“Amnesia, Delusion or Lies? (Mission Viejo councilwoman) Kelley’s Urban Revisionism”

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The following blog story comes to us courtesy of the Mission Viejo Dispatch. www.missionviejodispatch.com

Amnesia, Delusion, Or Lies? Kelley’s Urban Revisionism

April 23, 2009 by MissionViejoDispatch.com

    At a Special Council Meeting on February 24, Trish Kelley denied the council ever had any interest in pursuing a high-density mixed-use development policy for the Mission Viejo Village Center at LaPaz and Marguerite. Kelley has been blaming the media for lingering concern about a 2007 report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a consortium of developers.

    “We all said thanks, but no thanks [upon receiving the ULI report],” she said.

    The approved minutes of the meeting, and remarks by council members after the 2007 ULI presentation, belie Kelley’s rendition. They also contradict Frank Ury’s statements that it was simply a “receive and file” item and ”no action was taken.”  Is it amnesia, delusion, faulty memory, or fabrication?

    At the urging of at least one council member, Frank Ury, ULI was retained by the City to prepare a plan to redevelop Village Center. The ULI report to the Council on June 19, 2007 provided a concept to bulldoze the Center and create a multi-story project of retail and office space, topped by 325 residential units.

    In conjunction with other actions by the Council, the high density plan alarmed residents. Residents subsequently circulated an Initiative petition which would give voters review over major rezoning actions. The successful petition, with over 8,000 signatures, was certified by the Registrar of Voters for a future ballot.

    Spurred by that public outrage, Kelley made her infamous, “Thanks, but no thanks” denial in February. Last Monday she went a step further to absolve the council, asking her colleagues, “as a matter of history,” and “to reaffirm the denial of housing,”  that the Council formally vote against the ULI concept. So after hanging for 1 year plus 10 months, and after a Zoning Initiative qualified for a ballot, the ULI Report was unanimously rejected.

    Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht immediately replied she was going to “expose the misinformation” from Kelley.  She then read the following Minutes for the item from the June 7, 2007 meeting: 

“By consensus, the City Council directed staff to develop recommendations for the next steps and return to the City Council in late August or early September.”

    That is the typical action and process to proceed with a project.

    During the discussion, Schlicht also asked the Council and staff what took place after the June action.  She inquired if dialogue was conducted with Village Center property owners after receiving the ULI report, saying, “Maybe it was the property owners who said ‘thanks but no thanks’, not the Council.”  No one answered Schlicht.  Later in the discussion she repeated the same question.  Again, the silence was deafening.

    Following are excerpts of comments by council members at the meeting, following the ULI presentation:

Gail Reavis: “What do we want to do next – do we want to have you (the ULI) back to ask questions, do we want to receive and file, what do we want to do with this? How do you feel about this….not to wrap it up but at least know how we stand…”

Frank Ury: “. . . we don’t have to discuss it tonight, but I think the council needs to put its effort behind this process to see exactly where this could go.”

Frank Ury: “. . . the exciting part for me was taking a look at the renderings . . .”

Frank Ury: “. . . people are looking at us here to take a leadership role here and I think we should do what we can to move on with that.”

Trish Kelley: “. . . definitely like the idea of going forward with this task force . . .”

Trish Kelley: “. . . there is potential here . . .”

Trish Kelley: “I really like the idea of the trolley concept here . . .”

Trish Kelley: “. . . apprehensive about the thought of residential, but I would like to see a task force formed to go ahead and continue looking at this and again get the feedback from our economic development consultant . . .”

John Paul Ledesma: ” . . . price would be too high, in my opinion, in terms of adding the residential component here . . .”

John Paul Ledesma: “. . . residential component is not a match for the rest of the community.”

Lance MacLean: “I guess it is tough to follow John Paul because I feel exactly opposite of that . . .”

Lance MacLean: “. . . I don’t have a lot of heartburn over the concept of housing in that location, understanding of course from where I sit, for the residents that do, if you don’t like it, don’t live there.”

Lance MacLean: “I would like to compliment the ULI for the work they put into this, the suggestions they have. I would like to continue on, though with the suggestion of a couple of my colleagues, and go ahead and form a working group to continue to look at what opportunities might exist, what the property owners might want to do if anything, and see what our next steps are . . .”

    The full 2007 ULI presentation and council comments, in context, can be viewed by going to the www.missionviejodispatch.com web site clicking at the designated spot and then “jumping to” Item 1: Urban Land Institute.

Gilbert comment. The Mission Viejo council majority, and members of our city staff, have been frustrated in that they cannot control the reports generated on our local watchdog and county blogs. Our providing “transparency” on their actions, supported by city documents or city council meeting videos, is giving us more stories to cover then we can effectively publish.

About Larry Gilbert