010/03/impact-of-mass-illegal-immigration-on.html

      • Rodney- don’t tell Donna Flemming if you own a car- she will slash your tires.

      • Rose, regarding that Olivia development and the damage it is doing to your property. You should band together with other affected residents, hire an attorney (on a contingency basis so you don’t have to come out of pocket) and sue the developer. Otherwise they are not going to compensate you for the damages. Hey, that developer sued the City and took nearly $10 million of your (and my) tax dollars. Turn about is fair play, how about you sue them and get back some of that $10 million?

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, it was You who suggested an illegal meeting behind closed doors when you stated you would pay for the cost of the election if you could meet with the City Council in closed session. Entirely illegal under the Ralph M Brown Act.

        It was YOU Troy Bourne who wanted those dirty illegal behind closed door meetings.

    • Happy New Year!

  • Why can’t we all just get along?

    • Clint Worthington

      Because millions of dollars are at stake along with a quality of life.

    • Rodney and Martha AKA J Volke ….. Demographics is not racist. The fact that Hispanics live and work here is not a racist remark. We are talking about the fact that they were NOT included in the census. Don’t you care about too gridlock traffic in our town? Your other slanderous remark is beyond the pale.

      • Incurable Optimist

        Rose, I’ll explain to you why your comment was racist and hurtful. You claim the “hispanic populace” was not counted in the census and that they are here as “gardeners, housekeepers and nannies”. Why would the hispanic members of our community not be counted in the census along with the other races? Your inference is that they are not here legally. There are many hispanic members of our community (including my neighbors) whose families have been here much longer than yours and they are very much legal and included in any census. You many not know any in your circle of friends, but there are also many hispanic members of our community who are not working at hourly jobs for rich white people. Your broad generalizations ARE racist and the posts written by Kim McCarthy above are worse.

      • Donna Fleming, I thought I recognized your hateful comment and I guessed right. I went back and watched the video from the meeting where Mayor Reeve blocked the vote on the senior project. After claiming to be one of the proud signature gatherers, you announced “we have a huge illegal and Hispanic population in town. They drive cars, they work here, they’re here. For whatever reason, I’m not saying it’s bad or good, I’m just saying they’re here. And they’re on our roads”. I was shocked then and am again now. I voted for this new council because I was ready for a change. One month in and I’m almost ready to acknowledge I made mistake. I cannot believe the comments made by their supporters on this forum. I’m sad for my hispanic friends and I’m embarrassed for our town. Shame on the new mayor and his colleagues for not responding and correcting your inappropriate comment at the meeting. Shame on you for repeating it here.

      • JV or Sam. My remark about Hispanic people living in San Juan was related to demographics. It was not intended to be racist and you know it. God if anyone mentions Hispanics you get attacked. Troy reported demographics that are not accurate. He did not include the Hispanic work force. The day laborer’s picked up by contractors (not a good practice), but it is here. My point is they live and work here. They drive cars on Del Obispo. They are not counted in the census. Sure maybe some are, but they flood in every day, no one knows how many people actually live in San Juan Capistrano. So the high rate of people of retirement age is not correct.

      • Ms. Rose, my comments regarding demographics were intended to demonstrate the significant need SJC has to provide more quality long term care options for our seniors. The numbers came directly from the US Census and absolutely include the city’s hispanic residents (39% of those counted). My point was that, in 2010, our small town was home to almost 6,000 seniors and the number is expected to increase significantly in the next two decades. 70% of those seniors are projected to need long term care.

        Compare that large and growing need to the fact that SJC has only 45 Medicare certified skilled nursing beds provided in a facility that Medicare rates as “Below Average” and you can begin to understand why many local seniors are excited about having a high quality continuing care community built close to their home. They want the option to stay in the area they love, close to family and friends, in the event they need care and services as they age.

        You seem to be arguing that there are more people in SJC than the 2010 census indicates. I do not disagree with that, but it makes my point even more. More people = more seniors who will need care = more need for quality care communities to help provide it.

      • Once again, Troy, you try to obscure facts. Between Irvine and San Clemente there are many licensed Medicare approved facilities. Over 800 single family homes, single story mostly, are licensed for care for up to 6 patients and have at least 2 caregivers that live on site 24/7. They provide all meals and some even transportation to doctors offices, etc. They dispense medications, provide activities, even outings. There are doctors who visit the patients in these facilities.

      • Bonnie, maybe in the city where you live there are plenty of high quality care options for seniors, but I think you would be in the minority contending that there are sufficient high quality care options in SJC for its large and growing senior population. Would you mind sharing the data you are using to reach that conclusion?

      • I am a professional, Troy. You cannot afford my fees.

      • Fair enough, Ms. Benton. But If you don’t want to share the analysis behind your criticism, it’s hard to accept. I’ve never come across any professional other than you who believes that SJC or even South OC has enough quality care facilities to provide for the current senior population, let alone for the upcoming demographic wave. Please consider that you may feel differently about some of these issues if you lived in San Juan Capistrano.

      • Oh, poor Troy. Again, and again, you assume all sorts of things. I am an expert at market research. But I don’t believe in….”if in doubt, manipulate the data”.

  • If Allevato isn’t sick about the above article, Troy Bourne sure is. He has made many insulting and revealing mistakes in his comments above and obviously thinks he can manipulate the new Council as he did with the old Council, behind close doors. Bonnie, Rose and Clint have pointed out facts to him about the Brown Act. He will not, and can not accept defeat. No public vote necessary as the referendum speaks for itself. Done, no deal, it’s over…bye bye

    • Mrs. Suzie Que, I agree with Bonnie that it would probably be best if we didn’t use fake names. My experience has been that people are more inclined to be honest and civil when they are using their real name. What ‘closed door’ meetings are you accusing Spieker of having? What manipulation do you believe took place? We applied through the front door as required. From the beginning the process has been public and open. We had more than a year worth of noticed public meetings and had an information center open to the public. Environmental and traffic studies were posted online for months. In what way could we be more transparent?

      • You could start with an accurate traffic study, not one done in 2010.

      • Ms. Benton, in November of 2013, Stantec (formerly Austin Foust) conducted a traffic study evaluating traffic counts at our existing community to confirm our traffic volumes and patterns were consistent with the very low counts listed for these types of communities in commonly used traffic manuals. A full traffic study for the project was conducted by LSA Associates in the spring of 2014. Both studies are available at the city. There was a review period of almost two months after the the draft study was posted online for any concerns to be raised by residents.

      • On this side issue I’ll agree with Mr. Developer Bourne. Fake names are for cowards who want to fire cheap shots without being accountable. Allow me to bask in my hypocrisy whilst I illuminate the reasons for Suzie Que’s required anonymity. In our town’s not too ancient but storied history, she wrote disgusting, anti-immigrant trash in our papers while she was cheerleading for the “SJC Americans” hate group (http://www.voiceofoc.org/oc_south/article_508fdf9c-765b-11df-af8d-001cc4c03286.html) or (http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2010/09/sjc_americans_ocs_latest_hate.php). When she discovered that most SJC residents don’t share the racist xenophobic mentality of her childhood hometown, she started writing her thoughts under the byline of others, fictional and real. Hint…our new council didn’t write all their own material.

      • Using a Nom de plume is appropriate since residents have been maligned in Hit Mailers, and ridiculed in Cartoon mailers. Actually, those were the tipping point for many in San Juan Capistrano. Others, were threatened in blogs like these. Most of us are residents with children. During the recall a high ranking official’s daughter made comments on my personal facebook page. This was during the newspaper, freedom of speech/press debacle in town. Good Lord can you blame anyone for being careful?

      • LOL, “Rose”. Hah! That is rich! Were you one of the “victims” that printed pictures of the developer’s home and placed it on doorsteps all over town? I don’t recall hearing any concerns about his family’s safety coming from “Rose Stone” or any other “Nom de Plume”. A low point in our “grass roots” effort for sure. OMG. The hypocrisy is running knee deep! I love our town.

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, you offered to pay the election costs if you could meet with the City Council in closed session. That is an entirely illegal under The Ralph M Brown Act. You may not meet behind closed doors for the actions that you wish. Besides, it is a moot point. Your project is not going forward.

  • Concerned residents of San Juan Capistrano should take the time to read through Urban Village’s Mitigated Negative Declaration Report, submitted to the City on March 7, 2014. Tired of downtown gridlock? The report shows 1,662 daily car trips will be generated by the hotel and condos. Do you love our historical town and registered historical buildings? Read Page 78 regarding Esslinger and the iconic Egan House: “However, due to their close proximity to the project, direct and indirect effects from construction vibration or differential settlement may have the potential to harm the physical structure and diminish the structural integrity of the two historical resources.” Enjoy the downtown park? Site plan shows Forster Street going through the Urban Village project instead of along the border of the Park as was intended for improved pedestrian/family access and vehicle access/parking. The cool alley that is described by developer next to Egan House? Site Plan identifies it as the Service Road for the hotel, shops and restaurant; a one-way alley fronting Camino Capistrano that dead ends, and is steps away from the El Adobe crosswalk. Imagine the delivery/dumpster trucks backing up onto Camino Capistrano to exit service road and stopping traffic. Now also imagine trash dumpsters in plain view, which the recent rendering by developer does not include.
    The Urban Village development is too massive for our village-like downtown. Give residents a true boutique hotel under 100 rooms, give residents Forster street next to the park instead of 3-story, 3000+ SF townhomes — no residential units allowed without a General Plan amendment. Abide by the City’s General Plan and Master Plan (documents intended to preserve the historical integrity of the City) regarding height, setbacks, parking without seeking exceptions from City Council. Maybe then can the community see a hotel built in downtown San Juan Capistrano. We, the residents, are not to blame for the controversy over Urban Village Hotel and Townhones. It appears THE TRUTH as told by Urban Village is not the full story.

    • What is the bedroom count on a 3000 sq ft townhome? Likely that it would generate only 2 car trips/day?

    • All this “he said, she said” is moot if we don’t solve the problems facing us – traffic and available water. Of the two , water should be our chief concern, because our water situation is the most critical to our property values and survival.

      According to Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine, “We are facing a real emergency that requires a real emergency response. If Southern California does not step up and conserve its water, and if the drought continues on its epic course, there is nothing more that our water managers can do for us. Water availability in Southern California will be drastically reduced. With those reductions, we should expect skyrocketing water, food and energy prices, as well as the demise of agriculture.” It is predicted that we could be out of water in the next 12 to 18 months . . . 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.”

      Compare the above findings with the research coming from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “If you’re one of the tens of millions of people who live in the southwestern United States, get ready for drier weather. That’s the message from Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The American Southwest, says Seager, is soon likely to experience a “permanent drought” condition on par with the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

      “Aridity has always been the defining feature of the American Southwest, even as large-scale hydraulic engineering has allowed cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas to burst from the desert floor.”

      If you are still in doubt about the criticality of our situation, consider the findings of the
      National Center for Atmospheric Research | University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
      “The Southwest’s aridity is about to get worse.” Published in the April 9 issue of Science, “Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America,” it is predicted “that climate change will permanently alter the landscape of the Southwest so severely that conditions reminiscent of the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s could become the norm within a few decades.”

