OC Register Resume - Clips 1.19
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Written Pieces as of 01-19-12
San Juan to create housing authorityBy JOSH FRANCIS 2012-01-19 06:10:39
The San Juan Capistrano City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve two resolutions to set up a city housing authority and to take over the functions and assets of the Redevelopment Agency when it is dissolved Feb. 1 in accord with state law. Cities throughout California have had to create or choose successors to their redevelopment agencies after state legislation to dissolve the agencies was upheld by the California Supreme Court on Dec. 29. San Juan's new housing authority will take over at least one affordable-housing project known as Little Hollywood. The housing authority will have seven members, including the five City Council members and two other members who are customers of the new housing authority. City Attorney Omar Sandoval said 24 tenants live in the Little Hollywood development. The authority's first director will be Councilman Derek Reeve, who was appointed by Mayor Larry Kramer after the council's vote to create the agency. Reeve, the only council member who supported the state's effort to eliminate redevelopment agencies, said he is concerned about the need for a housing authority in the future. Sandoval said if the authority takes no action for two years, it can be dissolved.
No resident-led invocations in San JuanBy JOSH FRANCIS 2012-01-18 17:14:29
Invocations at San Juan Capistrano City Council meetings will be led only by council members after the panel voted 4-1 on Tuesday night for a policy that negates Councilman Derek Reeve's decision to choose area residents to lead the invocation every fifth meeting, when his turn to do it comes up. The invocation occurs before the council discusses agenda items and is usually a prayer that one of the five council members leads. It is not mandatory to participate in the prayer. The first resident-led invocation last month mentioned "the son of our Lord," raising concerns over whether that was appropriate for a council meeting. Reeve wanted a discussion on whether a policy was needed on "merely mentioning a deity" during an invocation. The council voted in favor of a policy allowing only council members to lead nonsectarian invocations. The policy reinforces the council's unofficial practice before Reeve decided to allow residents to do it. "I feel very strongly that we should keep the invocations to the council members," Councilwoman Laura Freese said. Allowing anyone else to do it is "opening up a can of worms," she added. Reeve said he wanted to choose residents of varying faiths to lead invocations as a way to repair San Juan Capistrano's image of being "unfriendly to religion" in the wake of controversies including Reeve's naming his dog Muhammad, after the Muslim prophet, and the city fining a couple who used their home for Bible studies. In December, the first community speaker to lead the invocation was Gary Stache, a leader at Vineyard Community Church in Laguna Niguel.
Councilman Sam Allevato said that although Reeve wanted to make invocations open to any religion, "mentioning any deity could make anyone feel uncomfortable." Reeve told the council he does not want speakers to use the invocations to proselytize for their religion, but he maintained his position that community members should be allowed to lead them. Mayor Larry Kramer said he opposes anyone other than council members leading the invocations. "We're not a church, we're a public institution," he said. "The idea of the invocation is to bring everyone together." The council discussed with the city attorney the possible ramifications of invocations leaning in favor of one religion. Court cases on the issue include one in Lancaster, where the city was sued after an invocation making reference to Jesus Christ was seen by the plaintiffs as biased toward Christianity. The city won a ruling in that case; however, it is being appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. San Juan resident Steve Behmerwohld suggested the local council eliminate the invocation, saying it is a waste of time. "An easy way out of this whole thing is just to do away with the invocation," Behmerwohld said. "I think you guys do a good job and I don't think you need divine intervention."
