Mike Johnson, San Juan Capistrano
Change to the City Council power structure, two huge successful referendums, and now a replacement being named for Dr. Byrnes. Here is my take on all of this, and a few recommendations for the council.
Mayor Reeve said during his campaigning “The city is $100 million in debt.” If this is the case, the council’s first priority should be to figure out how we got there, and what are we going to do to get us out of this hole. (Almost $3,000 of debt per resident is insane for a town of our size.)
The next thing the city should do is contact the Vermeulen family and try to work out a deal for the property the defeated Laguna Glen retirement project was going to occupy. Listen, folks, that property is going to be developed somehow, and if we want it to be for the resident’s use, then we need to act now, or we are going to get something like another school, which will be a huge traffic problem compared to what was proposed. If the city doesn’t have land that can be swapped for it, or enough money to buy it, then we need to ask if the citizens will support a bond to buy and develop this specific property for the use of all residents (additional sports fields, skate park, swimming pool, tennis courts, whatever). If the city can’t afford it, or if the residents don’t approve a bond, then we need to re-engage Spieker Development, and fast track their project. It is by far, the best use of that land, besides the city buying it, and developing it for ourselves.
Next, regarding the failed Urban Village project, the city should encourage Mr. Oedekerk to submit a plan that adheres to existing building guidelines and regulations, one that fits within the Historic Town Center Plan and General Plan. I believe that he would have 95 percent of this town supporting an appropriately scaled boutique hotel development. (One that doesn’t include condos lining the park, massive three story buildings with spires the size of a five story building, and one that can completely accommodate all realistic parking needs.) I believe the city should fast track their new plan, and wave as many fees as possible to help make up for the previous council (mis)leading them down a path that was doomed to fail.
As for the new council appointing John Perry to the board, I see their reasoning, but I believe they should have selected someone that did not have a foot in either camp (Common Sense supported candidates, or Sam Allevato/Rancho Mission Viejo/Good ol’ boy network puppets). A logical choice would have been to appoint Rob Williams, who has loads of experience, and could have jumped in and been productive immediately. Don’t get me wrong. I think John Perry is a smart guy, but I think you could have appointed someone that could have been a conduit for reconciliation, which this town badly needs. At least get him on the Planning Commission or DRC.
To all residents that completely dislike the new council members, or that don’t like who the council appointed, Common Sense, CTA, whatever, (none of which I am a member of) please listen to me. The ousted council majority made decisions and fought for projects that would have resulted in people making tens of millions in profits and would have forever changed the landscape of our town. Now compare the old regime to the people/groups that you dislike so much. These people/groups simply fought for causes that demanded accountability, transparency, that attempted to lower high priced water rates, fought for freedom of the press, and other causes. Not one cause put any money into their own pockets. Any money awarded to those groups was to only cover legal fees or mandate that water rates be lowered for all of us. They were fighting on principle and for the benefit of all citizens. Don’t you see the difference?