      Until we find some workable solutions to the above, we need to put all new construction on hold. And while we drag our feet arguing about “he said, she said” property utilization, NASA tells us that “we have an 11 trillion gallon water deficit; which the recent storms will do little to reduce.”

    • Thank you P. They are called Raleigh Waves. Construction of this nature, incapsulated by historical buildings causes damage to surrounding buildings. It has already happened with the Olivia Development. The cities answer to complaints about cracks in foundations and walls and patios is . “Get a lawyer.”. The hotel downtown as presented with underground parking would require extensive excavation and grading. Steve said he was approached by “the city” but refuses to tell us who in the city led him to believe the City Plan could be “toggled” to allow for this.

  • Mr. Wirthington, P Ewing, Bonnie…I just joined this conversation, thank you for your comments. Steve Oedekerk can not and will not answer your question, much less comment on Ewings last entry regarding the real zoning of his 3 acres. Let’s all face the reality here. Steve is a business man who wants to capitalize on making money of his land, not interested one bit in how it figures into the city plan, could care less. You represent logic, facts and the truth regarding his land and it’s use . Facts that Steve will never admit to. Keep hunting. What’s the saying, the cover up is usually worse that the crime!

    • I want to thank everyone for their comments here. It is beginning to sound like the General Plan and the HTC are in conflict. Instead of trying to reconcile them, the former members of the Council held some select meetings with “stakeholders”, not public as required, and encouraged them to present proposals that the Council would ram through before new Council members could take office. Have I missed something?

      • I agree Bonnie. These nebulous references to “the city” and “stakeholders” are definitely not what we want in San Juan Capistrano. This is the reason we worked so hard on referendums and elections. And, yes, the cover up is beginning to look worse than the crime.

      • Bonnie the only thing you’ve missed is that the HTC Master Plan was never a covert or undercover plan. It was a visible agenda item since day one, went through a long process of public meetings, then officially passed in 2012.

      • But, Steve…..why does it conflict with the General Plan? Someone screwed up!

      • Yes, Bonnie. The city staff screwed up and have acknowledged this fact. When the HTC Master Plan was approved in 2012, the staff did not rezone the General Plan to match the new approved Master Plan. This is the reason for the inconsistencies between the plans. This is the nature of the current legal challenge.

        No sneaking, no back doors, clerical city issues.

      • Well we have to thank Sam Allevato for writing this letter. We now know that there are two conflicting plans for our city. The General Plan which allows no housing downtown and the HTC Master Plan,. The General Plan would require an amendment to accommodate the 3 stories and the housing. Next is the groups working outside of city hall, the Stakeholders meeting have been held to discuss these projects for our town. Also, the design group has been present at these meetings to discuss these changes and suggestions for our town outside the city council. This is apparently against the law to hold meetings with city council people and stakeholders and local business owners outside the city council. Back room meetings. The stakeholders and the design group are not mentioned any where on the city web site. These people need to come together and know that there is a new city council in town. I am betting on the new council to clean up our town. We have been heading for BELL Status for a long time. Its time for some integrity and a council that cannot be bought by favors or money.

      • Rose you’re really off track. Your summation is logistics mixed with hyperbole. I know you don’t know that you’re off track. I know you really, really want to believe there were “back door” whatevers and illegal meetings. There were not. If it makes you happy to think that there were, then go for it. You might as well enjoy yourself.

      • Steve…you said I am off track. And, I don’t know it. You told us the city has two plans and it made a mistake. No one admitted that before, not that I know of. Sure I could be wrong. If it was just one of two things, but look at the long list of grievances our community has listed on this run-a-way train of responses to Sam’s letter. Are we all wrong? Look at the 266 comments, are we all wrong? I know my tax bill is real. I am paying for an equestrian park purchased behind closed doors and leased out to a private enterprise. We can’t all be wrong. Maybe Steve, you have been duped. Is it possible you were approached and let to believe this was a good deal for you and the town? Excavation for an underground parking garage would cause chaos and damage to surrounding historical properties.

      • Rose, I can only tell you that the city’s error in approving the Master Plan and then two years later saying they forgot to zone it is all on public record and available on the city’s video logs of council meetings for anyone to see.

        I’m very aware of all the facts regarding this project, but any other past grievances, I cannot comment on as I really have no knowledge there.

        I am not a construction expert but the project was also approved by the planning commision and I know they are extremely protective of our historical landmarks.

      • Steve, You wrote the city made a mistake on the two plans per your comment. “Yes, Bonnie. The city staff screwed up and have acknowledged this fact. When the HTC Master Plan was approved in 2012, the staff did not rezone the General Plan to match the new approved Master Plan.” So this mistake happened on Allevato’s watch. Which plan takes precedence? Where there are conflicts of law, the U.S. Constitution is the Supreme law. So residents are bringing these errors or conflicts of interest to the attention of everyone in San Juan Capistrano. Which is a good thing for our town. This may not necessarily be financially good for property owners who have invested time and money into an albatross of a deal. I am inclined to think someone told you this could happen and involved you dangling promises of big money, when in fact they (who are they?) knew the city staff screwed up and the plans did not match.

      • Rose~please contact me at Bbenton955@aol.com

      • Your first half is dead-on, Rose, but the entire process and sudden reveal of the error was completely visible to all at a public council meeting.

        No one ever promised me anything, I’ve just been hanging in there because I believe in the cause of having a Hotel again in downtown. Those that don’t, that’s totally okay.

        You bring up a great point as to the question of which plan takes precedent in this situation. That is exactly what the legal challenge is about and whatever a court decides will be the final call as it should be.

      • Steve , Thank you for your remarks and information. You said, “Your first half is dead-on, Rose, but the entire process and sudden reveal of the error was completely visible to all at a public council meeting.” When you say the error by the city was completely visible to ALL, you must mean ALL who attended the city council meeting on that night in 2012. Not everyone in the city of 35,000 people attend the city council meeting every Tuesday. People attend when they become aware that a project effects them or our town. Most of the residents in SJC do not know the city made an error and there are two conflicting plans. A General Plan and an HTC plan and they do not have the same zoning parameters. When the error was discovered in 2012, who was the attorney sitting at the city council meeting? We know Allevato was there. You can’t go forward with contracts for the sale of land when said land is under the protections of an historical property and covered in a cities general plan. Were the city planners aware of this conflict of governing documents when they approved this urban hotel?

      • Yes, Rose, as you point out not everyone goes to the council meetings, but everything that happens at one is public record and anyone can watch the council meetings live or on video later from the city site. You can easily watch all of this and draw your own conclusions. Presently looking like the matter will be decided in court.

      • So, Steve. Let me get this straight. According to Pat Simmons, you began letting your property fall into disrepair about 2 years ago. Failure of maintainence, etc. Then more recently when she had utility problems she was referred to Josh Host. That sounds like you are no longer the owner of the property, but Josh Host (and/or his group) are the true owners. So, here’s the question: 1. When, exactly, did you sell the property to Host, et.al., ? 2. What promises were made to you and Host and when? 3. Was Host part of the “stakeholder” meetings? A simple title company search can answer some of these questions, but you have chosen to be the “spokesperson” for this enterprise. Do you retain some interest in the property?

      • Bonnie, at this point I’m enthralled that you’re still looking for secret meetings that didn’t happen. All answers have been redundantly listed on this blog so are very available.

      • A short trip to the County Recorder’s office in Santa Ana will tell all.

      • That will be awesome if it tells all, as you’ll get to see what a fantastic thing the project will be for the town. Safe trip.

      • Clint Worthington

        That is if you are up at 3am to watch it live. That was not a meeting that served the residents, or that residents could participate in as required by the Ralph M. brown Act.

    • Tom, your opinion toward me is untrue, but you can think however you like. I had no desire to develop or sell the plaza property and have turned down larger offers for the property in the past. My involvement is not financially driven. I was uninterested in the many plans brought to me involving multiple condo complexes, but when the Hotel plan was presented to me by Urban Village, I believed, as I do now, that it would be a big help to the town, tourism, local business and city revenue.

      That is the truth. My wife and my intentions are pure, we want to see SJC get back to it’s historical roots of having a Hotel in the downtown and offer needed business and relief to our local business owners. But if you’d like to believe otherwise and/or steer hostility toward me, that’s okay.

      • Steve….Here is my question for you. I am a resident and that is my only Stake Holding, but I have lived here for many years. If we could resolve our water problems, “big if” but suppose we could, would you consider a small boutique hotel in the Mission Style without Condo’s. Without underground parking. This would be less jolting to the site and surrounding historical buildings. And, something like the Apple Farm in size or the San Ysidro Ranch. Both are unique and would add quality not density to our town. I have stayed in both places and they are worth the extra money. Several people have mentioned something like this to me and just wondering if you would agree to a small hotel without condo’s. ?? I realize the stake holders are all about big money and that is of course appealing to a businessman, but if you really love San Juan Cap, the residents would not fight this. And I apologize in advance for speaking for anyone who is opposed to any hotel. I was just wondering if you would consider it?

      • Rose, first I appreciate that your note is not attack based. Personally, I love small boutique hotels. Personally, I have no problem with hotels without residential. I’m not the developer and did not design the project. I do know that it is the 30 Villas that create enough commerce for the Hotel to be built, and it’s the Hotel that SJC could really use. I’m not a developer and the only other plans that have been brought to me are extremely dense residential with some retail and commercial, no Hotel. They are infinitely wore plans with over four times the number of housing units.

        I just love the Apple Farm Inn and places like it, so will never argue such a destination in SJC. Regarding any future version of developments, you can just take a look at this very list of comments and see how un-anxious I would be to pursue another round. No one here will care or appreciate that it has not been easy basically putting an entire plaza out of business in order to offer the property up for the benefit of SJC. On top of that, then to have some that call you greedy, nasty comments, conspiracy theories, and on and on. None of it is true, but it’s got my wife and I to a place where if this project does not happen for whatever reason, we will keep the plaza just how it is, I can work there as I have in the past, etc. As I don’t have a financial agenda, it would be rather masochistic and naive to enter into a process like this again. I can happily continue working at a property I love.

        It is the status quo of the downtown that I’m very concerned about. We’ve been in San Juan for 21 years and over the last 10 years at the plaza, the incidents of drugs and homeless confrontations and violence has risen at an alarming rate. The HTC Park is already not a safe environment in the evenings and it’s getting worse all of the time. In my personal opinion we’re 5 years away from SJC being a town that is unsafe to walk in at night. Ask a police officer how tied their hands are on these matters. It’s a problem. I ultimately had to close the parking lot to shut down the drug deals going on at the back of the property, prostitution, etc. All elements that should be very much not San Juan. Sadly, that’s what’s here now and growing. It could be manageable but rolling forward I would need to lock down the parking lot, bring in more security, security lights, fencing in some areas, etc.

        The present project would clean up the center of our town and the park, that much I know. Everyone’s reservations are completely fine and they should feel however they choose.

        As of now, the project is approved, there is a legal challenge on the council vote, and a more than questionable referendum, but when all is said and done I will trust God with the final outcome and either way be content and thankful. Personally, I truly believe a hotel and villas will be significantly better for San Juan than the current Plaza Buildings, and everyone is entitled to their own opinions on that.

