Mission Viejo boasts of a budget surplus while cutting infrastructure maintenance

At the Oct 5th Mission Viejo council meeting,  a former MV mayor made a plea for the city to take over an HOA slope maintenance obligation that, if approved, was to cost us around $500,000 (for starters). While we prevailed in stopping that “special interest” request in its tracks I have just read part of our Budget and Master Financial Plan only to  discover a 28.2 percent reduction in our 09-10 adopted budget for  infrastructure maintenance of our city owned medians and parkways. That one reduction amounts to over one million dollars. In that same table is a reduction of 9.0 percent for parks maintenance and 6.7 percent in our expenditure for urban forestry.

 The Program Area Summary text opens stating that “Infrastructure Maintenance is responsible for the upkeep of public buildings, streets, lands and trees.” The second paragraph opens stating that “Street sweeping, sidewalk and street repair, pavement signage and street striping, weed abatement, emergency storm response, park and landscape maintenance, park facility upkeep, tree trimming and tree replacement are some of the major duties carried out under this area.”

One of the favorable comments made by our residents is our commitment to parks and landscape maintenance in our city which impact our home valuations, especially in the current market.
However, for the Mallorca Condominium Association request to even be addressed by the city including a senior manager preparing a cost estimate for revitalizing a private association’s slope warrants watchdog criticism. 
In his damage control justification for wasting contracted city attorney and staff time mayor Ury stated that “many things come before the city council as formal or informal requests. We have an obligation up here, as a matter of due process, to listen to everyone.”
This HOA request was presented as an opportunity for granting of an easement when in fact HOA CC&R’s mandate slope maintenance as a private obligation.

While we boast of having over 50% of our budget in reserves, we cut over one million dollars from our infrastructure maintenance in our aging community. A former director of our city’s largest HOA projects a cost approaching $ ten million dollars to get our slopes back into an acceptable condition.

About Larry Gilbert