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Donna Fleming, San Juan Capistrano

Dear Mr. Bourne,

Last month, residents of San Juan Capistrano stood and watched as you brought in folk wearing blue T-shirts to speak for your Laguna Glen senior development at our San Juan Capistrano City Council meeting. They had no idea what to say, but you had them arrive at 2:30 p.m. so you could tell them what to say. Using your communication skills …  you coached your flock on talking points. You were even so kind to provide a box lunch for your people. But you left residents standing for over six hours and no box lunch. Was that considerate to residents? Despite the long wait, residents of SJC waited until 10 p.m. to take the podium and give their three minutes on why they opposed this project.

You have today blanketed our town with a letter touting the benefits of your very large “knock your socks off” development. But, you neglected to mention what you will take away.

You have lied to us Mr. Bourne. Your Laguna Glen development will affect the traffic. It will create a drain on our infrastructure. And we do not have the water to support this very large project. Over and above the very obvious things that your development impacts, you will take away a piece of old San Juan Capistrano and a part of the  peace and tranquility on the 35-acre parcel behind Armstrong Gardens. Once big developers start, this town will never be the same.

You know very well that the residents and the city planners overwhelmingly do not want Laguna Glen in San Juan Capistrano. You were able to get the rezone through with the help of Sam Allevato. That will not happen again. Laguna Glen has become Sam’s Waterloo.

Some things cannot be bought Mr. Bourne. Respect is one of those things.

Editor’s note: This letter was edited. Content that could be construed as a personal attack was removed.

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comments (26)

  • Great letter, thank you. The City Council should have respected the Planning Commission’s recommendations. Elections have consequences. Hopefully, the next petition will call for the recall of Sam Allevato.

  • If the drought doesn’t end and the scientists are correct–i.e. California will be out of water in 12 to 18 months, you might consider Derek Reeve, as well. If you wonder why I have suggest him, Bonnie, just read his response to me when I called upon the council to ban 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.

    In response to my request to ban the above, Reeve replied “I believe the greatest threat facing our society is the absence of God from our daily civic life. Sadly the vacuum left has been filled by a narcissus, egocentric belief that we alone can alter the weather and control life. Only God can grant life and with all frankness, neither you nor I have the power to control the weather.”

    See second comment at

    • Joanna~I, too, abhore fracking, in all it’s forms. And I am probably one of a small handful of voters to vote against Prop 1 on the recent 2014 ballot because of the groundwater implications of oil companies grabbing it instead of farmers. However, Derek Reeve is not/was not running for a state-wide office. He ran on a platform of careful attention to development issues effecting San Juan Capistrano. It’s unlikely SJC will face fracking issues anytime soon. So, in a small town election, you can only address the issues that pertain to that environment directly. I think SJC addressed those issues well.

  • Great letter. Laguna Glen is overkill to an area that that needs to slow down the growth just a little and be more thoughtful about how to use the property in a way that keeps the focus on the diversity of SJC, not just line the pockets of a few people.

    • L. Denton~ exactly. Laguna Glen can only be used by a small percentage of the population due to the extreme costs of living there. $300,000-$1,000,000 cash as a “buy-in” fee plus $3,000 to $5,000 in monthly fees means someone would have to have a minimum of $2,000,000 in order to consider living there. The demographics of SJC do not match that. It might create a few jobs for caregivers, wait staff, house cleaners…..but will not do much else but create a traffic mess.

  • It is a fact we are running out of water. Our ground water has been compromised. What is shocking is the fact that our mayor pushed this big development through despite the recommendation of the city planning commission and the outrage of the community. Most cities in California have taken steps to save water. No building permits are being issued in many cities, yet the SJC city council just approved the Speiker Development project and a hotel downtown. And, now the city council pushed through a new lease on the land off La Pata. Why did our city buy that land behind closed doors? I regret voting for open space. We need to ring the BELL!

    • The only way to ring the BELL is to recall the Mayor. He is the driving force behind each and every one of these disasters.

      • Recall at this point would just be a waste of money. We have no idea where the newly elected members will take us. Byrnes and Reeve plus one unknown of the two new candidates can pretty well silence the Mayor.

        Water and population are our two biggest enemies right now. If the scientists are correct and California runs out of water in the next 12 to 18 months, then we’re all up the creek without a paddle.

      • Not so sure about that, Joanna. The problem, as I see it, is that Allevato seems to have made “back-room” deals with all of these developers. At least one of them, seems to think he has enough evidence of that to file a lawsuit in court to get his way. You should have an idea of what Reeve, Ferguson, and Patterson will do as they all made it very clear that they opposed all three of these development plans. You are right that water and population (translates into traffic) are the two biggest enemies. That’s why BOTH these projects should have been denied.

      • I know very little about Patterson and Ferguson. I tried to reach them and ask some questions during the campaign, but they never replied to my e-mails, so they are the great unknown. Will they side with Allevato or Reeve.

        I agree with Reeve’s position on the Laguna Glen, but I don’t trust him on environmental issues; especially since he wrote his response to me, filled with sarcasm, innuendo and false “fact”.