        One thing regarding the number of hotel rooms that most are not aware of. Currently on the Plaza site there is a two story 13,000 sq ft building that no one can see as it’s a land locked property. There is another 11,000 sq ft building in the rear of the property that you can’t see unless you enter the property. In similar form, the hotel will run along this same path, so ultimately the difference between a 104 room Hotel such as the Apple Farm and a 136 room Hotel as proposed will not be visible from anywhere other than standing within the Hotel property itself. This is a fact of logistics. No one knows the plaza property better than myself, and what’s nice about the location for a Hotel is the majority of the property and it’s buildings cannot be seen from Camino Capistrano.

      • You ARE a developer, Steve. You just haven’t acknowledged it.

      • Actually, not true Bonnie. I have nothing to do with the plans or development itself. I’m simply a supporter that believes it is good for SJC in multiple ways and would be selling the property.

      • Steve, .. I can imagine that this is stressful to feel attacked by the community you call home. It seems you may have been victimized. But, you say you were approached by “the city” and Stake Holders and dinners were held to discuss this plan of a hotel on Camino Capistrano. And, there is nothing wrong in wanting to be profitable. It is the American way. But, residents of San Juan Cap have largely left out of the decisions about which businesses come into town. Things have been approved that have not improved the appearance or benefit our town. A couple of years ago, they closed the massage parlor next to Ricardo’s for running a brothel. That was an unsafe area. Point that you make about crime and the homeless is another problem altogether. The hotel will not solve our homeless problem. But, there has been a rise in violent crimes in San Juan Capistrano, not related to homeless. The murders on Peppertree, the missing businessman Chris murdered by his partner and a couple more as I recall. The thing is, no one asks residents and homeowners what we would like to have in our town. Back room meetings, and dinners are held and things are decided. We did not want Hansens and I doubt it will survive. We would have used a Fresh and Easy, I think they are called, We need an Apple Farm type place but not the chain hotel with condo’s. No one cares what residents want here. Many would have preferred a Lone Star to replace the old Sizzler. Perhaps there should be a committee who surveys residents and seeks out businesses to come take a look. We have an open space committee. Maybe we need a residents committee to research and make suggestions. Things were going pretty well until Allevato took over in the good ole boy way of doing business. Then one big lawsuit after another, Water, Free Press, and the land deal off La Pata and the lease to Blenheim. I get angry every time I pay my tax bill. My irrigation has been off for 3 years. The water rate went up because someone at the water company made it go up. So Steve we need a healthier relationship between business owners and residents. It should be a town driven by the people not the city council and stake holders with meetings held at restaurants.

      • Ms. Stone, I think your resident committee idea is a good one. Sometimes, applicants only hear from residents who are excited about a project and don’t get a chance to get good feedback from other residents who may be more critical until we’re at the very end of the process. I can tell you that Spieker did what we could to reach out for comments. We’ve met with hundreds of SJC residents and actively attend local coffee chat groups. We presented to our neighboring mobile estate park and received good feedback that changed our plans for the community. I personally reached out to the editor of the Common Sense newsletter before they ever wrote their first article about our project. She refused to meet with me even once and then proceeded to repeatedly publish information about the project that was false. We reached out to every candidate for council and invited them to our info center to discuss the project and get their input. Every candidate (even those opposed) took the opportunity to provide their feedback EXCEPT Pam Patterson and Kerry Ferguson who, to this day, have never had a sit down meeting with any one from the Spieker group to discuss their concerns or feedback. You and I have not met but I would welcome an opportunity to sit down with you and hear your input.

      • Rose, I’m sorry but I can’t disagree with you more. There are not back door meetings like you guys keep repeatedly saying. I’ve never been in such a meeting and have stated this numerous times. You’re trying to create your own reality here to support some dastardly perception that doesn’t exist.

        Second, business owners in town are not the enemy. They LOVE the town which is why they do business here. They are not the bad guys, they are nice humble, hard working people. And you should stop being so exclusive regarding the “residents.” I’m a resident too for 21 years, and this resident is spending time and resources to help the town. Whether you agree or not is your business, but acting like I or the local business owners don’t care about the town is completely ludicrous and inaccurate. We all care about the town and are trying to help.

        And I do not feel like I’m being attacked by a community, far from it, only very few people and local developers that believe they own the town and are the judge and jury of San Juan.

        I raised my family here and will continue to fight for what is the best future for San Juan. I wish no one harm or to be removed from the process and will ultimately be content and thankful with any outcome.

      • Yes, there have been overnight accomodations in SJC. My family stayed in one in the early 1950’s next to the Mission. But that was when Camino Capistrano was the only road from LA to San Diego. But the area is full of hotels now with lots of choices.

      • Good grief! The post above encapsulates so well everything that I find so irritating about all of these comments. It is not up to “the residents” nor is it up to “government” to decide or dictate what grocery store is going to go into a vacant space in an existing commercial plaza. You don’t like Hansens? You wanted a Fresh & Easy? Well then you should have purchased the entire commercial plaza property and as the private owner you could have contracted with whomever you wanted. By the way, Fresh & Easy’s are on the way out. They have been an enormous commercial failure and the British grocery chain that started them and was forced to sell them lost a huge amount of money on those stores. Oh, but that’s right. None of that matters, you want one in that space so the company should just chase more good money after bad because that is what “you” want.

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, your project is dead. Overturned by the City Council based upon a referendum signed by almost 3,500 residents. Was it really necessary to buy people lunches to speak on your behalf ? It appears you have to bribe people to speak on your behalf. Then you have your mother in law, wife, and children speak on your behalf. Please. Mr. Bourne, you have insulted the intelligence of each one of the residents by continuing to tell us that 1,750 car counts won’t make a difference. If those cars were lined up end to end, it would be a line of cars almost six miles long ? Please don’t insult our intelligence by telling us almost six miles of cars won’t effect traffic. Why do you keep posting ? Your project is dead.

      • Mr. Worthington, I’d like you to refrain from referencing my family in public posts. As Ms. Stone and Mr. King noted, the bad judgment of those who fill our blogs and porches with hate mail have created an inappropriate environment do discuss children.

        You do raise a good question when you ask why Spieker doesn’t just leave given the council’s decision to block the public vote? Isn’t the project dead?

        City Council decisions (particularly in SJC) are not always permanent—a recent example here in SJC would be the council’s decision regarding newsstands in front of city hall, mentioned on this comment board. We believe there is still an opportunity for the care community to be realized on the property once residents and the council have an opportunity to evaluate the alternatives. The hundreds of local seniors who are hoping to live in the community want us to try everyone option available. They believe there are not a lot of acceptable alternatives.

        Even if the care community is not approved, Spieker intends to be part of whatever ends up being built on the site and our long term contract with the property owners allows for that. I would welcome your and others’ participation in evaluating alternatives to the care community. One of the uses we are considering is a residential neighborhood similar to the Alipaz community build across the street from the site just south of the condominiums.

      • So, Troy…..spare us all the “developer double-speak”. You seem to be assuming that even if the senior project is not approved as is, the General Plan Amendment (which is the key element) will still be in place. And you can explore other residential uses. Correct?

      • No, Mrs. Benton. I’m not assuming the GPA will still be in place. However, I do believe that a General Plan change will eventually be processed for the property–the question is for what? I have never heard even one of the members of the new city council state that they are completely opposed to a General Plan change for this property. They seem to disagree on what they want to see here (and some refuse to offer any suggestion at all), but I’ve never heard any of them suggest that a future General Plan change is off the table.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Odekirk, whenever the facts are called out to you, it is always an attack. Playing a victim is not becoming of you.

      • Clint, I really don’t think you can differentiate an attack from a fact. You attack. That’s what you do. Record yourself or something and watch it back.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Odekirk, if your involvement is not “financially driven”, any proceeds from the sale of the property, will you donate to the city to pay down the debt that your friend Sam Allevato has indebted us too ?

      • Ha! I’m sure it would be well spent. All proceeds go to legal fees on the projects that are wrongfully shut down.

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, personally I don’t blame people for not meeting with you. When you look at the number of people who have met with you and are now gone: Joe Tait, Grant Taylor, almost all of the upper end of the Planning Department, Laura Freese, Mark Nielsen, Lon Uso, Larry Kramer, John Taylor. What could you possibly say in a private meeting that would be any different than a public meeting ? You have spent hours and hours in front of the City Council pleading your case, all of which is available to view by video. Oh wait, there is still your good friend Sam Allevato………

      • Rose you’re really off track. Your summation is logistics mixed with hyperbole. I know you don’t know that you’re off track. I know you really, really want to believe there were “back door” whatevers and illegal meetings. There were not. If it makes you happy to think that there were, then go for it. You might as well enjoy yourself.

      • Clint Worthington

        Troy Bourne, you chose to put both of your children, your wife, and your mother in law to stump for your project and you. If your are offended by that, then maybe you should not have placed your family on the podium to speak. As simple as that.

        Regarding the new stands in front of City Hall, that was a flagrant violation of our First Amendment guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. That was not a decision. It was ordered by the court. I am happy for you that hundreds of seniors as you state want to live there. However, there were 3,458 residents who did not agree with you on this. Twice as many signatures as needed collected in less than twenty days with no advertising and no website. The residents don’t want your project Mr. Bourne.

  • Thanks Steve for an accurate summary of where the project is now. I look forward to seeing the two large, mostly empty, buildings replaced with a high quality hotel and residents who will be invested in keeping our town safe, vibrant and hospitable to our welcome tourists.

    • Ann, you approve of an underground parking lot at that site? Do you have any idea what that would do to the surrounding properties.?

    • Clint Worthington

      Ann Ronan, to give you a heads up, over 2,500 signatures for a referendum have been turned into the City Clerk who then personally drives the signatures to the Registrar of Voters to verify there are enough signatures for a referendum which will then go before the City Council. Personally Ms. Ronan, with the lawsuit that was filed to stop the development due to the illegal approvals items cited by the City Attorney and the referendum, I do not see this project going forward.

      • I suggest we look into a new City Attorney too. I can never tell if he is covering for Allevato or protecting the interests of the city council and the city of San Juan Capistrano. I believe Hans advised the council on removing the newspaper. He was also present during the real estate deal. He should have advised the city council against using tax payer money for an equestrian events park to be leased to a private corporation. But, he is good at looking for loop holes. And, we are paying him by the billable hour. Cities usually have an attorney on retainer and they receive a set fee per month.. Our attorney is paid by the hour, and with the city council we have had I doubt he needs any other clients. Time for a change.

      • Clint Worthington

        Amen.

  • I have been silent and have read numerous reponces to Sam Allevado’s letter. I now feel I must repsond to the “Truth”. I have been a tenant in Palza Del O (formaly Birtcher Plaza) for 44 years.I have seen a prosperous center turn into a vacant and declining manintained center . I can now vocalize my opinion as I have been given notice to vacatate the property. When Mr. Oedekerk purchased the property we all, as tenants ,were given notice that this was to be his future studio and we would have a short leases.

    When Urban Development came into play some two years ago; with a Hotel and Condos planned , the property stopped being maintained. As the letting go of property management team along with the regular gardener , the property declined to a sadden disrepair .

