Stealth CIP effort by slick Mission Viejo staff using deceptive Meeting Title

Watching politics, even at the local level, can be quite revealing. Let me begin with tonight’s meeting of the Mission Viejo city council that was to focus on the budget. In fact our city website description of tonight’s meeting reads “City Council Workshop.”
Mayor Ury sent out the following email confirming the topic of tonight’s meeting.
Subject: Business Casual tomorrow

Colleagues, as tomorrow is a workshop, if you are alright with it we will go with business casual for the meeting (either dress shirt, no tie or a nice polo)
Let me know if you have any objections

Thanks, Frank”

Larry, what’s your beef? Its simple. They tacked on addition Agenda items that are not part of the advertised meeting topic such as Item #5 that is Consideration of Resolution regarding closure by SVUSD of the O’Neill Elementary school with a recommendation supporting creation of a Charter School a t this location.

But that’s not the main concern for me. Look at Item #4 in which they are ready to award contracts for a CIP that was not billed to be discussed, nor should it be based on the title of the meeting.
Specifically they wish to award contracts to RJM Design the amount of $$348,000, Hodge & Assoc for $38,110 and Friess Construction for $149,040 or just north of $500,000 for a CIP that is not on the FY 09 CIP table.

PS: This is the tip of the iceberg in that this proposed project, relating to the Marguerite Aquatics and Tennis Centers, is stated be in the $6 to $7 million range. And we all know about cost overruns in Mission Viejo.

Let me also reference from another city document that is in tonight’s package where it provides data from a resident survey, conducted by a contract issued by the city, that lists the top five priorities of our government. Low crime, maintained streets, trash collection/recycling, emergency preparedness and adequate street lighting.

The following letter is from a concerned Mission Viejo resident:

“The Center is located between Trabuco and Casta Del Sol Drive on Marguerite Parkway.  The attached drawings depict the area as it currently is, the plan as proposed and the plan as proposed with the current dimensions overlaid.  Please forgive that it’s not as pretty but I basically laid the new over the old and drew the outline to show the extent of the planned parking lot.
The City worded the Agenda Summary for this item like the Community Services Commission recommended this Master Plan while all they voted on was whether or not it represents a Master Plan.  You will probably agree that there is a slight but important difference between the two.
The City has not at all involved the Planning Commission.  If there is any attempt at all at exercising due diligence, one would think that the Planning Commission would actually have quite a bit of work to do before the proposed plan can be approved:
There are questions regarding ownership of the area proposed to be leveled and paved for parking;  open space designation for the area proposed to be converted to a parking lot; there is a lot of erosion that needs to be properly resolved (nothing in the presentation has touched on how this will be done and how much this item is estimated to cost); there need to be environmental studies done as the area is currently designated as open space; a traffic study needs to be conducted to show the effect on neighboring areas as the plan calls for eliminating one of the last wooded spaces in our city which currently doubles as our neighborhood park and creates significant issues on Casta Del Sol Drive and in our neighborhood.
We furthermore believe, that with our without the parking lot the parking in our neighborhood related to swim and tennis events will not be relieved by the proposed lot as many visitors choose to park along our streets to escape the bottle neck called parking lot exit and that with a larger lot even more visitors will be speeding through our neighborhood to cut 3 traffic light intersections from their route home.  They’re doing it now and that will not change unless the city implements permit parking along our streets which would bring a whole host of other issues to the table.
We would rather live with the parking along our streets on those weekends when there are events at the center than replacing our park with a large, unsightly, lighted parking lot year-round which only creates permanent problems for the neighborhood but the City has not asked us.  Instead, the city attempted to squash concerns with comments regarding the large police presence we already have – but honestly, paying for them to hang around that parking lot any more than they do now would be financially imprudent to say the least!  Instead, the city should pursue plans that don’t necessitate us to continue spending such a large a portion of our budget on police services.
The plan calls for elimination of the tennis parking lot along Marguerite Parkway in favor of spectator seating when discussions with the Tennis community have made clear that the current stands are already underutilized and that they don’t want or need additional seating. In short, the Plan looks to have been drafted by the consultants with input from staff but no other significant up-front involvement of the public.  While staff tried to appear to satisfy public input policy with the meetings that were held in May, those meetings did not provide proper notice to the public
presented the public with a fait accompli and a skewed and misleading presentation by the consultants that pointed out all kinds of negatives of versions of the plan that the consultant did not wish to recommend but that did not point out that most of those negatives also applied to the recommended version
did not make any attempt to include the public’s comments and wishes in the final plan sent to the Council for vote
We have offered to walk the area with members of the council but as of last night, only (city councilmember) Cathy (Schlicht) has taken us up on our offer and actually taken a look at what this plan would do to our area.

We are circulating a petition this weekend in our neighborhood  and are asking the neighbors to come to Monday’s meeting if they can.”

About Larry Gilbert