Firegate in Mission Viejo Part II. Benevolent Contract Award

In the initial June 12th “Firegate in Mission Viejo” report I mentioned the “stealth” expenditure of taxpayer funds that were never part of an authorized CIP.  In that report I glossed over our May 22nd Agreement with OCFA where the city (of Mission Viejo) would then pay the monthly landscape maintenance costs (about $8,000 annually).”

To bring this Agreement up to date I addressed this issue at our June 16th city council meeting to which, as expected, there was no response from council or staff.
Note: Prior to my presentation I did speak to the Battalion Chief who had called me over the weekend to discuss my initial report. I did give him a heads up on my Public Comments and will keep his comments off line.

In Dir of Public Works Keith Rattay’s June 9th letter to City Manager Dennis Wilberg it states “it appeared to make sense that the City could help to maintain only the front of the station that faces the street” to improve the overall aesthetics of this critical facility in our civic core area.”

Keith closes with the following sentence. “Finally, no Council Member was involved in providing direction to staff on this issue.”

This agreement triggers three concerns. Setting president countywide by the City maintaining County property, second, the whole issue of the aloof and snobbish text of “overall aesthetics” and lastly the city maintaining selected “private areas” of the city.

Prior to the council meeting a local citizen drove us to Fire Station 24.
Item #2 of the May 22, 2008 Maintenance Agreement reads as follows:

“OCFA is the owner of certain real property situated in the City of Mission Viejo, County of Orange, California, hereafter referred to as “Property,” and more particularly described as follows: Orange County Fire Station 24, 25862 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, California 92692.”

Folks. Mission Viejo is an “equal opportunity” Contract City. For all those who are gardeners seeking a lucrative Contract you missed the boat. in my Public Comments I stated that the fire station area is the size of a postage stamp. The right side of the building is partially maintained by the strip mall that is adjacent to that location.
My guess is that the frontage is between 100 and 200 feet. If you deduct the driveway for the two fire vehicles you have virtually no grass or shrubs to maintain.

Update: I visited the Fire Station this early morning to take measurements and photos just to be fair in my reporting.  The “Exhibit A” sketch of the Contract Agreement is useless in that I cannot see any exact dimensions of the County owned property to be maintained. One of the firemen pointed out that on the north end there is a rustic section up a slope that the city appears to be clearing.  I did climb up the slope to take some photos. However, I go back to Keith’s report as stated above. The landscape maintenance focus was on the “front of the station” not up the hill that is not being used.

I measured the grass strip to the left of the drive which is around 58 feet by 11 feet. At the opposite side of the drive is a lawn area that measures  about 20 feet wide that goes up the driveway to the strip mall. Yes, there are a number of newly planted shrubs that would require occasional care.

Folks we are talking about $650 per month yet not a member of the council questioned staff. You can see and hear this presentation on the city’s streaming media as I asked that the maintenance of this little patch of land be “explained and justified” which fell on deaf ears.

City Council members have been trained not to engage the public, especially during Public Comments unless it’s favorable for them. Give speakers three minutes than tell them times up. And to think that we shortly will be giving our City Manager his annual review. Do we have a fox guarding the hen house?

Please take a field trip and visit Fire Station #24 in Mission Viejo to see for yourself. I am not recommending that you wait for the typical Open House where you tour the inside and equipment with fire fighters. My suggestion is to do a “drive by” which speaks volumes. Drop off your business card at city hall that is just up the street and ask to participate in next year’s Maintenance Contract Award.

 FYI. Copies of this Juice post is being sent directly to the city, city attorney, and the mayor so they cannot say they were not appraised of this report.

Folks. I could easily find a dozen gardeners who would gladly maintain the “front of the (Fire) Station” for under $100 per month.  Something is very  fishy in Mission Viejo and it’s not the abandoned Fish Market on the Lake.

About Larry Gilbert