        Traffic will obvious increase with the building of the two projects – Laguna Glen and the Hotel, but traffic can be dealt with proper planning. Those extra bodies need water, and we’re running out of the stuff. Brown claims to be pro-environment, but his actions say otherwise. If he was pro environment, he would ban fracking and cover the aqueducts with solar panels, just like India is doing. Water currently lost to evaporation is captured and returned to the aqueduct, and the power generated helps to lower our carbon foot print.

        San Benito county passed a ban on November 4th. A half dozen cities have also passed bans. 200 cities and townships in New York state banned together to ban fracking within their city limits, forcing their governor to support the ban statewide.

        The oil and gas companies don’t care about you or me. They want every drop of oil and gas they can suck out of the ground, then they will move on and leave the mess to us to clean up. In the meantime, they will poison our drinking water – the EPA and State moved to shutdown nine ejection wells, used to store toxic waste water, when it was determined they were dumping the waste water into restricted drinking water aquifers.

        Passing the ban here would cost us absolutely nothing, but it just might help to force the state to ban fracking. Neither Reeve or Byrnes were willing to support a ban. Nor would Allevato, Kramer, and Taylor support the proposed ban..

      • Joanna, I totally agree with you on fracking issues. That is a huge problem for all parts of California. And I am aware of the efforts of other communities to address that issue. But not likely to effect SJC.

        Traffic, on the other hand, and water are the major issues SJC has to deal with. And both the hotel and Laguna Glen present massive problems that even the best planning cannot deal with.

      • Thank you Rose, for speaking up.

        Sadly, according to last night’s news, southern Californian’s are using more water, rather than conserving it. Sadly, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “When the well runs dry, we shall know the value of water.”

        Laguna Glen and the Hotel are bad ideas. Our elected officials see them as cash cows for the city. Raising the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour would have the same effect without increasing the population, however.

      • Joanna, I did not see the news last night related to Californian’s using more water. But, a little research will reveal that more water is being used by oil companies in California than by homeowners. Several sites differ on what is the average amount of water used to frak a well. Average water usage was 6.1 million gallons per well. Every family I know is cutting back on irrigation, laundry, car washing, and if they have a pool they are not refilling it every year. Hopefully, in our town, we will be able to undo some of the damage done by Allevato. We now have a new city council and a new mayor. Many of us have worked hard to halt the rezone of the Armstrong garden property, if we are able to halt all building in town, allow no new water permits we might survive this drought. Add to that a few prayers to God, please send rain. As to building a hotel, there are several old properties that could be knocked down and rebuilt as a boutique hotel. No new water permit needs to be pulled. Building condo’s right by the mission was a bad idea. It is too large and will create more traffic congestion on Camino Capistrano. There are several properties just a couple of blocks from there that would not over shadow the mission. Developers always want a big big show. We do have a planning commission but they have been ignored in the past. Let’s hope with a new city council they can fix this mess.

      • We all know what the traffic and pedestrian load is on Camino Capistrano now. Now put on your magic glasses and look at what that could look like on Swallow’s Day. How about immediately around the “hotel” on any summer concert night in the park. Or any event in that park. We’ve already lost the farmer’s market….. Now let’s drive down Del Obispo…..first you pass Capo Valley Christian School….heavy traffic there several times a day with parents picking up/dropping off students of all ages. Soon you come to where Mariner’s church is. Impossible. And then Del Obispo narrows into ONE lane each direction. Traveling west, at the intersection to the Vermeulen property is a left turn pocket, but neither side of the street can be widened. With the residents of Laguna Glen, the caregivers, the custodial staff, the cooks, the clean-up folks, the janitors, and the visitors (both to residents of Laguna Glen residents as well as to their long term care unit) there will be massive traffic tie-ups on already heavily travelled Del Obispo. Oh, and did I mention the drop-off/pick-up traffic at Marco Forester?

        At the very least, there needs to be a REAL traffic study done. That is exactly why there is a Planning Commission. Their recommendations should have been observed.

      • Bonnie, Yes a real traffic study needs to be done. The 100 page environmental impact report prepared by Laguna Glen was a mish mash of data pulled from different places. I sat up reading 100 pages of data compiled into what was basically X = we want a big development.
        Check page 20 and you will see they pulled actual data prepared from another companies “actual” report done in 2010. Their rationale for using another companies data on actual cars traveling on Del Obispo was ‘road construction’. So they created an extrapolation using actual cars on the road in 2010 by adding population based on the Census. Do you get it? Does anyone have a clue how many people actually live and work in San Juan Capistrano? We have a huge illegal population living and working here and they drive cars. They were not included in the study. We have five private schools in SJC and mom’s pick up and drop off their kids everyday. They were not included in this study. Anyone who has lived in SJC for more than five years knows to avoid Del Opispo and Camino Capistrano after 3pm. We have our very own ‘NO GO’ zone here in our small town. But, Troy Bourne rose and spoke elloquently about how good this would be for our small town. Troy Bourne is a smart man and he knew that report was not accurate. Allevato knew it was not accurate. At the last possible moment with hundreds of residents standing in protest Allevato approved this development. Yes, we need an accurate traffic study. And, someone needs to read it. Not just look at the summary, but read it. Where did they get the data?. Is it accurate? Now 10% of our registered voters have signed a petition to undo the rezone. We all need to attend the city council meetings and pay attention.