    Tenants left because of no new leases were not made available . Then the homeless and transiants came. This would not be a problem if the plaza was leased, but I feel there was a purpose to make this wounderful plaza look bad . This Plaza has a lot of charm and quaitness in the middle of town. The property also a possitive parking assest to evening and weekend events in our town when the tenants are not there.

    So please look at the positive past running of the Plaza and not look at what the new directive that has been cited … a so called “Gotham” looking developement..Hotel and condos in the middle of our quaint Village..

    • Thanks, Pat. Your input is most relevant and welcome. Steve obviously operates on more than one agenda. IF, and that’s a BIG IF…..the hotel is built and fails, perhaps it can be a homeless shelter.

      • Incurable Optimist

        Bonnie, again I’ll ask, do you live in SJC?

      • I will not comment to fake names/

      • Incurable Optimist

        Fair enough…how is the weather in Dana Point?

      • Yes, Bonnie that’s fair to say. I have my original, personal agenda of continuing to work at the plaza that has been set aside to dedicate the property to help the City. Like Pat, I too will also have to stop doing business at the plaza, which I have very much enjoyed.

        Regarding your last statement, If we don’t get something such as a hotel to bring more business to San Juan and doors continue to close, the entire Hisoric Downtown is going to become a homeless shelter.

      • This reminds me of the children’t book, “Wind in the Willows”….where Mr. Toad goes crazy for a motor car…..”I have to have a motor car” he says…..then after he has a motor car, he suddenly has to have a flying machine….”I have to have a flying machine” he says. You, obviously know nothing about the hotel business, nor does anyone on the City Council. Plaza Francesca is a “white elephant”….but with the right owners (in the private sector) who understood the true nature of the city and didn’t ask astronomical rents, they might be able to retain tenants. What sort of a “white elephant” will this become? You, obviously, have been ‘on-board’ for this project for a long time. Pat Simmons comments were insightful. You have been looking for a way out of ownership of this property for a long time.

      • The truth is I really love the property Bonnie. We had no plans to sell the property at all, and have turned down larger offers in the past. In this case we felt it would be more important for SJC to have the hotel. If you don’t believe that, it’s okay.

      • Clint Worthington

        As the tenant cited, it was the failing to keep up the plaza and the vacancy by the non renewal of the leases that has brought the homeless.

      • Pat~~were you invited to the “stakeholder” meetings?

      • Actually not true Clint. The plaza had many homeless issues when we were at full capacity. The difference is over the past ten years the escalation of drugs, drug deals, and violent confrontations at the plaza, HTC Park, and the Egan House have steadily increasing at an alarming rate. This is what’s happening and growing in the entire area. Even at full capacity, when the businesses close for the day, unsavory activities can and move right in.

        The Kimpton Hotel will bring back security to the center of our town and the HTC Park with a 24 hour business presence.

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Oedekerk, you could have provided security at your property. You chose not too. Easy to then say, look at all of these horrible things that are happening at my property. Now look at all the wonderful things a new hotel will bring ! Sorry Mr. Oedekerk, you chose not to spend the money to provide security for your own property.

      • Not the case Clint. There are indeed less tenants at the plaza, but there has been no decrease in security. I have confirmed today that the exterior lights are on a the building as is normal.

    • Thank you Pat…that is a new perspective that was unknown to most of us. There has been a big problem with property owners neglecting their properties. I have mentioned this for several years. The strip mall near Big Lots is a disgrace. How could an owner allow the doors to be broken for 10 years. Broken front doors. Dirty carts, crowded isles. If there is a fire, people will perish. I have brought this to the attention of the city several times and it is ignored. The opposing side of Camino Capistrano is maintained better. And, if the city would discontinue approving massage parlor’s that offer extra services we might be okay over there. But, really the owners are responsible for maintenance of buildings and if tenants do not keep trash and windows clean, evict them.

  • So this morning I was driving to work down Del Obispo. I thought to myself lets build a school. We will use “carpool mom’s” to reduce traffic flow.

    • So this morning I was riding my bike down Del Obispo to the beach. I dreamed of a central park with meandering paths through trees and around the duck pond. Then I was jolted to reality by a car that almost knocked me into the dirt near Olivia Home construction site. Oh well, it was a nice dream.

      • Of course one takes the bike path along the SJ Creek to get to the beach. Who would bike down Del Opisbo when there is a traffic free and wonderful bike path that runs parallel to it?!?!

      • So this morning I was shopping at Ralphs and I dreamt that the shopping center was a botanical garden, full of natural light and fluttering butterflies.

        Then I realized that I was dreaming inside of Ralphs, oh well- at least its not as dangerous as dreaming while riding a bike on a major road.

      • Strange Rose, I’ve had similar dream. Small parking lots around the outer edge. A few picnic areas scatter among the trees. A duck pond ecosystem that would be inviting to passing migrations of ducks.

      • Ms. Rose and Ms. Clark, I do not think the notion of a tree filled park with trails and duck pond on this site needs to be a dream. If that is what the majority of the city residents choose, there is a path to that outcome. Would you support a ballot measure where SJC residents could choose between buying the site for a park or allowing the care community?

        As an aside, The proposed care community includes ponds and walking trails. The ponds were reduced in size from our original plan out of concerns about water usage.

      • It seems to me the folks of SJC already did this once. But your back-room deal got in the way.

      • Ms. Benton, My understanding is that SJC passed open space bond measures in 1990 and 2008. Our application on the Vermeulen site started in 2013, five years later. I don’t follow how our proposed care community interfered in some way with those transactions. Are you aware of some “back room” deal that I am not? Who attended? Who benefited? How did it impact the open space purchases?

        Would you support the ballot measure I described?

      • This discussion is a series of endless circles. Was your company in negotiations with Rancho Capistrano over land there that the railroad refused to grant access to?

      • Ms. Benton, I’m happy to meet with you to discuss our project and your preferences for the site moving forward. Are you interested? Do you live here in SJC?

      • Dreams can come true!

      • No deal, Mr. Developer Bourne. You still don’t get it. Why would I tax myself to buy land from you or Farmer John, when I just got it for free? I didn’t even have to lift a finger! My noble neighbors collected all the signatures our council needed to block your little grandma paradise and protect my view. “Oh, but you’re stealing our property rights!” Cry me a river. Every April 15th, my tax guy reminds me that when the government takes it, it is not stealing, it’s “redistribution”. For once the government is stealing something that I get to enjoy. So be it. It may be the only decision this new council makes that I benefit from.

    • Jose… To my knowledge…there is no way to access the bike trail without traveling on Del Obispo towards the Ocean to get to a point where one can access the bike trail. Still a nice dream to cross over at Armstrong and into the 35 acre central park with a duck pond and trees. Maybe a raised event center for weddings, perfomances or movies under the stars. . Parking around the park but no cars in the park. Yes it is a dream, but a nice one.

      • Well then expand your knowledge. You can get on the trail all the way up by La Novia and even higher with no Del O involvement. Depending on where you live in the city you may need to cross over Del O to reach it but you wouldn’t really need to travel on Del O. There are good access points off Alipaz and right by City Hall too. You don’t bike much do you? I highly recommend the fancy foot/bike bridge that spans the creek (would that be the trabuco?) right by City Hall.

      • Dan…No, not much. But it on my list for 2015. I have tried to get to the bike path crossing thru the Presbyterian church, close to my home which backs up to Olivia. Nothing goes thru to the trail and riding a bike on Del Obispo is not safe. So, that leaves the hills which are not easy for me. So, a park with meandering bike paths is a dream I have often had. Not just me either.

  • I would like to first aknowledge that I am not a resident of San Juan Capistrano. I am a former born and raised Orange County resident that visited the lovely city of San Juan Capistrano for many years. Having attended Catholic school for 12 years, visits to the Mission were part of the program. I do have friends that live in San Juan who suggersted that I read up on what is going on in your fair city. I currently live out of state in a town that is about the same size in area as well as in population. Our small, quaint town is in the beginning stages of approving the building of projects very similar to the above mentioned projects for many of the same reasons that are stated above by the developer and or property owner/resident. My original intent was to read the comments on this site, as a way to give me a perspective as I form an opinion on my city’s proposed project. After reading the many comments above, I was so shocked at the behavior of most of those making comments that I was compelled to leave my own comment. I have never seen such hateful and disgusting behavior in all my life. Most of you claim to have a profound love for your lovely city but you obviously have no love or respect for your fellow man. I am all for having the peoples voice heard, but there is a way to share your passionate opinions in a respectful and considerate manner. You sound like a lynch mob or a bunch of vultures circling for blood. Your comments show more concern for your own agendas rather than looking at all the options and having meaningful conversations. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I will find it hard to believe that any reputable business would attempt to purchase land or do business in your city. I am so fortunate to live amongst people in my city that are able to have civil discussions even when they are on opposite sides of the fence on key issues. Try acting like civil human beings, P.S. I have not mentioned the name of my city as I fear some of you may decide to move here. I wouldn’t wish that on any city!

    • Dear Non Resident~Your letter highlights exactly the problem in SJC. California has many beautifully restored vibrant downtowns….Julien, Old town Orange, many in the gold rush area among them. But they started with a vision. SJC has no such vision. It is “trickle down economics” on steroids…..big business, big rents = empty storefronts. The only building to successfully do this in SJC is Promenade…..but we all miss the pottery! And it, too has had it’s fair share of store spaces with unachievable rents. And, please tell me who is going to buy a 3,000 sq.ft. townhome reaching to close to $2 million in a gang injunction area? Without security? All small towns MUST have local support. They cannot survive on tourist dollars alone. San Juan must figure out what it wants to be. Solve it’s social problems.

    • Dear Non-resident… If I were to look at this string of comments as an outsider I may feel as you do. You are no doubt familiar with the city of Bell and Palm Beach and many others whose city management used their positions to assign contracts, and drain money from residents. You cannot visit a couple of times and understand what it is like to live under this overbearing control. Try standing (not sitting) at city hall at a city council meeting until 3am to speak against a project? Suppose the city planners said NO. Yet, the mayor voted yes anyway. Suppose the mayor negotiated a deal to buy land and lease it to a private enterprise and YOU had to pay 450.00 extra on YOUR property tax bill every year for the benefit of a private enterprise? How would you feel? Residents were manipulated into voting for open space which was “Legalesed” into a bond to purchase land in another city for the benefit of a private enterprise. With 35,000 residents paying 450.00 (some more, some less) a year directly to our city for this events organization and the previous mayor approved another 2 year lease on his last night as mayor. We are livid. This is just one thing. The list is very long. We have taken up picket signs and referendums to clean up our town which is our right. Not that it matters but I am a long time resident of San Juan Capistrano, raised my kids here. They attending Public and and Catholic School and college. Now they are out in the world making it a better place. My children applaud my interest in local government and agree with me. Basically, they are like Troy Bourne but, they would not lie to a room full of residents to push a development on a town who does not want it. The prime piece of land is between the 5 and PCH. It is the wrong place and the traffic is gridlock from 3pm now. We cannot handle more traffic on Del Obispo. And, the Olivia development has caused construction damage to surrounding homes and developer is unwilling to compensate those folks. You just need to swim in the pond before you pass judgement on us.

