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By Shelley Bachelder, San Juan Capistrano

In response to Sam Allevato’s letter posted Dec. 26, 2014:

Sam, why so much negativity? We’re trying to be a community here and you continue to try to divide us by belittling a large portion of residents who think differently than you.

I don’t see any “downward spiral of stagnation” in our town. When I go downtown, I see people everywhere, driving around, dining, shopping and walking. If you see that as a downward spiral of stagnation, then I would suggest moving to a different city—one that embraces traffic jams, stifling crowds and waiting in lines for movies and restaurants. That’s not us. It’s not what we want for this town.

If you find the existing vacant storefronts troubling, then work on helping businesses to fill them before introducing new development. The developments you are so vocal about supporting are the seemingly prestigious, high-profile projects that would get a lot of attention—for you. Why not shelve your ego for a change and actually listen to the people you are supposed to be serving? Yes, some of them support your views, but based on election results and petition signatures (to reverse the most recent actions of you and your former majority colleagues) it looks like most residents don’t support your views.

I don’t think you’re stupid, but I think you treat us as if we are. Having been on the City Council for so long, and being a former mayor, you must know that referendum petitions give the council the option to either reverse the approval of an action or put it to a vote. Even I know that—I read what I’m about to put my signature on. But no, you spin it to make it sound like our new Council majority is trying to pull a fast one. I don’t know the thinking of the council, but to me, since the referendum petition received almost twice the number of voter signatures needed in an abbreviated period of time, why would they waste our money to have us vote on it again? The signatures pretty well tell the story. With that kind of community response and the subsequent election results (replacing the two members who typically matched your votes) it should be clear to you how the majority of our residents feel. Sam, if you had been up for re-election, you’d be out now too.

So, please curb your divisive attitude. It’s time to play nice with your new teammates, start listening to the people and work on what’s actually good for our town.

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comments (5)

  • Ms. Bachelder, Thank you for your repeated willingness to engage on these important issues—and your willingness to talk with me about our project. I disagree with your closing premise that “the signatures pretty well tell the story”. First, it’s important to remember that in our town’s most recent referendum against Distrito La Novia (just a few years ago) activists collected essentially the same number of signatures as the recent petition against the care community (3361 vs. 3459) then went on to lose by a significant margin when the issue was put to a public vote. The number of signatures had no bearing on the final outcome once voters educated themselves about the alternatives, and those unwilling to sign petitions weighed in at the ballot box.

    Second, you may not be aware that Spieker has expressed a willingness to pay for the cost of the election, so that the city and taxpayers would not be required to bear that burden. It would cost the city nothing to let the voters decide. (Cue CW comment re: Brown Act). Many are aware that city council’s can block referendum elections, but given the council’s campaign promise to listen to the voice of the people on these issues, I think it came as a surprise to a lot of people when they blocked the public’s vote. It appears that at least some of the members of the new council do not share your confidence that a public vote would support their opposition to the care community.

    Lastly, as you are aware, many of those opposed to the care community used false statements and documents to garner support, signatures and votes. If you need examples, let me know. No one questions that many in your neighborhood oppose the project and want to see it built in someone else’s part of town. However, there are many who do want the project and have placed deposits in the hopes they can one day live in the community and receive its services. These seniors and other project supporters believe that once these inaccurate statements and associated misperceptions are corrected, a public vote will support the project.

    I do like your focus on “what is good for our town” and I think it’s where all of our conversations should be centered. In that spirit, if the care community is not built, what do you think should be done with the Vermeulen property?

    • Clint Worthington

      Troy Bourne, you are right, you asked the City to commit an illegal act by you offering to pay for a public election IF you could meet with the City Council in closed session. Again, your offer is entirely illegal under the laws of the State if California.

      By the way Mr. Bourne, have you renewed your permit for your temporary building? Last time I checked your permit expired in November. In addition, your permit for the building was under the provision that it was for informational purposes. But it wasn’t informational purposes Mr. Bourne was it? You were collecting deposits for your project also in violation of your permit.

      The differences between your project and Distrito La Novia are numerous. Staring with this City Council does not support your project. Second, your project is dead. You don’t have an approval.
      Third, this signatures for the referendum on your project Mr. Bourne were collected in 19 days vs. the thirty days on Distrito La Novia.

      Best if luck to you Mr. Bourne in your future endeavors.

  • Great letter Shelly. I see no downward spiral either. I see residents getting involved. People are out and about using local services like the cleaners, hair salons, lunching at Aldo’s. The school busses are in front of the mission. The downward spiral was just aborted by the herculean effort of residents to collect signatures for two referendums during the holidays. Residents gave up time with family to STOP Laguna Glen and the Hotel/Condo’s downtown. San Juan Capistrano is unique. We are not Irvine, or Tustin Ranch. We are not a planned community of cookie cutter homes and shops. We mix the very old with the new. We worked at getting a new city council. And, we want an honest city government.
    And, Troy you are as tenacious as the Grisly Bear in the movie, “The Edge”. You stalk your prey, the small town and the perfect parcel for your Big Development, Anthony Hopkins is collectively the towns people who have evaded you again and again. Alec Baldwin is Sam who has ego problems and has his own agenda, wants to be top man in town. But, now Anthony Hopkins (aka town people) have evaded the Grisley again and again. The town has rejected big development and big ego’s using our votes, our signatures and our time to fight the Grisly Bear. It has been a brutal struggle for survival to save our small town. God I love the spirit of the residents who have shown up at the city council to speak against Laguna Glen. You cannot kill the passion of people who love their town that much that they would wait until 3am to speak against Laguna Glen. God Bless you San Juan Capistrano.

  • The title of your letter is “Why the Negativity?” so while reading it I kept hoping to see positive suggestions for our town but alas there were none and it became a “slam Sam” letter like so many others. I would like to assure you there are a large group of citizens that think differently than you also – that is what makes America great right? So let’s all try to live together in our beloved San Juan Capistrano without bringing each other down – we are all just neighbors after all.

    My view of downtown is different than yours. You mention that when downtown you see people everywhere shopping, dining and walking around. When I’m there after 7pm on a weeknight I do not see the same hustle and bustle you mention. Have you talked with business owners about how they are having trouble making ends meet? Have you talked with the employees that are asked to go home early because of a lack of business? I have, and I cringe every time I see a new for lease sign go up and another empty space.

    The divide in this community is simply people who want SJC to stay the sleepy town of the past and those that want it to survive and thrive into the future. Smart development is the only way to keep San Juan moving forward while maintaining our cozy town.

    I encourage you and anyone else to come up with some suggestions on how to ” work on helping businesses to fill them [vacant storefronts] before introducing new development.” The senior care community can provide much needed city revenue and customers for the downtown area and all of SJC. Most likely the residents would have a shuttle service too so you can’t say traffic would increase much. Do you know of an alternative project for that site that would do the same? And don’t forget property owner’s rights – every property owner in the city should be watching how the new city council deals with property owner’s rights by stepping in and denying an owner the right to sell to whom they wish. It’s a very slippery slope.

    And as for “The signatures pretty well tell the story.” I agree with you – they tell the story of approximately 3500 people that would like to see San Juan Capistrano become just a drive through town for people staying in the new Hampton Inn being built in Mission Viejo just a few short miles from our city border – on their way to dinner in Dana Point. Last time I checked 3500 people were not the majority here.

    • Clint Worthington

      Tina Auclair, where is this large group of residents that you speak of ? The incumbents were voted out by an overwhelming majority of the residents in November. More than 3,400 people signed a referendum that overturned the City Council approval of Spieker Development. I am sorry, but with all due respect I fail to find this large group of residents that you write about.

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