San Juan golf-range lights get go-aheadBy JOSH FRANCIS 2012-01-18 11:18:30
San Juan Hills Golf Club will be able to install lights for its driving range after all, now that the San Juan Capistrano City Council has voted unanimously to overturn the Planning Commission's denial of the proposal. The council voted Tuesday to overturn the commission, which had voted 3-2 on Nov. 22 to deny the club's request for a conditional use permit, citing concerns about adverse effects on adjacent residences because of the lights and added noise from nighttime use of the range at 32120 San Juan Creek Road. The city received 44 letters about the issue, 38 of them in support of overturning the commission's decision and six in favor of the commission. City staff had recommended that the council overturn the denial, saying the proposal is consistent with the community design element of the city General Plan and that the lights would not be bright enough to seriously affect nearby residents. Under the plan, the driving range is to feature outdoor lights installed on existing 50-foot poles and three new 25-foot poles. Representatives of the golf club said the lighting would have minimal effect on the surrounding area, describing the system as the first of its kind. Karin Pekala of Musco Sports Lighting, a consultant for the golf course, said the design of the lights will significantly reduce light pollution. She said the course agreed to drop the footcandle measurement (of luminance) to five from the standard 10. Pekala said the light emitted from the range would be comparable to the light from a full moon. She said the course will be one of the first to use special visors on its lights to shield the community from glare.
Some residents were skeptical, however, calling on the council to test the lights before giving the club a permit for the installation. Others questioned the validity of the claim that trees surrounding the range would provide adequate cover from the light. San Juan resident Mark Nielsen said the golf course's estimate of 85 percent tree cover around the range is too high, saying it is closer to 60 percent. San Juan Hills Golf Club management said it plants new trees frequently and is not opposed to planting more trees and shrubs in conjunction with the new lights. The council also agreed to let the course keep the driving-range lights on until 10 p.m., as proposed. City staff had recommended a 9 p.m. shutoff to try to reduce noise from nighttime use. "This will improve the recreation quality of San Juan Capistrano ... and it boosts the economic engine of the city," Councilman Sam Allevato said. Councilman Derek Reeve said he is concerned about the surrounding community, but "the benefit outweighs the cost." Staff said the city has the capability of testing the foot-candle measurement, and the council directed it to do so once the lights are up. Among the biggest supporters of the lights is the San Juan Hills High School golf team, whose coach, Jim Tinker, said the lighting and increased student access to the driving range will help support and improve his team, which won a CIF division championship last year.
San Juan acts to combat speeding on La RondaBy JOSH FRANCIS 2012-01-19 06:16:25
After fielding complaints from San Juan Capistrano residents about speeding on Camino La Ronda, the City Council voted 4-0 on Tuesday night to narrow the street by painting a 4foot-wide island on the middle of it. Mayor Larry Kramer recused himself from the vote because he lives near the street in question. The city previously had taken measures intended to improve traffic safety on La Ronda, including enhanced enforcement of the 30 mph speed limit. The council said that action, though effective, did not solve the problem completely and that the city received criticism about alleged excess enforcement by the Orange County Sheriff's Department. "We need an engineering solution, not an enforcement solution," Councilman Sam Allevato said. "Narrowing a road will slow down traffic." Some residents wanted the city to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph and place speed bumps on the street. But city staff said that isn't likely to happen or solve the problem. For speed bumps to be used, a street must have a speed limit of 25 mph or less, staff said. But to reduce a street's speed limit, it must be in a residential zone or traffic studies must support the need for a reduction. The council had two options for narrowing the street. One included creating bike lanes and eliminating parking on one side. The council agreed that eliminating parking would be detrimental. The plan to create a center island will allow the city six months to evaluate its effectiveness. If the safety problem is not determined to be solved, the city will take up the issue again.
City Council hits snag in appointing representatives to county boardsBy JOSH FRANCIS 2012-01-04 10:32:49
LAKE FOREST The Lake Forest City Council appointed new representatives to several agencies at its meeting Wednesday, but the appointment process did not go as smoothly as the council had hoped due to new state rules regulating city council procedures. The new state regulations, which went into effect this year, barred members of the council nominated for positions in which they would receive a stipend exceeding $250 from voting on their appointment. Mayor Kathryn McCullogh, who was acting as mayor for the first time since 2001, repeatedly called the rules "stupid" and constantly urged those attending the meeting to call state regulators responsible for the rule changes and "tell them how stupid it is.