    • Incurable Optimist

      Thank you for stating so eloquently what so many San Juan residents have been thinking. It would be wonderful to think that those writing all those rude, nasty and insensitive comments would read your comment and understand what you mean, but unfortunately, as we can see by the replies you received…they are clueless :(. I applaud you for trying.

    • Incurable Optimist

      Non-Resident, wanted to make sure you knew I was replying to your post – but you probably knew that since it’s pretty much the only one that makes any sense here

  • Steve;
    You have made a good point about the rising drug and homeless, but how is cutting the lights off in my building helping this? I have experienced this twice in the last few months. I contacted Joshua Host(Urban Village Development) , who seams to now have control of the plaza now and when I told him of the legality of you or him being sued if someone were to fall ,he turned the lights back on. December 31st SDG&E came back to turn the electicity off . Thank God someone was there to stop this.I have till March 15th to run my buisness and I am responsible for my own electricity. Please tell me, is this harrasment or just or just bad management again?

    • Clint Worthington

      I think the liability of the landlord for failing to provide electricity for security and fire alarms is huge.

    • Pat, I checked into this today and found that the exterior sconce lights in your building are on. I’ve contacted Noosha and she will be checking in with you tomorrow on any of the details you’ve mentioned or any issues you’re still having.

  • Hi there Steve! Why do u believe so strongly that we need another hotel downtown? The Best Western is a block away from the Mission and they are only full on summer weekends, holiday weekends. Who thinks this is such a great idea? Evaluate the visitors the hotel would hope to draw in, attract for over night stays. Park in front of the train station on a Saturday or Sunday. Visitors roll in during the morning trains, visit the local sites, grab a quick bite, and head home that afternoon. What’s the draw for an over night stay and all the costs involved? Simply said, there is none. The small boutique hotel next to the old Coconut Grove Restaurant in town (remember it) always had vacancies except perhaps on some long holidays weekends and the warm summer months. Who has lead you to believe a hotel is so viable in downtown? One can stay 10 minutes away in DP harbor on the water with loads to do with-in walking distance for $89 bucks a night. I don’t question your motivation or purity, but, simply the advice you have received. The City here is upside down with the new election, staff is in turmoil as the old way of doing business is gone. People are adjusting to new, honest leadership. A Kimpton, por favor, whose yanking whose chain? Love your comments. Thank you.

    • Lu Lu….exactly right! Back in the 1980’s the town began a “redevelopment craze”. They bought the land where the park is now on Camino Capistrano. They had plans for a hotel there then thinking that would get folks to spend more time in town. I’ve seen the plans. Then they found historic artifacts there rendering the land “not developable”. Then there was a plan for the old “kit house” behind The Swallows. It was removed to Los Rios. But it was supposed to be “redeveloped” into a mixed-use building with condos over retail. It became a much needed parking lot. The City bought the land where Franciscan Plaza is, sold it to private developers and it became a world class “white elephant”.

    • Yes, very comparable a Best Western and a Kimpton. At one I can visit the spa or dine at a top-notch restaurant. At the other I get to fill the waffle maker with the pastey dough from the plastic jug and flip it myself! Oh boy!

      • Really Dan, are you mixed up between Kimpton and the Four Seasons… The fact is, this town does not need a Kimpton style hotel. Just try and fill it!

    • Hey, Lu Lu. First, I appreciate that your inquiry is nice in tone. I think you bring up very good points. It is very true that I have been inundated for some time regarding the effect a hotel can provide to local commerce. Your thoughts on tourist’s present habits in San Juan I think is spot on and I guess the goal of the upside of a hotel such as the Kimpton is that tourists would then chose to stay in San Juan longer than they can at present, leading to more pedestrian traffic and business in our town. Currently, the Residence Inn near Costco is doing really well and I believe most people would find it even more appealing being able to stay in the heart of San Juan as has been the case historically in the San Juan downtown. Kimpton also has an extremely great track record of drawing tourists that love their hotels. Some travelers would even choose a Kimpton over the St. Regis or Ritz Carlton as they prefer the boutique experience Kimpton provides its guests.

      Now that logic only all applies if that is how it ultimately works out, of course. But in answer to your question that is why my wife and I initially entered this rather crazy process. Thanks.

      • Steve, although you must, in your business have people bow to you, my comments are not intended to be in a nice tone that pleases you, just my opinions put my way. If I am not mistaken, is the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco not a Kimpton boutique hotel? Hardly a boutique hotel as it is 30 stories high with a disco bar on the roof top open until 2 am, and a huge Italian restaurant attached. Several of their other properties are of the same size but touted as boutique. Their marketing is an illusion. Boutique became popular following the high end exclusive hotels in Europe, a lure word.

        Just for the sake of argument, if you wanted to visit San Juan for the weekend and stay at the proposed hotel, what would you plan? After a Mission trip, the petting zoo, a wine tasting with dinner and perhaps a movie would you say “Swettie, let’s go have a night cap at the Swallows Inn”? Even so, the next day arrives and then what? We are not Santa Ynez with wineries, Montecito with the obvious, Santa Fe with it’s historical charm or La Jolla just to name a few close to us…we are simply a town blessed with a Mission. Day visitors. No one talks about visiting San Juan for a exceptional culinary experience or our highly touted night life. Can you give me your weekend itinerary?And, if possible be fair, don’t throw in other close by towns that have a draw. The Residence Inn does OK becasue it is visible and accessable off the Fry, and is a stop over between LA and SD. Even if you could fill your planned hotel on the weekends, it will die on week days. IMO it’s just a wrong fit and makes absolutely no sense whats-so-ever. We enjoy living hereand love our community because of the quality of life , not why visitors come.

      • Lu Lu, sorry for my impression that you were trying to be nice, thanks for clearing that one up. Your ideas may be accurate. For whatever reason, two different successful hotel brands think differently enough that they want to be in SJC. It’s their business to know locations that will work and have a demand, but perhaps your assessment is correct.

      • You know what Lulu, you convinced me. This place is awful. Then again I’m also the kind of person who would pick a Best Western over a Kimpton any day. And that scenic “one block” walk to the mission over the 5 … better than a stroll through a botanical garden in my book. I truly hope you don’t think my comments here are intended to be nice in tone that please you. hey, that’s just the way I write and who I am!

      • Clint Worthington

        Steve Oedekerk, it is hard to be nice when the 1,662 traffic trips generated if those vehicles were laid end to end would be 5.3 miles long. Where Mr. Oedekerk do we fit 5.3 miles of cars when we can’t move from one side of town to the other side. Just wait until Distrito La Novia is built and the 14,000 homes east of us are built. Our City cannot fit one more vehicle in the traffic we have now.

  • Pat Simmons, your posts are very enlightening and prompted me to read the series of comments above. It was tough to decipher “The Truth” in many of Steve’s comments, and he presents himself as a much different character than the Patron Saint of Business Commerce that he purports himself to be. Instead, he comes off as condescending, sarcastic and rude in his responses, and his explanations are a series of inconsistencies. I was as appalled as Non Resident.

    With all due respect, Steve, it is time to step aside and let your developer defend the merits of the Urban Village project since you have no clue of the development business. People are learning (or “hunting” as Tom Manoa suggested) more about the ‘facts’ of Urban Village Hotel and Condos thanks to the pending lawsuits and referendum, and are justified in their belief that the project will ruin the small, historical charm of downtown. The support of the businesses will follow the hotel, whether on your property or the other two designated sites in the HTC Master Plan, but the residents will not back down on the assault that a project of this magnitude will have on downtown and its historical resources — Esslinger and Egan House — or the additional 1,662 car trips the project will generate.

    You write a dramatic script using ‘the sky is falling’ tactics of how SJC will be worse off without the Urban Village project: prostitution, drug use, overbuilt “condo land”, developer “villains”, failing businesses, city of the homeless, last chance for a hotel, etc. I disagree that our charming town will be doomed without the overbuilt Urban Village. As Pat Simmons stated, it was the blatant disregard of your property and buildings that contributed to the increase of the homeless, please put up the extra lights and add security because your neglected site is becoming a menace to the community. You chose to vacate the buildings thinking the development of the hotel and condos would be a slam dunk process; where was your saintly concern for business owners when you shut off Pat’s electricity as an obvious bully ploy?

    Rest assured that there will be no developer building 128 condos on your property because 1) the General Plan forbids it, 2) with a General Plan Amendment the HTC Master Plan permits only 71 units on 44 acres, so 30 units is high density for your 3 acres of mixed-use land, 3) you have the power to refuse to sell to a particular developer and 4) you’ve repeatedly stated that if Urban Village fails, you will keep the Plaza for your own use. Also, local developers understand SJC land use restrictions, so drop the threat of your site transforming into “condo land” at the hands of greedy developers; it makes NO SENSE. After you learned the meaning of “mixed-use” you now claim that developers have approached you in the past with plans for multiple condos AND retail and commercial when you previously said plans were for high-density condos alone … another example of your evolving explanations.

    Steve, even if the General Plan was amended to adopt the HTC Master Plan, Urban Village would still be violating the Master Plan based on building height, setbacks, onsite parking, Forster Street not along park, 3-story townhomes, Camino Real not through the project, the brick bank building being demolished. But a General Plan Amendment was not done so Urban Village cannot legally proceed as advised by the City Attorney, City Manager, City Planning Director and outside legal counsel in November. These unfortunate mishaps or oversights are part of the development process frustrations, as seasoned developers understand. No different than frustrations in the Hollywood business when projects are delayed or scrapped indefinitely, right?

    Steve, re-read Mechelle’s first post for a more balanced view of successful businesses in our City and recognize that unique businesses do well, and a hotel is not the panacea and only solution for commerce. The Mission brought over 2,000 patrons during the Christmas Tree Lighting event, more than a hotel and condos can ever achieve, and more community events are in the planning because of resident input. For Kimpton to say at the November meeting that their hotel will “put San Juan Capistrano on the map” is misguided … the Mission and historical elements put San Juan Capistrano on the map, period. Many would like to see a smaller, Kimpton boutique hotel in town without being force-fed townhomes or taking Forster Street away from the Park; stop with the all-or-nothing.

    Steve, you come off as disingenuous when you try to convince folks that you’re not in this for the money; people who are charitable don’t continually tell others how selfless they are. But if you write it often, you may actually start to believe yourself although others will not. It’s no secret that your land price for your site is a hefty $8 MILLION (double the cost of Goveia’s property by the Mission jewel) PLUS TWO TOWNHOMES on top of the land price to round out your total package deal. So if you’re truly not interested in financial or personal gain, then reduce your price and incentives so it is economically viable for your developer to reduce the size of the project. Or you can “dedicate” your site to the City like you mentioned in one of your comments, even though you were not aware that in development-speak, dedicate means to gift at no cost. Perhaps then the residents and business leaders can enjoy a true boutique hotel under 100 rooms nestled within the boundaries of your site with proper setbacks (to protect the historical buildings) and onsite parking. Our historical buildings will not be overshadowed, the city will be free from high density condos, traffic gridlock, dumpsters on historical Camino Capistrano, and the ensuing controversy where you have pitted “neighbor against neighbor” as someone posted above.

