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OPINION: Time to Retire Sam & Laura

A point-counterpoint column, discussing council decisions and the author's desire that two City Council members step down.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a letter San Juan Capistrano resident Roy Byrnes wrote to two current City Councilmembers, Sam Allevato and Laura Freese, both up for re-election this year. Allevato wrote a personal letter to Byrnes, indicating . Freese wrote a public response, which can be found . , indicating he will run for City Council in November. 

Dear Sam & Laura,

I respect and like you both.  I’m writing today to humbly ask that you not seek re-election to the City Council in November. It wouldn’t be fair to San Juan residents. Sam, in your case you’ve been on for nine years. If re-elected, that would be 13 years; far too long. Time for new blood and a fresh approach.

You’ve both made too many unwise decisions that have hurt the community. Elections are “report card time” for incumbents and your “report cards” as listed below, are not good: 

  • You’ve forced residents to continue pouring money into a water plant that produces water costing nearly twice as much than if we purchased it from the Metropolitan Water District. You’ve claimed that this water plant is “more reliable” when it’s obvious that this is false. Mr. Allevato, you’ve tried to hide your failure by moaning: “This water debacle was created before I came on the council." But please explain why for nine years, you’ve made no attempt to either solve or correct the basic problem?
  • In 2009, you both took part in the shameful, covert conspiracy to give the Rancho Mission Viejo Co (“the Ranch”) 27.5 million of our tax dollars for 132 acres of  “Riding Park” and “open space” land that wasn’t even in our city; half of which was already protected as open space.
  • Why did you agree to name this land: “The Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park?” Why name it for the seller’s city? Didn’t San Juan pay for it?
  • Why are we citizens prohibited from entering our own “Riding Park” (except for a  few promotional hours each  year)? Aren’t we paying for it?
  • Why did you sign away the rights of San Juan citizens to object to any development by the Ranch on its 24,000 acres, no matter how adversely we may be affected by traffic and other impacts? 
  • After paying millions for a large sports field at the “Riding Park,” why did you limit our use of it by agreeing to the Ranch’s selfish demand that permanent night lighting be prohibited?
  • Why did you give the Ranch free use of the property for their Rodeo for 50 years? Why did you agree to restrict everyone else – including our own city – from on our property for those 50 years? This single act pulls hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the pockets of San Juan citizens.
  • Why did you appoint a close buddy of the seller as the official “real property negotiator” for the purchase of the riding park property, then exempt him from the conflict-of-interest disclosure required of every single committee and commission member throughout San Juan history? Transparency rules should have required that the city’s “real property negotiator” be either the city manager as has ALWAYS been the case, or an arms-length, licensed professional with no ties to either party. Why did you fail to do this?
  • How can you explain spending over half a million dollars for a “” that will only obliterate our unique, historic atmosphere and transform San Juan into a faux, plastic “Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive?”
  • The prime responsibility of a City Council member covers traffic and city finances. Yet on your watch, traffic has gotten much worse. The city bond rating has dropped while debt has increased.

My request is simple and sincere: I thank you for your service, but it’s time to step aside and allow others to have a crack at it. Enough is enough; indeed, enough is too much!

Byrnes was a City Council member from 1972-76.

V. Duvall August 07, 2012 at 11:09 PM
This letter is pretty one sided. Where's Laura in all of this? You seem to be consumed with the riding park. I hope you are not elected if that's all you are concerned with. Stability is more important than "giving others a crack at it". Part of our problem is that too much changing of the guard gives us a mish mash of stuff with no long term plan like years ago. The problem with this City is that projects that get approved one way, NEVER end up the way they were initially intended. Look at Pacific Point. What a joke that is and has always been. There were supposed to be minimally one acre horse ranches. Haven't seen one yet. How long has it been..... almost 20 years? You had your "crack" in 1972. Give it up Hang in there Sam and Laura.
Clint Worthington August 08, 2012 at 05:41 AM
V. Duvall, I am so glad that you brought up the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano. That is the actual name of the park. Have you ever seen any signs or advertisements with that name? Even though it is required in the lease, it is never used. It is also the only City park in the nation that you actually have to drive out of the City boundries to get into the City park that you and I pay for in our property taxes. How many times this year have you been able to go and enjoy the park this year with your family without first obtaining permission from Blenheim Sports who leases the park? Twenty times? Ten times? Five times? Even once? Needless to say, eight months into the calender year we have not even been able to enjoy a public park with our families that our property taxes paid for. I could go on and on. Who do we have to thank for this boondoggle? Sam Allevato and Laura Freese. Do you really need me to give you more examples of how Allevato and Freese have destroyed our City? Yes, we do need two new faces.

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