Originally posted at 8:16 p.m. Sept. 3, 2013.
San Juan Capistrano leaders said Tuesday night they want a place at the table if there is to be any talks about annexing Rancho Mission Viejo, or at least a portion of it, to the city.
“We’ve annexed the riding park. We’ve taken that one corner. It seems to me as at a minimum, we would want all four corners,” said Councilman Larry Kramer.
While Councilman Roy Byrnes said he doesn’t know what shape – or any – an annexation may take, he agreed the city needs to monitor the situation, which may take years to unfold.
The agency that oversees the formation of cities in the county, the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission, will meet this month to take a closer look at all the unincorporated areas of South OC – including Rancho Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch, Wagon Wheel and Coto de Caza – and the best possible future for them.
San Juan Capistrano City Council members expressed frustration that of the eleven members of the LAFCO board, the only South Orange County city leader is Peter Herzog of Lake Forest – and they don’t consider Lake Forest to be all that south.
They decided to send Councilman Sam Allevato to the Sept. 11 meeting to keep an eye on how events shape up and make sure San Juan Capistrano can participate in the process.
“At this stage it’s important to express an interest of annexation,” said Councilman Derek Reeve, even if it’s too early to define the boundaries.
Two residents spoke on the issue, and they were vehemently divided. Jim Reardon, who represents all the unincorporated areas as part of his role as a Capistrano Unified School District trustee, said annexation could help solve some financial problems facing the city.
“That growth can solve lots of problems for a small town trying to get by in a big-town world,” Reardon said. “The future is annexation.” The only question is, will it be San Juan, Mission Viejo or San Clemente.
On the other hand, former councilman David Swerdlin said annexation of the Ranch could spell doom for the small-town atmosphere of San Juan Capistrano.
“Annexation, I would be totally against that. It would be the item that kills the golden goose that lays the golden eggs,” Swerdlin said. “Let someone else have it. San Clemente can have it. Mission Viejo can have it.”
LAFCO Executive Officer Carolyn Emery said it is far too early to even come up with different options. Her staff’s first task is to crunch the numbers, determining how much revenue the unincorporated areas generate versus the costs to provide them services.