    Bonnie, our City does have a vision for San Juan Capistrano and it is printed in the General Plan, which is the legal guiding document for land use. City of San Juan Capistrano General Plan Preamble states that:
    “The underlying philosophy of the General Plan should be to preserve the present character of a small village-like community with abundant open space. A community that recognizes the contributions of its historic and cultural foundations is in harmony with its natural valley-like setting, as defined by its creeks and ridgelines, and strives to embrace unique solutions to issues that may arise in the future to ensure that this vision continues to be carried forth for future generations.”

    Pat Simmons, in reference to Joshua Host … I recommend that EVERYONE Google ‘JOSHUA HOST, STONE EQUITY GROUP’ then decide whether you support his involvement with any project in our City. I also recommend that everyone exit this back-and-forth commenting on Sam’s article and get actively involved in making sure our historical and charming downtown is honored, protected and preserved. Fortunately, our City’s General Plan and Historical Town Center Master Plan were created to do just that.

    • P. Ewing…..I truly hope what you say is true. But in the many years of my involvement in SJC, I have not experienced that. In my mind, it is now or never. Over commercialization has gone too far unchecked…..it must return to reality.

    • P Ewing…….Good, sound and logical advice. Joshua Host…. most interesting as I just took your advice and learned what he is all about! Let’s get to work for a good fit for that property. Steve has preached a saintly story of not being motivated by $, a plea on his own behalf. The towns’ people will figure it out, they always do. Then we can take it to Steve and really see what he is made of. Onward and upward, and thanks so much for your post.

      • Sound advice John and P. Ewing. Lets evaluate what is best for that site and put the word out. The local papers have done a good job of surveying for what is your favorite business in town. Why not a survey for what would you like best downtown? Lets get the community involved. Let’s face it they are front and center now.

    • Hey, P. Ewing. For those wanting to spend less time, I think I can help out by creating key bullet points from your entry:

      1) I’m a really, really bad guy.
      2) When people accuse me of “back door” meetings that I have never been in, I should be perfectly okay with that fact and not respond in a sarcastic nature. When they ask the same attacking questions over and over I should not make fun of the fact that I just wrote the same response 5 times already.
      3) I’m totally in this for the money. Living in SJC for the past 21 years, having all of our friends here, and raising both of my daughters here has been nothing more than a diabolical ploy to suddenly launch into the development business and make a killing. Beautifully deducted. I thought the 21 years waiting time would throw everyone off, but it didn’t get past P. Ewing! Next time I’ll wait 40 years before my big evil moves, that should work.
      4) I should give properties away that I own for free or I am not a good guy. Or at a bare minimum definitely take whatever amount a developer says I should take. Words for all of us to live by when selling a property or a home.
      5) San Juan does not need a hotel, but many, many, many, more tree lighting events.
      6) I have personally pitted neighbor against neighbor by working to help get a hotel in the downtown. Seems a silly approach and goal, but yet another diabolical scheme.
      7) The Kimpton Hotel will hurt the neighboring Egan House, not bring it infinitely more visitors as neighboring hotels do in all other places on the earth.

      P. Ewing, your words are surprisingly familiar to me, but they belong to a different individual. An individual who knows a LOT about the development business, and has been trying to low-ball me for the same property for years in order to build, as described by him: “No Hotel, because you lose money. No Forester Street because you lose money. Never hurt yourself. The money is in the “doors.” I believe you could get as many as 125 condo units there.”

      Many of your statements are verbatim to the statements he makes. Literally word for word. Just a wild coincidence, I guess, huh?

      • Steve there are two conflicting plans. Construction with underground parking is dangerous to surrounding historical properties. If a hotel is downtown it should be one or two streets back from Camino Cap. The general plan says no condo’s in town.” Money is in the doors.” is not what we want downtown. Money Yes. Doors NO! Why not form a partnership and buy the property with the orange trees (old Strosher-hotel site). Far better location and it could be great for visitors who want to come to SJC for a weekend. Graduation, Wedding, Anniversary party, whatever. These are the people who have no room and an inn.

      • Rose, the statement “Money is in the doors” is a statement that repulses me. It is what I heard from a local developer that was trying to purchase the property. The present plan has less than a third the number or residences than any plan I was approached with.

        I agree with you that the land next to the Mission seems a great spot for a hotel. I also personally think the design looked really good. They tried to get a hotel there for 5 years or more and could not line up a hotel brand and/or financing. I think Gretchen and those that worked on that hotel and hung in for that long should be commended. It’s not easy holding a property for development. They didn’t scrap the plan because they don’t care about the town, they scrapped the plan because they couldn’t get a hotel on the property.

        The reason for it not happening is not their fault or intent in any way, but in the hotel industry any property that is that close to a freeway is considered more of a road stop hotel, such as Motel 6 and such brands. The hotel brands that would build the type of hotel that they designed unfortunately are not interested in land that is right next to a freeway. It’s an unfortunate situation of hotel business logistics.

        Initially, that was the spot earmarked for a hotel, which is why they had my property drawn up with mostly residential and some retail/commercial, with no hotel.

        As everyone here knows, I believe San Juan need its 6th hotel in downtown to turn back to a thriving tourist community. Those that disagree that’s completely okay, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    • If I didn’t know better I would read the 300+ comments here and conclude the citizenry of San Juan are politically to the left of San Francisco. Capitalists are bad! Making money is evil! Oh rich man why won’t you give your land away for free so “the people” can benefit! Don’t worry, Government and their “Master Plan” will save us all. The anti-hotel posters make Johanna Clark sound like a right-wing Republican by comparison.

      • Dan, first … It’s Joanna. Second, I am not totally against the idea of a hotel. The problem I have is that no one seems concerned about the water crisis. We are about to enter the fifth year of an “extreme” to “exceptional” drought with no predictable end in sight.

        Multiple scientific groups are predicting that we COULD be out of water in the next 12 to 18 months; make the 9-to-15 months now. NASA reported this wpast month that we — California — have an 11-trillion gallon water deficit. Our rivers, lakes and reservoirs are drying up. Yet no one seems concerned that fracking in Kern county is syphoning off millions, if not billions, of gallons of water, or that Nestle and Coco Cola are draining our aquifers in order to produce bottled water which they market here and around the world at more than 900 times the cost of an equivalent amount of tap water. Isn’t strange that people here complain about water rates, but they will spend hundreds of dollars annually for imitation “Mountain Spring” bottled water.

        Build the hotel, but consider this, who will seek lodging in it when there is no water to drink or bathe in? What will happen to our economy when we run out of water, or water becomes so expensive that only Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or the Koch brothers can afford it?

        Look back a 100 years ago or so, and see what happened to Forster’s ranch empire here in Southern California.

        Look at the comments here. Only a couple have commented that we — California — have a problem. The previous council refused to join with other towns banning fracking. How many of us here have $15-million to buy a seat at the fracking table in Sacramento? That’s what big oil has paid to get the Governor and legislature to endorse fracking. It took more-than 200 cities and townships in New York to ban fracking, forcing the governor to ban it throughout the state, there.

        How about solutions. No one here seems interested in finding a solution; let alone discussing the issue. We can live without a hotel or the Laguna Glen senior living complex, but how long can we live here without water?

      • Apologies on the name Joanna. I believe our viewpoints are really not that different on the hotel project. I also agree with you that the water issues in California need to be addressed. Unfortunately Reeve, Reardon and the others at Common Sense still seem to worship at the alter of Reaganomics and Laffer curves. They believe the way to deal with a water scarcity is to lower the price of water. Yes, you heard that correctly, lower it. That will encourage more consumption which will then spur more development and exploration of water sources, reservoirs, pipe networks etc. How does that sit with you Joanna? I imagine you don’t like it. You probably think it is crazy … even borderline insane. Yet that is what the people of SJC have elected into office. I predict four (or more) years of absolute bat excrement crazy coming out of this city council. You’ve interacted enough with Reeve to already know that. My guess is though that most people don’t realize what they voted for … but soon enough they too will find out.

      • Dan, you nailed Reeve and the CCS people squarely on the head. See my interchange with Reeve at:

        http://www.thecapistranodispatch.com/councilman-reeve-issues-call-to-action-against-increased-water-rates/#comments

        The water wars have already started. Santa Barbara in need of additional water was outbid by approximately $700 per acre foot this past summer. Like I said, when we run out of water, only the richest will be able to afford a drink.

        When that happens, perhaps the people who voted for Reeve and the CCS crowd will wake up and realize they have been duped.

        There are so many things that could be done to conserve water: 1) Get rid of our beautiful grass lawns; 2) Replace plants in our yards with drought tolerant plants; 3) Mandate all new residential and commercial construction include water recycling systems similar to the Greyter Water System (http://greyter.com/). Water from the laundry washing machine, bathroom sinks, bath tubs and showers are collected and utilized to flush toilets; 4) Automatic faucets installed in all bathroom as well as kitchen sink, with hot water recycling pumps. Cool water in the hot water line is pumped back into the cold water line until hot water reaches the pump. The faucet can then be turned on; and finally dual flush water saving toilets.

        My water bill has dropped from about $35 to $11 a month since I began installing automatic faucets, hot water recycling pumps and dual flush toilets.

      • Dan, I honestly believe in making a profit is a good thing. But, there are problems building on historical ground. 1 we have no water. 2. Construction-concerns for surrounding properties. 3. the Kimpton is not a fit. 4. The city would welcome, a hotel similar to the Mission Inn in Riverside.- but smaller. A mini version of a classy place. The Mission Inn in Riverside is a place families can meet after a HS graduation. Where grandparents can stay while attending graduations in one of our 10 private schools. Weddings-could be held there. The architecture is outstanding within the Mission Revival Style. That would certainly be better than a Kimpton. That kind of place could bring in business. It is special. The residents are angry that, once again, we were not consulted. There were stake holder meetings and city meetings to include local business at restaurants. Those of us who own homes, live, work, shop here were not consulted. Kimpton in a poormans Pullman and in no way fits in with the Old California architecture. I hope this can be done. I hote mr. O. makes millions and it becomes the place to have a family dinner or wedding. A place to drive to, not away from. A couple of suites for dignitaries. I hope Mr. O makes lots of money. I just do not want a kimpton or condo’s.

      • Joanna I am definitely against Fracking in California. The water from the north comes here. Any water used for fracking in Kern County, Bakersfield or north of that is water on its way here. There have been numerous incidents of fracking accidents and corrosive chemicals flowing into the ground-thus the ground water. If ground water is poisoned north of us the ag people have to buy city water. This means less for people in the south. Not to mention the cost. The rise in cost of our water 3 years ago was not due to shortages is was SJC water got greedy and raised the rates arbitrarily. They could use the drought as a scare tactic back then to justify raising the rate, but surrounding cities had no such increase. NOW we are seriously in trouble and water will be at a premium. A ban on Fracking is a good first step in halting the use of water by oil companies in California. We are a dry state. There is no restrictions on oil companies at present unless the frak off shore. There is no restrictions on the chemicals and the oil companies will not release the information on the chemicals. There is every reason to ban fracking in California.

