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Council Preview—Feb 5

There are a few interesting additions on tap.

The Feb. 5 meeting of the City Council will have a few interesting additions to the usual fare. The Council will choose two Parks Commissioners and they are being asked to act on two proposals to build more homes.

Parks Commission

Item 23 on the agenda is the selection of two Parks and Recreation Commissioners for a new four-year term. There are nine applicants, including two existing Commissioners seeking re-appointment—the existing chairperson John Irish and member Amanda Morrell. People with good memories will recall that Morrell recently applied for a post on the Planning Commission and that Irish has for many years served with distinction on the Parade Committee.

The other 7 applicants are Merry Axelrod, J. Brett Miller, Gracie Duran, Bernard Esposito, Victor Scherr, Nilima Gupta, and Jeffrey Werkmeister.

Both Morrell and Irish have been supporters of Peter Herzog, and if things go the way they did at the Planning Commission, this means they will probably not be re-appointed. Parks and Recreation has been one of the bright spots in Lake Forest, partly due to the good work of the City’s Director Gary McGill, but also to the work of the Commission.

More Homes

Item 24 on the agenda is a discussion of the request from two developers to speed things up. Brookfield Residential proposes developing 151 attached homes on a 9 acre site comprised of the former Pontiac/Buick/GMC dealership. Trumark Homes proposes developing 72 detached homes on the 7 acre site formerly home to Foothill Ranch Chevrolet.

On these pages we’ve discussed the traffic tsunami and the problems Lake Forest currently faces with traffic. It’s the #1 concern of our citizens. The City Council has already approved 4,000+ new homes that will bring more than 20,000 cars, vans, and trucks into our city on a daily basis, bringing the stalled traffic to a complete stop. The only benefit these new homes brought to our city was the thousands of dollars that City Council members added to their campaign coffers from developers. The thought of adding more than 220 homes to the existing 4,000+ lineup makes me shudder.

By the way, we have not only these 4000+ new homes to worry about, but Mission Viejo is planning to add new homes adjacent to El Toro Rd in the Portola area, and the traffic from these new homes will funnel through El Toro Rd which is their nearest access, adding even more traffic to our city in geneal, and especially to the Foothill/Portola area.

If you’ve been reading my recent articles about crime, you know that one of the biggest correlates of crime is city size. The more people you have, all things being equal, the higher your crime rate. Moreover, Lake Forest already has one of the highest crime rates in Southern California (3rd highest out of 10 cities), so the idea of increasing our population by more than 15 percent is sheer madness. We will not only cripple our traffic problem, we will increase an already troublesome crime rate.

I have sympathy for developers who are simply trying to make a buck. But must it be done at our expense? And must it be done now, when we already have a major traffic problem and when our crime rate leaves a lot to be desired? Surely there is a time and place for development and no one should favor “development at any cost.”

BTW – tonight when the developers appear before the City Council it will be interesting to see whether they or anyone on the Council mentions the money which these companies and their representatives have contributed to existing City Council members’  re-election campaigns. I hope they do and I hope the City Council members who are honest enough to admit they took money, which isn’t illegal, will recuse themselves from any vote.

Before we approve any more homes to be built in Lake Forest, the City needs to see what the impact of all these already approved 4,000+ new homes and the 20,000 cars, vans, and trucks that go with them are going to have on the City. Such a study must also take into account the new Sports Park that will attract more traffic into an already congested area. Add the new homes being approved by Mission Viejo along El Toro Rd. And then add the new traffic that will be generated by the eventual opening of the Great Park, as people from Mission Viejo and RSM go through our City as an alternative to going through the 5 Freeway.

Then, because none of these new developments come with new schools, factor in the enormous school arrival and pick-up traffic that will be coming from Foothill/Portola into the center of the City as kids are bounced from existing schools to make way for the new arrivals.

When that is done, factor in a 15 percent rise in population and the impact that will have on our crime rate.

If we have a valid study of these issues, then it’s time to consider adding more homes. But until that is done, adding to the traffic problem and the crime rate in Lake Forest would be a serious mistake.