      • Rose, exactly right. And the “traffic study” did not take into account the project across the street, Olivia, which was just vacant land in 2010. It’s all bogus and we all know it. Now, what to do about it…..?

  • Joanna you are right about the fracking. One accident can destroy a cities ground water supply. The oil companies are allowed to police themselves unless it is an offshore frack. The oil companies will not release the cocktail ingredients of chemical mixed with water under pressure to frack each well. Not only do we use enormous amounts of water to frack existing wells, they use chemical to eat away at the shale. Eventually it all seeps into the ground water. This is a huge problem. And, right next door in San Clemente 150 drums of toxic waste sit while the experts and the mayor of San Clemente wait (2 years) to figure out how to dispose of the drums. One good shaker and we are in for a Fukishima coctail. Fracking is also known to cause earth quakes. Add to that some large earth movers to create some Ralleigh waves on new home pads. We have an environmental accident just waiting to be served up to us, while they bicker over a plan to dispose of hazardous waste and continue to rubber stamp new homes and new hotels. No new building until they stop fracking, find a water source and get ride of the hazardous waste in San Clemente.

    • For San Juan Capistrano… can the intrusion of sea water foul the ground water supply system.

      • Correct, Bonnie, and at our current rates of consumption that day is most-likely not very far off.

        I don’t disagree with you on the traffic issue. My disagreement was on the which presents the greatest threat. Population growth puts added stress on our diminishing water supplies while creating additional traffic nightmares. The nightmares I can life with, but I can’t live more than seven to 10 days without water.

        I haven’t been approached to sign the petition. Has anyone though about putting a petition on line, mush like CREDO and MOVEON.ORG do. That might be an effective way of getting more signatures. I don’t drive at night. I use to come down to City Hall in my wheel chair, but the bike path has been closed for more than a year, and the sidewalk is definitely not wheel chair friendly.

      • Joanna, the signature gathering group would have come to you. They went door to door and camped out at Vons and Ralphs. And, that bike path needs to be open for folks like you who depend on it. I will bring that up at the next city council meeting. Hopefully they gathered enough signatures. We really need to halt all new building during this drought. Other cities in California have done just that. SJC has done the least to address the water crisis, they just keep rubber stamping building permits, despite the water shortage. Despite the saline seeping into the ground water. Other cities are trucking in water. Our ground water needs time to recover, because the city has pulled too much.

      • Agree with both of you, Joanna and Rose. Perhaps the Orange County Grand Jury is a place to start. They, in addition to looking at “probable cause” criminal cases, are also charged with identifying corruption and other problems within other county governmental agencies.

        At the least, the City Council, on both of these development issues, should be investigated for lack of fiduciary responsibility to all the citizens of SJC….especially in light of the Planning Commission negative decision on each of them.

      • Bonnie. I like the way you think. You are right the city council holds a fiduciary duty to the residents of SJC. They acted irresponsibly when they ignored the city planners No vote. They also acted irresponsibly when they bought the land in a closed room deal. Now the city rents out the land to a business and we pay for the property on our tax bill. Why should homeowners be obligated to pay 36.00 for every 100k of property value every year? The average home in SJC is 699K roughly 300.00 a year we pay for the land on La Pata. This is not a non profit business. Blenheim Equestrian is a money making business. Residents of SJC do not benefit from this addition to their property tax bill. This is not a retirement fund for us. Essentially we are expected to gift away this money to a business owner because Allevato bought that land. Residents were led to believe this would be Open Space and the Vermulen property was mentioned back in 08. Then they pulled a switch. Probably cause… sounds like probably cause to me. He chose to use our money to buy land for an Equestrian Events Business. The property was located in Mission Viejo when he bought it. And, had to be annexed to SJC. The list of grievances against the residents of SJC grows taller everyday.


        Bonnie and Rose, you might consider the above link.

      • Well, perhaps we’re getting somewhere. Thanks, Joanna, for the link. But before contacting the grand jury directly we need to get together a very comprehensive time-line of events and resultant actions. I think the grand jury is divided into districts and draws it’s members from every district….and SJC is in one of those districts. It might be helpful to know who that person is. I believe the grand jury is presently looking for applicants for the next term.

      • If there are issues here – possibly miss-conduct on the part of city council members- then someone with the knowledge of what is going on and the will to do it should submit a letter to the OCGJ.

        Orange County Grand Jury
        700 Civic Center Drive West
        Santa Ana
        CA 92701

        Someone familiar the situation and submit it to the GJ. Whoever signs it will get a response as, according to statute, every signed letter must receive a response.

        I have a library/classroom/conference room available. You can reach me at

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