      • Rose, we need to get together. Bonnie is interested as well. I will host one of my “Environmental Saturdays” on Saturday, Jan 17th at 7 p.m. to 9+ p.m. RSVP me at jclark@amcat.org, and I will give you directions

      • Joanna, here is a link to a greywater installation guide that I found particularly useful. To install a laundry to landscape system a homeowner can do it himself, no permit required. In general I favor simple, gravity powered systems versus ones that use pumps and filters (just more to go wrong). The exception is the laundry to landscape installation but the beauty there is that you already own the pump, its the one in the washer.

        http://sfwater.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=55

      • Thank you, Dan. That is a very useful document. I hope others will take the time to look at it.

    • Clint Worthington

      P. Ewing. Thank you for your very well thought out comment and insight. I did as you suggested and googled “Joshua Host Stone Ridge Equity Group” and was shocked. Thank you for spending the extra time to research Mr. Host.

      Again, thank your for your well thought out comments. This comment would make a great Letter to the Editor and should be published for all to read.

  • Betty P Collings

    Oh dear man, you can’t even spell, it’s “Forster” Street, not “Forester”. Hard fight ahead for you, best of luck….there is another way to go thru life.

    • Please, enlighten us. What is this “other way to go thru life” that you promote? If it merely involves correct spelling I am going to be highly disappointed. Then again … it may be hard to take you seriously when you start out your message lambasting someone for their spelling and finish off by typing “thru”.

      • Betty …the Cap Dispatch does not have an edit option on blogs. I know misspellings can be annoying but isn’t it more important to get our thoughts on this long blog rather than criticizing each other on grammar or spelling? I often hit the reply key and then realize I have made a typo. Okay Mea culpa. I didn’t steal anyone’s money. I did not send out trashy mailers. Let’s stick to the big stuff. And, I believe thru is acceptable usage. This is not a dissertation.

  • Rose, I completly agree with your January 4th, 5:58 PM comments. This is what I have been trying to get Steve to understand. The residents would agree to approve a small, quaint hotel that fits here. What Steve gets, but will not admit, is a big hotel chain like Kimpton can not make any $ off his property without going huge and throwing the condos into the mix, which I am sure agree, will never pass the residents of San Juan’s sniff test. If he can lower his property price to something more reasonable, the residents will go along with a hotel that is appropriate for our town. What Steve also gets now is the old way of business is over. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you have been promised otherwise. Instead of the lawsuits, city fights, and pleading a loosing case, Steve should try and listen to the residents voices. After all, the residents will have the final say.

    • Ms. Garou, “The residents will have the final say” is what we were told as well, and then the council decided to block the public vote on the issue. Do you think the city council intends to let city residents vote on the hotel project’s future?

    • Lu Lu~~~you might be right….but my hunch is that Steve has already sold the property.

    • Lu Lu, it seems clear you want to believe that it is my project and development, it is not. I firmly believe San Juan needs a hotel in the downtown as it has historically.

      In regards to property price, which is a scam angle thrown at all of you. This is a $50M dollar project and by my lowering the price of the property even $2-3 million dollars below market value, it would not create a savings that would allow for any significantly reduction in size.

      The reality is that Hotel’s are very expensive and difficult for a developer to finance in and of themselves. This is why they had such a hard time building the Hotel Project on the site next to the Mission.

      • Steve, do you still own the the property or is it sold?

      • Steve, a hotel in downtown as it has historically”? What? it was a small boutique hotel, doubt you knew it…. that sweet, family owned hotel could not be filled other than at prime times. Again, your angle should be to entice and seduce the residents into a project that fits, that will get you everywhere here. Be nice. Don’t speak out of both sides of yur mouth, as, we may be country, but not stupid! You’re the writter, do your stuff. It may just work! Humble is the new buzz word of 2015, not slick.

      • Lu Lu, I don’t understand the slick insult, but I think your opinions are completely valid. I don’t build hotels, but I do believe SJC needs one. I’m not trying to sell anyone a hotel or a project. I believe everyone should have their own opinion and whatever ultimately happens here, I will be completely content with that outcome, either way.

    • Thank you LuLu, someone finally gets it. We would probably go along with a small boutique hotel with charm. No one wants a big chain hotel in Old San Juan Capistrano. It does not fit our community charm. How about if Steve develops it and another group runs it? The man who took on the remodel of the Mission Inn in Riverside is not sorry. It is a great hotel, with great restaurants……in Riverside. They try to sell this “doors” mentality as it makes more money, but only if they get to sell condo’s. This is against the general plan. No one wants permanent residents downtown.

    • Yes LuLu I believe they would. Did I mention the Mission Inn in Riverside is on 4 acres and has 230 rooms, two restaurants. People gather there, get married there, and their occupancy rate is good. Something like that could be done on Steve’s site. He is stuck on Kimpton-the chain.

      • A high quality B&B would work…..but it has to be someone who is in it for the long haul. Josh & Company are profiteers…..quick buck guys. Without street fronting, Steve’s building (if, in fact it is still his) is an appropriate use with small business that don’t need walk-ins. The Egan House functioned well as an upscale gallery in the Sue DeMaio days, and also did fine as a restaurant. It was internal problems that hampered both of them. Anything south of there is “locals only” territory. Beyond walking distance.

  • I don’t know. But either way the council decides to vote, remember that the residents elected the new City Council by a landslide, voicing their trust in the new Councils’ decisions. I can’t speak for the council or what they will do. Again, your issue was the project size didn’t fit here, too much, similar to Kimpton. In addition, my neighbors and friends agree that you didn’t gain trust or loyality by the poor stragety that was used to try and get it passed. I really do wish you the best of luck elsewhere.

    • Thank you for your response, Ms. Garou. What size care community do you think would be appropriate for the site? What did you not like about our application process? How can we improve? If you’d prefer to provide the feedback more privately I can give you my email address or we can talk on the phone.

      • Troy. No care community on Vermulen. We do not want a senior care facility on Del Obispo. We want a park. We were promised open space.

      • You asked me the same question, Troy. How about the 1,000,000 your representative promised me if your project wasn’t approved?

      • 1,000,000 chickens, that is. You seem to have separated your project denial from a General Plan Amendment/zoning change. And, to your question about where I live…..I live in reality.

      • Ms. Benton, I’ll repeat what I posted earlier. Have you heard or read any of the current city council members state that they are opposed to a General Plan Amendment for the Vermeulen property? Some have opposed our project, but I think they have their own ideas for what should go there. I’m just suggesting that something IS going to be built on the site and whatever is built will require a General Plan Amendment.

        You mentioned you had toured our community in Northern California. I don’t have a problem with you commenting on these boards on San Juan issues even you don’t live in the city, I was just offering to meet with you if you live close. I’m also often at our community in Northern California if that would be more convenient.

      • I have also visited your project in Fullerton. Have brochures from La Costa and Thousand Oaks. I have done extensive research on seniors projects all over the country, both professionally, and personally. I have had assignments to shop sales people and do sales training. I would give your staff in SJC a big giant “F” as a grade. Neither of them introduced themselves to me, or made any attempt to get contact information. One of them told me back in August that “Speiker already owns the land and if the City doesn’t approve the project, we’ll just put 1,000,000 chickens out there”. I have lived in seniors projects and I know very well the problems associated with them, short term and long term. And all the various types of senior projects. I made a very good living working for builders and developers of all types and sizes for over 35 years in all aspects of the process; feasibility, finance, product planning, marketing, sales, and management. Nothing you have said is new, nothing you have done is newsworthy. As renowned industry economist Alfred Gobar said in a BIA seminar I arranged, “If you build the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time, God himself can’t help you!”

    • Incurable Optimist

      You may want to count those votes again. Landslide refers to winning by a large number. The votes show that the new council members won, but it was not even close to a “landslide”. In fact they received 49 % of the vote, versus 51% for the other candidates. I’d say that says that the majority of San Juan residents did not want them in office.

      • This has been an enjoyable forum with lots of opinions expressed. Let’s look back a bit to 2008 when the vote for “Open Space” was put forward. What was promised?

  • I ‘m not going to re-hash it all over again. I think the SJC residents at the hearing spoke loud and very clearly about what they thought of your project here in San Juan. The learning curve here might be: the people watched, listened, spoke and then voted for a new Council! “We the People,” it’s really a very simple concept and one in which this country was founded.

  • I signed both referendums and am just fine having our new city council decide without a protracted or costly election. I signed because both projects are way too big and don’t belong in our small village town. These projects would never have gotten this far in Laguna Beach or other small towns, and you can blame the old city council for that. We are already dealing with traffic construction from the Ortega fwy on/off ramps and Oliva Homes, can’t imagine more congestion. I already avoid downtown.

    I’ve been around a long time, when the old drive-in theater was still in town. Steve has been around for 21 years and he’s just now concerned for local business. What gives him the right to assassinate the character of local developers who have donated time and money to the betterment of SJC for decades. Some of these “greedy” developers have held positions as mayor, city council member, planning commission member, local non-profit boards, city committees, little league coaches, and volunteer/supporter of local events, businesses and the Mission. And they don’t brag about it. Some buy and restore historical buildings, own commercial buildings that are properly maintained and build in town according to regulations. What makes Urban Village entitled to violate our City’s code? Are you a developer, P. Ewing? Because if you are, hallelujah! Thank you for spelling out more of the facts.

    Clint, I know of someone who had personal experience with STONE EQUITY GROUP, which Joshua Host was CEO. She was one of the fortunate ones who was tipped off on what the company was all about. Since they never returned her calls, she went to their Mission Viejo office and refused to leave until her deposit was returned. Others were not so lucky. Now he has moved to SJC and started a lawsuit war over his project, which many residents don’t want to begin with. The General Plan doesn’t allow residential without an Amendment, plain and simple. I hope the new city council can prevent him from getting his hands on our taxpayer dollars.

    • Shirley, you rock!

    • Shirley, how would you know what developer(s) I am referring to? The reality is, when someone drapes their arm around you and says “We can own this town” then proceeds to push a massive number of condo units, it is a bit creepy and off-putting regardless of the buildings that person owns or how long he has been a developer.

      I have participated in this project because I believe the Kimpton Hotel will be a great addition to the downtown, residents, business owners and city commerce. If you feel otherwise that is absolutely your right. I will be completely fine and content with the final outcome here, either way.

      • Mr. Oedekerk; did someone actually make this statement to you: “The reality is, when someone drapes their arm around you and says ‘We can own this town’…” ?

        Without naming names, I am interested to know whether this statement was really made to you, or whether perhaps you just interpreted someone’s attitude as one of arrogance?

        It would help to know who and what we are dealing with this in this town.

        Thank you.

      • Sorry, Jan, just saw this. Yes, it was at a charity event, there were two other people present, one of which had the other arm draped around him. As you’re interested in details the line was directed to both of us and the exact quote was: “We can own this f’n town,” except he did not abbreviate the one word which I just did.

      • That would be a great question for the attorney to ask Steve on the stand. It does speak to “intent”, “attitude”, and “exclusivity” that happens in back-room deals.

      • Bonnie, never understand your very liberal use of “back-room deals” and such, but it would be pretty awesome to be on the stand with everyone under oath.

    • Me too Shirley. We want to stop the financial bleeding. Allevato has brought us to our knees financially, with all of his deals. The General Plan does not allow residential in town. I am weary of paying a yearly price for Sam’s Equestrian deal. It really stinks that he did this to us.

