This is my column printed in today's issues of The Capistrano Dispatch:
Our 2008 elections are the finishing touch to the 2006 contest. Remember 2006? A majority of the then City Council approved housing on golf-course open space. A referendum overturned it, and the council ended up with a new majority.
Since then, the council has taken many long-overdue steps, most notably launching a long-term economic study to figure out how much it takes to run the city and how to ensure development and other decisions generate the income. Something just as important: Led by the new councilmembers, the city has greatly increased the number of residents notified when major developments are proposed—including a citywide mailing for the largest projects.
But there’s still major shortcomings. The council is quick to approve developments with a bias toward the maximum allowed on a parcel, instead of setting rules that push for the minimum unless there is an overriding benefit for the city. The council in many ways is still afraid to lead, stuck in a reactive mode.
For that reason, I’d vote for a change on the council—adding business owner Laura Freese, a virtual downtown expert, to the mix, and returning Sam Allevato, the only true equestrian on council. That’d provide the right mix to move forward, while still honoring our past. Joe Soto’s tenure hasn’t spurred any energy, concerns about repeated errors on his resume are valid and he is the last sitting councilmember who supported putting those houses on the open space.
Speaking of open space, supporting Measure X is an easy decision. It puts control of the community’s most important asset squarely in the hands of the community. As for Measure Y, it’d be easy to say now is not the time to approve a new bond. I respectfully argue it’s exactly the right time. Property values are low, and with cash in hand, we can make incredible deals—solid investments in our community that will improve all of our property values in the long term.
As for the school board, I’m voting against the recall slate—Brick, Maddox, Palazzo and Winsten. The incumbent recall trustees have largely failed to impress me in the first 90 days, and it doesn’t make sense to me to have all seven members aligned with one group. That’s what caused our mess in the first place, isn’t it?
Vote how you will. Just vote.