Stay tuned. Tonight promises to be an interesting meeting. Please attend if you can and make your wants and needs known. City government works best when we are all involved.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim Gardner February 07, 2013 at 07:50 PM
Hi JustUs I have a mountain of information I gather, process, analyze, write, re-write, fact check, re-check, then slot into a Patch blog that won't overwhelm readers. Each one I publish generates more time/effort responding online and more often in private e-mails because most people prefer one-to-one correspondence. Looking back, some things come out too early or too late, some are out of sequence or step on the toes of another one. It's hard to do. When I wrote the allusion to the "re-election campaigns" Terry Anderson was bright enough to realize that I actually meant any campaign (I guess he knew what happened), so he asked the question right after the article appeared and I replied and thanked him for catching my mistake. I assume everyone was up to speed on the meaning of what I referred to. As to the culpability of Nick or Robinson in this, as I said earlier I am away from my notes and this information is not available from the City online (but it should be). Moreover, the final FPPC filings were not in the Clerk's office when I left the City so I haven't had a chance to review those. They may be even more incriminating. It's not fair for me to comment from memory. Nor have I watched the council meeting yet to see what was said. When I return I will look over everything and produce a new report. If VOC is true, it's definitely a "jeer". I'm glad VOC ran the story. I tried for months to interest them w/o success until now. Welcome aboard VOC
LakeForest Lifer February 07, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Not just a damning article but an exposing article. Mr. Nick keeps calling for more sunshine. This is the kind of sunshine that really shows us what's really going on. Jim, send your report to LakeForestLifer@yahoo.com. Thanks.
Jim Gardner February 08, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Hi Lifer, I sent you a copy of the report. Your copy excludes the appendix which unfortunately I do not have in a file, but only paper copies. I'm happy the Voice of OC is now interested in the topic. I sent them a copy of the report and spent some time with their reporter awhile ago but they were not interested at that time. I also spent even more time with the OC Register who also were not interested. Hardly a single Council meeting goes by where someone or some company is not appearing before the Council with a request that will enhance their own financial position, where that person or company has given hundreds/thousands of dollars to Council members, and no one says a thing, and the Council member (s) votes in favor of whatever the person or company wants. I can't recall, in more than 100 such cases, a single time when anyone voted against the money. This is a tragic indictment of so-called "honest" government. Technically it is not illegal because the politicians have written a loophole into the law which exempts contributions to campaign committees from what otherwise might be looked upon as bribes and payoffs. The sum total of these contributions well exceeds $100,000 and the sum total of the value of these decisions to the people or companies well exceeds $10,000,000.
R.S.G. May 13, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Mr. Gardener, I may be incorrect, but did you voice an opinion on the "on-site" stadium project the SVUSD introduced to LF residents in May of 2012? I believe you suggested that the stadium be built off-site as the District campaigned to the community when they pushed to get the Measure B Ballot passed in 2004. I wish we had some City Council Members supporting the LF residents when the SVUSD began to push this project. I firmly believe the project would not have gone beyond the "idea" phase if certain people were not members of the Lake Forest City Council, and on the Measure B Oversight Committee for SVUSD. Most of the students attending El Toro High School live within the neighboring homes and will be negatively impacted by the noise, and hazardous traffic congestion it will cause just to name a couple. The increased crime, and gang activity it will cause is extremely unfair to the students and children who live near this small school. ETHS cannot handle the current traffic congestion during the morning and afternoon crunch. Greed is the motivation behind this project.
Jim Gardner May 13, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Hi RSG, Good memory. Yes I did recommend that the stadium be built on the grounds of SVUSD offices which are about 5 minutes away from the school and in an industrial area where the noise, traffic, and light nuisances will not have much of an impact since most of these stores are closed at night. In turn, the SVUSD could move into one of the vacated schools. I understand that some of the residents have sued the SVUSD to prevent them from going forward. IMO, ETHS should have a stadium, but it shouldn't be done at the expense of the hundreds of people who live around the school.

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