      • And me too Rose and Shirley. The deals, equestrian, Taylor’s wife’s free ride at the park, all of it. When will he give me a pass on my home taxes and water bills? I should have asked him for it before he lost power. Oh well.

      • John, if this drought continues and the scientists are correct that we’ll be out of water sometime in early 2016, our water bills will go up irregardless of what Reeve and the CCS group promise. The water wars have already begun and when our water district has to pay more for the water it distributes to us, our rates can only go one way – UP, UP, and UP.

        “California has an incredibly complicated system of water management, in which hundreds of water districts make decisions at the local level, and the competition between agricultural, environmental, industrial and urban needs is intense.” . . . “Water, today, is fetching record prices. Sellers include those who hold claims on water that date back a century, private firms who are extracting groundwater and landowners who stored water when it was plentiful in underground caverns known as water banks.” Burke, G. Associated Press, July 2, 2014.

        “Competition for water in California is heightened by our state’s geography: The north has the water resources but the biggest water consumers are to the south, including most of the country’s produce crops.” NBC Bay Area, July 21, 2014

        Companies doing fracking in the Central Valley are out bidding the farmers. Companies like Nestle and Coca Cola are draining our aquifers to support their bottled water business. Everyone wants to cut their monthly water bill here, but no one is willing to take on the oil and water cartels. We need to expand our thinking beyond our city limits and we need to act, NOW, because tomorrow it will be to late.

    • I miss the old drive in.

  • Steve, I really really do, as most of us concerned residents in San Juan, so appreciate your comments. Slick was not addressed specifically to you. Sorry you took it that way. Also, I never said it was your project, you are simply one of the property owners. How did you aquire the propery originally, and have you sold it? Can you share that with us? Again, this now 375 or more comments, are because residents want to know, and will find out. It’s a better plan to be forth-right IMO. Steve, you are a Hollywood screen writter, producer, comedian, actor…do your thing! Make us smile! We want to believe but will not be fooled.

    • Lu Lu, there is nothing to fool here. My personal belief is that SJC needs a Hotel. Kimpton is the #1 boutique hotel brand in the country. They customize each hotel specifically to the town they’re in. That isn’t to sell to anyone, it’s just my own personal belief.

      I completely respect your opinions and understand that you don’t believe the hotel will have enough business, you may be right. Everyone should have their own opinion of the project.

      I have been forthright and am now done trying to give information as the handful that are attacking are simply trying to execute conspiracy theories that are untrue.

      Yes, I love my job and am completely blessed to entertain people. I have two lovely daughters and a wonderful wife. We all love San Juan. I personally believe the people in this city are awesome. From residents to the folks that work in town, we just love the community. Yes, I have some folks attacking me here for being involved in this project, but that’s okay. Passion rears it’s head in all kinds of ways.

      Everyone should have their own passionate opinions. That’s how our government and country is set up. However this turns out, I will be thankful and completely content with the final outcome.

  • Steve Behmerwohld

    FYI Troy Borne and I will be co-hosting Coffee Chat this Friday 1/9. 8am at Mission Grill.

    • Then have a blast talking to each other. We’ve all heard enough!

      • What for?..he’s done and so is his project. Bye Bye

      • Interesting John, both Troy and Josh seem to think the General Plan Amendments stay in place even though their projects were denied. What’s up with that?

      • Incurable Optimist

        What I don’t understand is why someone who doesn’t live in our town is trying so hard to insert herself in our politics?

      • So, Optimist…..you finally admit that is ALL about politics….everyone gets paid off if they just keep their head down……HA! Anyone who doesn’t use a real name doesn’t deserve ANY answer. Just how much is your payoff?

      • I’ll use my own name. What city do you live in Bonnie? Is it at least close to SJC?

      • You’ve been talking to J. Volkse…..I live in the State of Reality. I have 35 years experience in real estate development and planning.

      • Bonnie, I have no doubt that you are knowledgeable and have a credible past, but your statement seems to be more or less of an admission that you don’t reside in SJC. That is in no way a crime. You just might want to go a bit easier on SJC residents if you aren’t one, as these are SJC issues. You’re certainly entitled to your opinions, but you might want to also initially or occasionally flag as others posting do: “I don’t live in SJC but…”

      • You should not assume anything.

      • I am saddened that people are afraid to use their real names, but I understand why they don’t. People can be quite vicious and some, if they don’t like your comments, can be dangerous.

        There have been few solutions in this discussion. Mostly it’s a game of “he said, she said.” It is sad that we even need senior assisted living. In many cultures the children take care of their parents when they can longer care for themselves. Our parents bring us into the world and raise us until we can care for ourselves. In some cases, a children with a disability will be cared for all their lives by their parents. Too many leave home and don’t come back. They may call at Christmas, or when they need something, but in the end their parents are on their own.

        Do we need a “Laguna Glen” here in San Juan. It would be nice to have a well run facility for our seniors here. It would also be nice to have a small hotel, but until we resolve our other problems – population growth, traffic, and water. Of the three, maintaining adequate water supply is the most important. Lowering our water rates is not going to solve the problem. When our local water districts start having to bid against each other, everyone will be asking, “Why didn’t we do something? Why didn’t the people we elected do something?” And like Don Juan Forster, we’ll end up selling our property for pennies on the dollar, moving elsewhere in search of water, providing there is an elsewhere.

    • Clint Worthington

      It gives you credibility when you are able to spell the name of your co-host correctly.

    • Clint Worthington

      It gives you more credibility when you spell the name of your co-host correctly.

    • Invitation to residents of San Juan Capistrano. Please attend an annual City Council Strategic Priorities workshop for 2015-1016 on Mon (Jan 12) at Marie Callendars (in the meeting room) from 9am to 4pm (yes, all day!). City Council Strategic Priorities workshop is for all residents. This would be a good time to voice your opinions about what YOU think is best for our town and the priorities. Then you do not have to endure the Coffee Chat with the good old boys. The public is encouraged to attend.

      • Just wondering- is this a new workshop? Who is hosting? Will this be a weekly event?

      • I just realized that you said it was an annual event- but I still want to know who is hosting. Will the members of City Council attend?

      • This is an annual city council planning workshop. I have never seen it on the city web site. Someone mentioned it to me. They said “All Residents” although I doubt Marie Calendars can accomodate all of Troys stuges from SD. This is actually a time established to make a pitch for what you want fixed, or addressed. Other women who have attended the coffee chat were chilled out by the good ole boys. So if you have someting in mind for our city write a letter or show up.

    • Invitation to residents of San Juan Capistrano. Please attend an annual City Council Strategic Priorities workshop for 2015-1016 on Mon (Jan 12) at Marie Callendars (in the meeting room) from 9am to 4pm (yes, all day!). City Council Strategic Priorities workshop is for all residents. This would be a good time to voice your opinions about what YOU think is best for our town and the priorities. Then you do not have to endure the Coffee Chat with the good old boys. The public is encouraged to attend.

  • Can’t accept the facts and defeat, just a guess!

  • I took a previous poster’s advice and googled Joshua Host and Stone Equity Group. The complaints listed in the links below are similar in nature and also similar to the complaint posted previously by “Pat Simmons” about lack of maintenance, shutting off electricity (which I am quite sure is illegal), etc. at the commercial building here in sjc.

    The complaints are alarming and if they are true, this man is not someone I would do business with, let alone allow to develop and manage anything in our historic town center.

    Here are a few links:

    http://www.reiclub.com/forums/index.php?topic=39360.70;wap2

    http://www.businessconsumeralliance.org/complaints/stone-equity-group-100037042

    https://www.trustlink.org/Reviews/Stone-Equity-Group-205956991

    http://prospect.org/article/there-goes-neighborhood-0

  • Here is one more link to a Yelp review from someone claiming he was “scammed” by Joshua Host and Stone Equity Group: http://www.yelp.com/biz/stone-equity-group-mission-viejo

    I realize that anyone can post anything on Yelp (or anywhere on the internet for that matter) but there are so many complaints from people in several different states over a span of about 5 years that it makes them difficult to dismiss.

    If these claims are true, this is very troubling for our town.

  • Steve Behmerwohld

    Clint, Troy pays me millions to misspell his name. When did you start stuttering?

  • I think I got it. But just in case, could you tell it to me again cause I wasn’t listening.

  • I am not an attorney. And I am not presently a resident of SJC. But I have read, several times, a Purchase Agreement between the City of San Juan Capistrano (SJC) and DMB for the property at Ortega/LaPata. The body of this agreement and the exhibits were found on a simple search of documents published by the City. There remain many important questions:

    1. EXACTLY what were the voters of SJC told about the disbursement of the funds from the

    “Open Space Initiative”? Were specific properties identified? Which one(s)?

    2. Negotiations for this purchase seem to have begun in early 2009, were not completed

    until 2010. That spans 2 City Councils, 2 Mayors, but mostly the same members.

    3. What, when, and why was the Vermeulen property dropped? Was that before or after

    Speiker (Laguna Glen) found the railroad wouldn’t grant access to the Rancho

    Capistrano property (north of town)….verified by a representative of RMV?

    Among the many restrictions are: 1. Preservation of a citrus grove and lands which reflect the agricultural and rural equestrian legacy of SJC, 2. Retention of the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park (which means maintainence of said park, 3. Retention of a venue for local and regional sports and community events (however, car trips to and from are severly restricted except on weekends and certain holidays (when there is not a rodeo), 4. Facilitation (means building/maintaining) a planned Regional riding and hiking trails and a Class 1 Bikeway on the property.

    When you drill down to the details….RMV retains all the water rights, mineral rights. but the City is charged with maintaining the grounds in their (2009) condition. And must use SMWD. They can drill one well on the property but it’s capacity is limited and RMV retains the right to monitor that.

    City cannot have any other rodeo producing company for 50 years, and then not for 3 years after Blenheim’s lease expires. The City must waive all permit fees, etc. for the rodeo and receives no part of the profit; all of it going to charities of RMV’s choice.

    They cannot have more than 230 (in and out combined) car trips per day M-F and on certain holidays, so it’s use as a sports park is nil. That’s 115 in, 115 out. Except for wranglers.

    City is obligated to environmental restrictions that take pages to describe, both to preserve, and to maintain. Most of these were agreed to by RMV as conditions of development and run with the land to any subsequent buyer. Most of these were part of the “Ranch Plan Property” approved by the County Board of Supervisors in November 2004.

    City is prohibited from contracting for any telecommunications facilities. There can be only one commercial equestrian facility. Plants must be identified as “Native”. Parts of the property are “Sensitive Resource Areas” that are highly restricted.

    RMV can install utilities and storm drain facilities of any kind. City MUST grant right of way easement to County on La Pata. City MUST provide $4,000,000 in liability insurance.

    Worst….”City will not initiate annexation of, or expansion of its “Sphere of Influence” over, any part of the Ranch Plan Property.” This means that all of the 14,000 homes/business’ built on the Ranch will NOT pay property taxes to SJC…..ever.

    Any violation of these conditions can result in RMV taking the property back without compensation.

    WHAT A DEAL! It’s a worthless piece of ground with so many restrictions that it is also not saleable!

    The residents of SJC paid $27.5 Million for nothing. Worse, they are precluded from utilizing the property to even offset the costs of owning it.

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